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Locally made | Kitsap Week
POULSBO — Standing on the back of the Clockship Kalamazoo, Matthew Dockrey begins to pump the main drive arm. The four-wheeled, railroad-style handcar moves slowly at first.
Dockrey, a Seattle resident dressed in a brown leather vest, a tan kilt and bowler hat, picks up speed. The four kerosene lanterns that act as the Kalamazoo’s only light source sway back and forth. Soon the handcar is moving at the pace of a brisk walk.
By afternoon, on the parking lot of Poulsbo Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Kalamazoo has caught some attention. It’s one of about 60 exhibits or booths at the second Kitsap MiniMaker Faire. According to the faire’s website, 71 makers signed up.
“I just like a way to show off stuff I’ve made,” Dockrey said. “There aren’t a lot of venues for something like this.” The June 10 fair was all about variety.
As Dockrey maneuvered across the grounds of the church on his Kalamazoo, kids shot paper rockets into the sky using a homemade launcher, wood and metal workers showed off their trade, and gardeners taught about alternative methods of growing food.
While outside booth visitors were enjoying the sun, a robot roamed inside the church’s school and makers of all kinds showed off their electronic inventions. In the corner, Chet Doughty controlled a remote control helicopter with his hands.
Doughty, a Port Orchard resident and engineer at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, displayed his hobby for anyone interested. Having “hacked” a Microsoft Kinect — an add-on product to Xbox 360 that allows users to control video games with body movement — Doughty flies the helicopter with hand gestures.
It required electronic engineering and programing knowledge. Though a diagram showed the process he took to make it happen, and Doughty talks about it casually, it’s complicated. It’s something he enjoys. And, he admits, if he was younger he would probably be in a different field of work.
The fair, which debuted last year, was thought up by TJ McCue and the Rexin family two years ago. McCue and the Rexins attended a similar fair in California, which focused on home invention. It inspired them to create something for Kitsap on a smaller scale.
“At first it was a crazy idea, but it became a reality as time went on,” Caleb Rexin said at the time. “After it gained momentum, people started coming out of the woodwork.”
Though he originally created his handcar for Burning Man a few years ago, Dockrey said he enjoys seeing how excited children get when they see his creation. It’s one of many projects, which includes a fire pendulum, for this year’s Burning Man, he said.
Dockrey appreciates the maker fairs he attends being “kid oriented.” “It’s increasingly seeming like it’s up to us to encourage the next generation [of makers] if we’re not going to do it through education,” he said.
“Someone has to show why learning this stuff is so cool.”