5 Things I’m Looking Forward to Seeing at Troy Mini Maker Faire

Steampunk fashion

My first Maker Faire was in 2010, the very first Faire ever held in New York. I loved it so much that the next time I went, in 2012, I ran a booth that was packed from opening to close with people interested trying out DIY projects from my low-tech robotics books for kids. Since then, I’ve been part of Maker Faires in the Bay Area, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

This year, I helped organize the Troy Mini Maker Faire, happening along with The Enchanted City steampunk festival this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. We’re going to have dozens and dozens of amazing exhibitors, but there are a few I’m especially excited to see:

1. Did you know that Maker Faire includes fashion? On Saturday, keep a look out for Andrea Habura‘s steampunk-era sewing machines. If future-facing fashion sounds intriguing, you’ll also want to check out Friday night’s “Of Then and Beyond” runway show, followed by an adult-only reception in the “Garment District” at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.

2. What is Power Tool Drag Racing, you say? Exactly what you think — electric devices, most designed for ripping things apart, tearing down a wooden track trailing their power cords behind them. It’s fast, funny, and sure to be a blast — come watch and take part!

3. This year’s Chamberlain Inventors’ Challenge is shaping up to rival last year’s event, when a giant steampunk hamster wheel was selected to transport The Enchanted City’s Queen Mab to her throne. Come see what crazy conveyances contestants have dreamt up this year!

4. Ecovative is a local company that produces mushroom-based packing products that are 100% biodegradeable. I missed making a GIY (Grow It Yourself) mushroom version of the Maker Faire mascot at World Maker Faire New York in 2016, so I’m glad I get another chance closer to home!

5. I still remember the astounding Toothpick World display at World Maker Faire New York a few years ago. It was even featured in the New York Times! The Syracuse-based Maker Stan Munro will be showing us how it’s done on Saturday.

Of course, I’m also looking forward to seeing all the Makers who will be taking part, from robot builders to high-tech scientists and lots, lots more. I’ll be giving a talk at noon showing parents, kids, and educators how to “break into making” the easy way. You can see the whole schedule here — come check it out!

Attend the Troy Mini Maker Faire this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and meet all our Makers. We’ll see you there!

Meet the Makers: Tech Valley Game Space

Tech Valley Game Space is an active community of game makers based at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. Members work individually and together to develop new games and new controllers, from retro to virtual reality and other cutting-edge technology. They also host regular classes, community workshops, game jams and other marathon events, as well as social nights.

Members of TVGS will be bringing locally made games for you to try. Come meet them, play some amazing new games, and learn more about the local independent game development scene in downtown Troy!

Attend the Troy Mini Maker Faire this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and meet all our Makers. We’ll see you there!

Meet the Makers: StickTogether

StickTogether is the fun, collaborative, community-building activity with a beautiful reward. Participants ‘StickTogether’ by adding colored stickers to a large color-coded grid (color by sticker). When all of the stickers are attached, a vibrant image is revealed. For groups of all ages and sizes, Stick Together creates community and celebrates the experience of collective accomplishment in living color.

Help create a StickTogether image in the course of the day. Come early to participate. Come back later in the day to see your contribution rewarded!

The Troy Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and join us on to meet all our Makers. We look forward to seeing you!

Meet the Makers: Cake Bash

Want to learn cake decorating techniques and make an amazing cupcake to take home? Bash Birthday Parties has been hosting Cake Bash cupcake decorating parties since 2013. Maker Tara Allen says she’s excited to participate in a Mini Maker Faire again. (Maybe you remember them from Emma Willard Mini Maker Faire?)

The Cake Bash kid-friendly program will include a brief cake decorating crash course. Participants can make a dog, milkshake or flower cupcake to take home!

The Troy Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and join us on to meet all our Makers. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Meet the Makers: Monoculite

Monoculight is an open and freely available 3D printed functioning eyeball that works using the same principles as your own eyes. The model is fun and easy to build and creates an inverted image on the “retina screen” of whatever you point it at. Materials will be on hand to build your own “Mini-Monoculight” for free. is an open and freely available 3D printed functioning eyeball that works using the same principles as your own eyes. The model is fun and easy to build and creates an inverted image on the “retina screen” of whatever you point it at. Materials will be on hand to build your own “Mini-Monoculight” for free. See for yourself how your own eyes work!

On his Thingiverse page, inventor Art Davis says he’s most proud of how Monoculight can be used to inspire self-directed technology education.

Just put a Monoculight in someones hands and see what happens:

  • Experience how basic lens technology works in a very tactile and understandable way.
  • Press a button to make bright lights. Pop the Monoculight open and see the very simple circuit technology at work.
  • Confused about why the image is upside down on the retina in Monoculight while we don’t see things upside in real life? It’s easy
    for our brains which are better image processors than any technology ever invented.
  • Light up Monoculight in the dark and observe first hand additive color mixing which is the principle behind the ubiquitous display technologies we use every day.
  • Curious about that display technology? Open Monoculight, place it near a display and see the RGB pixels firsthand.

The Troy Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and join us on to meet all our Makers. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Meet the Makers: Ecovative

Ecovative is a home-grown company that has made it big.  The Ecovative “Grow It Yourself” Mushroom Materials let makers literally grow any idea you can think of! At 11 am at the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27, Ecovative will be offering a workshop where you can try out their material for yourself. Space is limited, so come early!

Wondering how this unique product got its start, right here in Troy? Ecovative’s Jeff Betts answered some questions for us:

Tell me briefly about Ecovative — what do you make, how did you get started, how is it manufactured?

Ecovative is a biomaterials company founded in 2007 with locations in Green Island and Troy, NY. Our founders came up with the idea for using mushroom materials to displace chemical based products like foam packaging, insulation, and engineered wood resins in a product design studio at RPI.

Our products are grown using agricultural waste bound together with mycelium, the roots of mushrooms.

Who uses your products? What’s the most unusual use of your product you’ve seen so far?

We have commercial clients that use our materials for packaging, furniture, and insulation, but what we are talking about at the Troy Mini Maker Faire is our GIY material. Our dehydrated Grow It Yourself material is ready for you to add water and grow into any form. You can make a 100% compostable finished product or component with this alternative to plastics, foams, and other chemical based materials.

We have seen some incredible GIY projects from students, artists, and makers all over the world – some interesting ones have been a wedding dress, interior lighting, compostable pet urns, and furniture. From compostable drone bodies to furniture, lamp shades to 3D printing — makers all over the world have been using GIY as an alternative to foams and plastics.

What is the most surprising thing members of the public learn about your product?

That our materials literally GROW in just a few days.

You’ve been to big Maker Faires on both coasts — Bay Area in San Francisco, and New York. What did you like about them? How did they differ?

The best thing about the flagship Faires is the scale—everyone pulls out all of the stops!

Best thing at the World Maker Faire New York: I’m a big desktop fabrication fan, so seeing every desktop router, laser, 3D printer, the DIWire, X-Winder… all in one place!

Best thing at the Bay Area Maker Faire: seeing the Crucible displays and makers in person. Its an Oakland based non-profit arts school focusing on metal working, fire performance, glass working … basically the hottest making processes. They had a great panel by four awesome women who are some of the few union welders in the Bay Area that I really enjoyed.

What are you looking forward to at the Troy Mini Maker Faire?
Getting to meet local makers, enchanted citizens, and enjoying the outdoor farmers market.

Get your free tickets for the Troy Mini Maker Faire now and join us on August 27 to meet all our  Makers! The Call for Makers has ended, but we may consider late applications if space allows. There’s no charge to be an exhibitor, and we are open to any kind of art/tech/science project you have in mind. Just fill out the online application form and let us know what you’d like to share with the Maker Community. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Meet the Makers: First Robotics Competition Team 20

Maker Faires have always been a good place to go robot-watching. At the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27, you can meet Scorpio and other robots designed by the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 20 out of Shenendehowa High School. Their team advisor, Helen Gutelius, answered some questions for us.

What does a team in the FIRST Robotics Competition do?

The FIRST Robotics Competition is one of multiple programs offered by the FIRST organization. FIRST is actually an acronym that stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.” The founder, Dean Kamen, created FIRST with the idea that scientists and engineers should be just as revered and idolized as, say, Eli Manning or Miley Cyrus. By creating role models for kids to look up to, more kids will be interested in STEM from a young age, and want to follow -or at least have a good understanding of- math and science subjects and careers.

That being said, FRC could probably be considered the largest competition out of all the programs that FIRST offers. It is open to all high school aged kids and most teams are open to having adults from the community join as mentors, whether they’re engineers or not. With several thousand teams and millions of participants across the world, FRC is enormous and still growing at a rapid pace. Each year at the beginning of January, the Game Design Committee releases a challenge to design a robot that fits the constraints of a game that they have created. This year, the game released was called “Stronghold,” and teams had to create a robot that could cross different medieval-themed obstacles (like a drawbridge) and shoot a “boulder” (really just a large foam ball) into a tower.

What is the history of the FRC Team 20?

Team 20 has actually been around since the beginning of FIRST, which started in 1992. We are one of the last few founding teams left in the entire world, and we’re nearing almost 25 years of experience! We’re very proud of our team and have even had two of the very first members from the 1992 team come back to visit us at one of our competitions. As a matter of fact, some of the original mentors even help us out! Mr. Kane, who used to teach at our high school (Shenendehowa) still helps us with welding the robot frame every year even though he is now retired as a teacher.

How many students are involved in FRC Team 20? What backgrounds and interests do they bring to the team?

In recent years, we’ve had over a hundred students each year join our team to participate on our many subteams. Team 20 is divided by subject: programming, mechanical, CAD, animation, VEX, media, safety, spirit, branding, business, scouting, and more. Some of these groups are working all year round, and some only stay active for a few weeks of the year, but all of them are doing very important work that makes our team successful and innovative. Many of our students tend to join for just one of these subteams, often programming or mechanical, and end up staying for something entirely different, like scouting or business.

What do students get out of participating in FRC?

A lot! Not only does FIRST provide millions of dollars in scholarships, students are also gaining valuable experience as to how an actual engineering company works, and get to see where their niche might be in a real business setting. Because of FRC, we’ve had students go on to schools like MIT and Yale, and get full 4 year scholarships to schools like WPI. Above all, FRC is a fun place for many to make lasting friendships and learn skills that last a lifetime.

Have you visited any Maker Faires? What are you looking forward to at the Troy Mini Maker Faire?

This is Team 20’s first time visiting a Maker Faire! Our individual members have gone to separate events, like the Maker Faire in New York City, but we’re really excited to be able to come and present our work together at a Maker Faire for the first time. We’re also really looking forward to see what other exhibits there will be, and showing the community what we can really do (if you let us, we’ll talk your ear off about FRC and the team). It sounds like a lot of fun, and we can hardly wait for August 27th!

Get your free tickets for the Troy Mini Maker Faire now and join us on August 27 to meet all our  Makers! The Call for Makers has ended, but we may consider late applications if space allows. There’s no charge to be an exhibitor, and we are open to any kind of art/tech/science project you have in mind. Just fill out the online application form and let us know what you’d like to share with the Maker Community. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!