The First Annual Omaha Mini Maker Faire Was Definitely Something To Write Home About

If you ask me, Omaha’s first annual Mini Maker Faire was a rousing success. I think that the Faire’s coordinator, [Eric] of Omaha Maker Group would readily agree.The event was held at the Omaha Children’s Museum, an energetic and colorful backdrop for the 30 makers who were on hand to present their creations.

KITTThe representatives of the [Omaha Maker Group] had a total of three booths. One of them displayed the various fantastic things that have come out of their ‘space, which we will cover in an upcoming post. They brought the PiPhone that I told you about in my Kansas City Maker Faire post, and [Foamyguy] found a melodic easter egg hidden in the menu. [OMG] also brought their solar-powered EL wire logo sign, a quadcopter, a giant brushbot, a hexapod, a cigar box guitar, a really fun marble run, a steampunk Barbie, and KITT, their award-winning Power Racing Series car. And yeah, you bet it has a Larson scanner.

At their second booth, Fairegoers were constructing their own regular-size brushbots using 3D-printed chassis. These were specially designed to accommodate the toothbrush heads, pager motors, and CR2032s they brought to share. [Sarah] of [OMG] had her own popular booth and was showing off her costumes, clay creations, and jewelry.

Early on, I stopped at [Nicole]’s booth called Upcycled Art and made a bracelet using soda can tabs and ribbon. She’s a local artist who makes button art, among other things. While I wove ribbon through the tabs and talked with her, my companion, [Foamyguy] was hard at work constructing a rosette out of magazine pages.

canoe building rig

Across the way, another local artist named [Kjell] was demonstrating steam bending techniques. [Kjell] has made three canoes, a few paddles, and a surfboard out of thin strips of hardwoods and fiberglass. He had a small jig set up and was letting kids add a piece of wood to a small canoe mock-up by gluing it to the topmost piece and stapling it to the frame.

Back in the theatre area of the museum were a couple of booths devoted to the edible side of making. At [Tom and Abby]’s Cultured Veggies, I tasted some delicious homemade pickles and sampled two stages of kombucha, which is a tasty tea-based beverage made possible through lacto-fermentation. I passed on the sauerkraut, but I’m sure it was . . . scrumptious. Next to them was the [Omaha Biofuels Coop], who advocate the use of waste vegetable oil as a fuel either directly or upon being processed into biodiesel.

I was drawn to a nearby table by a tray full of assorted googly eyes. After discussing the possibility of making Kit-Cat clock eyes with [Peggy], I realized that her table was associated with the one next to it, Make It/Move It. Kids could make a thing at [Peggy]’s table and animate it against various backgrounds on a stop-motion rig at the other.

At the edge of the theatre was Nervous Foot, a hack/art installation in the form of a tapping antique wooden shoe form. When someone approached the Foot, it would dance using an an Arduino and a solenoid.

Star Wars thanksgivingThe Lincoln-Omaha LEGO User Group, or [LOLUG] brought some really cool stuff, including a mock-up of the Nebraska state capitol building and two LEGO trains. My favorites, though, were the Minecraft cube and the Star Wars Thanksgiving dinner scene.

Speaking of food, I should have worked off the hot dog and chips I ate from a food truck on the bike powered generator, but that was a busy attraction. I did use their hand crank generator to light a small bulb at the top.

A very enthusiastic kid named [Russell] was singing the praises of learning programming with a special nod to Codeacademy and Scratch. He is most excited about building Minecraft mods and showed us a pair of Portal portals he’d made. Over to one side, he had an NXT robot constantly drawing a pizza-looking thing.

I was pleasantly surprised to see two of the hacks I have written about, the homemade bazooka from [Lethal Engineering] and [Will]’s birthday gift claw machine. [Will] brought the machine stocked with tiny Slinkys and gummy splat things, neither of which I was able to grab. Plenty of kids walked away happy, though, and there was a constant line of young hopefuls. [Lethal Engineering] also brought a remote control lawnmower and snowblower base.

I saw my first giant LED cube in person, and it was really cool. The same guy also had a hexapod and another robot with 3D-printed mecanum wheels. He was demonstrating 3D-printed parts for robotics and electronics.

Among the other, more artsy booths was Union Coop Studios, whose makers were screen printing souvenir posters. Nearby was a booth devoted to beautiful Chinese embroidery and drawings. The UNL Maker Club was set up in the museum’s permanent maker space, and they had Arduinos set up with hands-on demonstrations of LEDs and motors.

What’s the first picture about, you ask? I’m still kicking myself, honestly. Representatives from the [Houchen Bindery] were helping kids make those tiny books using buckram binding techniques like they do at the library. Simply put, we were too late to get one. They had a special offer going for the Faire: for $35, parents could have their children’s artwork preserved for all eternity in one of 15 colors of buckram.

Ideally, [Eric] and [OMG] want to grow the event enough to support the Power Racing Series. All in all, I had a great time, even if I missed my chance at a tiny commemorative book.

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