Things that people liked:
There seemed to be a lot of interest in general and much of it was across the spectrum on things we brought with us. Kids loved handling just about everything especially the helmet, spirograph, viper ship and zero planes. It felt like about half of the people we spoke to were teachers, many of which had lasers at school already (makes me wish our kids were going to school there, but maybe it’s the taxes ^_-). It also felt like about half the people were pre-orders waiting for their unit. Maybe 10-20% knew right off that we weren’t Glowforge the company, the rest we quickly explained that we were a show and tell of what ordinary people can make with a Glowforge laser and told them where to find the official Glowforge booth (it was great to be nearby so we could point it out). People really liked to ask how we liked our Glowforge and how the interface and everything was going.
A dozen or so folks asked about the autofocus for curved surfaces which I could only say that I hadn’t personally had any experience with so didn’t know the status and they should ask at the official booth. I’d usually defer the same way for questions on release (these were usually presented as “hey, when do I get my unit, I’ve been waiting for xxx?” where I’d say “Let me know what the Glowforge team is able to tell you around the corner since I’m eagerly awaiting mine as well, but I can show you what I’ve been doing with the beta for the last 6 months” ^_^). Hopefully we were able to de-fuse folks before they got over to the Glowforge booth.
A handful of people were curious about how easy it was to get started with it in terms of calibration, maintenance and learning the software. These were easy questions to handle since we’d gotten started an hour or so after unpacking since it was so easy to use.
For some of the teacher types or curious parents I was able to draw clear tangents between the Glowforge and a craft cutter like a Cricket. Having designs available online and proofgrade materials with all the associated presets it’s very easy to get started for someone unfamiliar with a laser cutter. I also liked to explain that once you got going and familiar with more advanced settings, you weren’t tied to just those materials. Corian, titanium, EVA foam and delrin/acetal were good examples for people to show advanced and easily accessable materials that were interesting and outside the ecosystem. Having samples of these on hand were really interesting to people, especially the 1/2" corian cookie stamp. Most people would ask a few times how deep it could etch. I’d explain that the etch I had on that sample was a single pass, but it had cut the circle out after 4 passes. It would usually take a few times before they understood that it cut the whole circle out of a larger piece.
Teachers and kids loved talking to Mana and loved her castle, it made a good focal point to draw people over. There were tons of kids that flocked to our table for @marmak3261 's spinners too. It was hard to keep the rulers around for long since they were pretty popular. We were asked to sell our cutting board a few times. The dinosaur trophy mount was popular and used a lot to show the thickness of wood that could be cut in a single pass (1/4" plywood from the original shipment) I need to get some of the designs we’ve done into the free plans forum area I think.
Wireless network issues provided lots of fodder for naysayers that dropped by. I was able to commiserate on one level, but would always point out that it was the only time I’d had any sort of problem with wifi since I got the unit so it had never caused any grief to me before the show.
Having the ability to print last job again would have been awesome. I could have done my setup in the morning and printed for people all day giving a great demo despite wifi issues that would start around 11am.
Bottom line for this one is if you’re bringing your Glowforge to a popular event like a local maker faire that may have spotty wireless access, print a lot of stuff before going so you’ll have that ready even if you can’t do live prints due to the network. Which leads me to…
Things I should bring/do next time
Pre-printing handouts would have provided less stress of printing onsite, but also not as cool for people to watch. I’d do this next time though since we can only print so many onsite anyhow it would have made even more happy visitors.
Less heavy materials for checkin bag. I did like using the checkin method though over mailing since it was with me and allowed for last minute changes to what I was bringing.
Start the honey lemon water the first day before you lose your voice ^_-
Having @marmak3261 and his brother share our space was a godsend (probably literally in his case ^_-). They were awesome! They had brought so many supplies and had great ideas. They had the great idea of making our displays and I felt we could have done more had I been more prepared for that. (eg: designed hooks, shelves, etc. to print and put up)
I’d love to coordinate with them again in the future and maybe others too so we could all take a half or full day to walk around the faire while others hold down the fort. Tag team for the all-around win.
I wonder if some of the ubiquity hardware might help get a stable wireless signal or a faraday blanket to mostly cover the Glowforge while pairing with laptop and wifi source.
Make a sign that clearly differentiates us from the Glowforge team so people aren’t confused and also explains the purpose of our table (eg: “Hobbyist Glowforge/Laser projects we’ve made while beta testing”) and maybe a brief intro that I often ended up repeating for people.
Things/ideas/inspirations we found
Mana loved the fuzzy animal ear clips and my younger daughter, Yui, also loved the ones we brought back for her.
The Steamy Tech folks were pretty cool. They were using a different companies laser to make a lot of steam punk style gear mechanisms for pins, keychains, necklaces and had a very popular spinner that I’m going to need to work up a similarly inspired design for my kids and nieces/nephews. They also did some maker night activities which sounded awesome. I may do kits like theirs for the girl’s next birthday party
Mana liked the lock pick training they had over at the Lockpick Extreme booth. She learned how to use a shim to get out of a pair of handcuffs. The models they had to show how the inside of a handcuff lock looked like something we can make with a Glowforge. Maybe that should be part of the next birthday party too.
The hats over at Head’n Home were pretty cool looking. All sorts of Steampunk inspired designs out of very high quality materials. They had lots of cool embellishments like glass vials, gears, dragon eyes, lace and cameos. They even lent one to @Kallisti for the duration of the faire.
The folks around the corner from us at Ply Products had some simple and strong connectors for building furniture and shelves out of plywood that was pretty easy to use and flexible in usage.
There were some amazing constructs wandering around the faire and I think the giant robotic ant was from the folks at Les Machines de Lile. I picked up a pamphlet and they have some pretty big plans that I hope work out for them to build a theme park of amazing machine animals.
I think our first project at home though may be the Big Face Box which we found to be pretty fun. I’m sure the kids in the neighborhood would love running around (and into each other and cars) with these on their heads. Basically a cardboard box with a fresnel lens and some LED strip lights with a battery to light your face while inside the box. Makes you a walking bobble-head!