Maker Faire 2014: Festival kicks in with cool science and electronic wizardry

Posted on April 30, 2014



Maker Faire UK is an annual event to savour and Newcastle’s Centre For Life provides the perfect venue to showcase projects from the cream of maker culture. From hacking online games to cloud laser projection systems, robotics, printmaking and laser cutting, there was an eclectic menu of fun and fantastic activities on offer.

Simply wandering around Maker Faire 2014 provides so many random wonderful experiences for the curious at heart. At first sight the jumble of electronics kits and tables laid out with bits of board, wires and LEDs looks like the leftovers from a lab experiment. But there is real purpose and a lot more than blinking lights at work.

Take artist and inventor Dave Lynch. Dave is part of the Jam Jar Collective who have been regulars at Maker Faire UK for several years. His projects include the awesome ‘The Horse In Motion‘, a mobile projection re-work of photographer and inventor Edweard Muybridge‘s motion capture of a running horse, freed from the screen and running through the city


Project Nimbus
Projecting moving images onto clouds and other water vapour is the aim of ‘Project Nimbus’. Dave produced the laser zoopraxiscope, showcased at Maker Faire, as part of an experiment to use digital and analogue equipment to display images directly onto clouds using a projector on the ground or from aircraft such as planes, paragliders and hot air balloons. Five years of work and research has gone into developing Project Nimbus, including collaboration or conversation with sailors, weapons experts, artists and scientists.

Intriguingly (and also a bit scarily) the ideas for this large scale moving image project project came from a US military paper written by Robert J Bunker. In the paper, Bunker talks about producing holographic images to scare criminals, opposing armies and civilians into submission or, literally, to death. What Dave liked about the idea was its potential use as a non-lethal ‘weapon of mass communication’: a way to show symbols of hope and powerful ideas.

Laser Zoopraxiscope Mk2

Laser Zoopraxiscope Mk2

He also writes about some really interesting real time vector laser videos on his Project Nimbus site, using open source software for programming (OpenLase). The videos below show some of the results, including a Kinect-based projection mapping at Codebits

ALSO… Check out the cool ball-bearing rollercoaster that the Jam Jar Collective displayed at Maker Faire 2013 in the video below. There is an guide on how to put this little beauty together. Information on other Jam Jar Collective projects and members are available on the website.