Maker Faire 2018 preview: A car-crushing hand, cotton-candy robot, and DIY catapult competition

Eight amazing displays to check out.

This weekend, New York City will host World Maker Faire, where DIY enthusiasts from all around the world show off their magnificent robots, crafts, cars, hardware, art, and other projects.

If you’re attending the event for the first time, the sheer number of displays can feel overwhelming. So we picked out a few projects for you to look out for. And while you’re browsing, don’t forget Popular Science. Drop by our booth to say hi…and to build a DIY catapult. We’ll pit faire-goers against each other in siege-weapon target practice, and the winners will take home PopSci swag.

1. Hand of Man

Robotic artist Christian Ristow built Hand of Man to put hydraulic power in the public’s hands. Simply stick your arm in a glove-like apparatus, and your motions will control a massive 26-foot-long metal limb. Powered by hydraulics, it has enough oomph to pick up and crush cars at your command.

2. Worry Capsule Tree

Worry Capsule Tree
When you confide in the Worry Capsule Tree, its lights respond to your voice. Xiran Yang

Feeling stressed? You might feel better if you confide your worries to someone—or something. So tell your woes to the Worry Capsule Tree, the brainchild of Xiran Yang & Hau Yuan, students of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. This interactive sculpture will glow in response to your voice, and it can also save your concerns as text. After a set period has elapsed, you’ll receive an email reminding you of your past woes—and ideally, this time capsule will allow you to revisit your past self.

3. Foldscope

Red and White Paper Foldscope
See Maker Faire up close and personal by peering through a paper Foldscope. Photograph by Brian Klutch

There’s something truly magical about peeking through a lens and seeing something small up close and personal. It’s particularly impressive when the device you’re using is folded from mere paper. Portable, durable, and cheap—that’s the appeal of the Foldscope, developed by Stanford physicist Manu Prakash. Drop by his booth to look at tiny objects through a paper microscope—or to buy your own.

4. Apt84, a tiny home on wheels

Speaking of small things, you can expect to find plenty of tiny houses at this year’s Maker Faire. One of our favorites is this ingenious home on wheels, dubbed Apt84. Together, maker Jose Rivera and design enthusiast Cat Ovejas transformed a full school bus into a cute apartment. Now you can tour it yourself.

5. Marvin, a giant Connect Four robot

Marvin Connect Four
This giant version of Connect Four lets you play against an AI. Benjamin Lehrer and Jonathan Roach

Have you ever wished you could play Connect Four…but bigger? Visit the Mono-Purpose Automated Robot Versed In Connect4, also known as Marvin, a wooden 15-foot-tall version of the tabletop game. Its creators, high school students Benjamin Lehrer and Jonathan Roach, added another twist: Instead of competing against fellow humans, this game pits you against an artificial intelligence. Optical sensors pick up your move, AI code decides how to respond, and an automated process lifts a disk into place. Then it’s your turn again.

6. Manibus Project, a motion-sensing painting device

Project Manibus
A dancer wears a motion-sensing remote linked to the Project Manibus painting device. Amenda Tate

Iowa-based artist Amenda Tate Corso specializes in works that combine art and science. Hence Project Manibus, a device that uses technology to translate dance into painting. A motion-sensing remote picks up the movements of a dancer and sends these prompts to a robotic painting machine. In this way, she describes Project Manibus as an extension of the artist’s hand.

7. Power Racing Series

This sport has its own unique rules. You start with a child-size electric car with a top speed around five miles per hour. Then you modify it to carry an adult at top speed—and to look awesome. All while spending no more than $500. The result: Power Racing Series looks like no other competition. The participants combine serious electronics chops with impressive creativity and a hefty dash of absurdity. In other words, you should be watching these races.

8. Cotton Candy Robot

cotton candy robot
This little robot isn’t just cute; it also spins up cotton candy. Big Hero 6 Egyptian Robotics Team

The Big Hero 6 Egyptian Robotics Team (named after a movie about a brilliant young roboticist) is traveling a long way to attend Maker Faire. And the students on the team, all under age 13, are bringing a mechanical friend: this cute little cotton-candy-making robot. Drop by for a visit—or a sweet snack.