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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Just DIY It at the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire!

Try on a “thinking cap” that actually electrostimulates your brain, or learn to communicate with lamps, garage door openers and coffee makers through the Internet. If it's ingenious, handmade, and teaches you something, then you'll likely find it at the Mini Maker Faire.

There's no better place to discover your inner inventor--or yarn bomber--than at the Mini Maker Faire, which will set up on September 22nd, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Buhl Community Park and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Community-driven and independently produced, the Faire fosters a sense of wonder and making, inspiring attendees to think beyond the consumerism of mass-produced goods. Pairing established and emerging makers, the 2012 Faire will feature 65 exhibits, performances and workshops.

A signature event created by free-spirited MAKE magazine, the unique hands-on happening is co-presented by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and HackPittsburgh, and is one of 40 held worldwide.

Al fresco making

New to the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire this year is its expansion into the recently dedicated Buhl Community Park, located in front of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh in historic Allegheny Square.

"The design and return of the park as a green space for the community is really important for the Northside, and the Faire is just one way to activate it to become a lively public center in the community," says Angela Seals, with Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. "The park's contemporary design and the Cloud Arbor installation are feats of engineering and technology, and it will be exciting to show them off in the context of the Faire. It's a way of celebrating the park's contemporary design and restoring it to the lively heart of the community."

The new green space lends itself to the Faire in exciting ways. Visitors will watch dance performances in the plaza, and cheer on races between a homemade electric bike, robot and a hacked car down the sidewalks. In addition to showcasing 28 of the Faire's maker projects, Buhl Community Park will also house local food trucks for the day.

Meet the makers

To attract an eclectic multi-generational group of makers--and emphasize inclusivity--the Faire's planning team spread its  "Call for Makers" far and wide, from tech starts ups and indie crafters, to schools and libraries. Proposals from a broad spectrum of regional makers--ranging from roboticists to guerilla knitters to kid inventors--were accepted between June 8th and August 15th.

Faire planners selected featured makers based on criteria that included: handmade or homemade projects made by individuals, clubs or start-ups; projects or processes that use new technologies or old technologies in new ways; projects that teach, share and demonstrate; and qualities such as innovation, creativity and inventiveness.

HackPittsburgh will amaze Faire-goers with 1,000 sq. ft. of wacky inspiring inventions, including a Morse Code Wearable Alarm Clock, hacked PowerWheels racer, homemade wind turbines, an LED  Pong board, and even a “thinking cap” that actually electrostimulates your brain.

What's that sound?
Step up to The Great American Horn Machine to hear the world’s loudest mobile musical instrument, comprised of a truck, train and air horns and steam whistles from a ship. Get a 3D scan of your body, learn basic circuitry techniques and discover how to reuse parts of electrical toys.

Stop by the Touchstone Center for Craft display to watch upcycled blacksmithing demonstrations in a real forge. Ever heard of a Handheld Tesla? Check out Luke Kambic’s portable lightning generator that manipulates plasma with his own hands.
Don't miss the Wearables Fashion Show hosted by local comedian Gab Bonesso. Bring your camera for a show featuring elaborate costumes and upcycled fashions made by local GLBTQ teens and youth from the Conemaugh Valley-based Goodwill Industries. Have some handmade wearables of your own to show off? Strut down the catwalk and join the public fashion show at 1:30 p.m. in the Children’s Museum Theater.

Learn to solder your own wearable "blinkie badge" with Wayne and Layne, HackPittsburgh and the MAKESHOP, and then construct light up clothes with 10-year-old entrepreneur Aria Eppinger, whose circuit sewing kit for kids recently won Warren Buffet's Secret Millionaire's Club contest.

Explore Web 3.0 with the masterminds behind iOTOS, who will show you how to control and communicate via the Internet with lamps, garage door openers and coffee makers. Hold one of John Schneider’s sensitive small engines that run on the warmth of your palm, and explore sustainable energy sources via wind turbines and weather-predicting kites.

Join Geeksdanz to perform an original movement piece, attempt to solve a pedal powered kinematic energy project and say
hello on the airwaves, when The Saturday Light Brigade broadcasts live from the Faire from 10 a.m. to noon.

Maker culture

Showcasing the region's expertise, particularly in the areas of robotics and hacker culture, the Faire's talented exhibitors hail from all over Southwestern PA and also Columbus, Ohio. Reflecting the innovative things happening right here in KidsBurgh, 25% of the Faire's exhibitors are young makers, and many hands-on demos at the Faire are led by children and teens.

The do-it-yourself craft craze is sweeping the nation—from bi-coastal fairs like Renegade to locally produced events such as Handmade Arcade. The Northside museum--itself a national leader in supporting creative play for kids of all ages--will further showcase its facilities and grounds as a laboratory for all things Do-It-Yourself at Saturday's Maker Faire.

View a complete Maker Faire schedule.

Read all the Pop Filter picks.
Photographs copyright Larry Rippel.
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