Maker Faire gives professionals a chance to show off their passions
By day, Al Baum works as a mechanical engineer for a local company that builds attractions for theme parks.
But by night, the 53-year-old from east Orlando is a garage tinkerer.
He will be surrounded this weekend by 300 other hobbyists, robot builders and arcade game creators at the sixth annual Maker Faire Orlando.
The two-day festival at the Central Florida Fairgrounds is a showcase for creatives around town such as Baum, who works for Dynamic Attractions in south Orlando.
Baum is an inventor who builds machines fitted with tank-like tracks to transform standard chairs or standing platforms into all-terrain vehicles. He shares their blueprints online and shows them in action on his YouTube channel.
The idea is to expose others to projects that can be shared with family, he said.
“I want other people to build them as a hobby for several reasons,” he said. “It’s a good way to spend family time together. I envision most of these projects are built as father-son, father-daughter projects or by scout troops.”
Baum has been posting the videos, some of which have drawn more than 3 million views, for more than 10 years.
His willingness to share his plans with others is common at the fair, organizers say.
“The majority are showcasing their passion projects, the things they do on nights and weekends,” said Candy Cole, president of the nonprofit Maker Effect Foundation. “They are here not only to show off their work but also tell people how they overcame obstacles along the way.”
It’s an attitude Cole says she has seen since the event started six years ago.