Portland Mini Maker Faire

I recently visited the Portland Mini Maker Faire with my family on Sunday, September 11, 2016. We had been to the Portland Mini Maker Faire in 2014 as well and it was a lot of fun. This one was equally inspiring for my maker spirit, and there were a lot of fun activities for my kids to do as well.

It was held on the grounds of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) right beside the Willamette River.

Visitors entering the Faire-grounds were greeted by the fabulous vision of a steampunk R2-D2 pulling a stagecoach that oscillated like a bucking bronco. One person could ride inside the R2-D2 device as it rolled around. It looked like the stagecoach was offering rides to some visitors as well.

And now, without further ado, let's enter together this photo blog together - the marvelous world of the Portland Mini Maker Faire. (Find out more about Maker Faires in your area at www.makerfaire.com.)

Robot Critters

A robot dog and a robot insect were two of the exhibits run by a booth of Intel engineers.

Homage to Babbage

You can almost hear the click-clack of turning cogs and gears inside these gorgeous steampunk computers, complete with real working keyboards and mice.

Steampunk Hovercraft

With a leather air skirt, wooden hull, and gorgeous copper and brass adornments, the Nemotoad is part Captain Nemo and part amphibious vehicle. If only there had been a video of it in action!

Compressed Air Vehicles

The presenter at this booth has chosen bicycles as a simple test vehicle for compressed air propulsion. If it works out, it may be possible to scale up to larger vehicles.

3, 2, 1, Blast off!

This booth invited kids to make their own paper rockets. A team member pumped up the air pressure and the kids got to count down and push the button that launched their paper rocket high into the air. Some of them even reached the freeway overpass up above.

Giant Drone

I didn't get a chance to find out what this drone is intended to do, but it sure does look cool!

Race your own CNC car

This booth by CNC Router Parts had a couple of CNC routers set up turning wood blanks into various styles of cars. The team members then helped kids color and decorate their cars and hammer on the plastic wheels with metal nail axels.

After that they invited the kids over to the race track to watch them shoot down the ramp and past the finish line which recorded whose car came in first.

Millenium Falcnc

This booth featured the Millenium Falcon and lots of other models, art, and trinkets all cut out with laser cutters.

Whiteboard drawing robot

There were several whiteboard drawing robots sketching away.

Groovy Ride

This car was completely covered in psychedelic patterns made entirely with yarn.


The soccer robot was a great hit with the kids. It could stop and grab the ball, maneuver, spin in crazy circles, and spit the ball back out to an excited child. There were also robots that could shoot balls into holes in a tall tower structure.

Camper Time

After looking at these beautiful campers, you might be inspired to build your own!

Pegboard Marble Run

With a pegboard, some pipe insulation, and a few marbles, your kids can have hours of fun, as demonstrated by this marble run.

Pirates... ahem... Privateers, Ahoy!

These piratey cosplayers were serving up information about seafaring and cannons, as well as testing players perceptiveness with a shell game.

Honey Makers

Beekeepers from BeeThinking gave a talk on beekeeping as well as giving tastes of various kinds of honey. If you're in the Portland area you can sign up for classes on beekeeping.

Make a difference with InStove

InStove seeks to improve the lives of people in developing countries with their engineered briquette press, stove, autoclave, and water pasteurizer.

The Art of Maker Faire

This artist was painting the Maker Faire!


Things weren't only high-tech at the Mini Maker Faire. There were also lots of booths presenting traditional arts and crafts, including blacksmithing and jewelry making.


There was a pottery booth where kids were encouraged to try their hand at making their own vessels and sculptures.

Scribbling Machines

This booth let visitors construct their own scribbling bots. When put down on the provided paper, they began to create a kind of semi-random artwork. Check out the instruction pages and build your own!


This shoemaker was busily working away, no elves in sight.

Making Machines

Various booths had their making machines on display, including CNC machines, 3D printers, and even the Sphere Bot which does a great job decorating eggs.

Other Maker Projects

Other maker projects from one makerspace included a water pump, a canoe, and terrain for tabletop RPG gaming.

Bifurcating Penny Mosaic

This machine uses a scanner to separate light from dark pennies. It then uses switches to send them down a bifurcating path to a series of columns below where they form monochrome pictures like Abraham Lincoln's iconic face.

Perfect Ratio Guitar Fretting

Lots of applied mathematics to the science of music here, plus some beautiful craftsmanship. Check out the write-up of designing Just Intonation and Fretted Instruments.

Robot Art

Robot art from technological cast-offs.


These beautiful ceramic balls each have different patterns embossed on their surfaces. When you roll them around in the sand, you can create beautiful tracks and trails. They had a sand box set up for kids to use too. Check out Olander Earthworks for more info.

LED Throwies

This booth was set up to let kids make their own LED throwies, or LED badges that they could wear on their shirts. It's a fun activity for the kids to see that they can make a basic electronic gadget with a colorful LED, a button battery, and a magnet.

​Caution: If children swallow button batteries, it can lead to serious health consequences including surgery or even death. Supervise children's use of button batteries at all times to keep them from swallowing button batteries!

Spare Parts Store

Some people were selling their creations, and there was this store selling surplus parts, with some examples of what you can create.

Geometric Building Kit

These looked interesting.

Ancestral Technologies

Trackers, Anvil Academy, and a few other groups were demonstrating ancestral technologies such as archery, firemaking, foraging, blacksmithing, barrel making, and so on.

Cardboard Costumes

This booth let visitors create their own costumes and props out of cardboard, as well as exhibiting some of their master-craft creation.

Velcro LED Throwie Wall

This giant black fabric wall was covered with LED throwies. Instead of the normal magnet, these had velcro attached. Visitors could arrange them in patterns to make pictures and words, as well as stand back and toss them for target practice.

Twisty Tubes and Tunnels

The Portland Children's Museum set up this space where visitors could construct their own ball tunnel contraptions and then run wooden balls and ping pong balls down through them. Loads of fun for the kids.

Faire Well!

We spent about 3 hours at the Mini Maker Faire and had a great time with a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 5-week-old in tow. The older kids had a great time with all the activities and we adults marveled at people's creativity and the beautiful things they'd made.

I highly recommend checking out a Maker Faire or Makerspace in your area. Get inspired and get making!


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