Maker Faire UK 2015

It seems like Maker Faire UK 2015 took place ages ago – this brings back some fantastic memories!

Makers of Merit at Maker Faire UK 2015

Maker of Merit Ribbons are awarded to Makers that have demonstrated great creativity, ingenuity and innovation for their Maker Faire UK project. The winners embrace the DIY spirit and inspire Makers of all ages. The winners are listed below and well done to all of them!

RAYGUN Consultancy

LED Based Displays

Jam Jar Collective

Human Machine

Bubble Man

Maker Space: Christmas Window


Deer Shed Festival: Up In The Air

Noisy Toys

Northern Charity Daleks

Light Wall – Think Physics

Rebel Legion

Osmosis Machine Gloop Making Workshop

A Grand Tour




Mitch Altman

Maker Faire UK 2015 – All Done!

Maker Faire UK is done for another year. The visitors have all gone home, the Makers have cleared away their stalls, the bunting is back in its boxes until next year and we’ve even had chance to catch up on some sleep!

Fritz Grobe of Eepy Bird having a lot of fun with Coke and Mentos, even in the rain!

Fritz Grobe of Eepy Bird having a lot of fun with Coke and Mentos, even in the rain!

This year was an incredible event featuring some truly amazing and inspirational Makers. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! The entire Centre was packed to the rafters with both Makers and visitors and there was a lot to see. These are just a few of our favourite ones:

There was plenty of action outside with EepyBird’s Coke and Mentos Show, the Mantis Hexapod, Spark!, The Bubble Man, ZeeZee with his amazing spinning painting and many others. Special credit goes to those who saw them on Saturday in the pouring rain; there were a lot of you!

Ian Russell the Bubble Man, making some giant bubbles!

Ian Russell the Bubble Man, making some giant bubbles!

There was plenty to see inside at the rest of the 120 Maker stalls. The usual suspects were here with Hackspaces showing off their latest projects and companies like Just Add Sharks and Kitronik as usual. There were plenty of first timers as well. Two of new stalls this year that proved extremely popular and also winners of the Maker of Merit badges were Clarkcade with his handmade Retro Gaming Machines and ‘A Grand Tour’, a collection of knitting masterpieces by a local knitting group called Materialistics.

Some of the knitted masterpieces - part of 'A Grand Tour' by Materialistics

Some of the knitted masterpieces – part of ‘A Grand Tour’ by Materialistics

Pop culture clashes occurred at various points around the building as well, both a Dalek and giant Wookie using a lift to get upstairs, Rebel Pilots ambushing a T-Rex and a Doctor Who Robot, and the Dalek even managing to make it to the top of Times Square to watch EepyBird!

The T-Rex explored the Centre, and had face offs with robots, Daleks and Rebel Pilots!

The T-Rex explored the Centre, and had face offs with robots, Daleks and Rebel Pilots!

As with other years we had talks in the Science Theatre from regular visitors Vinay Gupta and Cory Doctorow, as well as newcomers like Mark Wrigley and Phil Case, hopefully inspiring a whole new bunch of people with their talks on the potential of 3D printing to create a new Industrial Revolution and their e-Wheelchair Project, respectively.

There were plenty of chances to do some making yourself as well! You could make gloop or jewellery, paper airplanes with Deer Shed Festival and Andy Chipling and of course, since it’s a Maker Faire, soldering with Mitch Altman, which proved popular as ever.

Soldering a Maker Badge with Mitch Altman, a classic Maker Faire activity!

Soldering a Maker Badge at Mitch Altman’s workshop, a classic Maker Faire activity!

And it would be remiss of us not to mention one of the many other great things that happened at Maker Faire UK this year. Rabbits. Tiny little red plastic rabbits. Everywhere. A ‘mysterious’ hackspace (we know who you are) was behind the reported thousands of rabbits being spread around the Centre and indeed by the sounds of it half of Newcastle! We’re finding more and more all the time and probably will be for months yet.

Just one of the hundreds of tiny red rabbits that now inhabit the Centre.

Just one of the hundreds of tiny red rabbits that now inhabit the Centre.

So all in all it was a fantastic and inspirational event that we all thoroughly enjoyed and we hope you did too!

5 Top Tips for Attending Maker Faire UK 2015

With just a few days to go until the fun starts, we thought you might like to know what to expect from Maker Faire UK, and read our top tips for getting the most out of your visit:

  1. Make a plan of action. With around 120 Makers spread around the Centre plus talks and performances, it can be easy to lose track of time. There will be a timetable of all the speakers and events happening throughout the weekend, plus maps of each area and information about Makers, so work out what you want to see and get organised. Some stalls can get quite busy, so you might want to return to those at quieter times or be prepared to wait.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time to get from one area to another, and budget for random distractions – there’s likely to be a lot of those! It gets very busy. Last year we had 10,000 people attend over the two days so be prepared!
  3. Get stuck in! The Makers are a friendly and enthusiastic bunch of people so they’ll always be glad to have a chat about what it is they do, and how and why they do it. Many stalls will have things for you to make, do and play with, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved.
  4. Bring a camera. With so much to see and do it’s worth having something to remember it by. Especially those things that really have to be seen to be believed! There’s also a good chance you’ll catch the Making bug (if you haven’t already) and go home full of plans to have a go yourself – pictures of the amazing things you see can be used as inspiration for your own making projects.
  5. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use the #MakerFaireUK on Twitter and Instagram to share your pictures, or post to our Facebook wall. Keep an eye on the official Maker Faire accounts for updates and suggestions throughout the day:

Maker Faire UK on Facebook

@MakerFaire_UK on Twitter


Spotlight on…Kitronik

Kitronik, a Nottingham based electronics company specialising in providing kits and resources for people to create their own electronic products, is exhibiting this weekend. They’ll be running an e-textiles workshop and also showcasing their interactive memory game which has been created specifically for the Faire using Kitronik products.

The ‘Simon Says’ game is designed for four people to compete against each other in a test of memory. The display on the top of the podium illuminates to show a sequence of coloured lights. The players then have to re-enter that exact sequence back onto the display within 10 seconds. The difficulty of the game increases as more steps are added to each sequence.

In addition to showcasing its new creation, Kitronik will also be hosting an e-textiles workshop. Kitronik is bringing Nottingham’s textile heritage into the digital age through the development of its range of e-textiles products. Known as Electro Fashion, these materials enable designers, crafters and makers to easily add electronics to their textiles projects.

Attendees will be able to create their own fabric badge using conductive thread which will illuminate a small LED. The materials are sewn together using conductive thread made specially by Kitronik and which requires no soldering.

Kitronik co-founder Kevin Spurr comments: “Nottingham is famed for its lace making and textile heritage and through Electro Fashion we are continuing this tradition and bringing it into the 21st Century.”

Kitronik was established in 2005 with the aim of helping people to design and make their own electronic projects. The company now works with over 3,000 UK secondary schools to provide both the materials, the resources and the support to make the teaching of Design and Technology relevant and engaging.

Kevin adds: “There has always been a huge appetite in the UK for making and inventing and Kitronik was set up to harness this enthusiasm within young people in schools and also those older people in the Maker community who want to build their own products.  We have certainly practiced what we preach with the invention of our memory game which we think will get plenty of use from attendees at the Maker Faire.”

Spotlight On… The Decahex Project

The Decahex project uses 10 GoPro cameras to create 360-degree bullet time captures. For the uninitiated, a bullet time capture involves an image spinning around a scene with the subject in the middle. Think of the famous scene in the Matrix where Neo avoids the bullets for the first time from Agent Smith as the camera spins round him.

Decahex Project Dome

Built into a dome, this project will let you do exactly that yourself! So think of the funniest pose you can do and get your 360 degree bullet time capture of it!

Built by Sophie Lanc, a student on the BSc Interactive Media Design course at Edinburgh Napier University, this is her final year honours project. It started out as a chat with the project supervisor Tom Flint about how to create an affordable bullet time video booth, that was also actually good. Which considering the multiple cameras and software needed to run something like this, isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Sophie has, from scratch, developed the software to not only control the cameras remotely and in sequence properly, but also to make this as simple as possible. The result is that instead of six steps to create the capture, it only takes two. Which is a lot easier!

Despite the steep learning curve for this project, with having little prior knowledge, the Decahex project is something that Sophie wants to develop further than just being an academic project.

So if you fancy getting a 360 degree bullet time capture of yourself doing a pose (and why wouldn’t you) you’ll find this upstairs in the Centre all weekend.

Spotlight On: Clarkcade… Hand Built Retro Gaming

The thirst for retro seems to be everywhere these days; clothes, sweets, even music; with vinyl sales up five fold in the last 5 years. And with Clarkcade you can enjoy classic retro games in a handmade purpose built gaming machine.

Clarkcade Classic

Simon, who runs Clarkcade, loved gaming as a child. He had a Commodore 64 to play cassette games on and grew up gaming. And still to this day he plays a lot of games. A lot. And it was this enthusiasm that led to Clarkcade.

It started as a summer project; building a gaming cabinet to play some retro games. It had an excessive amount of cabling, was incredibly heavy and overheated a lot, but was actually quite good. It was essentially a PC stuck in a nice wooden box, but it worked. So he iterated on the design, and since that first attempt three years ago he now has 5 different hand built retro gaming machines that you can buy.

All 5 models will be at Maker Faire UK this year. The Classic (similar to the very first one), Duo, Retro, Fighter and Mini Fighter. When you order a machine from him, the Hand Built part shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is basically all done by hand. The only concession is to use power tools to drill some of the holes. Most of the machine is customisable as well. You want a slightly different design on the vinyls around the box? Fine. You want a certain colours for the buttons? Easy. And he documents all the build process as well for you using Instagram so you can see it being built.

Clarkcade Retro

If you want a taste of retro gaming, and having a go on some hand built machines (and a taste of what’s coming to Life Science Centre with Game On 2.0 in May) then find Clarkcade in Zone B at Maker Faire UK this year.

Spotlight On… Deer Shed Festival

At some point in their life, most people will have made a paper airplane. The temptation can be a little bit too much sometimes. A spare bit of paper lying around in front of you and you know it’s only going to take a few folds to make a flying machine that can float across a room. This year at Maker Faire UK staff from the Deer Shed Festival will be on hand to help you to hone your skills with a little bit of professional help.

Paper Airplane

The aeronautical engineering expertise comes in the form of Andy Chipling, a professional paper airplane maker who has done some truly incredible things with them. Last year he helped out on a project to throw paper airplanes from space. Yes you read that right, space. And we’ve been reliably informed that he has given all of the Deer Shed Festival team the paper airplane making bug as well.

Taking place in July in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, this summer will be the 6th Deer Shed Festival. It started in 2010 as a one day and night event for music, art and kids’ stuff and has slowly expanded to last 3 days with much more happening with the features but also workshops for all ages, science activities and shows. Each year has had a different theme, which has included Time Travel and Monsters.

And the reason they are making paper airplanes at Maker Faire UK this year? Well the theme for this year is ‘Up in the Air’, so why not!

So if you fancy learning how to make the best paper airplanes from an expert, helped by some incredible staff from an awesome festival, come along and have a go!

Job Opportunity – Maker Wanted!

Life Science Centre are currently looking for a full time Maker to join the Public Engagement Team. If you’re interested, head over to the Life website for info and to apply:


Mini Maker Faire Meet Up

Interested  in running your own Mini Maker Faire? Here’s a invitation from Ian Simmons, Science Communication Director at Life:

In what is becoming an annual tradition I am pleased to invite anyone who runs a Mini Maker Faire (or indeed a full Maker Faire) or is interested in doing so to come to a pre-Faire informal meet up to share stories, pick up useful tips and meet other people who make Maker Faires.

 The Mini Maker Faire Meet Up will take place on Friday 24 April from 6.00pm – 9.00pm in the Blonde Barrel pub, Times Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne. This is easy to find from the Centre for Life – it’s just at the top of the square where Maker Faire UK takes place.

 Hope to see some of you there!