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Unfiltered: Nick Britsky on Must-Sees at Maker Faire

Looking to shake up your weekend? Check out Maker Faire.

Today, Nick Britsky of i3 Detroit tells us what twisted -- I mean, creative -- objects he and his team are bringing to the Faire. i3 stands for: Imagine, Innovate & Inspire. It is a cooperative and communal space for makers, inventors and entrepreneurs. It's an amazing place and an amazing event. Read on.

Twinkies, Duct Tape and Dog Houses: i3 at Maker Faire
By Nick Britsky

Imagine a recipe for awesome: An abstract, perfect weekend at the home of one of our greatest inventors. The cookbook would read 2 cups of science fair, 5-6 peeled art festivals, 1 tablespoon rock concert and just a dash of a comedy extract. This happens to be the recipe to a Maker Faire.

Saturday, Detroit will be hosting an event that only two cities in the U.S. have been granted to do. Hundreds of Makers from across the U.S. and Canada will be showing off their projects – some, inventions built in secret in garages or basements; others, built with the help of their club; and many just built for fun of it.

One of the amazing array of groups represented at Maker Faire Detroit will be ours – i3 Detroit. This ensemble that started just over a year ago in April 2009 now has an 8,000-square-foot facility with nearly 50 members and hundreds of followers. More than 13 members will be showing their creations at the i3 Detroit booth and around the Faire.

Maker Faire Detroit really has to be seen to be believed – so to get you really revved up, here are just a few of some of the projects you will find this weekend from i3 Detroit:

Beer Growler Pneumatic Organ: Recycling is the way to go with our Beer Growler Pneumatic Organ. This set of 13 water-filled, tuned beer growlers – built by Matt Switlik – is a chromatic scale for eerie music. The power comes from 13 custom-built bellows and tubing.

Giant Twinkie Car with Pneumatic Twinkie Launcher: Nothing is more fun than the all-American food of the Twinkie...unless you are launching them at 30 MPH into crowds from a giant Twinkie car. Built by Russ Wolfe, this project is the next evolution of the famous i3 Detroit Cupcake Car.

Power Wheels Hacked Racer: As a kid you either had one, or were envious of your friend who did.  Fulfilling some deep childhood need for miniature transportation, i3 Detroit is racing Ted Hansen's modified children's Power Wheels Karts – driven by fully grown adults – against seven other hackerspaces from around the nation at Maker Faire Detroit.

Electronic Feedback Loop Instrument: Feedback is the bane of musicians everywhere – so why not harness it to your advantage by making it tunable? This creation from Ed Platt makes a tunable chamber with a mic on one end and a speaker on the other. By sliding the tube back and forth, you get unique and cool sounds.  The custom electronics help amplify and process the sounds.

Arduino Quadcopter: Take to the skies with a custom built four-rotor quadcopter. Controlled by the popular Arduino platform, this creation continues to push the boundaries of our space flying, both indoors and out. It's fast, maneuverable, fun and built by Eric Merrill.

Giant Statue of “Red Green,” Made of Duct Tape: Red Green visited i3 Detroit July 17, so I told him I would build a giant statue in his honor out of duct tape if he visited. He agreed and kept his word. This massive monument is almost the full height of our shop and has controls for his arms and mouth along with fire breathing.

Festplattenlaufwerk Klavier: Classic player pianos are a thing of beauty. This once-pneumatic player piano was brought back from the grave by Trevor Cook with 88 hard drive solenoids. The electronic version of the classic is able to interface with computers for midi music from the time of yore.

Arduino Skeeball: Everyone wants skeeball in their house. So we built one. This amazing replica – built by Matt Switlik – has scoring, ball return and safety equipment for the small children that will inevitably be playing with it at Maker Faire Detroit.

Solar Dog House: Every dog should have its castle! Built by Bob Bedard, this bright red creation tweets when the dog is “home” and has lights and heat, all controlled by the Arduino platform.

This is less than 5 percent of the total makers you'll see at Maker Faire Detroit – so one can only imagine the diversity and creativity of 300+ more individuals just like these. Bring your family and friends to this unique event that will hopefully be an annual gathering of knowledge, fun and ingenuity. Tickets are still available at The Henry Ford or at the door.

Back downtown, i3 Detroit will have the official after-party following the first night of Maker Faire Detroit tomorrow (July 31). Take a tour of our shop, relax with a drink and meet the members that will help extend Maker Faire Detroit and the spirit of Henry Ford year-round. More details can be found at our Web site.

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