Makerfaire Rome 2018 - The European Edition Review

Diversity is the life blood of creativity, without such diversity in a community it will wither and die. The maker community is made of sub-communities. Makers, crafters, artists, technologists are all intrinsically linked together by a need to create something unique and deeply personal. These projects are celebrated across the globe in maker/hackspaces etc. However, it is at MakerFaire where they are shown to the public, and elevated to much higher levels of glory. This year Electromaker sent Les Pounder to cover Makerfaire Rome 2018 - The European Edition and he saw many wondrous things in the Eternal City of Rome.

MakerFaire Rome is huge, spread over seven halls at Fiera di Roma, just outside of Rome. There were 700 stalls from 61 countries; this event clearly draws in crowds from across the world. There were approximately 115,000 people (Yes that number is correct!) in attendance at MakerFaire Rome in 2018. However, what have they come to see? Inside of each themed hall we learn more about the projects the are part of said theme.

For example, in the Makers for Space and Research hall we saw eager enthusiasts from the British Interplanetary Society and their home-made replicas of the technology used to achieve space flight. There were simulators for the Soyuz capsule, Apollo CSM (Command Service Module) and the Apollo Lunar Module. The Apollo guidance computer was also present, a replica which was identical to the original unit used in Apollo 14. Replicas of the Apollo guidance computer can also be made with the Raspberry Pi, in fact, there is a pure software version which can be programmed as if it were the real thing.

In other halls we saw 3D printing, but not with plastic or chocolate. Rather this printer from WASP printed in layers of clay which could be fired to make truly custom pottery.

What was obvious to see, were the sheer numbers of projects built using the Arduino, but why is that obvious? Well, Italy is the home of the Arduino after all! The Arduino has cult status in Italy, and it was plain to see via the sheer volume of projects made with the humble boards. In fact, the Arduino presence at MakerFaire dominated the Electronics hall with a large display showing all of the latest boards released in the last few months.

Another highlight in the Electronics hall was Sony’s new development board, boasting a hexa-core processor, Bluetooth and camera connectivity this is a board to look out for in 2018!

In the Education hall we saw young maker Ayve who turned her love of recycling and technology into a fully functional, voice-controlled robot. It had shampoo bottles for arms a Raspberry Pi for a brain, and the Google Voice HAT, part of the AIY kit, which uses Google’s voice recognition software to process any voice input. This hall also played host to education groups from around Italy who work with children. Coderdojo and the Raspberry Pi Foundation were also present, running sessions for eager young minds. At the back of the hall we saw a large arena, filled with obstacles designed to test pilots … drone pilots! Children and adults tried their hand at controlling drones! Epic fun!

But what impressed us the most about MakerFaire Rome, was the diversity. Children, adults, professionals, hobbyists and educators all came together to share their knowledge for free! Ability was no barrier; everyone took the time to explain their projects (multiple times over the day, with maybe a few sore throats in the coming days) and show how they work, sharing that knowledge and sparking the creative minds of more makers eager to learn a new skill.

Udoo bolt
Above: The new UDOO board stole the show with their new UDOO Bolt which is capable of driving four - screens in 4K Ultra HD!

The inclusive nature of MakerFaire enables even the timidest of makers to approach without fear and that is what we need to see more of. Our diversity is matched only by our inquisitive natures, as we need to find out how things work, how we can adapt them to meet our needs. Being inclusive means that we freely share our knowledge and skills for the benefit of us all, and this is celebrated at MakerFaire.

MakerFaire Rome 2018 was a great success, and it is clear that the families/makers attending enjoyed the three days. Long may this event continue to inspire and educate those that take part!

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