How a Maker Faire Collaboration Fixed a 20-Foot Tesla Coil

Have you ever wondered exactly what the heck a Maker Faire is all about? And why you would want to be involved as a VOLUNTEER, a MAKER or an ATTENDEE at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1? Let Jeff Scott answer all your burning questions. Jeff is the estimable guru of all things facilities and volunteers for Maker Boulder. Mssr. Scott did the same for last year’s Denver Mini Maker Faire and tells the following story of collaboration that could only have come from a room full of makers, hackers and tinkerers. You want to know what a Maker Faire is all about? Keep reading…

“We had a guy who built a Tesla coil – 20 feet long, right next to the volunteer booth…and the coil breaks down. Things were not good in his world, so I grab the tray of donuts and coffee and go over there and am like, ‘let’s sit down and talk about this.’

The motor for the coil had totally burned up. ‘I guess I’m done for the weekend,’ he says. It was right at the beginning of Saturday, totally heartbreaking. Then we started thinking about it: there we were sitting in the middle of over 100 booths filled with makers. Somebody had to have another motor. The Tesla guy and I went over to where folks were running the robot scrimmage and struck up a conversation. They started talking, the robot scrimmage guy goes into a box and finds a motor! But the shaft didn’t match up with the coupling on the Tesla machine. So we go over to Aleph Objects, really cool guys, and they fabbed a coupling right there on the spot.

But then the way the platform was set up, the motor was a lot higher than the original design. So we go to another booth and 3D print four new feet to raise it up. Then the holes in the plexiglass for the motor mount were in the wrong place, so we go over to another booth that’s got a dremel tool and drill new holes.

Everything was perfect. Just right. Everything installed. But it’s still not working – something’s wrong with the software. But there’s this guy walking by from another booth and he asks the Tesla guy what program he’s using. The other guy goes and gets his laptop and they’re there working – a couple minutes later they’ve reprogrammed the thing.

After a couple hours of hacking, tweaking, hardware, software and about six technologies all of which were sitting right there in the room alongside the people who knew how to drive them, the 20-foot Tesla coil kicks back into gear!”

That’s a Maker Faire: a nexus for passionate, creative, focused people. Every person brings their expertise – their thing – and then the community strolls by, brings their expertise, and it becomes a new thing. If you have a thing and want to see what it can become, consider getting involved. Do it now before it becomes February and you wish you had. Give it a click: VOLUNTEER, MAKER or  ATTENDEE.

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