Makers of the World, Unite!

Proof against the claim of declining handyman skills in younger generations of Americans, this weekend's Maker Faire will turn over the Bay Area's San Mateo Fairgrounds to the unusual inventions of the country's amateur artisans, do-it-yourself tinkerers and precocious tech-heads. Already in its third year (the first, held in San Mateo in 2006, drew 20,000 people, and the 2007 Austin edition 45,000), the fair has shown a continuing desire on the part of the populous to not only concoct innovative, low-fi alternatives to mass-produced commodities, but to also make the skills acquired through such production available to the broader community. To this end, MAKE and CRAFT magazines, published by the fair's organizers, offer in-depth instructions for building everything from the practical (an in-car camcorder mount) to the far-fetched (a PVC air cannon). The fair itself will follow suit, particularly in the realm of engineering. Highlights include an amateur radio demonstration, offering details on radios, antennas, local repeaters and FCC practicalities; the cerviScope, a portable colposcope, specifically designed for low-resource settings in the developing world, that detects HPV lesions on the cervix towards preventing cancer in women; CUBIT, created by Stefan Hechenberger and Addie Wagenknecht, which "depart[s] from the mouse pointer paradigm" by employing an open-source, multi-touch platform for computing; and Compubeaver, a taxidermy beaver retrofit as a cover for your desktop computer. - Tyler Coburn

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