Maker Faire New York 2016

It’s been five years since we made our first appearance at Maker Faire New York. Back in 2011, we were still showing demonstrations of the Raspberry Pi, prior to its release the following spring. This year, we had prominent billing alongside the robots and rockets!

Robots, rockets, and Raspberry Pi!

Robots, rockets, and Raspberry Pi!

Maker Faire New York ran from 1-2 October, and was as great an experience as ever. We brought a bunch of Raspberry Pis showcasing our brand-new Pixel desktop environment. Greg Annandale’s gorgeous photo of the Brooklyn Bridge was a stunning backdrop to the Sense HAT activities we had organised.

Joining the stalwart US Pi team of Matt and Courtney were Carrie Anne, Sam, and Lorna, as well as Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Kerry Bruce, who came all the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico. A community college instructor with a passion for STEM education, Kerry was a real trouper and a valuable addition to the team.

When we arrived at Corona Park to get set up, we were concerned about the inclement weather. Given that the Faire is outside, the prospect of running our Pi activities in an open-sided marquee was somewhat daunting.

The team tried hard not to let the rain dampen their ardour for STEM...

The team tried hard not to let the rain dampen their ardour for science…

We braved the elements to take a photo in front of the famous Unisphere, to explore the park a bit, and to geek out over the history of the place. I can’t have been the only one who was excited to see the towers on the New York State Pavilion in real life, after multiple viewings of Men in Black.

Fortunately, the weather improved for the Faire; we didn’t have to remove electrical equipment from puddles! Resident design genius Sam decorated our tables with Pi-themed cartoons, including one answering this common question: how do you connect a Raspberry Pi to a computer?

We loved pointing to Sam’s cheery Pi character when explaining that the tiny board was the computer. It was great to see people’s surprise at the Pi’s power.

Matt and Carrie Anne both gave speeches: Carrie Anne’s presentation, “Digital Making: Encouraging Creativity in the Classroom and Integrating STEAM Project-Based Learning”, was part of the Make: Education series, while Matt explained how to get started with the Raspberry Pi on the Show and Tell stage. 

We heard great reports from the attendees, and we saw a lot of visitors to the stand who had been enthused by what they heard. 

As in previous years, there were many excellent Raspberry Pi-based projects, as well as familiar faces from the Pi community. There was an excellent display of Pi-controlled Lego Mindstorms robots. We also met the guys from Pi Supply showcasing their new JustBoom equipment, bringing affordable high-quality audio to Raspberry Pi users. Eager experimenters of all ages came to try out our Sense HAT activities, and to tell us about the Pi projects they had made at home. One man was even wearing a Pi Zero as a necklace! Other visitors included Steven Welch, who updated us on the work his team are doing with Pis at CERN (we’ve blogged about this), and Henry Feldman of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who is using the Raspberry Pi and Camera Module for edge detection in laparoscopic surgery.

We also found a number of excellent projects with more artistic applications. Joe Herman had uncovered a cache of old 8mm and 16mm family movies, and was digitising them and projecting them via a modified vintage movie projector equipped with a Raspberry Pi and Camera Module. You can find out more on Joe’s GitHub.

Joe Herman's Pi-powered projector. Image from Maker Faire.

Joe Herman’s Pi-powered projector. Image from Maker Faire.

Joe’s project wasn’t the only great Pi art project. Following on from Sam Blanchard’s amazing SeeMore, one of the main showpieces of last year’s Faire, we were incredibly excited to see another Pi-powered art piece in pride of place this year. The first thing to greet attendees visiting the Faire in the New York Hall of Science was the Pi-powered Sisyphus kinetic art table. We think it’s so amazing, we’ll be devoting a whole post to it, so keep an eye out!

For several of us, it was our first visit to the Faire and to New York, which really added to our excitement. One of the greatest things was meeting so many happy Pi fans, and introducing newcomers to the fun you can have with one. We lost count of the excellent animations we saw kids (and adults) create on the Sense HAT, and the joyful exclamations as another person got their first piece of Python code working; this is one of the most rewarding parts of our work. We can’t wait for the next Maker Faire! If you couldn’t attend, be sure to check out our tour video here:




This really angers me. There was no advertising for this Maker Faire and it was held on the same week (on the opposite weekend) of the Hall of Science Ham Fest, which was rained out.

You need to have a talk with the people at the Maker to do more community outreach and more advertising. A couple of years ago, it was in the TV and Paper news in advance of the event, and during the faire. This year, there was nothing.


“This really angers me”

Rather hyperbolic don’t you think? :-/


Anger – yes. My degree of emotions differ from everyone else like anyone else is different from everyone else. 50 degrees of emotions, perhaps.

But me being angered is a better than me being out right rabid – by at least a million fold!


On a serious note…if you ever get a ticket to a Maker Faire, you’ll be on their mailing list and get announcements of every one they hold. I live in the SF Bay Area and I got multiple e-mails about the upcoming NY Faire.

If you do a web search on “Maker Faire”, you’ll find their web site, which includes information on where and when events happen.

Outreach is all well and good, but if it’s something you’re interested in, the information *is* out there.


I was there Saturday afternoon. Entrance prices went up by $10USD. Was there last year with my children. We saw Ebin Upton.
This year we didn’t see him or Liz.
I did see Currie and a few others. Very nice people.
Cold and damp didn’t stop me.

Eben Upton

Sorry we missed you. It was my father’s seventieth birthday on the Friday, so Liz and I were with my parents, sister and brother-in-law in Cornwall. Hopefully see you next year.


Happy birthday to him! They should be proud!


This looks ace, so jealous. :)
I should make the pilgrimage at least once. I like the picture of three of you in rain macs, classic, although I like any picture with Carrie Anne in it. :-)

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