Made in Trondheim

Last weekend the world’s attention, at least from the maker community, fell on Trondheim as a featured Maker Faire was held in Norway’s technology capital. The featured faires are usually reserved for places the size of Tokyo, Paris and Shenzhen, so to hold such an event in a town as small as Trondheim was a risk. But it paid off, big time, as Trondheim’s emerging maker movement put on a show that dazzled the crowds on the market square. Thankfully, the weather played its part too.

Trondheim Maker Faire 2014

Waiting for the bus

The fun began before the weekend, with a Bus Stop Pac Man installed, via a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie and a modified Makey Makey. And a bus stop, of course.

“Because the controls needs to be available for the users they need to be somewhat environmentally sealed. Therefore, by using a Makey Makey and some aluminium tape, we created a robust and waterproof “touch” panel on the outside of the booth. The WS2812B led strip is controlled by the Makey Makey, and because it’s open source and Arduino compatible it was easy to modify the source code to also control the led strip based on key strokes” – Ragnar Ranøyen Homb, Norwegian Creations

Nerdy Derby

Trondheim Nerdy DerbyHeld in conjunction with Vitensenteret i Trondheim (Trondheim Science Centre), the Nerdy Derby inspired many, kids and big kids alike. In the Under-16 category, the car designed by Jonas Sæther was quickest (2744 milliseconds), while in the big kids category, the car designed by Joachim Arntzen (and his 8 year-old son, to be fair!) was fastest (2687 milliseconds). Other prizes were given for imagination and implementation, but of course the Nerdy Derby wasn’t about prizes.

Stop. Look. Listen.

Coworking space DIGS held a series of talks throughout the weekend. Masakazu Takasu from Tokyo-based ultra-technologist group TeamLab stole the show with a talk on the intersection of technology, creativity and design. He also published an article about the event in Japanese – Trondheim’s maker movement is going global!

“Don’t think – feeeeeel!”

“Even though the projects were fun, nearly all of them had a deeper meaning. He was really concerned about how to engage with kids and make them more active both physically and mentally, without becoming passive consumers of technology and entertainment. The fun approach of making interactive installations and illustrating possibilities was really interesting. Also, his mindset for doing something else other than Silicon Valley and his pride of representing the Japanese DIY culture was inspiring” – Mats Mathisen, DIGS.

Other talks included Ultimaker’s demonstration of 3D printing and 3D modelling, and the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (Patentstyret) on value-creation elements of the innovation process.

Trondheim Maker Faire at DIGS

Kids getting their hands dirty

Norwegian Creations presented a drawing machine, which allowed people to see the drawings they made on a tablet re-created by machine in front of their eyes. Mads Aasvik talked to MAKE Magazine about the process:

“The machine is interactive so it fits well into the Maker Faire where you don’t just want things on display. We can get kids to come and draw their names and own artwork”

Children aged 10-18 also had the opportunity to work with sensors, data, and programming. The kodeløypa (code track) allowed them to try out programming through Scratch and connect it to robots through the open-source electronics platform Arduino.

Make your own transport

Impossible to miss over the weekend was the presence of multiple forms of home-made transport, many developed by students at NTNU.

46 students at Revolve NTNU designed and built Norway’s first electric racing car, the KOG Arctos R. The car has spun around the legendary Silverstone and Hockenheimring circuits and was on show at the Maker Faire. Also on display was an LS-8 glider from the student organisation NTNU Flyklubb.

Revolve NTNU electric racing car

Trondheim Torvet

Continuing on the transport theme, students from Elektra brought along an underwater ROV and electric long boards with Arduino-powered remote controls, while Tim Jagenberg and his son showed off their Raspberry Pi powered ROV:

“There was constant buzz of kids around, who wanted to try the ROV and steer it into one of the bucket-caves we set up in the pool. Just around closing time a managed to have a quick tour of the other stands. So nice to see all this creativity around, reminds me of the Chaos Communication Camp in 2011″ – Tim Jagenberg

A success?

Frode Halvorsen, one of the brains behind the Maker Faire, is in no doubt about the weekend’s success:

“The response from the makers, participants, partners and others who just were crossing the town square was just overwhelming. Our goal was to attract 5,000 people, but our numbers say 10,000+ people attended across Friday and Saturday. We got all sorts of people; kids from elementary schools around Trondheim, students, parents and old people just passing by. I saw a lot of sparks in people’s eyes, so I think we managed to plant some seeds!”

Pick Up Your Tools and Get Started!

Alasdair Allan from MAKE Magazine closed the event with a passionate rallying call to anyone interested in the concept. It’s also the perfect way to sum up the feelings of everyone involved with the Maker Faire who I spoke to.

“When it comes down to it, making isn’t about the things you make, or the why of it. Why you’re making. It’s about the people that do it. Today you can become a maker of things, today you can change the world. Today you can become part of the next industrial revolution. It’s an amazing time to be alive, to be part of this. You just have to pick up your tools and get started” – Alasdair Allan

Young makers

Photo credits: TrondheimTech, Trondheim Maker Faire