Sunday, 22 March 2009

Report of the McMADSAT event 14th March 2009,

Participant Presenters
30 people were involved on the day, either as exhibitors or as workshop facilitators. An essential component of the team was the group of11 Stemnet ambassadors, most of whom were there all day. It would have been impossible to run so many activities without them. Another group in the team was the members of the Glasgow Electron Club who, with some friends and a Stemnet ambassador, ran the soldering workshops continuously all day. We were particularly fortunate to have two exhibitors travel up specially to take part. Several exhibitors were entrepreneurs who gave their time for nothing, even though the venue rules meant they could not sell anything, nor charge for the activities being provided. This was especially generous given the harsh financial climate just now. Everyone said they had lots of fun.

Over 1,000 people visited the Glasgow Science Centre on the day. The BSA/NSEW assessment forms collected only represent <10%>


The total budget for the event was the £500 grant provided from NSEW Scotland scheme. This had to cover all the exhibitors’ costs and the costs for the free make and take activities, plus all publicity etc.

In-Kind Sponsors

The Glasgow Science Centre provided free space, tables, cloths, technical assistance, without which the event would not have been possible at all. The publishers of Make and Craft magazines, O’Reilly’s, did not feel able to sponsor us in the same extent as they did for the much larger event in Newcastle on the same day, but did send boxes of back issues of their magazines to give away, which probably amounted to an equivalent of about £300 at UK newsstand prices. provided more theremin kits than contracted for, which were themselves at cost price. Madlabs provided free batteries for all the kits they supplied at cost. assisted with publicity and allowed the use of their logo.


None of this would have been possible at all, particularly on this minimal budget, without the kindness of the Glasgow Science Centre. The Director agreed immediately to offer us the space free, plus the use of tables and technical help to enable this event to take place. We were able to partially set up the night before which was very helpful in avoiding a scramble on the day. We were able to get the loan of 4 GSC soldering irons which avoided us having to get personal ones PAT tested. This was the ideal venue for us as it meant we really didn’t have to do a great deal of publicity as we could be sure of an audience from the GSC’s normal throughput.


The event was listed in the NSEW diary and in the university of Strathclyde’s NSEW information. Posters were distributed around venues in Glasgow and information posted on relevant websites. A blogspace was set up as a temporary web presence to refer people to. The Metro published a small piece which was a wonderful boost.

Lessons for the future
Needed more helpers and more exhibitors. Outdoor displays would have been impossible as the weather was dreadful, but it is still necessary to have some more dramatic displays as well as the hands on activities. Successful soldering for novices really needs 1:1 or 1:2 supervision. The budget only worked because minimal publicity was done at low cost and all the participant presenters were generous with their time and resources. Anything more ambitious than what was done on this occasion would need a larger organising team and significant sponsorship.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Fantastic Day!!

We had a fantastic day.

Outside it was a grey gale of a day, but inside was a riot of colour and activity. The aim was to enthuse the public with the fun of making things from a variety of technologies. Anyone who wanted to, could join in, make something and take it away with them, and all for free. Hundreds of people of all ages came along and had a great time. A general video of the event can be seen at (Thanks to Les Oates for making this excellent film for us).

Video clips from the maker fair:

Exhibitors were -

  • Our Star Guest, all the way from London, was Professor Maelstromme (AKA Amanda Scrivener), who brought her beautiful creations
  • What can you make from a dead umbrella? Display of the possibilities for reusing the fabric and structure of dead umbrellas
  • The Tea Party. 1950s style tea party made from a combination of hand made fabric and edible pieces.
  • Cardboard structures from the students of the department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde.
  • Greensteam’s steampunkery, 101 uses for a dead keyboard and other examples of her work as shown on Instructables.
  • The Offline Mechanical Blog – a very old manual typewriter with continuous paper available for the public to type their messages and thoughts on for all to share
  • Lemonie (another Instructables enthusiast, who travelled up from York especially) brought his amazing conversion of a VHS player-into-toaster that makes toast with VHS imprinted in it. He also brought his nice LEGO USB stick, a lantern made out of a tin-can & glass. and his *untested* wind-turbine, made from VHS player parts.
  • On the Young Makers stand we had a display of virtuoso Lego constructions and an extensive collection of home made Steampunkery.
  • The self-replicating machine from the department of Design Manufacture and Engineering Management at the University of Strathclyde, the Reprap.


The public were offered a wide range of free activities, which ran continuously all day, to “Make and Take”:

  • Soldering – make a solar theremin (or a robot). 16 of these were made and all worked first time. Some were taken for a trial run in the sun and a video of this can be seen at
  • The Stemnet ambassadors helped visitors to make their own Musical Straw Oboes.
    One of the most popular activities – especially with children – the Stemnet ambassadors supervised the making of many handsfull of Gloop and also the plastic Polymorph for visitors to make a fingerprint keyring to take away.
  • Fishy things – Busy Bees Art studio provided painting and collage fishes to make, particularly for the very young visitors.
  • The Glasgow Crocheted Coral Reef, overseen by my friend the civil engineer, invited visitors to try their hands at crocheting and contribute to the growing coral reef, all made from wool and even strips of plastic bag. Many total novices not only tried their hands but actually completed a piece of coral to contribute to the reef. This workshop area was very busy throughout, with visitors typically spending 30 minutes or more participating.
  • House of Cards – visitors could make and take their own set of the design classic – “Eames cards”, which slot together to form fantastical structures. Ideal for recycling old greetings cards.
  • Cable necklets, keyboard bracelets and keyboard film wallets. All made from recycled/repurposed materials from dead keyboards. Popular with adults and children alike. Info can be found at Instructables.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

It's nearly here! Get ready for McMADSAT on 14th March


McMADSAT Programme
Still subject to change but this is what I am expecting:


  • Professor Maelstromme is bringing her amazing Steampunk contraptions
  • Can you believe your eyes? 50s style tea party made from a combination of hand made and edible pieces.
  • Architectural cardboard structures
  • Daniel's Improvised steampunkery
  • The amazing offline mechanical blog, as featured on
  • Star Instructabler = Lemonie is bringing some recent makes - VHS toaster, VHS clock, LEGO USB stick, a lantern made out of a tin-can & glass. wind-turbine.
  • Young Makers zone
  • Self replicator - the machine that can copy itself.
  • What use is a dead umbrella?
  • 101 uses for a dead keyboard

McMADSAT's Unique FREE "Make and Take" Drop-in Workshops

  • Solar Theremins or robots. Soldering kit workshop for the over 10s
  • Flashing lights to solder
  • Rubbish makes
  • Gloop
  • Keyboard makes – necklets, nameboards, bracelets, T-shirt modding
  • Tower of cards – make your own classic “eames” cards and build something amazing
  • Musical Straws
  • Polymorph (make a fingerprint keyring and take it away with you)
  • Ocean creatures and fishy things with coral reef
  • Learn to crochet and contribute to the crocheted coral reef

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Venue confirmed

I went to visit the venue kindly being given by the Glasgow Science Centre. we will have a huge area on the first level, between the whispering dishes. We will have display-only tables and workshop tables, and will be doing all sorts of great stuff. It is all coming together at last. the Centre gets anything from 700-3000 visitors on a Saturday depending on the weather and we can expecte a lot of them to come and join us.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Grant success

I am delighted to announce that McMADSAT has been awarded a small grant by the British Science Association, which will help to pay for a little publicity and some of the workshop materials etc for the public. this is a great help as we have to provide the workshops for free, the Glasgow Science Centre does not allow us to charge for activities.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Other maker faires

Get inspiration for whatever you wish to make from the original maker faires in the USA. Check out the links on this page.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Apply NOW to take part

Only a couple of months to go until McMADSAT on 14th March, so now I need to know who is coming to the party. Loads of people have said they are interested and I would like anyone interested to commit to coming along on the day and sharing their skills and showing off what they have made or can make on the day.

Barring major disaster, this is your committment to actually turning up on the day. There is no charge for participating but in return I am expecting an adult attitude to being reliable!!

I dont think there is a way to attach a form to the blog so email me at with the following info:

Contact info: Your name, address, email and mobile number. If you have a website or blog that would be cool too.

What you want to bring: what are the items you want to exhibit - some sample pix would be helpful for publicity and planning purposes so I can be sure of a good range and balance of stuff. Remember this is NOT a selling event. But if you have stuff to sell you can bring flyers to tell people about it.

Skill sharing:
will you be able to make something on the day? Can you offer a workshop to the public? We cannot charge for workshops so if there is a cost, we will have to find funding. Please detail what you will be doing. Bear in mind we are getting grace-and-favour space in the science centre, so we mustnt make a mess, nor can we do anything dangerous (no welding or naked flames i would guess for starters)

Facilities needed:
how big a space do you need? A table top? Floor space area? Indoors or outdoors? Power socket? If you want outdoor space bear in mind that you will need to bring everything you need in the way of power supplies and shelter etc.

We will of course be doing publicity with posters and press releases but you are welcome to do your own too if you wish. I would particularly welcome pictures I can use on the posters to show the public the sort of fun things they can expect to see.

The nice bit:

O'reillys who are the publishers of Make magazine and Craft magazine, the originators of the Maker Faires in the USA are not formally sponsoring us but have sent me a box of free magazines to give away. As each issue sells for about £7 in Borders, this is really pretty good of them. All participants will get a free Make or Craft Magazine (depending on how many participants we have) and the 4 things judged to be "Best in show" will get a Prize too!!