maker faire and heat plan

Is there something with every other year and Maker Faire weather. In 2013, we exercised our rain plan and had a giant goldfish bowl of rain! In 2015, we used our rain plan again. Last year, it rained overnight, but not during the event. This year in 2017, I was excited about the weather. It was going to be shorts weather with not a cloud in the sky.

Turns out there’s a downside to that. It was too hot for the robots. On Saturday, the robots started overheating and we were caught by surprise. The RoboTigers made a sunhat for their robot:

On Sunday, we let the teams know what to expect. In particular to make sure the robots took breaks in the shade and not just the humans. The problem was there wasn’t much shade. So I made some with tablecloths. Elegant looking robots:

The Brooklyn Blacksmiths needed to cover a part of the robot so the motor didn’t overheat when running. They had a work glove around so added that. Then the robot became a high five robot!

We also brought a water cooler that we kept refilling so water was handy. Finally, when people around us left early, we expanded into their space. Good for us to have more space. And good for Maker Faire to not have that gap.

And we won a ribbon. In shorts and all!

maker faire 2015

2015-maker-faireThis is the sixth year that I’ve co-organized the NYC FIRST robotics area at World Maker Faire. Every year, it is so much fun. This year, was our first year in the robotics tent. The last two years, we had a standalone small tent. Being in the robotics tent was great. More cross pollination from related exhibits. Plus we were near one of the entrances so got traffic very early in the day.

Maker Faire was very nice in letting us “expand” outside the tent so kids could play with and drive the large five feet tall FRC robots. It was like having a backyard.

We won two ribbons this year. This was the first year we won two in the same year. The blue one is “Editor’s Choice.” The red is “Best in Class.” Not sure what our class was, but still cool.

We got to deal with two our contingency plans this year. Luckily, both were minor. Our tent experienced a brief power outage (maybe 10-15 minutes.) It also drizzled for less than 5 minutes. Everything went smoothly though and I had a great time at the event.

rain plans and flexibility at maker faire

Maker Faire was interesting in that we got to use our contingency rain plan for the second time. My friend Norm and I coordinate the FIRST robotics tent at Maker Faire. The first time we used our rain plan was in 2013 where it poured overnight. See some pictures of all that water. Maker Faire was over 3 months ago. (I’ve been really busy writing my OCA book.)


This time, I wasn’t expecting it to rain overnight so didn’t cover everything. It did rain.  I was advised afterwards to follow NWSnewyorkny on Twitter so as not to get caught by surprise again.

I got there early on Sunday morning to make sure things were in good shape and set up the tables. (We do put away flyers and the like.) I found puddles all over. Eek! I also found that the cloth bags containing many of the supplies were wet. As was the roll of paper towels I had left there. Eek! Eek!

The first thing I did was take out two plastic tablecloths. They were in sealed bags  since I hadn’t used them before. I put them on top of the tables so I could start unpacking without getting things wet.

I also learned that a moist paper well can still be used to mop up puddles of water. They don’t make things bone dry, but certainly help. Norm brought dry rags which helped. I also learned just how many dry surfaces there were – from chairs to plastic wrappers we didn’t need any more.

Lessons learned:

  1. Know the weather
  2. Cover up even if the slightest chance of rain
  3. Be creative in finding dry surfaces

The pictures is Norm, myself and two ribbons. We won an editors choice ribbon again. We also won a Best in Class (Education) ribbon for the first time. Exciting!