We set out to Ahemdabad from Mumbai on the 9th of Jan via road to setup a pop-up maker space sponsored by ISDI Parson’s University. After a great long drive of 11 hours, we reached Ahemdabad. Sachin, Rupin and I in one car and Samarth in a separate car. The cars were packed with equipment and materials to setup a makerspace. There was a drone, a 3d printer and a lot of other cool stuff, but that didn’t hinder Speed! We blew through the highways with great conversations, talking about things like, What would happen if a bowler threw a ball at 0.9c (speed of light) to a batter. The explosions that would happen and various theories about the universe.
We started early the next day to setup the maker space. Going to Maker Fest was like meeting an extended family. All the makers we had heard of and knew were all packed in one hotel. From the founders of Wit Works to the MIT workshop folks. Day 1 at the makerspace we printed parts for our drone to improve the landing gear, along with some pipe lamp building sessions. We spray painted the maker fest board and made a bow with ISDI wrist bands.
As the day progressed, we had a panel discussion about makerspaces, where I was the moderator. We discussed with other fellow makerspaces in India on how they are sustaining themselves. It was great to know the various approaches that people were trying. From selling kits and material to non-profit approaches, to a regular private company. We heard them all. While this on, in the middle of a crowd of people in cargo pants and tee shirts, Parmesh walked in style, in his colourful attire and white sunglasses and enlightened us with all the stories from Vikhroli, not Mumbai.
Post the discussion, we had some great conversations and during some of them, we decided to make some installations the next day at the makerspace. So we started rounding up some maker troops and started ideating. The Riddle team, with Rupin and Manoj decided to work on a humanoid robot, so we started looking around for parts, surprised by the sharing nature of all the makers, we had more parts than we needed and the team started growing. Vaibhav from ISDI lead the design on this.
While looking for parts, we managed to excite more people so we started a second project, an interactive light installation, lead by Ankit Daftry and faculty from ASB. Soon we had all the parts that we needed for this installation too thanks to Sohail and the Fab Lab team. Tired from scavenging for parts, we called it an evening and went for dinner to a local street food joint followed by a beautiful ride by the river in Ahmedabad.
Next morning, I woke up with an email from Ankit, the code for the light installation was ready. Excited about the projects, we rushed to CEPT, the Maker Fest venue, to start working on the projects. Both the teams worked with great dedication and kept going. A lot of people came to watch them and some joined in. While they were working on cracking the electronics problems, I met Paul Anand, who is setting up some fab labs in Kelera. He was on this great road trip from Kerela traveling around India finding makers, we connected immediately. When Paul saw what was going on at the makerspace, we started building another installation with Pipes, that were left over from the pipe lamp making session the previous day. We made a frame and put it on the ground and asked people to come join and add to the frame. Soon there were over 6 people working on the frame and taking it forward. It eventually took a shape of an abstract tractor. A bunch of kids took spray cans in their hands and without the fear of getting high gave colour to the grey industrial tractor.
On the other side, the Light installation was all ready, apart from the sensors that failed to work. Attempting to debug for a while, we decided to skip the interactive elements as it was getting dark and we needed some light. So we bypassed the sensors and turned all the bulbs on and started spray painting. We called it modern art!
The 3rd project, the humanoid robot was also ready as the sun went down that evening. It tracked our faces and moved along. A great success. 1 day at a pop up maker space with makers from all across India!
Worn out from the great day, we thought it was a good idea to get some photos and shout at the cameras so the maker fest team went around the CEPT campus and took photos, Aditi gave some ending lines and thank yous and a drone was flown the last time that night to take photos of the maker team and volunteers that made the event possible.
Anna walked up to me at this point, and suggested we sneak out and celebrate with some makers, so we took 3 cars and went out for dinner, that’s how they celebrate in a dry state! After a heavy meal and discussions, we were kicked out of the restaurant but it was still too hard to part ways. So we decided to go to the room and continue the conversations over chocolate! The night went late with all of us high on chocolate and great conversations and plans of long journeys ahead, Paul passed out in a corner, we decided to part. This marked the end of a great weekend with our extended family:)