Maker Faire Hannover: The Right Way To Do It

On these pages we bring you plenty of reports from events, most of which are from the hacker or hardware communities. These can be great fun to attend, but they’re not the only game in town when looking at things adjacent to our community. At what you might describe as the consumer end of the market there are the Maker Faires, which bring a much more commercial approach to a tech event. While so many of us are in Germany for Chaos Communication Camp there’s a maker faire ideally placed to drop in on the way back. We took the trip to Hannover, a large and rather pleasant city just off the Berlin to Amsterdam motorway roughly central to the top half of the country. It’s got one of the German emissions zones so without the green tax sticker in the car we took a park-and-ride on one of their clean and efficient trams to alight a short walk from the congress centre.

Plenty To See, And It’s Not All For Kids

After the formalities of buying a ticket, we were straight in to the halls. It was a big event so we’ll pass on trying to list everything, instead it’s probably better to take a look at the flavour of a typical maker faire, and assess how this one measures up. It’s something you may have noticed over the years that here at Hackaday we’ve spent more time at camps and conferences than these events, and often with good reason as they tend to veer towards vendors and stuff for kids. There are only so many educational robot kits that we can cover, and after a while it’s clear that perhaps these are not the events for us. So when my friends suggested dropping in to this one I was initially up for it as a day out, but not necessarily as a hot prospect for these pages. I was thus pleasantly surprised to see that the organisers in Hannover had pulled off the impossible, because alongside all the stuff for kids was a healthy dose of grown-up tech. My day started to look interesting.

First up was a walk round the event, from which it’s best to try to give you a flavour rather than individually list everything. The whole thing was spread across several halls and through the grounds of the centre, with what I would class as the main hall being the first one beyond the entrance. In here were many of the traditional maker faire exhibitors, but it was in the further halls where for me the action lay. We hung out for a while with a bunch of friends from Makerspace Minden and enjoyed their supreme-quality German cake, before looking further.

Stand-outs for me were the people with an impressive array of working teleprinters, a stand populated entirely with exactly my kind of aged test equipment (I never did get exactly who they were, my German is nonexistent), and outside in the open air a group of German blacksmiths who had set up their forge. This wasn’t the only opportunity for me to wallow in the past though, because they also had an entire hall set aside for robotic combat. It’s rare for me to wish for SMIDSY again, but it’s good to see such creativity on show.

You Can’t Go To Germany Without Visiting A Beer garden

So that was Hannover Maker Faire, and I hope the pictures tell the story better than the words. It was hotter than hades and the catering and drinks prices were scandalous, but the quality of the sausages at least lived up to their price. Meanwhile the event was unexpectedly good for a maker faire, and definitely worth going to. The day wasn’t over though, because the lads form Makerspace Minden had further plans. Wülfeler Biergarten is a traditional  German beer garden somewhere on the southern side of the city, and we repaired to its comforting embrace with them to wash away the day with the local Gilde beer and mountains of some of the best pork ribs I have ever tasted. Thhe perfect end to what turned out to be a pretty good day.

16 thoughts on “Maker Faire Hannover: The Right Way To Do It

  1. Beer Gardens!
    The best part of Germany!
    Every air traffic control tower, primary school and police station has an attached beer garden!

    Also good beer for under 10 euro/case.
    Once my tax paying years are past, I might have to exercise my dual citizenship.

    1. Sorry to be “that” person. But good beer for <10€/crate is a thing of the past now :( Even the most common no-character standard beers like Krombacher, Veltins and others are up to 17€/crate due to "in"flation. More like greedflation I think.
      It's quite sad. I buy my beer when there's a deal at the local beer-supermarket. To be fair that deal can be had on a regular basis…

      1. We’re up here too. Mass produced, American made copies like Becks’ and Lowenbrau are about $13 for 12 (and higher, that’s the good price).

        German cases are almost exactly 5 American 6 packs. We pay about double.
        Beer arbitrage!

        Granting American can cereal malt beverages (e.g. Budweiser) are cheaper, but aren’t beer.

        1. Ive saw different documentations and many ‘beers’ arent actually beer. I have tried budweaser during a semester abroad and still dont understand how you can drink that. But unluckily manys beers here turned into something similar. Thats why we have these new craftbeer breveries again, people want try real beer/taste. But you get still good beer and also variety in Czech republic, poland and Belgum. In one documentation they said its because the companys get fewer and bigger, like the movie companys in hollywood. So many beers comes from huge tanks, with the same processes like the other.

  2. Thats not only German, thats a Hannover German Maker Fair. The Germans under the Germans ;-)
    Even the Language there :-D
    I#m just kidding, it will a little bit like an Overengeneered Fair, or really really well planned.

    May the Passierschein A38 be with you!

  3. Part of the Fair were some really interesting talks as well.

    Really intersting was the Talk about “revers engineering and hacking of the Toniebox” done by [Team RevvoX].
    (You can find the slides here:

    They did a brief introduction in the different Hardware Revisions, explained how everyone can create own tonie figurines with custom NFC tags and explained how to implement your own audio content.

    In addition they showed a custom firmware and bootloader project, which is doing a live patching of the original firmware while it is booting up to add some cool new features. They even developed a hardware modification that let you use your favorite Bluetooth headsets with a Bluetooth module build into the toniebox. (

    But most impressive is their teddyCloud project. It is a self hosted Cloud Service that is distributing audio content to the connected Tonieboxes. This acts as a ‘man in the middle’ and is injecting within the regular communication between the Toniebox and the official TonieCloud Service in that way, that the user is able to manage all Tonie figurines and their custom tags / self created Tonie figurines, to control which NFC Tag (e.g. original Tonie figurines / custom NFC tags / …) is playing back which audio content (e.g. original Tonie content or self uploaded content). In comparison to the “creative Tonies” that you can officially buy, the custom tags have no limitation of 90 Minutes.

    While the [Team RevvoX] was developing teddyCloud, they realized that the box is almost constantly sending information back to the TonieCloud Servers. There are not just the WLAN SSIDs included that the box can connect to, but all SSIDs that are visible to the Toniebox. All interactions like volume control, tilting of the box, skipping a treack, placing the box on its charging station, whether a headphone is used or not, which Figurine is acutally placed on the box, etc. are reported as well.

    This might all be covered in more or less cryptic sentences within their conditions or not, but [Team RevvoX] did not care how well the “Datenschutz” is handled by the Toniebox. They went ahead and build a HomeAssistant implementation by forwarding these information over to HASS by using the MQTT protocol.
    This way you can not just show the actual status of the Toniebox, which volumen level it is on or which content (with the detailed picture of the figurine) is actually played. But you can also use these information in addition to the Home Assistant automation. You could e.g. close the shutters and dimm the lights as sonn as a certain Tonie for the sleeping routine of your kids is placed on the box. They should even a implementation of a Spotify Playlist, which is started and stopped on a Sonos Box, every time a specific Tonie figurine is placed onto the Toniebox. This opens up a whole new level on possibilities to let the targeted kids age of the Toniebox controll specific actions on Sonos with pre defined kids audio content that most of the user have as a subsciption anyway.

    If you like getting started into the the Toniebox hacking universe, there is a blog post that I can recommend.
    It gives you a general overview what [Team RevvoX] has already done and what is possible to do with the Toniebox.

    For more information you can join their Telegram Chat Channel:

    1. This green thingy is not a tax sticker at all, it certifies that the vehicle you are driving (license plate registration is shown on the sticker) meets certain emission standards. Different emission standards are color coded. You cannot just buy it, if your car is a stinker and doesn’t meet the respective standard, you just can’t get that sticker and you cannot enter those zones (with certain exceptions like ambulances, certified “vintage cars”, etc etc)

  4. This was also an opportunity to meet Eben Upton in person, CEO of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.. He gave a talk on the Pico on Sunday, but was also just standing around casually at the booth of “BerryBase” on Satuirday, wearing an “Eben” LED-nametag and happily answering questions and posing for the inevitable selfies with whoever recognized him.

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