There is a 21st-century urban utopia taking shape in West Oakland. Housed in a compound of buildings spanning one city block, O2 Artisans’ Aggregate is a hotbed of makers, visionaries and craftspeople working in a collectively minded and environmentally progressive way.

O2 artisans include Juniper Ridge wilderness perfume makers, Irongrain steel fabrication, Perennial Restaurant, Ponderosa Tree Service, Lucas Ford Woodworking, Fusebox Kitchen, Atelier Dion ceramics, and more. O2 also is developing systems of large-scale reuse to combat the loss of resources in our society. By recycling industrial food waste into high-nutrient animal feed, developing an integrated aquaponic system that will grow veggies and fish symbiotically, and implementing a wide-ranging portfolio of other sustainable systems, O2 is an unprecedented hub for holistic urban development.

At O2’s heart is the renowned master builder, designer and ordained Buddhist priest Paul Discoe. A Bay Area luminary, Paul founded the design-build studio Joinery Structures and after retirement decided to devote his time to solving environmental issues through design. Paul seeks to build systems that will be passed on to enthusiastic entrepreneurs and like-minded environmental businesses. We are thrilled to welcome Paul as an East Bay Mini-Maker Faire presenter, and we caught up with him to find out more about O2 and his visions for sustainable, waste-free business.

Why are you creating O2?

I’ve become quite concerned about waste in our society. In my study of Buddhism, Dogen Zenji wrote about taking water from the stream; how after drinking half the dipper, he would return any leftover to rejoin the water. Buddhism in general teaches you not to correct the manipulation of the outside world, but to correct the manipulation of your inner world. Not wasting is one thing you can do that affects both inner and outer.

What are your goals for the O2 space?

The plan is not to have ideas that can be scaled up and centralized, but to have projects that can be multiplied many times in localized environments. My long-term goal is for this project to be internally self- sustaining, with an equal balance of things going in and things going out.

What is the most challenging aspect of this project and what have you learned?

My first non-wood building study was growing fish, and it has taken me eight years to figure out how to grow fish. Now, I’m working on how to feed fish without depleting ocean resources. The next hurdle is how to create an animal feed that uses industrial byproducts such as brewery grains, distillers grains, bran sifting from cereal manufacturing and tofu paste. I would like to learn about, refine and then expand these experimental projects, and I would like to find mentors and peers who are interested in doing the same thing.

What is your favorite project going on at the compound?

We are taking this so called “waste water” that we use for washing bathing, irrigating, cleaning, and renewing it in a way that does not use more energy than it saves, making the water available again. Because of current health rules and Americans general concern about water health, this will be a long learning curve.

How does this model work financially?

In a most literal way I’m investing in startups; making processes and infrastructure and hoping some young person will take these and run with them. Profits will come later as we work towards building sustainable models.

Do you feel that the change in Oakland is positive?

All change has to be positive, because change is the nature of reality, but we also must be careful not to undo some of the benefits of the previous way of doing things as we are going through these changes. I feel it’s important for Oakland in particular, to set aside a place for people to experiment with messy, dirty, noisy things and make and re-use objects for the local community. Otherwise we are destined to have everything imported from afar.

How would you describe the space in few words?

A graffiti artist wrote at our entrance “Sacred Ground” which may or not be the case, but I would like to see it move in that direction.

Come take advantage of a fantastic opportunity to hear more from this master maker, Paul Discoe, in our Magnolia Great Room on Sunday at 1:30 pm at the Faire. Tickets still available here:

Jeadi Vilchis, a STEM consultant and devoted maker educator from Oakland is passionate about utilizing maker-centric tools to positively influence learning within the Oakland community. His projects with students include building LEGO robots, and using CNC routers and 3-D printers. A native of East Oakland and a product of the Oakland public school system, Vilchis has a passion for teaching students and teachers in the OUSD community about installing and managing maker spaces and designing curriculum that integrates making as a key aspect to learning STEM.


“Lots of people view STEM disciplines as difficult to learn and master. I would like to change the paradigm of what it means to work with STEM,” Vilchis says. “I think by installing maker spaces in schools and educational institutions, students can learn and be drawn into STEM experientially. I also think showing them a way to design and create tangible objects that people see value in transforms their interest and passion into entrepreneurship.”

At East Bay Mini Maker Faire, Vilchis and his students from Castlemont High School will introduce fairegoers to the world of creating tangible objects with 3-D printing. Students will also bring signs and earrings, designed and made by them, for attendees to see—and buy!

Vilchis has worked with various schools, including St. Lawrence O’Toole, Metwest High, San Leandro High, and Castlemont High School, and he offers consulting services through his company, Neologix, to educate teachers and students on setting up, maintaining, and utilizing cost-effective maker technologies. He wants to make a difference in the way STEM is taught to Oakland public schools and strongly believes that adding maker spaces within the school will increase the likelihood of young students from lower-income background succeeding in STEM fields. This belief is rooted in his experience working in education, with a particular emphasis on serving youth from lower-income families in San Francisco and Oakland communities for nearly 15 years. His principle focus is to uncover their potential and introduce new options in their choice of professions. His strategy is simple: If you can help students make tangible objects with the concepts they’re learning, and walk them through the building process, you get them interested. If the students can then sell their creations, they start thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs.


At left, middle school students from St. Lawrence O’Toole (K–8) work with Autodesk Tinkercad on a challenge to design a fruit. The winner of the contest got to print the design on a 3-D printer.

Vilchis started his educational career as part of Year Up Bay Area, a program that helps low-income youth of color ages 18 to 24 secure jobs in high-tech and obtain higher college education. He also worked with Upward Bound, whose goal is to get students from low-income families to complete secondary education and earn college degrees. For the last year and a half he has been solely focused on enabling kids in STEM, with an emphasis on making and maker spaces. lasercut_ruler

Vilchis’s hope is to make “institutions self-sufficient in the long run so that making is integrated into the curriculum and kids from an early age learn how to visualize a concept, think about its application, and build a real-world, tangible object from it.”

The ruler in the picture at right was designed and created by high schoolers from Castlemont High School in their own maker space as part of the SUDA works program.

The importance of making and maker spaces

Making provides a powerful learning experience for young kids as they are involved in the entire life cycle of how something comes to being. It helps them walk through the process of building a real object from a vague concept or idea. This in turn transforms them into critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Introducing students from to robotics, computer science, programming, 3-D printers, CNC routers, laser cutters, and power tools awakens their engagement as they are enabled to make tangible associations with their thinking and design processes.

Vilchis has watched students build furniture, jewelry, pendants, signs, rulers, and Lego robots that are programmed with sensors that enable them to follow commands. Quite a few of his students have also monetized their creations at maker faires and festivals, and are making the next natural transition into entrepreneurs—a very satisfying and rewarding experience that gives kids the incentive to stay engaged and feel productive.


The full cycle of making in action! 

The images at left showcase the essence of making, as high schoolers from Castlemont High School learned how to design their own earrings and signs, and used laser cutters to create commodities that they


could then sell to make money during the Malcolm X Jazz festival in Oakland.

The picture at right shows students experimenting with robotics using Lego Mindstorms Ev3 kits. These kids are part of the Holy Names University Upward Bound project, which is funded by the United States Department of Education to help further higher education in kids from low-income families whose parents don’t have bachelor’s degrees.

Maker spaces—and their cost implications—are varied, but all set the stage for success

makerspaceThe cost of establishing maker spaces can range from $5,000 to $125,000, with the median cost around $75,000. The most basic design space can have a low-end 3-D printer, CNC router, vinyl cutter, and power tools for building with wood. Higher-end versions might include higher-end equipment, as well as additional tools like laser cutters.table_11thgrader

The picture to the left shows the FabLab in Castlemont High School, which is equipped with CNC routers, a table saw, a chop saw, various power tools, 3-D printers, and laser cutters. The picture at right shows an 11th grader building a table using power tools like drills and a table saw for the FabLab.

This illustrates the power of making with cheaper, cost-effective tools and raw materials. Basically, kids learn that they can use skills from building utilitarian objects on a day-to-day basis. Since they actively participate in the making process, they have well-founded respect for the raw materials and objects that they use.


Advice to students

Vilchis advises kids to actively seek out making in their free time as a way to solidify their learning experience. He also urges students to read up online on making and maker spaces, and to subscribe to Make: magazine. He also tells them that he taught himself robotics and computer programming, and he notes that tools are available in spaces like the SF Tech Shop, which gives students a chance to learn how to work with CNC routers, laser cutters, and other tools.

Vilchis urges kids to take advantage of East Bay institutions like Laney College FabLab and Ace Monster Toys Hackerspace as resources for learning about and experiencing maker tools. Even if their schools don’t yet have the budget to support on-site maker spaces, they can still access—and master—tools at these facilities.

Interested in learning more about Vilchis’s thoughts and work? Check out this video with Cat Bobino:

camp_tipsyGuess what ???  We are stinkingly proud to present Camp Tipsy at EBMMF 2016 !!

Join Camp Tipsy at the EBMMF and build your own rotten boats using 2/4s, pieces of plywood, rope, foam and any interesting tidbits from their pile of junk that fits your style, skill, disposition and imagination. They will be bringing power tools to the fair for you to use at their booth so you can go buck-wild and see what you end up making!

They are hoping for a body of H2O to test out your amazing; heartfelt creations, but water or not you will be building boats at their maker booth!

Because, because, because It’s fun to build a boat !!!

We spoke with Colin Fahrion who is a board member at the San Francisco Institute of Possibility.and helps with branding, event planning and everything else that makes art and creation a possibility!


riverboat-2016What is Camp Tipsy and who came up with the boat building idea?

Camp Tipsy is an annual rotten-boat building contest and camp-out held at East Park Reservoir in Colusa County, California organized by the SFIOP.

The event is open to all ages and skill levels with the idea being, building the silliest, sloppiest, craziest boats with a possibility of floating in the lake.  The goal is to build a boat that stems from your imagination with recycled junk and awesome power tools amidst nature. The only lay of the lake at Camp Tipsy is, what goes in the lake comes out of the lake with no trace left behind.

The idea of building boats was the brainchild of the legendary Chicken John who also happens to be the executive director of SFIOP.

power-toolsAt Camp Tipsy they have an entire workshop dedicated to building boats, equipped with power tools, wood, foam, bottles, milk jugs, furniture and random pieces of  scraps that they lovingly refer to as a pile of junk . Once the boats have been built and flaunted on the lake they get dismantled and the materials go back in the pile they came from. Occasionally people bring their own building material and leave it behind when the event ends for reuse the following year.

Colin tells us when he first thought of going to the event he was extremely intimidated by the idea of building. However he showed up with no clue on what to build and with no tools of his own. Not only did he build his first boat, he ended up as the winner of one of the contest categories. Ever since, he has been fondly returning to the event year after year for a total of 5 years now! Boat builders at Camp Tipsy are often fondly referred to as recreationeer (recreation + engineer).

What are the some of the fun aspects of Camp Tipsy ? 

mermaidOf course, the funnest and biggest attraction is the idea of building a boat from concept to realization. Additional gratification comes from the act of winning a valueless award for absurd categories like “Unnecessary use of materials”, “Boat most likely to sink but doesn’t”, “Boat least like a boat”, “Worst Implementation”, “Worst Idea”, “Least Effort” etc. The kids can enjoy their own category called “Sherif of kidtown”, which is the first award that is given at the contest, naturally as kids go first at Camp Tipsy.

Kids love being outdoors and watching the different creative boats on the lake and enjoy being in the water.

Colin brought up that one of his funnest memories from the past events is when this child just pushed her father into the lake and climbed on him to make the “Least Effort” category boat, ROFL!
In addition to the main fun event they have kids play zone near the shallow part of the lake, where kids typically hang out while adults are having fun building boats. The kids zone is  away from the stage area where the musical bands play every evening. There are live music events for kids to enjoy earlier in the day as well.  Dancing is also part of the fun times. The intent is for the event to be family friendly and open to all age groups.

How many years has Camp Tipsy been in the running and what is the attendance like?

Camp Tipsy finished its 11th year in 2016 and had close to 700 participants this past summer. It is a four day long event and generally people bring camping supplies when they come in and utilize mostly what’s in the Tipsy warehouse to build boats. Part of wrapping up the event is cleaning up after yourselves and dismantling what you build and returning the raw materials used in the construction back to the pile of junk.


Do you remember any boats that were Likely to Sink, but didn’t?

Strap enough foam or barrels on and it’s hard to make it sink. Usually the problem is capsizing or being too big to paddle. That said the person last year who created the kayak out of PVC pipes and billboard vinyl was impressive!


Which category sees the most entries?

Least Effort is always a popular entry and as a result one of the hardest to judge and win.

couch boat

Are electric or high  power motorized boats being built at Camp Tipsy? 

The boats that are typically built at Camp Tipsy are either pedal powered motorized boats or human powered boats. Most boats are low powered motorized or a mile an hour boats. They typically encourage building boats that people can navigate using oars and pedals.

Bringing motorized boats and jet skis is not encouraged as that goes against the very idea that Camp Tipsy stands for.

What are some unique and interesting boats that have been built over the years ? 

Colin named a few pedal powered ferris wheel boat, hot-tub boat and three-storied boat. We found a few images for your enjoyment, that looked fun and interesting from the photo gallery that Colin shared from the event last year as well.

















The Tinkering Studio returns to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire with all essential Maker elements: new projects and eclectic materials. Do-it-yourself science. Things that may or may not work as expected. And prototypes that you can help test and shape with your own experiments.

tinkering-8 Offering projects in the prototype stage comes naturally. “It’s what we’re really good at,” says Ryoko Matsumoto of the Tinkering Studio, part of San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum. “We spend a lot of time with our activities at the prototype stage to craft an experience that has the qualities we care about, but whenever we are developing something new, we try to bring it out on the museum floor and test it with visitors as soon as possible.”

Their new balance activity began just two weeks ago, and Ryoko says she’s excited to try it out with visitors at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, a kind of “extended home base.” Since it’s so early in development, there are “definitely some kinks to work on,” and the exhibit can be shaped and refined with the experience of visitors.

This new project aims to incorporate different kinds of materials, particularly LEGO Technic pieces. In addition to the new project, the Tinkering Studio will also bring other Exploratorium exhibits on the theme of balance, including:


Unstable Table

Take it from the Top

Balancing stick

Each comes from the Exploratorium’s traditional exhibits. They offer several layers of participation “so that people can experiment with the same scientific principles – balance – on different scales,” says Ryoko.

Such refining of an exhibit through visitor participation perfectly fits the principles of the Tinkering Studio, a place where e “visitors can slow down, become deeply engaged in an investigation of scientific phenomena, and make something—a piece of a collaborative chain reaction.”  While their projects can spring from the intricate designs of visiting artists, scientists, and inventors, each goes out to visitors in a spirit of collaborative activity, says Ryan Jenkins, a member of their team. Exhibits aim to offer entry into exploration – a fitting goal for the Studio and the EB Mini-Maker Faire.tinkering-2

So what exactly can you make and do with their new exhibit? Even they don’t know before you arrive. Come visit and see.

Read more about The Tinkering Studio and the East Bay Mini Maker Faire here.


Making makes education fun, creative, lucid, experiential, tangible, unforgettable and much, much more!

Making provides the perfect avenue for academic institutions and early childhood learning organizations to teach STEM using a collaborative and project based approach.

We wanted to understand the role and growth of maker-centric pedagogy in East Bay schools. Here’s what we learnt from some of the Maker educators who have spearheaded efforts to successfully integrate Making as part of the curriculum in Oakland schools.

abd_logoAgency by Design is a multi-year research initiative funded by the Abundance Foundation which focuses on, development and assessment tools designed for maker-centered learning environments. The framework established by this effort builds on 3 core capacities: looking closely, observing complexity and finding opportunity.


The goal of this approach is to empower young minds to define entry points for change with a deep understanding and awareness of the subject matter and the eco-system that surrounds it.

Building this level of understanding helps, expand their thought process to inter-disciplinary objects and systems. This then provides the ability to perceive transitivity of cause and effect across the eco-system that surrounds the subject matter.

The end goal is to enable and empower individuals to build and shape the world that they live in with a deeper sense of appreciation and respect for the environment that surrounds them.

lighthouse-logoLighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, CA is participating member of the maker movement developed by  AbD.

aaronvanderwerff“Making in education is really important as it is a tangible way to see how to turn learning over to kids. It has a benefit for students to build their own agency to deeply understand and feel vested in the learning process. “

Aaron Vanderwerff is the director of Creativity Lab at Lighthouse Community Charter school and it’s sister concern Lodestar located in Oakland, CA. He has been overseeing design and making programs at Lighthouse for the 4th year now, which includes coaching teachers and facilitating professional development. 85% of the student population at Lighthouse originate from low income families. Aaron firmly believes that maker centric curriculum encourages young minds to think creatively and make tangible associations to the learning process. He has observed an increased participation of younger girls and boys in STEM fields motivated by their interest in the subject matter.  He also mentioned that individuals are finding creative outlets not just for robotics and text based programming languages, but also by applying programming and circuit design to clothing etc.  Lighthouse kids from different grades engage in series of design projects using tools like Pro-bot, Turtle, Scratch, HummingBird and Arduino to name a few. Maker based learning at his schools utilizes cost-effective making tools for students to become critical thinkers and inventors, which will prepare them to be future entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists etc.


Join student volunteers from Lighthouse Community Charter school to build robotic pets at the EBMMF.  You will be guided by them in building prehensile machines, using only cardboard, string, glue, and straws. When you’re done, feed our (robot) petting zoo animals! Click on build a robot petting zoo from Lighthouse Creativity Lab for details.



Park Day School located in Oakland, CA is also a participating member of the AbD maker centric learning approach.


“Maker process is a response to consumerism in this society, focussing on how things are made and giving it the respect they deserve. Giving children concrete examples on the making process and an opportunity to work with  raw materials, enables them to experience and understand the effort involved in the building of things. “

Ilya Pratt is the director of the Design+Make+Engage program at Park Day School in Oakland CA. She is a Maker Leader for the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Project Zero, Agency by Design project, exploring the promises and practices of maker-centered learning. This is her 5th year of teaching making at PDS. She collaborates with K-8 teachers at PDS to devise curriculums that provide a rich project centric learning experience to their students. Her principle focus with maker based learning is to build capacities across Oakland for project based design. She believes that the thinking disposition of designers and makers can bring more richness and depth to curricular studies. Making helps kids build sensitivity towards the designed dimensions of the world they live in.

Social justice is a key issue at PDS and students are made to view their maker projects through different lenses to analyze cause and effect and the entry points for change. As an example the 6th graders are studying the concept of averages by taking measurements of their body to gauge the size of an average six grader. They are then made to tear apart a Halloween skeleton to reconstruct one that is the size of an average sixth grader. In calculating the average they are made to understand the differences between mean, mode, average and what context should a given measurement be applied. They also think about gender identity when it comes to building their ideal average sixth grader which takes them outside the realm of Math.

East Bay Mini Maker Faire is proud to showcase Maker booths from the various East Bay institutions that have pioneered Making as a method to teach science, history, math, technology and engineering to our youth and children.


Check out this great list — and search for their project and for more information on our Meet the Makers page.

Castlemont High School
East Bay School for Boys
Aurora School
West Oakland Middle School
Lighthouse Creativity Lab
Spring Hill Acadamy of Petaluma
Park Day School
Bentley School Makers
East Bay Innovation Academy
Piedmont High School

UC Santa Cruz
Laney College
Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation – UC Berkeley
Individualized Assistive Devices – UC Berkeley
Squishy Circuits – UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering Graduate Student Outreach
CalSol – UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle

Curiosity Hacked
Girls Garage
Young Sparks Foundation
Oakland and Emeryville 4H
Girl Scout Samoa Cookie Car
Girls Make Games
Scientific Adventures for Girls
Oakland Symphony Instrument Petting Zoo
The MAGIC of robotics
Trackers Earth
Project Ember Summer Camp

What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.

R. Buckminster Fuller

If you haven’t yet seen Danny Scheible’s unique creations with masking tape, you’re in for a treat. We asked the Tapigami founder and perennial tinkerer for his thoughts on art, design, and the Maker’s Faire.

Q: How did you get started with touchable art?courtesy Tapigami

I started for the simple reason there was not enough aRt* in the world you can touch.  My motto of tOUch the aRt was
born out of feeling like there was so much misuse of aRt to maintain society instead of to create it.  Who would have a friend that they can not hug?  To true experience something you must hold it.  tOUch the aRt also comes from a hope that I can encourage those around me to engage with the creative process and bring it into their daily lives.

*(I say aRt with a capitol are because it is not my aRt and it is not your aRt but it is ouR aRt.)


Q: You’ve been doing this for a decade. Have your creations changed over time?

I have been MAKEing things out of tape for a long time now, starting in 2005.  I have put in about 40,000 hours since.  After the first year of making aRt out of tape, I decided I was going to keep doing it until I could not make something new. That day has not come, nor do I think it will.  So I have now decided to keep working with tape until it is no longer fun.

The creations change from day today and many different factors influence that change.  I have a saying, “MAKE aRt for your ideals, but remember to MAKE aRt in your reality.”  My of the largest influences of my aRt is other people.  I take my aRt out into the world everyday and MAKE it with those around me.  I place it in there hands and they tell me what it is to them.
This process of sharing is one of the most creative ones and one of the more challenging because it leaves me open to public judgement.

I push myself to create new forms and shapes with tape everyday.  Many of my creations are doodles and a kind of pract
ice in understanding how everything fits together.  Also, I have very few people I can learn from when it comes to physical ways to manipulate the tape.  I will often times ask the strangers I meet if I can make aRt with them, and have them offer up a challenge about what to make.  These forces me to create objects and subject matter that I would never do on my own.


Q: How is your art affected by the medium of tape? What makes it different from sculpting in clay or stone?

All material is different. Tape is a ribbon of a material, and that material can be paper, plastic, vinyl, cloth, mylar to name a few.  Tape is a temporary medium thus I am constantly maintaining the sculptur
es I have created.  The way that i work with tape is a linear additive process.  To create recess spaces you must make separate shapes and add them together.  All complicated sculptures are created from the smallest points out and joined. The tape is very temperature sensitive and is very difficult to work with in humid warm environments.  In my studio in sAcRamenTo, we have been taking the process I have developed of rolling the tape into long tubes and folding or cutting it in different ways and applied it to glass metal and wood.  Learning to manipulate a physical material gives you the tool to create the shape or image that you want.  The interaction with the material teaches you the creative process.  I often tell students the way to understand a material is to sit around an play with it until it reveals what is is supposed to by to you.   I would love to be able to control the physical material that the tape is made out of – i.e. design a tape.  Currently I am dealing with the tape that is available for sale around the world.


Q: Are people more willing to try making art with tape than with traditional materials?

Yes.  One of the best parts about tape is that it has no social connotations associated with it.  No one has ever been told they can not make sculpture out of tape before so they believe they can d
o it.  Also the tape requires no tools or infrastructure to create sculpture with.  I tell people that to learn Tapigami is to turn yourself into a 3d printer.  I also refer to it as liquid Legos.  TAPIGAMI is a system of creation where you can control the individual units.  When working with tape I feel as though I am only limited by my imagination and dedication.  Also the first rule of TAPIGAMI is to have fun while you do it.  MAKEing should be fun especially at first when you don’t know what you’re doing.


Q: Are there any communal sculptures you remember especially well?

I have been making the same sculpture for the last 12 years.  It is made by everyone who wants to participate with it.

Recently I have made an Imperial Class Tape Destroyer with my friend Eben Burgoon.  It is 53 inches long, 29 inches wide, and 24 inches tall.  It is attached to a metal pole which allows it to be flown around society.  It will be flying around the EBMF though out the day.  It took 60 hrs to make and used 600 yards of tape.


Q: What are some of your favorite things at a Maker’s Faire?

My favorite thing at the Maker Faire is that children come up to me and ask what they are supposed to make.  The simple fact that there is an environment when sharing learning and creating is open accepted and celebrated makes me happy beyond words.  The MAKE movement has beautiful captured the common soul of humanity and celebrates individuals for being themselves and sharing there ideas to inspire others.  The MAKER’s Faire is on the forefront of culture and will be creating it for centuries to come.


You can find out more about Danny Schieble and Tapigami here.

Come see Tapigami at the EB Mini-Maker Faire and try out your own creations!

Pilot Justin Kelly has experienced close calls, nail-biting recoveries, and even crashes – all without his feet ever leaving the ground. Want to join him? Come enjoy the FPV drones of the Flying Flea Circus at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire.

fpv-pilotIn the world of First Person View drone racing, pilots don virtual reality headsets to see through cameras on the tiny drones. The footage gives the feel of being in the cockpit, even as the drones bank and dive through obstacle courses scaled to their size. The sport has become popular enough to include sponsorship of top pilots like Justin, for contests that attract worldwide talent. A competition in London earlier this year drew entrants from more than 30 countries, vying for a top prize of $200,000.

fpv-drone-buildingFPV flying links closely to the maker movement because successful piloting begins long before a launch. Many pilots build their own drones, and even off-the-shelf models have to be adjusted and customized to their tasks. Justin has outfitted some of his with infra-red arrays so they can be flown in darkness, an improvement over simply mounting them with a light. “Infrared travels farther and takes less power to generate,” he explains, making it ideal for small craft. Modifications to existing drones prepare them for new environments, tasks, or obstacles in a particular race.

At the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, Justin will be offering the Flying Flea Circus: an obstacle course navigated by FPV drones. Beyond showing what drones – and pilots – can do, the Flying Flea Circus aims to encourage amateur pilots to learn how to operate a drone safely, to build flying skills, and to improve reaction times through racing.

You can do all that in a safe outdoor flight zone established by the Flying Flea Circus, featuring a DIY Obstacle Course, Head-to-Head Races, and Professional Demos. Bring your own drone if you have one, or just come to experience the world of FPV flight.

Read more about Justin Kelly and the Flying Flea Circus at the EB Mini-Maker Faire here.



Greetings artists, builders, crafters, designers, dreamers, engineers, hobbyists, inventors, magicians, scientists, and maker enthusiasts!!

Without further ado, we would like to introduce our 2016 list of distinguished makers who will participate at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire!

Be sure to bookmark this post, and acquaint yourselves with our superstar makers—and check back regularly for new additions.

East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2016

—A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist, and evolutionary strategist.

R. Buckminster Fuller

Thingamajigs makes music, and so can you—without even leaving the room. “People don’t have to spend a thousand dollars on an instrument to make meaningful music. We can find a lot of what we need in our environment,” says Edward Schocker, who co-founded the organization with Dylan Bolles in 1997.


As students at Mills College at the time, they noticed other composers were interested in electronics, as were a lot of their friends. Edward and Dylan started encouraging them to use technology for music, even making their own electronic tools, an unusual approach back then. It was fun, and it suited their setting. “That approach was an extension of the do-it-yourself attitude brought by the pioneers as they moved West,” Edward notes, an approach building upon a movement pioneered in the Bay Area by Lou Harrison and Harry Partch, born in Oakland at the turn of the century. “And because our proximity to Asia, we also became interested in musical traditions other than just those from Europe.”

Their interests became a mission, and their mission shaped their music, starting with school programs. Many schools lacked a budget for music, so Thingamajigs helped students make their own instruments. Right away, they noticed students valued the music more when they played on things they had designed and made.

Now there are many more venues to pursue their collaborative efforts, from hacker spaces to maker-oriented tech shops. Each exploration gives them an opportunity to pursue music in a different way, a goal they take seriously. “We’ve moved beyond tinkering,” says Edward. “Finding a new instrument is getting your feet wet, but that’s just a start. It’s a very deep pool.”

Read more about Thingamajigs and Edward Schocker at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire here.

Harmonic Series Gamelan, designed by California inventors

Harmonic Series Gamelan, designed by California inventor

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It’s Thursday and we’re still feeling residual magic from Sunday’s 6th annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Images and video and social media tell some of the story: there was an incredible range of compelling content; a million different individual experiences; and a fantastically warm, community vibe. (Check out our full – and growing – photo set on FlickrNOTE: if you have great pix or video, PLEASE share with us via

Our 2015 show was the largest yet, with 7,000 people attending and 199 exhibits / performances / talks & workshops—plus 23 food and drink vendors.

Perhaps the most important metric though, was the number of new makers at the show: 50% of the makers had never exhibited previously at East Bay Mini Maker Faire. That is an inspiring factor & indicator for a show in its 6th year, and points to the ongoing evolution and expansion of the Maker Movement in the East Bay.

We want to especially thank our many Makers for giving up their day (and days prior in preparation!) to share their work with all of us.  A Maker Faire is nothing without them.

Also our Volunteers — the 150+ parents from, the event’s organizer, Park Day School, who either worked in advance or during the show to make it all “go.”

Make: magazine and Maker Media are the founding organizers behind the global Maker Faire brand.  We appreciate their support and their presence in Learn to Solder and the Maker Shed at the show.

We also offer DEEP THANKS  to our 2015 Sponsors:
Google, Blue Shield of CA, Trackers Bay Area, Sprout by HP, Kudo3D, UC Berkeley, ADT, PlayWell TEK, Seeed Studios, The Gate, City of Oakland, Brushstrokes, Camp510, East Bay Express, Parent’s Press, and LanSharks.

Finally, thank you Attendees!  You appreciate and celebrate the lifelong learner, the curious ones, and we thank you for your vote of support for Making and creativity.  We hope you had a blast & see you next year!

P.S. Besides our Flickr set, here is some other great media reminiscing:

Contra Costa Times: East Bay Mini Maker Faire Has Decidedly Circus Feel

El Disco Lyft’s little vid of our Dark Room:

C.H.I.P. @ East Bay Mini Maker Faire!!

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