Meet the Maker: Mat Roll, Astroliner


Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Michigan-grew up around the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area. I traveled a lot because of my parents’ carnival business, and have always been interest and inspired by space travel.

What is Astroliner?
The Astroliner is flight simulator. It’s over 40 feet long and can carry up to 25 passengers.

What inspired Astroliner?
The Astroliner was inspired by the Saturn V rocket. It was originally built by Wisdom Manufacturing in the early 1970s.

How does it work?
The Astroliner runs 220v power and is driven by a hydraulic system. The inside of the ship is driven on pneumatic systems.

How long did it take to complete?
About nine months, after pulling it out of Massachusetts.

What was the biggest challenge in making it?
Time always seemed to be against us. We started rebuilding in the cold days of January. Our original goal was to rebuild the ship by the Fourth of July. Thanks to my dad’s knowledge of the ship, the rebuild was somewhat easy- just time consuming.

What are you most looking forward to at Maker Faire Detroit this year?
I can’t wait to see some cool inventions and DIYs for the home.

2015 Maker Manual Now Available

The 2015 Maker Manual is now online. You can find a copy here. All makers are responsible for reading this document and being familiar with its contents. Be sure to carefully review the new Maker Check-In information as there are changes for 2015.

What’s New at Maker Faire Detroit 2015


Maker Faire Detroit returns to The Henry Ford for its 6th year on July 25-26 with a new location for the outdoor midway, new projects on display and more than 70 new makers debuting in Detroit for the first time.

New this year, visitors will see a three-story Hot Wheels ramp created by local engineer Matt West and his son Blade that is currently going for the world record for the largest Hot Wheels ramp. Visitors will also have the opportunity to get inside a 50-foot motion simulator rocket named the Astroliner. For music fans, Les Paul Sound Experience, a 53’ interactive state-of-the-art mobile experience offers hands-on interactives celebrating the great Les Paul. Also making their Maker Faire debut is Cirque Mechanics. Inspired by the modern circus, Cirque Mechanics is known for its unique approach to performance, inspiring storytelling and innovative mechanical staging through acrobatics and a bit of clowning around. In addition to new makers, Handmade Toledo has signed on to present the handmade arts and crafts portion of this year’s faire.

Fans of the Emmy-winning CBS series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation will have the chance to see some of the show’s featured innovators at Maker Faire Detroit including Liter of Light, Medical MacGyver, PancakeBot and Solar Roadways. Other special guests include celebrity modder Ben Heck who will be hosting a special display and speaking with makers for an episode of The Ben Heck Show, author and craft king Mark Montano joining the Great Lakes Bead Workers Guild for hands-on demonstrations and designer and innovative humanitarian Dara Dotz doing a special presentation on Field Ready, an organization focusing in on on-demand manufacturing in post-Disaster Zones.

For the sixth annual event, The Henry Ford will be moving the faire’s outdoor midway location from the Henry Ford Museum parking lot to the Lovett Hall lot located behind the museum. The new location provides guests more convenient parking opportunities and easier access to makers located both inside and outside the museum. A shuttle service sponsored by the University of Michigan-Dearborn will also be available at its Fairlane campus located at 1900 Hubbard Dr. in Dearborn.

We’ll be sharing more updates and news in the weeks to come leading up to the faire. See you all soon at Maker Faire Detroit!

Help Make Maker Faire Detroit Incredible

Visiting Maker Faire Detroit is one of the best things to do in your free time. In fact, one of the few things that I can imagine that’s better than visiting Maker Faire Detroit is being a part of Maker Faire Detroit. We need people to make Maker Faire awesome.

You could be hanging out for a few hours with some of the makers from The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on CBS like the creator of the PancakeBot.

Or you might help the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild and their special guest Mark Montano, author, TV Host, and Crafty King.


Perhaps you like to work with your hands. You could teach people to solder, build a rocket, or create melted crayon art. You could even help them run a Hot Wheel car on a large looping track.

By helping out in one of these areas, you’ll get receive a Maker Faire Detroit t-shirt and a free one-day ticket to Maker Faire.

You can sign up to volunteer here and choose what you will do to make Detroit Maker Faire 2015 unforgettable.

Report from the Field: Maker Faire Bay Area 2015


The weekend of May 15-17, 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of Maker Faire Bay Area, a flagship festival of the Make movement. I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend the Faire in order to speak about The Henry Ford’s recent acquisition of the Apple 1 computer. On Saturday morning, as I climbed the Make:Live Stage to present images and stories gathered from the auction, its arrival to the museum, and video of the computer operating—I was happy (okay, I’ll admit, even a little nervous)—to see a crowd of over 100 enthusiastic people gathered. The appeal of the Apple 1 and the museum’s excitement about its acquisition was well-understood by the extremely attentive audience.

After the presentation, I had time to take in a little of the festival, and am happy to report that the Maker movement is alive and very well in the world. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the weekend: Continue reading

Call to Makers Deadline Extended

Thanks to all the makers who have submitted applications so far for Maker Faire Detroit 2015.  We are extending the deadline to June 8, 2015. If you have any questions about participating at Maker Faire Detroit, please email the team at

The Hacktiques Roadshow Makes Its First Stop at Maker Faire Detroit

Ben Heck_Game Cube 2 copy

As a tech-enthusiast, I’ve always enjoyed learning about new ideas and projects created by fellow makers. Maker Faire is one of my favorite ways to interact with other makers, observe innovative applications of technology and gather inspiration for my own projects. That’s why I’m excited to announce I’ll be joining more than 400 other modders in attending this year’s Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford on July 25-26.

At Maker Faire Detroit you’ll see everything from electronics to fashion, a celebration of the exceptional talent in the diverse maker community. While I’m at the Faire, I will not only be browsing those projects, but I’ll also be bringing the first ever Hacktiques Road Show event to Maker Faire Detroit as part of my weekly web series The Ben Heck Show, sponsored by the element14 Community.

A new twist on the well-known Antiques Roadshow series, the Hacktiques Road Show will showcase incredible projects created by up-and-coming makers. element14 and I are hoping to give some talented makers access to a unique platform on which they can introduce their work to a large audience of tech enthusiasts, hobbyists and engineers across the web.

But in order to find these featured projects, I need your help! If you’re going to be in the Detroit area the weekend of the 25-26 of July, and you’ve created a project that deserves to be seen, please visit this page to apply by May 22! We can provide up to 20 free passes if you haven’t already registered for the Faire. My team and I will choose and announce the selected projects by June 5.

I can’t wait to see what awesome projects come our way for the Hacktiques Road Show. See you all in Detroit.

Ben Heck is a guest writer for Maker Faire Detroit.

Meet the Maker: Mike Lica and The Great Lakes Garrison


Regulars at Maker Faire Detroit and Tinker. Hack. Invent. Saturday, The Great Lakes Garrison will be joining us this weekend for our last Tinker. Hack. Invent Saturday of 2014. Learn more about what inspires Mike Lica as a maker.

Tell us about the Great Lakes Garrison.
The Great Lakes Garrison is the Michigan Garrison of the 501st Legion the world’s definitive costuming organization. We are also knows as the Bad guys who do good. The 501st Legion represents the bad guy costumes from the the Star Wars universe. We are often joined by the “Good Guys” or the Rebel Legion, and various droids from the R2-D2 builders club and the Great Lakes Droids. The 501st Legion has costumers in almost every country in the world. We have over 100 active members in Michigan alone. The club members make appearances all over the State. Anything from Fundraisers to Sporting events, and Comic Conventions.

What is the inspiration for your current projects?
We are always coming up with something new. A new costume, a new droid, or prop etc. Each member has their own reasons for building their project. Some of us build them to take to hospital visits at various children’s hospitals. Some like to attend Comic Conventions or sporting events. Everyone has their own inspiration for the costume or prop they build. We all grew up watching Star Wars movies and to actually become Darth Vader, Boba Fett, a Stormtrooper or an X Wing Pilot is a dream come true for some. Our costumes go through a pretty strict approval process and provide us with a challenge. They must be screen accurate. Meaning the costume must look like the costume in the movie.


With Star Wars: Episode 7 less than a year away, there’s a local droid builder, Kurt Zimmerman, who is building a new droid called BB-8 who was only seen for a couple seconds in the new Force Awakens trailer. This is the first fan-made droid of it’s kind. Kurt also built a C1-10P droid named “Chopper,” the new droid seen in Disney’s Star Wars Rebels. Recently we were asked by Lucasfilm to appear at the Star Wars Rebels premiere in Troy and Chopper was there along with several members of the 501st and Rebel Legion. Both of these droids including R2-D2 and R5-D4 will be at the Tinker, Hack, invent event on December 27.

How long does it take to make your creations?
Each project is different. Time and money is usually what determines how long a project will take. Some projects can get done pretty fast especially if a deadline for an appearance is approaching and that character is needed. Some of our members take their time and have been working on the same projects for years.

As a Maker, what inspires you?
I am inspired by the creativity of the people that I am surrounded by. I built a Stormtrooper costume thinking that would be the only costume I ever needed but I was wrong….. and was bit by the costume, prop building bug. I will usually start a new project while I am still working on a current one. It’s a continuous cycle. Everyone in the clubs bring something to the table. Each member of our group brings a certain skill to the table. Every day I get messages either asking for advice or someone giving me advice on the next project. We get together from time to time and work on projects together.

What are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s Tinker. Hack. Invent. Saturday?
Tinker.Hack.Invent.Saturday is one of our favorite events. Throughout the year I have a lot of friends wanting to see what we are working on, looking for tips, or wanting to join the Legion. I tell them to come to this event because we will have everything on display from Stormtrooper Armor to R2-D2. You can take a photo with the droids or characters or even see what the inside of R2-D2 looks like. We look forward to talking with the guests and hopefully recruiting new members.

Meet the Maker: Rob Miller

face off rob

Meet Rob Miller. He’s from Monroe, Mich., a member of the Great Lakes Garrison and a contestant on FaceOff. Rob is joining our Tinker.Hack.Invent Saturday activities this weekend and we’re excited to have him. Learn more about Ron and what inspires him as a maker.

Tell us about the your experience on Face Off.
I have always been a fan of the show since season 1. Each and every season many friends and family members hounded me to try out, but I never did. I never thought I of all people would have a chance to make it for an interview let alone be on the show. Seasons 2-6 came and went, and one night during season 6 my family and I were watching the show. My boys, Alex – age 14 and Zach age 12 have always told me I should try out for the show, and this time when they told me, I began thinking perhaps I should try out. What pushed me more than anything to go for it wasn’t just my boys, but my daughter Riley. Riley is 9 years old and was born with Down syndrome. Riley was watching the show with us as we all do, and during one of the episodes, she ran into my workroom and brought out a mask I made, and ran up to the TV and pointed to my mask I made, and then to the TV. She then said, “Daddy, you do it!” That is what started it all – my children. They have sat with me over the years sculpting with play doh, clay, painting, drawing, airbrushing, coloring, anything art related. They made me realize that I do have what it takes. So, I applied. I received a phone call 3 weeks after I applied and the next thing I knew I was on my way to begin filming the show! My experience on Face Off was amazing to say the least! I met so many talented artists who created things in so many different ways. We all learned different/new techniques in mold making, painting, fabrication, application. We all helped, taught and supported each other. In simple terms I honestly have to say it was a Special Effects boot camp! It blew my mind to have everything that I needed at my fingertips! To be able to try new products, techniques and to have my work critiqued by leaders in the Special Effects industry was truly an honor. I had to work under some tight time constraints. My days consisted of working anywhere from 12-20 hours each day. I was constantly on the go! I was the “Dad” of the group, as I was the oldest contestant and I truly was amazed at how a show can put 15 complete strangers together, take away all sources of outside media, and those 15 people truly become a family!

What is the inspiration for your current projects?
I often try to keep up with what is popular. Currently, Zombies, horror, Sci-Fi, and Video Game Characters are many areas that are really trending at the moment. I conduct a lot of research on what I want to create. I have to give each of my creations a back story, give them character, a purpose.

How long does it take to make your creations?
There isn’t no real set time. It all depends on what I’m making. A fabrication suit could take anywhere from days, months or even years. Sculptures are the same way. When I was on the show, I had to have my creations completed within 3 days. As for how long it takes to make my creations .. it also depends on the deadline I’m given by my clients.

As a Maker, what inspires you?
Technology, Industry, Science Fiction, Horror. I try to incorporate a plethora of genres into my work. I’m inspired by other artists work, and I visit a lot of museums, I often ask people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram what they would like to see me create, and if they suggest something that appeals to me, I make it.

What are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s Tinker. Hack. Invent. Saturday?
I actually am looking forward to speaking to everyone that stops by. To be able to inspire a young artist to never give up on their dreams, and to answer any questions that someone may have will be an honor in itself. I love to see the reactions of the public when they view my work. I am very honored to be able to attend this event and to bring the things I have created for everyone to enjoy. It’s going to be a great Saturday!

Ben’s Encore Returns to Maker Faire Detroit

Premier event photography by KMS Photography

It’s that time of year again – time for Maker Faire Detroit. Once again the event will showcase more than 400 makers. One particular group, Ben’s Encore, promises to have a special appeal to young, aspiring musicians.

Ben’s Encore strives to provide opportunities for aspiring musicians and music education in Detroit and its surrounding areas. The organization started a few years ago, as a tribute to Ben Borowiak of Detroit, who passed away due to complications from epilepsy that developed after being hit by a drunk driver. Ben wore many hats; though professionally an accountant, he was known by his family and friends as a multi-talented musician and philanthropist. Continue reading