Thanks… and onward to DC!

I could go on for many paragraphs about how great Saturday’s Eugene Mini Maker Faire was…


But I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.




Thanks to SeenEUGENE for coming to take these great pictures. You can also watch and read more about the Faire from the Register-Guard and KMTR.

Many thanks are in order, to the 100+ maker exhibitors, to the volunteers of Eugene Active 20-30 Club for helping us get set up, to the staff and volunteers of the Science Factory, to all of our partners and sponsors…


And of course, to you! Thanks for visiting, and thanks for making.

And if you were inspired by what you saw at the Faire, now is the perfect time to get started on making something awesome! This Friday marks the start of the National Week of Making. The White House is holding a kickoff event on Friday morning, and I’m thrilled be on my way there to represent Oregon at a workshop of maker organizers from around the country.


I hope to report back here with news and pictures from the event, as well as from the National Maker Faire this weekend in Washington, DC. Stay tuned! And if you have any questions you’d like answered about how the maker movement looks on the national level, don’t hesitate to e-mail me with your questions or thoughts.

The maker movement is going places. I hope you’ll join us for the ride.

Are you ready?

Everyone’s a maker. Need proof?

I was emptying out the Tot Spot section of our Exhibit Hall this evening in preparation for tomorrow, and I walked into the area to find this:

Now, I would guess that this particular tot had some help from a big kid, but the building is nonetheless impressive. And it represents an impressive investment of time, effort, creativity, and more.

And to what end? I happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture this in a picture, but had I not been there, the next kid to find this would have probably knocked it down…

But perhaps, before she sent it tumbling, she might have thought to herself… “I can build something better!”

Tomorrow, we’re expecting to have up to one hundred individuals, representing more than 25 organizations and projects, who are ready to share what they made with all of us. Will seeing their projects inspire you? Will you try to build something better?

We can’t wait to see.

The Faire runs tomorrow from 10AM to 5PM at the Science Factory! Tickets are $8 at the door and $3 for Science Factory members. There will be food carts, a raffle, a pop-up Barnes & Noble shop, and of course, makers galore!

Meet your Makers on Wednesday!


Can’t wait until Saturday to get your maker fix? Join us on Wednesday, June 8 at the Barn Light East for the first-ever “Meet Your Maker(s)” panel discussion organized by Eugene Made.

Wait, Eugene Made? Yes — all of the great local artisans, artists, and makers deserve to be supported and recognized together, and that’s what this new project is all about! Things are still developing, but we can’t wait to see where this project is headed.

As for the panel, you’ll be able to meet folks from across Eugene’s maker universe — including Taylor Redwine and Erol Chandler from a-lamp, Kris Schaefer from InHaus Fabrication, Matt Neer from Eugene Public Library’s Maker Hub, and (ahem) yours truly, Nick Spicher from the Science Factory.

We’re excited to share with you our ideas about where the local Maker Movement goes from here, and we hope that we’ll get everyone excited to come out for the big event on Saturday! Advance tickets are still available online and can also be purchased at the door.

Maker Interview: EMS Near Space Balloon Team


I am excited to present the third and final “Meet the Makers” interview! Please read it and get pumped-up for the fast-approaching Eugene Mini Maker Faire on June 11th.  It’s on the horizon!

The Eugene Maker Space has conceived of, and succeeded in, a whole host of amazing projects since its inception in 2010. The focus of this interview is no exception.  Today I am interviewing Rick Osgood who is a member of the recently formed Near Space Ballon Team at EMS.

Jeffrey: Who started the near space balloon team and what were their reasons for doing so?

Rick: I started the team. I was looking for a way to get people working together at Eugene Maker Space. I also wanted to find a project that was interesting enough to hopefully draw in new potential maker space members. I had launched two of these balloons in the past, but not since I moved to Oregon almost six years ago. What I love about this type of project is that you can divide it up into separate components and then assign each of those components to a different team member. This makes it a naturally good team project and I figured it would be a perfect fit. Another great thing about the nearspace balloon project is that the payload can be modified and launched over and over again, meaning that the team can evolve over time and eventually be run by an entirely different group of people.

Jeffrey: Can anyone join the team?

Rick: Yes! Anyone can join the nearspace team. It doesn’t matter what skills you already possess. We are all learning new things by participating in this project. The whole point is to get more people involved in making cool things at the Eugene Maker Space. If anyone is interested, they can feel free to contact me at

pillar     Shield

J: What is the goal of the project?

R: We have several goals. First of all, we want to reach an altitude high enough to be considered near space. Second, we want to take high definition photographs of the curvature of the Earth. Third, we want to take high quality video from near space. Finally, we need to be able to track and recover the payload once it lands back on Earth.

J: How high will the balloon go?

R: Ideally, we would send this thing into space. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. The next best thing is what is referred to as “near space”. Near space is considered to start at about 65,000 feet above sea level. It’s the point at which the air pressure gets so low that your blood would begin to boil. You would need a space suit to survive above this altitude. It is also the point where the sky becomes black and you can begin to see the curvature of the Earth. So that’s our minimum goal. We want to reach as high as possible, but I’ll consider the project a success if we reach at least 65,000 feet. Based on my past experience, I expect to reach somewhere between 80,000 and 90,000 feet.

J: How will you keep track of the balloon when it’s in the air?

R: The simple version of the answer is with a GPS tracker and a radio. The balloon will have a small GPS module so it will know its own location at all times. It will then use a radio modem to convert the GPS data into an audio signal, which will then be transmitted over the radio. We will have a radio receiver on the ground hooked up to a computer running special GPS tracking software. This will allow us to keep track of the balloon’s location and altitude in real time. Our current plan is to use amateur radio and APRS to track the balloon. APRS is an old standard for sending digital data using a ham radio. It’s primarily used for GPS tracking, so it perfectly suits our needs.

Once the balloon is launched, it will begin to rise upward, but it will also move horizontally. The chase team will have to load up the caravan immediately after launch in order to chase the balloon to ensure a safe recovery. If the payload lands in a canyon or forest, we may lose radio signal. Therefore, it’s important that we try to have visual contact with the payload as it falls.

J: What are some of the engineering challenges that come along with a project like this.

R: There are many challenges with designing a near space balloon. We are basically designing a satellite. 

Continue reading

Maker Interview: Erol Chandler of A-Lamp

usual suspects

Hello again, my name is Jeffrey Garman and this is my second year on the Eugene mini Maker Faire Steering Committee.  I am excited to present here the second in a series of “Meet the Makers” interviews with Erol of A-Lamp Design as a lead up to the Faire on June 11th.

Jeffrey:  Hello Erol.  While preparing for our interview I was struck by how closely your last name resembles “chandelier” and how fitting that is for your work as a designer/artisan lamp builder.  I find your lamps provide a stage upon which the filament of the classically fabricated incandescent light bulb illuminates its subjects.  Just the thought of the word “filament” (one of my favorite words mind you) – has suddenly reminded me of a passage from Walt Whitmans’s “Leaves of Grass.”

“I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor…  Mad filament, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable…”

    Erol Chandler    Switched

Jeffrey:  Needless to say I think your work is very inspiring in its simplicity and form.  An A-Lamp would be a thoughtful addition to the desk of anyone who cares about the feng-shui of their work spaces.  Look at me — I am taking up all of our interview time! Let’s get this party started.  How did you begin with your craft?

Erol: I started out just tinkering around in a friend’s garage. I’m the type of person who always likes to be doing/learning something new. I didn’t mean for it to become my full-time job, but it took on a life of its own and now I have a little shop in downtown Springfield and I get to enjoy it every day.

Jeffrey:  You’re very lucky.  I don’t see many bulbs like these anymore.  I mean, I guess I see them in bars and restaurants on occasion but they are not readily available at your common hardware store.  I am very curious where you get them.

Erol: The bulbs are blown glass and skillfully hand-wound tungsten filaments made in Texas.

Jeffrey:  Perhaps you are aware that many governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs because of their inefficiency in comparison to LEDs and CFLs.  In Germany some importers have gotten around this by selling them as heating bulbs. What are your thoughts about this?  Does it affect your ability to sell internationally?

Erol: My lamps are more for aesthetic appeal. People buy our lamps because they are a perfect accent lighting or decorative touch that really brings a room together. The Edison-style LED lights have absolutely improved in appearance lately, but they still don’t create the same effect as the incandescent bulbs. Those little details are what it’s all about and incandescent bulbs serve our purpose perfectly.  Every handcrafted lamp has its own story and by selling them in person and meeting the customers, we get to see that story through until the end. We are there until the very last chapter and there’s something really fun about that. That being said, we have decided to only sell our lamps in person at shows.  So if we do an international show I don’t think we will run into any import problems.  While having our lamps available online is a quick and easy way to make a sale, that’s not really what we’re about. We’re a small company, and we’d like to keep it that way. It doesn’t make sense for us to have mass production online sales.

Jeffrey:  Speaking of sustainability and efficiency, tell me about the Shower Commander.

Erol:  The Shower Commander is something I invented about 8 months ago and has been my ongoing side project. It’s the world’s first foot-operated shower switch that controls the flow of water during your shower. It is an easy way to save both water and money and because it sits on the floor of your tub instead of behind the shower head. It’s the first water conservation device that children can access during the shower, making it a great teaching tool early on.

Jeffrey:  That really is a great idea!  I look forward to seeing you at the Faire.

Get your advance tickets to see Erol Chandler and more than 30 maker exhibits at the Eugene Mini Maker Faire on June 11! Tickets are $1 off until June 1.

Get your tickets!


The wait is over… ticket sales are now open for the 2016 Eugene Mini Maker Faire!

Wondering what you’ll see this year? We’ve posted our list of makers right here. You’ll see some familiar names — South Eugene Robotics Team, Steamworks R&D Labs, Eugene Weavers Guild, and NextStep Recycling are all making return appearances. You’ll also notice some new additions to our roster, including Arcimoto, One Drop Design, and Cosmos Creations!

SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase your tickets between now and June 1 to get $1 off admission. Look for the “Early Bird” ticket options on the ticket sales page.

Check in with us over the next two weeks as we finalize our list of makers, as well as a brand-new maker speaker series. Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook to let us know you’re coming. We look forward to seeing you on June 11!

Maker Interview: Shawn Nelson of One Drop Yo-Yos


Hello, I am Jeffrey Garman and this is my second year on the Eugene mini Maker Faire Steering Committee. I am excited to present to you the first in a series of “Meet the Makers” interviews with Shawn and David, co-owners of One Drop Design. The whole committee is happy to welcome them to the Faire on June 11th.

Let’s get started!

Jeffrey: It is not common knowledge that there exists an international high-end YoYo market, and it is even lesser-known that Eugene is home to a leading designer and manufacturer of premium/luxury YoYos like the ones you produce in the One Drop Design factory. My first question is, obviously, who the fusiform-gyrus are you guys, where did you come from, and what is your superhero genesis story? (Is that three questions?)

Shawn: Yeah, David and I met in 1991 as random roommates in an apartment that was full of people coming and going. We didn’t actually meet face to face until I’d moved into the room next door to his. We were the only two guys who would get up each morning and actually go to real adult jobs, sometimes stepping over piles of sleeping strangers to make our way out of our own apartment – it was a bonding experience. We quickly realized, as you do in your twenties, that working for other people kinda sucks. We committed to starting a business together although we had no idea what it would be, or when we’d actually get around to starting.

Our first idea was to rebuild and sell vintage VW Beetles. Our business was going to be called Future Bug Paradise, named after a song. Honestly though, more time went into the clever name than the business. One day Dave saw a trinket I’d made for myself at a machine shop I worked at; he thought it was cool and that maybe we could base a business on the idea that we just make cool stuff and a few weirdos would think it cool enough to buy. Life happened and we put it all on hold for 10 years, finally setting up shop in Eugene on 01/01/01.

Jeffrey: With precision ground bearings, side mount ‘spinner’ accoutrement and psychedelic vibrant anodized aluminum hemispheres that bring the thought of Jackson Pollock to my right hemisphere, it is clear that the modern day YoYo is not the simple toy of the past. I have to say these look more like navigational gyroscopes than toys. Can you bring me up to date on what the YoYo of 2016 looks like and how it is made?

David: There are 3 things that have revolutionized YoYo performance. The first is the ball bearing. When it first debuted as a marketing item for a bearing company in the late 80s, it immediately took spin times from 20 seconds up to a couple of minutes. Things have never been the same since, and the current world record spin time is about 31 minutes.

The second is making YoYos out of precision machined aluminum. The density of this material and the precision of manufacturing is ideal for this.

The third is known as “unresponsive”. Traditional YoYos can be returned to the hand by simply tugging the string. Unresponsive means that the YoYo doesn’t return to the hand on a tug. This allows for any complexity of trick without worrying that the YoYo will accidentally “trigger” and try to come back. In order to get it to come back, you need to learn a trick called “the bind”.

These are the three main innovations, but there have been lots of other small improvements in shape, weight, weight distribution, and lately using multi-materials. We machine our YoYos on CNC lathes out of various aluminum alloys, Delrin, and titanium. The aluminum YoYos are tumbled to put a matte finish on them, and then we send them out for anodizing which puts the protective layer on as well as the color schemes. We then assemble, test and ship.

Jeffrey: I for one am very excited about having you at the Faire. Can you reveal anything about what you will have at the event? (spoiler alert) Will you be selling specially priced Faire themed YoYos and schwag, doing trick demonstrations, or perhaps having a raffle? I love raffles!

Shawn:  We will have a booth at the Faire doing demonstrations and lessons (we will have YoYos for people to try). We will also be selling YoYos at a discounted price. David and I will also be doing a talk expanding on the topics of this interview and taking questions.

Jeffrey: This is going to be the best Faire ever.

This weekend: Makers and community

11236157_10208880560474005_4367091765865025429_nIt’s shaping up to be another great weekend for Makers in Eugene! This Saturday marks the grand opening of the ToolBox Project, Eugene’s newest community location for tool access and more. It’s also the fifth anniversary of CodeChops, the coworking space at Broadway and Willamette. Both sound like great reasons to celebrate — so they’re throwing a party together!

Curious about the ToolBox Project? From their website:

The ToolBox Project serves the Eugene-Springfield metro area by providing members with low-cost access to building repair and garden tools to transform their homes, businesses and neighborhoods. Our goal is to help individuals, families and neighborhoods thrive by creating a space where we can all share, build and grow together.

We were happy to host the ToolBox Project at our launch party in March, and we look forward to seeing more from them as they settle into their permanent home!

The ToolBox Project’s “Ready! Set! Share!” Grand Opening, held jointly with CodeChops, is this Saturday, May 14, from 1-4PM at their home on Adams and 22nd in Eugene. RSVP on Facebook or visit their website for more information. The fun will continue downtown Saturday night with a coworking space and pub crawl hosted by CodeChops. Happy making!

Spring into Making with EMS!

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Our friends at Eugene Maker Space are hosting their semi-annual open house on Saturday, May 7 from 10AM to 4PM.
Eugene Maker Space has been a partner with us since the very first Eugene Mini Maker Faire, and they’ve brought some of our favorite exhibits, including Team LEO’s produce-launching slingshot.

The “Spring Into Making” Expo will feature tours of the EMS shop space, tool demos, and hands-on activities with Eugene Rocketry and the Science Factory. This is a great opportunity to meet the members of EMS and find out how you can join one of Eugene’s best coworking spaces for hobbyists and professionals alike. Plus you’ll get a sneak preview of the projects and displays that will be at the Mini Maker Faire on June 11!

RSVP on Meetup for the event, or just stop by the shop at 687 McKinley St. anytime between 10 and 4. We’ll see you there!

Science Factory Maker Club


It’s no secret that we love making at the Science Factory. We’ve just wrapped up another successful Spring Make week, with 3D pens, art bots, and flying machines galore.


We’re very excited for our newest program — our afterschool Maker Club! Kids in grades 2-8 can come to the Science Factory once a week after school to learn new skills and build awesome projects. Each two-hour session will have both structured workshop activities and free time for independent exploration. We have experienced mentors on board (including past Maker Faire participants) who can help kids hone their ideas and develop new skills. Kids who come to two or more workshops and develop their own projects will get the chance to show them off at the Eugene Mini Maker Faire!


Personally, I’m thrilled to get this project off the ground — and not just because I get to open all of the new boxes of “maker toys” as they arrive! We’ve had numerous requests from visitors for afterschool enrichment programming. And we’ve been searching for a way to connect our maker programs together, from Spring Make through the Maker Faire and even into our wide array of summer camps. Most importantly, we love getting kids involved in making, and we love when young people exhibit their projects at the Maker Faire! We’re grateful to ASTC’s Creativity Garden program for providing the grant funding to get us started. We hope that this ten-week run of afterschool sessions will be the first of many more such programs to come.

All of the info, including a schedule of workshops and a registration form, is available on the Science Factory website. The first workshop is coming up on Wednesday, March 30!