Wild West Makers Space (Our Journey To The Queenstown Heritage Arts Festival)

Hi Everyone!

Over the weekend, our Innovation Circle Away Team (Troy, Joe, Nathaniel and myself) went on a road trip to Queenstown to participate in the Queenstown Heritage Arts Festival.  When we arrived at the festival, we were met by the Hobart Hackerspace Away Team (Shane, Craig and Toby) and between us, we set about establishing a a pop up makerspace in the Queenstown Memorial Hall.

We arrived late on Saturday afternoon (for those who have never travelled to the West Coast, it's a 4+ hour drive along windy roads), and immediately knuckled down to setting up a whole bunch of tech toys that we were going to demo on the following day.

Initially, we were worried that our setup was going to take up too much space in the hall and be too noisy around other displays.  But then, Troy checked behind a closed door and found a fantastic storage space that we were able to set up as our maker space.  The 3D printers and the CNC router would go in a room off to the side, with the VR demos and other more screen-based activities happening out in the main hall.

When we were done, our setup looked something like this.

Our Interaction Space:  VR demos, Kinect, Leap Motion & The Alfa Project.

Our Maker Space:  3D printers & a CNC router.

After trying a few different configurations, we were very happy with the layout we settled on in the end.

Once everything was set up and working, we were able to take the night off and enjoy the festival.  I think it's safe to say that everyone from the Innovation Circle and the Hobart Hackerspace had a fantastic time Saturday night.  The music was great, the food was great, and Queenstown itself is a fascinating place to explore.

The Bearded Gypsy Band.

Flamenco at the Paragon.

Nathaniel and Joe were so taken with the band that played in the main marquee on Saturday night (The Bearded Gypsy Band) that they both bought CDs, which would later become the soundtrack for Joe's drive home.

There was also a fantastic outdoor projection show happening throughout the night at the Empire Hotel.  Two massive projectors were used to map images and animation onto the exterior of the building throughout the night.  One of the sides of the building was also interactive, with a Kinect being used to enable people at the festival to interact with the building and subtly influence the animation and other effects.

Outdoor projection on the Empire Hotel in Queenstown.

The next day, it was time for us to kick our popup hackerspace into gear.  We opened the doors at around 10am and after a bit of a slow start, things really started cranking.  From 11am through to 4pm, we had around 200 people come through the space to check out our gear and talk to the guys from the Innovation Circle and the Hobart Hackerspace.  At one point, Nathaniel had a queue of 10 children waiting to use the Oculus Rifts (lucky we brought two!) and there were a couple of points in time where we had a queue to check out the 3D printers and CNC machine as well.

Our first customer of the day.

Our VR and interaction demos starting to get busy.  Troy and Nathaniel are working hard.

The makerspace being overrun! Craig and Toby from the Hobart Hackerspace are buried in there somewhere!

At around 4pm on Sunday, the festival officially closed and we packed up our gear.  And by 5pm, we were back on the road.

All in all, we were really happy with our road trip to the Queenstown Heritage Arts Festival.  It was fantastic to catch up with some of the great people from the Hobart Hackerspace community, as well as spending time with Queenstown locals and people who had travelled to Queenstown for the festival.  We had a blast chatting to everyone about hackerspaces, makerspaces and what we do at the Innovation Circle.  We're really pleased that we had this opportunity to head out west and we're all hoping that we can do more of this kind of thing in the future.

Before I wrap up this post, I'd like to say a big *thank you* to Troy, Joe and Nathaniel for their hard work over the weekend.  In particular, I'd like to thank Troy for arriving early and doing some essential coffee reconnaissance before the rest of us arrived.  Joe, for driving solo so that we could carry the 3D printer in his passenger seat.  And Nathaniel for taking care of the Oculus demos like a champ and barely flinching at all when he was overrun with children for hours on end.

I'd also like to thank Shane, Craig and Toby from the Hobart Hackerspace for braving the road between Hobart and Queenstown and taking time out of their weekend to join us on the Wild West Coast.  Finally, I'd like to thank Adam and the rest of the Queenstown Heritage Arts Festival committee for inviting us to participate in the first place.  What a privilege!

If you have any questions about our visit to Queenstown, or if you met us at the festival and would like to get in touch, then please give us a shout via our contact page.

Take care everyone!

James