Inspired by Arduinos, Do It Your Selfing, and the Big Maker Faire

11/29/13

I’ve always enjoyed making cool things. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher at Grant K-8 School told me about Arduinos, micro-controllers that can be used to input data from sensors and to control outputs such as LEDs and motors. I also learned about Make, a magazine, blog, and store devoted to making, DIYing (Do It Your Selfing), and building cool things.

I was really inspired by Arduinos because you can create complicated devices to do amazing things—like building a robot that drives around autonomously. It works by using an ultrasound sensor to measure distance, with only a few input and outputs, and some wires. The rest is code. Arduinos are great for getting the gears in your mind to move because it is easy to try out some of their endless possibilities.

Make is great because it is full of articles of awesome things other people have made. The majority of the articles explain how an object works, and Make even has instructions on how to build your own version of it.

The major Maker Faire convention is in the Bay Area once a year. After lots of making, and hearing about Maker Faire from my teacher, reading Make magazine, and the Make blog, I decided I really wanted to go to Maker Faire. More than 100,000 people attended the two-day event in San Mateo, CA.

My dad and I purchased tickets and off we went. We flew on a Saturday morning from San Diego to San Francisco. On the plane flight, I was reading Make magazine and it said that after going to Maker Faire I would be inspired—and I was!

We stayed at a hotel close by and walked to and from Maker Faire. When we were walking, we met a kid who had a panel about open source learning. Open source means that all the design details, code and such are put on the Internet so everybody can see it.

At the front gates of Maker Faire, there were tall metal statues, 20-feet high. When you jumped on plates nearby, the statues would start breathing fire. There were spinning bicycle wheels with LEDs on them that displayed images of drawings that people had scanned. There was also a giant—like 20 ton—walking giraffe.

At Makers Faire, people at the booths tell you about how their contraptions work and how they made them. I really enjoyed not just being able to look at their devices, but also see them working and to hear exactly how they work.

I’d LOVE to go back! Attending Makers Faire for two days was the most fun of my life. I enjoyed seeing things other people had made, especially from objects, such as Arduinos, that I had used or heard about. One of the best things about Maker Faire, was the fact that most of the time the people who had made the creation were right there, happy to tell me about it and to answer my questions.

Now I’ve built two really cool Do It Yourself things—an Arduino-powered robot that drives around and avoids obstacles in front of it and a robo helmet that my friend and I built. I am finishing the electronics for the helmet.

Next week is going to be the first-ever San Diego Mini Maker Faire.

It’s on December 7, from 10 am to 6 pm, in the Bing Crosby Hall at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. I’m planning to have both the helmet and the Arduino-powered vehicle at the San Diego Mini Maker Faire. If you come check them out, I’ll tell you how I made them.

Cameron Cage, 12, is in sixth-grade at Grant K-8 School in San Diego. Follow @

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