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Gallery: Meet the makers, and the stuff they made

All things made, from BSG Viper simulators, 3D printer MakerBots, motorized cupcakes and flame-spewing mechanical art exhibits

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Past Maker Faire's main entrance, a signpost directs visitors to the festival's wide variety of exhibitors.

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John Boyer worked with four other high school friends to design and build The Viper, a fully rotational, virtual flight simulator, modeled after a ship of the same name from the popular television series Battlestar Galactica. "We're lucky enough to have a group of friends that's really into this stuff," he said.

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The entire ship, including frame, weighs about 1,200 pounds, and the design and software are open sourced. "We knew what the problem was, and wanted to find a solution ourselves," said Boyer. He estimates it would cost someone around $20,000 to build a Viper of their own.

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Jennifer Williams has been building motorized cupcake vehicles for the past five years (despite the fact her latest model is actually a blueberry muffin). The idea was originally conceived for Nevada's annual Burning Man festival, and involves repurposed go karts and electric scooters with various cupcake frames built ontop.

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Richard Wilks (left) and Rick Washburn (right) look at schematics for Washburn's next motorized cupcake vehicle, which he designed, in-part, using Adobe Illustrator. "I'm a steampunk kind of guy, which is why mine will have a little more attitude on the inside," said Washburn.

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Another Maker Faire exhibitor built a chocolate-flavoured cupcake with sprinkles. "You can't have anything normal," said Wilks. "You have to have mutant vehicles."

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Christian Ristow brought his 12-foot mechanical art exhibit "Face Forward" to this year's Maker Faire. "We have an interesting musculature in our faces that serves no other purpose than communication," he said. Ristow's piece took three months to build, and has 12 different facial features that can be controlled individually by users with joysticks.

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Rather than a dominant user take control and delegate others, Ristow has found that most people—children in particular—prefer to interact with the exhibit on their own. "It was an experiment to see whether groups could work together to achieve a common goal," he explained.

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The Flux Foundation—an Oakland-based studio that designs and builds large-scale art, often involving fire—brought a small installation called the Dragon Wagon. Visitors were invited to press a small handle at the base of the dragon's neck to control its breath of fire.

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Another, larger, Flux Foundation installation, Brollyflock, consists of an array of umbrellas, some of which shoot flame, while others blanket those standing beneath with a cooling mist. "What if this sort of thing was taught in school?" asked Foundation member Margaret Long. "If people were exposed to building earlier, things would be different."

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After years of playing guitar, piano and other instruments, Warren Komitshek decided to make an instrument of his own—a combination of instruments, in fact—in the interest of forming a one man band. "I didn't think I was going to be able to pull it off at first," he said, laughing.

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NASA Engineer Eric Stackpole set out to make a cheap, powerful underwater submersible that anyone could build. "We want to build a whole community of underwater explorers," explained Jelena Jovanovic, who is the project manager of OpenROV. "Historically, it's been too expensive for the average person to do."

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The OpenROV unit can reach depths of up to 100 metres, and uses a cheap webcam and tiny onboard computer to explore places that are otherwise too dirty, dull dangerous, or distant for traditional divers. Raw materials cost about $450 to build at home, but pre-made kits will sell for $750 on the company's web site soon.

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MakerBot Industries' Replicator 3D printer extrudes ABS plastic—the same material used to make LEGO—through a heating element to turn computer-generated models into real physical objects.

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Spools of plastic in various sizes and colours—including one that glows in the dark—can be purchased from the MakerBot website for, on average, about $50.

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While many have criticized 3D printers for their inability to print nothing more than small knick-knacks and toys, the company printed a number of larger, more complicated multi-part designs at Maker Faire with the hopes of proving otherwise.

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The Fun Bike Unicron Club is a group of makers interested in old-timey bikes and human-powered kinetic vehicles. Pictured here is Todd Barricklow's Two Penny bike, based on the design of an old Rudge Rotary Tricycle from the late 1800s.

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One of the group's many other contraptions, a four-person kinetic vehicle called the Thenagain Bomber.

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After raising over $300,000 on Kickstarter—far exceeding their modest goal of $25,000—MaKey MaKey demoed its kid-friendly invention kit for Maker Faire attendees. "It's a way to use things in everyday life as an input device," said co-creator Eric Rosenbaum (right), with other creator Jay Silver (left). "Anything that's even a little bit conductive can be used as a switch."

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Here, kids use a MaKey MaKey prototype to turn multiple bananas into piano keys. "The human skin isn't the problem," says Rosenbaum. "It's when you start messing around with fruits and vegetables that you have to amplify very faint conductive signals."

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Mythbuster Adam Savage addresses the crowd during his Sunday morning talk, "Why We Make," in the San Mateo Event Center's Fiesta Hall.

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A volunteer at TechShop—a growing chain of North America membership workspaces for DIY enthusiasts and makers—constructs a bike frame from bamboo shafts.

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The Electric Giraffe Project—a 1,700 pound, 17-foot giraffe that can carry riders on its back—is a yearly Maker Faire favourite.

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The Crucible is a user-controlled installation that shoots fire on-command, and was produced by a non-profit educational facility of the same name with the goal of fostering interest in industrial arts (and fire).

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The shell of this vehicle was made entirely with machine-cut metal designed in Autodesk's 3D modelling software.

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A Boston-based, open-source robotics company called ArcBotics has been developing a low-cost hexapod that it plans to sell as a kit online.

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A fleet of replica R2-D2 units roam the floor.

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The Bay Area R2 Builders club has been building replica R2 units since the late 1990s, based on a combination of movie stills and designs and specifications from original models used in the film.

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The astromech droids are controlled remotely, and some even boast speakers to replicate the bleeps and bloops of the Star Wars movies.

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Another Bay Area group, formed in 2007 from former R2 Builders Club members, is dedicated to building replicas of the robot WALL-E from the Pixar film of the same name.

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Gon KiRin is one of Maker Faire's numerous fire-art installations, a nearly 60-foot long dragon built on the frame of a circa 1963 dump truck.

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Replica Master Chief helmets, from the best-selling Xbox video game franchise Halo, have been painstakingly recreated by Sonoma County costume and prop maker Shawn Thorsson in his spare time.

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Thorsson has brought numerous video game and movie creations to life, including characters from Warhammer 40,000, Dead Space, Mass Effect and the Republic Commando helmets from the Star Wars franchise pictured here.

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Exhibitor Vintage-Computer.com celebrated the 35th anniversary of the first personal computers introduced in 1977 with an original Apple II, designed and also signed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, computer manufacturer Tandy Corporation sold a line of early desktop computers through Radio Shack, such as the TRS-80 Model I pictured here.

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