I love Maker Faire. I’ve had a blast with makers and their wild creations in San Francisco and in Austin, but this past weekend, Make’s traveling DIY circus came right to my backyard here in NYC. It’s a circus that happens to include a pulse-jet-powered merry-go-round, seen here, among other delights. Which is the right kind of circus.

Click to launch the photo gallery

If you didn’t make it out to the hallowed New York Hall of Science, previously home to the millions looking toward the future during New York’s two iconic World’s Fairs, check out the coolest artbots, squid cars and jet-powered miscellanea in our highlights gallery here.

Crowds for the Whirl

The Whirl, staff photographer John Carnett’s jet-powered four wheeler, was a big draw–especially after firing up the motor. It’s loud.

NES Paul

The folks behind the neat book 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer had one such project on display–a cigar-box-style guitar made from an old NES.


Windowfarms are neat DIY hydroponic growing systems designed to go beyond a tiny potted plant or two in urban environments short on space–you can grow a variety of food plants in the individual hydroponic modules, including peppers, small squash, lettuce and herbs.

Squid Chariot

A central grassy ring was the venue for wild chariot races throughout the day. Behold, the lawn tractor Squidmobile.


Dan Perrone’s Uokahd “Tapelake” consisted of a remote control car equipped with a magnetic tape play head. Driving along in its playpen–the brown surface is composed entirely of cassette tape–it rolled along merrily to the sound of randomized, distorted guitar loops.


Eric Singer, head of LEMUR (the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots) showed off some of his latest creations–here, a self-playing four string guitar. As the wheel of guitar picks spins, plucking the strings, an actuator moved up and down simulating fingers on a fret board to play different notes.

The Book Liberator

This is one of a few nifty solutions for DIY, non-destructive book scanning. The Book Liberator can scan up to 1,000 pages in an hour without having to remove the book’s binding, and can be built from a kit in 30 minutes.


The folks at Evil Mad Scientist libraries are Maker Faire mainstays, and this is one of my favorite projects of theirs. The Eggbot is a robot kit that, when assembled, can precisely draw on any spherical/egg-shaped objects with whatever writing tool you can put in its hands. As you can see, the precision is high, and the finished products are incredible. I want one.

The Backdrop

The New York Hall of Science is a great choice of venue–its rockets are visible to anyone riding the 7 train out to Queens, and it was the site of both iconic New York City World’s Fairs.


Maker Faire’s always a little bit Burning Man. This gentleman who assembles sculptures from found junk and discarded electronics probably feels right at home in the Nevada desert, but the major Maker Faire difference? Kid-friendly.

Lockpickers in Training

The Open Organization of Lockpickers was on hand giving free tutorials.


The 3-D printer area gets bigger every year; this year, numerous builders of the two primary DIY 3-D printers, the RepRap and Makerbot were showing their custom rigs. This one, built by John Abella Sr.. was one of the more amazing mods: it actually uses components from both the RepRap and Makerbot kits, and the custom joints (in red) were themselves printed with a Makerbot. Amazing.

Printing Molecular Models

Artist Shane Hope coaxes some truly unique results from his RepRap. Inspired by complex molecular models, he pushes the capabilities of desktop 3-D printing to make these unique, organic forms.

Disney 3-D

But not that kind of 3-D–here’s a nice printed Walt Disney bust, made by a Makerbot.

Jet Powered Merry-go-round

The madmen of the Madagascar Institute were the only Makers able to compete with Carnett’s Whirl in terms of shear volume. This is their pulse-jet-powered merry-go-round in action. Its low, powerful buzz (and the ensuing screams from its riders) could be heard regularly.

Red Hot

The exhaust pipes of Madagascar’s pulse jet engines–the same propulsion used by Germany’s flying V-1 “Buzz Bombs” in World War II–glow red hot from the combustion before wildly spewing flames as they burn out.

Propane Cannon

Our own Vin Marshall’s propane cannon was a huge hit–you don’t have to be a kid to love pressing the Big Red Button that shoots a tower a flame.