Interested in GCMC 2016? Sign Up Early!

register earlyWe’re getting a super early start on Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016 planning, and have launched an Early Interest form for those who want to save the date and a spot at next year’s event.

We’ll formally launch our 2016 Call for Makers at the end of the year, at which time we’ll follow up with everyone who registered their early interest in participating.  Accepted early applicants will be given preferred venue placement and advanced email notices about event planning.

So save the date, sign up early, and Make On!

Posted in Gulf Coast MakerCon, Gulf Coast Makers Festival, MakerCon, Makers, Makers Festival | Tagged , , ,

In Memory of Misspent Summers

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. – from, Phrynette Married

A Guest Blog by Chuck Stephens

boys-with-bubbleRemember summer break? Those two months seemed to stretch out forever with endless possibilities and no obligations.

No pressure, no homework, no tests, no schedule and no teachers- it was a little taste of freedom after a long, hard school year. Summer break was a good analogy for life- it seemed unbelievably long in the middle of June but by the beginning of September it felt like it was over so quickly. Summer break was awesome!

I was excited when my dad told me that my nephew was going to robotics andrea25camp for a couple of weeks this summer. I try my hardest to be the cool uncle. I always have an activity planned when we get together- building sugar rockets, brushbots, rubber band guns, slingshots, chemistry experiments and all kinds of fun things that shoot, explode, make noise or otherwise engage the minds of young boys. I let them play with my synthesizers and shoot my high-power air rifle and I always find just the right books to spark their imaginations. When one of them shows an interest in something, especially something I’m also interested in also, it makes me proud. So Cody wants to go to robotics camp? Cool! Next step FIRST!

Robotics camp is just one of the many activities planned for him this summer. His whole summer is booked with educational and recreational opportunities. At first I thought that it sounded fun. I grew up kinda poor, so there were no summer camps for me- just endless days of freedom and little supervision. All the things he was doing sounded exciting.

andrea51Then I thought about my own summer breaks. I learned so much during those summers. I mowed lawns, which taught me to run a small business and save money. I ran with the neighborhood hooligans and learned how to interact with other kids without adults to mediate our squabbles. I learned to defend myself and how to compromise. I did bad things and learned to live with the consequences and I did good things and enjoyed the rewards. I learned how to put dad’s Playboys back just-so so he wouldn’t know I snuck a peak (years later I would also learn that dad knows everything and was just tolerant of a young man’s curiosity- he grew up sneaking peeks at a similar stash of French postcards grandad brought back from the war).

I usually spent the second half of the summer in Ft. Lauderdale visiting my dad. Clair Mel was a boring suburb where we had to find cool things to do, but south Florida was a wonderland. When I wasn’t fishing with my dad or doing chores for spending money, I was exploring the town by myself. I’d ride my bike to the beach or down to John Loyd Park to climb out on the jetty and watch the ships going in and out of Port Everglade. I’d catch the bus to go to places beyond bike distance.

One day I ended up on the Metro Rail to Miami, which was like a foreign frogface2country. The summer before my senior year I got my first job- pumping gas at a full service station for $3.35 an hour, 11 hours a day, six days a week. I learned how to mount and balance tires, I learned how to drive a stick shift and I learned that the rich guy in the Jaguar won’t give me a tip but his maid driving the beat up Pinto will. I also learned that buying your first drum machine and real guitar amp made up for a summer spent pumping gas and sweating for a tyrant boss.

Summer break made us who we are today. We learned to entertain ourselves. We learned to build forts and skate ramps. We learned how to hide the road rash after wrecking our bike going over that steep bridge mom told us to never go over. We learned how to do stuff on our own. Where will Cody learn those things?

Is there a ‘How To Kiss a Girl For the First Time’ camp? How about a ‘How To bucket divingGet Over It When She Kisses Another Boy a Week Later In Your Backyard’ camp? I know there’s no ‘How To Figure Things Out For Yourself’ camp- that would be oxymoronic. Maker camp, robotics camp and hockey camp are all well and good, but there’s a lot to be said for just goofing off and killing time. My sister is a good mom and she wants to give her kids the best, but sometimes the best thing you can do for them is to give them the time to do things for themselves.

If summer break is just another series of classes and schedules, it’s no break at all.

Posted in DIY, Education, Guest Blog, Makers, Young Makers | Tagged , , , , , ,

Be a Gulf Coast Makers Guest Blogger!

guest-bloggingNow that we’ve wrapped up Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015, and made all these great connections in our awesomely creative and productive maker community, we want to keep the conversation flowing.   And we need and want your help to do that.

We know you’re out there – incredible makers doing amazing things with electronics, wood, textiles, concrete blocks,pvc pipes, old chairs, Spanish moss – you name it, we know you do it!  Some of you teach, run makerspaces, have interesting inventions, or are working on a variety of projects.   So we’re inviting you, the fantastic makers of the Gulf Coast, to contribute articles to our Gulf Coast Makers blog.  There are a few simple rules:

  • We’re looking for informative, interesting ideas, opinions, news, stories & how-tos  (See Making as an Economy of Ideas, by Chuck Stephens,  and The New Music Conflagration, by Elizabeth Baker)
  • No overt advertising and self-promotional pieces please, although we invite you to include a bio and links we’ll use at the end of your article
  • Keep it family friendly
  • Be generous with illustrations – photos, sketches, CAD and more are welcome
  • Videos are welcome

Beyond that, we got nothin’ , not even word limits! Although if your piece is really long, we might run it in multiple parts.  Just write,  share, have fun!

Please note  that we do reserve the right to reject contributions that are not in what we believe to be the spirit of Gulf Coast Makers. There is no compensation for contributions, just the joy of sharing your awesomeness, and the opportunity to get word out about what you do.

Please drop us a line via our Contact page, to let us know if you’d like to be a guest blogger , and help us show everybody what an amazing Maker Community we have in the Gulf Coast!  We also welcome news of your events, meet ups, open makes and more on our Calendar page.

Posted in Guest Blog, Gulf Coast MakerCon, Makers | Tagged

Save the Date: Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016 is April 9th!

Save the Date April 9 It’s never too early to start planning for our next Gulf Coast Makers party!  Thanks to our great hosts at the Florida State Fairgrounds, we’ve secured the April 9 for Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016.

We got some great feedback from this year’s event and will be incorporating a number of enhancements in 2016, including a dedicated “Makers Market” for vendors, and separate areas for things like Entertainment, a Young Makers Village, Mechatronics , Robotics arenas, and more.

So save the date, bookmark our website and follow along on Twitter and Facebook throughout the year for news about local makers and their programs and projects, and to stay up to date on 2016 event planning.

Together, we’ll Make it Great!


Posted in Gulf Coast MakerCon, Gulf Coast Makers Festival, MakerCon, Makers, Makers Festival, Mechanics, Robotics, Young Makers | Tagged , , , , , ,

Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015: A Look Back

IMG_20150418_130716937Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015 was our biggest event yet, with over 80 exhibitors, the Southeast Combot Championship fighting robots competition,  Electrathon car race , Young Makers activities and Makerspace Showcase, bringing together over 300 technologists, artists, crafters, mechanical and electrical wizards, costumers and prop makers, roboticists, musical artists, inventors, gamers, coders, and more.  Over 600 guests visited throughout the day, enjoying exhibits, meeting and networking with makers and each other, and learning about all the great makerspaces, creative groups and programs on the Gulf Coast.


Hillsborough County Economic Development Manager Jennifer Whelihan with Tampa Bay Library Consortium Director, Charlie Parker

The event, produced by Eureka Factory and made possible in part by a Hillsborough County Economic Development IMG_20150430_134947650Innovation Initiative (EDI2) grant, inspired a county proclamation declaring April 18, 2015, Maker Day, in Hillsborough County.

Our immense gratitude, as well, to TECO Energy , and to USF Connect, the Florida High Tech Corridor and the National Academy of Inventors for their generous support.  Thank you, too, to our fantastic event volunteers, 20 great individuals who gave of their time, energy, and kindness to help from set up to break down!

Very special thanks to Mity Mo Creative for the amazing and generous contribution of graphic design for Gulf Coast MakerCon, from our promo materials to our programs to our banner, and to Sonic Print for donating program and other printing support for our event.  And thank you to Chad Mairn of the St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab, Sam McAmis of the USF Robotics Interest Group, Electrathon of Tampa Bay and Real Life, Inc. for making Gulf Coast MakerCon possible.

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Posted in Art, Gaming, Gulf Coast MakerCon, Gulf Coast Makers Festival, MakerCon, Makers, Makers Festival, Makerspace, Music, Robotics, Young Makers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hillsborough County Proclaims April 18th “Maker Day”

Makers Day 2015 ProclamationIt’s official! In recognition of Gulf Coast MakerCon, April 18th is Maker Day in Hillsborough County!

The actual proclamation, which is signed by all seven County Commissioners, will be on display at Gulf Coast MakerCon.  Be sure to stop by the Hillsborough County booth (#12) to share with county representatives why you feel supporting makers and making in our communities, at all levels is important, and especially to thank them for their support of Gulf Coast MakerCon with an EDI2 Grant, as well as the proclamation.

Posted in Education, Entrepreneurship, Gulf Coast MakerCon, inventors, MakerCon, Makers, Makers Festival | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Meet the Maker: Wayne Rasanen, Inventer of DecaTxt

WayneHe was Making before Making was cool! Anyone who’s been involved in the inventors community in Tampa Bay for any length of time knows Wayne Rasanen, long time leader of the Tampa Bay Inventors Council, but first and foremost, an inventor himself, creator of DecaTxt.

Wayne’s been an ardent supporter of Gulf Coast MakerCon from its earliest days as a Mini Maker Faire, and filmed our great promo video at last year’s event.   Wayne is a gentleman and a scholar, a friend of inventors, and a valued partner that we feel honored to have with us again for this year’s Gulf Coast MakerCon. He tells us more about himself here, and what you can look for at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015.


GCMC: Who are and what do you make?

WR: My Name is Wayne Rasanen and I’m making a new kind of mobile keyboard for touch-typing called DecaTxt

GCMC: Why do you make it?

WR: QWERTY doesn’t work well on mobile technology and any touch-typing skills are lost 297438_10151348741358312_1504058625_non tiny touch-screens.We need something designed for modern small devices and the DecaTxt is the first step in that direction because you can type without looking with one hand.

GCMC: Why do you think it’s important?

WR:  We see it as an important tool for improving accessibility for the vision impaired and a great variety of other disabilities. It can be used to more safely text because you don’t need to stare at your device to type.

GCMC: What are you bringing to Gulf Coast MakerCon?

WR: We will bring a few of our keyboards so people can learn how a device the size of a deck of cards with only 10 keys can replace a full keyboard. We’ll show some other ways it can be used and even bring a game where stuff blows up!

GCMC: Will folks be able to do anything at your booth?

WR: Try it for yourself and see how 145 years of QWERTY could be at an end… at least in a mobile environment.

GCMC: Why should folks come out to a maker festival?

WR: Last year was a blast and you can see so many things, learn so much, play, build, and experiment with cool projects that you won’t find anywhere else. The line-up this year looks even better!

 GCMC: What’s so great about making stuff?

WR: Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach. This is a place where the doers and the teachers get together and build stuff that can change the world. Leaders create and make the future so get off your butt and do it. In old age you won’t regret the things you have done as much as you will the things you neglected to do. Use your mind and build!


If that’s not a call to creative action, nothing is! Join Wayne and all our great Makers at Gulf Coast MakerCon, who are using their minds and building our future, and learn how you can, too!

Tickets button

Last day for discounted tickets to Gulf Coast MakerCon, $2 off gate admission.


Posted in Entrepreneurship, Gulf Coast MakerCon, inventors, MakerCon, Makers, Makers Festival | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,