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how to: Maker Faire

some general tips and ideas for presenting projects, feel free to share stuff or join

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A collection of ideas and tips, TIL stuff - learned when @al1, @Daniel Rojas and me were presenting our projects at the MakerFaire Berlin 2017. This is meant for presenting multiple projects, if you can't decide what stuff to bring etc. but there are some things for single project stands that might be interesting as well.

  1. DON'T BRING EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER MADE
    You're proud of your projects and want to bring them all along, for everyone to see. You should be proud, but you don't want to talk about everything on your table.

  2. BRING EVERYTHING THAT BLINKS
    You want to attract people to your stand, so you can hand out microflyers, leftover pcbs and notes of where you get those wonderful purple PCBs (wink wink, @oshpark) - a lot of the guys we were talking to weren't aware of oshpark and dirtypcb.

  3. DON'T BRING STUFF TO FIX OR NEW PROJECTS
    I've brought a lot of stuff that I thought I can solder while nothing's happening - but everything is happening on a MakerFaire. Stuff that doesn't work, needs more explaining. More Explaining = more talking. If you find some time, you'll probably want to walk the other stands, get something to eat or use the toilets.
    But bring a soldering Iron, mine was used by mikeselectricstuff and another guy needed some solder.

  4. MAKE IT INTERACTIVE
    This will let the guests experience your project and you need to explain less. Make it obvious that they are allowed to press the button. Enjoy kids turning on and off the lightsaber. Bring some sanitizers as well (thx @Ted Yapo)

  5. CHECK YOUR POWER
    Count your devices that need constant power, you will need more than a three-way junction-box (netbook, phone charger, soldering-iron... your actual project(s)) read more on powering your projects


  6. TAKE YOUR TIME TO PREPARE THE STAND
    We were setting up projects until 12, but it opened at 10. It might have been taken longer because we've neglected rule 1 and 3.

  7. BRING THESE THINGS
    1. "A towel is the most important item a Hitchhiker can carry." - or maybe a blanket, just bring something to cover your projects over night.
    2. Bring a cup for free coffee (there were tiny plastic cups for water and coffee).
    3. try to invite a friend - doing this 2x 8-9 hours in a row is just insane. Let them watch over your stand to take a break, otherwise ask a stand neighbour.
    4. bring informal "business" cards, we've made some cards that had our hackaday.io profile link and a placeholder for project numbers, but you also might want to share your email address etc.

  8. MAKE YOURSELF FAMILIAR WITH THE LOCATION
    Find the closest toilet that isn't overly crowded (tip came in from @RealSexyCyborg via twitter). Also for big Maker Faires: get a map and let them circle the position of the free coffee and water stand ;)

  9. BRING SWAG
    Do you represent a community or have vendors that you often use to produce your project? Ask them for some swag or support! There's no hurt in asking, you'll get asked a lot how you've made the thing - that's basically advertisement. Feel like an instagram model for once in your lifetime!

  • powering your projects

    davedarko06/16/2017 at 09:29 3 comments

    @al1's battery box tip

    LiPos have their special place in many of our projects, but sometimes it's just neat to have one of those AAA battery boxes with a switch that fits two-three batteries. Many of the common projects run just fine off them, like @al1 's #reCLOCK -> it's so tiny! But it also helps to show off the piece, because it makes it portable.


    @Radomir Dopieralski's two cents

    A. Make sure the batteries are easily removable, and take a few spares and a charger. This way you can charge one battery while the project runs on the other.

    B. Remember that your projects are probably not designed to move all the time for 8+ hours straight. Motors get hot, servos wear out and break, batteries can only take so much recharging. So make breaks. If you have several projects, run one at a time. This will also encourage people to come back to your table later.


    Use USB hubs and breadboards

    Kind of obvious, but in case you want to power a lot of little projects, you can easily distribute power with a USB hub or use breadboards. Powered USB hubs should work pretty well, but you can also put HUBs on power banks!

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Michele Perla wrote 06/20/2017 at 18:28 point

amazing tips. You did a really good job guys :) 

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davedarko wrote 06/20/2017 at 21:27 point

thank you :) I plan a little "how to present smaller projects" but I think sofar it's a good start :)

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Shulie Tornel wrote 06/15/2017 at 20:43 point

Like x 9000! Great topic and so glad you're sharing your experience (and tips) with us. I hope first time Maker Faire attendees will find this super useful.

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oshpark wrote 06/15/2017 at 20:34 point

"DON'T BRING STUFF TO FIX OR NEW PROJECTS".  Yup, that is a good one!  I keep making that mistake. "Oh, I'll just fix this in my hotel room" ;)  -Drew Fustini

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Radomir Dopieralski wrote 06/15/2017 at 18:53 point

I could add a two more tips, especially if you have battery-powered moving projects:

A. Make sure the batteries are easily removable, and take a few spares and a charger. This way you can charge one battery while the project runs on the other.

B. Remember that your projects are probably not designed to move all the time for 8+ hours straight. Motors get hot, servos wear out and break, batteries can only take so much recharging. So make breaks. If you have several projects, run one at a time. This will also encourage people to come back to your table later.

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davedarko wrote 06/15/2017 at 20:54 point

That's a pretty good suggestion for a power segment

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Ted Yapo wrote 06/15/2017 at 15:34 point

I brought some hand sanitizer for people to use after pressing the big, red button.  No sense in my project being a vector for the spread of disease.  I have no idea how effective it is, but it makes some people feel better :-)

EDIT: oh, and everyone likes pressing a big, red button.

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davedarko wrote 06/15/2017 at 16:48 point

I've got them colors already :) red, blue and yellow for the next round. The sanitizers are a good idea!

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Radomir Dopieralski wrote 06/15/2017 at 17:00 point

You could make the button squirt the sanitizer automatically, for added effectiveness and bonus points.

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Ted Yapo wrote 06/15/2017 at 17:19 point

That's a hack...

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