The first day of Maker Faire Rome is over, and it was a fantastic experience. It's been a pleasure to share in such a rich event, marking a decade of Maker Faire's happening in the Italian capital.
We had a fantastic day looking around and taking in the various exhibitors and installations on site. There was way too much to take in for one day - so it's a good thing we are here all weekend! Here is the roundup of what the Electromaker team got up to on Friday at Gazometro di Roma.
Tokamak: A Big Red Vision of the Future
One of the larger pieces at Maker Faire Rome was an installation inside one of the old gas towers at the Gazometro di Roma. It's a huge red structure in the shape of a Tokamak, an experimental fusion reactor design initially conceptualized in the 1950s.
It's here at Maker Faire Rome as an installation from Eni - an Italian power company - made in collaboration between Italo Rota and the Carlo Ratti Association. The huge red Torus has a walking gantry leading visitors up and inside the structure, where LED panels educate about the possibilities of Magnetic Confinement Fusion - a process providing a nearly infinite and green energy source if perfected.
It's an imposing but strangely beautiful thing, and incredibly impressive to walk in and around.
Makerboards, Metaverse Caps, Better Recycling
We spent a little time having a walk around and found familiar faces like Arduino, who had almost everything they sell on display.
It was my first time seeing the Arduino Pro Portenta X8 in the wild, though hidden under glass as it was, I didn't get a chance to play with it! WE also stopped by STMicroelectronics who had a variety of different projects on display, almost all using some variant of the all-encompassing-world-running STM32 line of microcontrollers.
@electromaker.io As well as precise head movement tracking, it can also detect when it's being used!#mfr2022 #raspberrypi #arduino #electronics #robotics #iot #technology #arduinoproject #esp #maker #engineering #diy #programming #diyelectronics ♬ original sound - Electromaker
The "Metaverse Cap" was an interesting use for the SensorTile.box - a small sensor kit with built-in edge AI capabilities. The demo essentially showed two kinds of functionality. High-precision head tracking gives digital avatars the direct attributes of human movement, and a model for detecting when the system is not in use enables a power-saving mode.
Other projects on the stand included a dual brushless DC motor driver board with onboard computer vision, and an asset tracking system that has been adapted to assist disabled workers - something we'll be finding out more about tomorrow when we meet the class professor who guided his students through the project.
We also stopped by a stand with a mysterious bubbling, spinning contraption - which turned out to be the Formula DT stand showing off Re.P.E.T, a green alternative to plastic recycling.
@electromaker.io Re.P.E.T can recycle plastic at room temperature, and that's a big deal. #mfr2022 #chemistry #recycling #green #ecofriendly #recycle #plasticwaste#microplastics ♬ original sound - Electromaker
While it's not he usual thing we cover at Electromaker, Chemical Depolymerization is a fascinating process, and the prospect of plastic recycling at room temperature and pressure makes future plastic use a little more imaginable.
Robot Football, A New RP2040 board, Friendly Faces
Friday was student day at Maker Faire Rome, and there were hundreds of students of all ages enthusiastically taking in the sights. It was for this reason that we couldn't even get close to the Raspberry Pi stand for the first few hours of the day. In defense of the students, the Raspberry Pi team did bring a lightsaber with them.
Outside, Robot Football was in full swing, and if you've never these derpy little guys play the beautiful game, you've been missing out!
Escaping the match for a moment, we wandered over to a small racing ship created by students at the Politecnico di Torino. A group of 90 contributors aims to make a fast and sustainable vessel that makes use of new recycled materials they are developing and iterating over. The vessel, a flying moth style boat named Sula, won the regatta and design contest at the 2022 SuMoth Challenge.
While there wasn't a microcontroller in sight, as a lapsed sailor and lover of boats in general, this was a nice surprise to find nestled in among the tents and buildings of the Faire.
Back inside, we chatted briefly with AirQino, a company making rugged, low-powered, affordable, and deployable air monitoring systems.
We were amazed when they showed the quality readings throughout the day and how they corresponded to how busy the venue was, and whether the doors at each end of the are were open or closed.
After this is was off to the Raspberry Pi stand to finally get to swing a lightsaber, catch up with the team, and discover a new RP2040 based board from Melopero, and Italian Pi reseller sharing the stand.
@electromaker.io Melopero's new development board made its debut today at Maker Faire in Rome. #mfr2022 #raspberrypi #arduino #adafruit #electronics #robotics #iot #technology #arduinoproject #esp #maker #engineering #diy #programming #diyelectronics ♬ original sound - Electromaker
The Cookie RP2040 was launched the day Maker Faire began and is a circular development board similar to the Adafruit Circuit Playground series. It has the same crocodile clip friendly GPIO pins around the edge but also has a 5x5 matrix of mini Neopixels in the center.
We haven't had chance to play with it yet, but they were kind enough to give us one to try out, and we'll be giving it away on the Electromaker Show in the coming weeks!
Barely Scratching the Surface
Our first day at Maker Faire was full of chance encounters, amazing projects, and friendly people. The huge and beautiful venue held different exhibitors and projects in almost every building and corner, and it was much too much to see in a single day.
Luckily, we are here all weekend, and we'll update you on our findings tomorrow!