PLUG OK license plate
Maker Faire in Bay Area community papers
Apr 20, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
Want more? Become a subscriber to CalCars-News:

This weekend's Maker Faire was the lead article in the business section for each of Wednesday's Inside Bay Area (IBA) newspapers. The CalCars project is included in the story. For our latest info see­makerfaire/­

The Oakland Tribune (circ: 66,811)
Tri-Valley Herald (41,490)
The Argus (32,189)
Daily Review (38,189)
Alameda Times Star (7,158)
San Mateo County Times (35,152)­business/­ci_3726276 *Maker Faire to showcase home projects* By Tim Simmers, BUSINESS WRITER Inside Bay Area

EVER SINCE there were garages and a few hours of spare time, American tinkerers and do-it-yourself nuts have created gizmos, gadgets and projects of all kinds.

They run from the serious to the goofy. And some are fascinating yet completely pointless. Indeed, there appears to be a resurgence of such hands-on, backyard-type activity. ABC now has a prime-time television show called "American Inventor" that showcases inventors of all types.

The new Make magazine exposed a growing underground community of inventors, hackers and geeks who thrive on tearing things apart and rebuilding them - or making their own stuff from scratch.

The magazine is having a fair this weekend that features these grass-roots hobbyists and the wares they've made from old circuit boards, computers, scrap metal, discarded wood and other materials. The Maker Faire, which is open to the public, will take place Saturday and Sunday at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds in San Mateo.

At the fair, you can learn how to make a potato cannon that shoots a spud 200 yards. Or you can build a model rocket that launches into the air. There's also an electronics recycling center whose leaders will build a vegetable-oil powered super computer from computers and parts recycled at the fair.

"We'll run the whole (super computer) off of french fry oil," saidJames Burgett, executive director of the Alameda County Computer Resource Center in Berkeley. "It's going to be made out of (electronic) garbage and will be more powerful than some of the hottest computers on the market today."

Burgett said "the fair's going to be a zoo," and "the synergy of all these makers looking at each other's stuff will be astonishing."

Craig Saunders builds model rockets in his spare time, and some shoot 1,500 feet into the air. He will be teaching kids how to build and launch model rockets at the fair. He will have the parts, and kids will be flying their self-made rockets in the parking lot.

"You make a rocket with your own hands and send it aloft, and that's a great experience," said an enthusiastic Saunders, a Danville resident who is president of the Livermore Unit of the National Association of Rocketry (LUNAR). "You're making something yourself that's useful."

Saunders thinks the resurgence of making things by hand is a reaction to today's prepackaged news and entertainment, and the obsession with using computers, CD players, hand-held gizmos and other state-of-the-art technological gadgets that are often outdated before you can plug them in.

Dale Dougherty, the founder and publisher of the Sebastopol-based Make magazine, expected about 5,000 subscribers when the magazine debuted last year. But more than 30,000 people subscribe now.

He modeled it after Popular Mechanics magazine, which features projects people can make on the weekend.

"One of the big ideas of Make, and now with Maker Faire, is to engage people of all ages in science and technology," Dougherty said. "You don't learn science and technology from a textbook; you learn it by using your hands and your mind."

He likes the penchant of a lot of these hobbyists and inventors "to try to fit a square peg into a round hole."

As part of the fair, the California Cars Initiative will publicly convert a Toyota Prius hybrid into a "plug-in" hybrid that adds additional battery storage and the ability to recharge the batteries in a standard household outlet. It also allows people to drive in electric mode more often and for longer distances.

The fair is not all for techies and geeks. Some folks make their own bicycles, and one pair of designers uses a robot to make things out of wood, including a 9-foot-high plywood Christmas tree that's straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. It will be on display at the fair. Another group will teach people how to weld and make things out of metal.

Copyright 2003-09 California Cars Initiative, an activity of the International Humanities Center | Site Map