Sunday, October 16, 2016

Load-in at theNAT

Here's what Organ Donor looked like loaded onto the freight elevator for setup at the Natural History Museum.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Organ Donor at San Diego Maker Faire 2016

The experience at San Diego Maker Faire 2016 was outstanding in every way. Held at Balboa Park on 1-2 October 2016, Organ Donor Opus 1 was deployed int the Natural History Museum, aka theNAT.

Setup was Friday evening and went as flawlessly as it ever has. The new software that allows for much easier matching of note to valve offered the only real glitch. After three of the hundred twenty two pipes were taught, the cursor started moving all on its own all across the touchscreen. This made it impossible to assign the right pipe to the right valve.

After making sure the wireless mouse was off, the touchscreen connector was re-seated. The problem re-appeared after about twenty pipes. After pondering how what we were seeing could possibly happen, we remembered that the pitch wheels were programmed as cursor movers. The pitch wheels were slightly nudged just enough to key up the on-screen cursors. After the wheels were turned to a neutral location, the problem went away.

We arrived on Saturday and put in 8 hours of hosting. We met a large number of enthusiastic attendees and had so many wonderful conversations! Several important contacts were made, and we were visited by Maker Faire staff to check in at least twice.

Small children generally thin out in the afternoon. This means less banging on the keyboard and more accomplished playing. The only time we stop people from banging on the keyboard is if it's endangering the keyboards. People generally never get to touch a pipe organ. They're always off limits and set off in their own space, or hidden behind walls. Getting to create sound out of acoustic pipes, even if it's a bit dissonant, is a special experience that can spark an entire career. Our goal is to demystify the pipe organ, show what's always hidden away behind walls, explain how they work, and most importantly - let people play.

On Sunday, several extremely accomplished players graced our exhibit, and garnered extended and loud applause. I got a chance to walk around the faire and talk to other exhibitors and enjoy the atmosphere. The amateur radio exhibits were great and the food truck lines were slow.

The most time that Organ Donor wasn't being played was perhaps 45 seconds over the two days.

Late Sunday afternoon, we were visited by Rob Burkhead, our event coordinator, who awarded us the Maker Merit blue ribbon! He passed along extremely high praise for our exhibit, efforts, attitude, and effect. Sol Diego and all San Diego burners should be proud. Without your support and encouragement, Organ Donor wouldn't be at the Faire.

Several other large Faire exhibits were from the burner community, and several booths were staffed by burners. Burners volunteered to help run the event, and lots of burners attended.

If you want a wonderful experience where you can share your art directly with appreciative, inquisitive, positive, and interesting people, then give exhibiting at Maker Faire a chance. Non-commercial booths are free. The process is easy. The hardest part is figuring out parking and setup.

Tear-down was easy and Faire and museum staff were entirely supportive and helpful. I can't say enough good things about how the Natural History Museum helps exhibitors. They know it is a big effort to get your art or exhibit set up. They help you solve problems, get things done, and make you feel appreciated. Plus, you're hanging in the same room with a big old dinosaur skeleton.

The organization that puts Maker Faire on is called San Diego Makers Guild. They are in need of volunteers for planning, organizing, recruiting, volunteering, and staffing. Join up at

There is tremendous continuing potential for rich and varied representation of all San Diego Burners at Maker Faire (as well as STEAM Maker Faire, San Diego County Fair, and many other events up and down the calendar). Performance art, music, LED arts and crafts, fashion, engineering, structural exhibits, fire art, art cars, engineering tricks, magic, improv - it's all welcome.

We are very much looking forward to coming back to Maker Faire with Organ Donor Opus 2!