Four small rotors spun around, loudly buzzing like a swarm of bees, as the drone hovered before the crowd and suddenly shot up into the sky in front of the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library at Saturday’s Mini Maker Faire.
The quadcopter flew circles above the open soccer field, as Paul Charbonnet and Josh Rogers, co-owners of Atmosphere Aerial, explained that the small remote-controlled drone can travel 45 miles per hour and fly for 15 minutes. At their booth, Charbonnet and Rogers also showed off a larger, custom-built drone with eight rotors — an octocopter.
Atmosphere Aerial was one of more than 80 booths in and outside the Goodwood library where “makers” displayed creations, crafts, technology and more for the second-annual Mini Maker Faire.
“It’s half science fair, half craft fair,” said Michael Brandyberry, faire project coordinator and the library’s maker space technology engineer.
He said the event gives people with far-ranging hobbies — such as robotics and jewelry making — the chance to all gather in one space to network ideas and show off their creations to each other and to the public.
And what better place to host a maker faire than the parish library?
“A lot of these people started with these hobbies using libraries’ books and resources,” Brandyberry said. “And plus, we have the space.”
Last year’s faire brought in some 3,000 visitors, by far the largest event the library has ever had, Brandyberry said.
This year’s event is expected to draw even more people thanks to an added incentive: the chance to win a 3-D printer for those who registered. But just the sights, sounds and experiences seem to be enough to attract people.
Visitors walking up to the faire were met with loud, intense bursts of flames from computer-controlled fire cannons set up in the outdoor plaza, as well as booths for metalworking, homemade honey and PVC Irish flutes.
Inside the library, 3-D printers and scanners were on display and an R2-D2 replica wheeled around, with blinking lights and beeps familiar to any Star Wars fan. Elsewhere inside, costume makers flaunted their best gear and beer was brewed.
“It’s a Belgian pale ale,” said Casey Muller, of LA Homebrew, as he tended to his pot of beer. “I started at 10 a.m. this morning.”
Chad Besse, a special effects makeup artist from Baton Rouge-based Mystic Fx, sat before a table of gory prosthetic make-up, face sculpts and an arm and hand that looked disturbingly real.
“Oh, it’s very real,” Besse said. “Turn it over. You can even see fingerprints.”
Meanwhile, upstairs a line formed of visitors waiting for a glimpse of virtual reality.
The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, was showing two demos: a preview of Oculus’s animated virtual-reality movie called “Henry” and a cinematic action experience called “Showdown” by Epic Games, which featured a futuristic gunfight between a robotic walking tank and police.
Glenn Kauffman, an independent developer helping visitors test the demos, described the Oculus Rift as an “immersive” experience that makes people feel as though they’re in the movie or video game.
Back outside where the drone was flown, Lance Littlefield, of make.br, used a trebuchet, which is a type of catapult, to hurl pumpkins. Littlefield said make.br, at 3180 Convention St., is dedicated to bringing a maker space to Baton Rouge, where they can offer classes like welding, woodworking, mold making and more.
“There aren’t a whole lot of formal maker communities in Baton Rouge,” Brandyberry said. “So we have to do it together. The more these people talk to each other, the more people will start doing these things, and it’s going to grow.”