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THE DIY DALEK; But it's not just The Doctor's famous arch enemies Tomos and his dad have made, there's K-9 too.

Byline: SION MORGAN sion.morgan@walesonline.co.uk

DALEKS fraternising with humanoid robots, unmanned drones flying overhead while "biting machines" scatter along the ground beneath - the only thing missing is Arnold Schwarzenegger in his full leathers and shades.

This isn't a post apocalyptic scene from a science fiction blockbuster - this is rural Mid Wales.

Technology buffs, inventors, self-declared geeks and engineers gathered at the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth this weekend for the country's first Maker Faire.

The event, part of a growing global trend, celebrates the so-called "maker movement" which encourages people to make things themselves and to share the knowledge and skills they have learned.

Stephen Fearne, who has created Dalek Doris, a replica of the famous cyborg species in Doctor Who, said his son Tomos had asked him to build a remote-controlled device.

He said: "We eventually decided on K-9, Doctor Who's companion, and the reaction we got was amazing, to the point where we had help from the original K-9 designer, the current builder and even the actual voice of the real K-9. "From there, we decided to create a Dalek and in the last 12-months, we've been overwhelmed by the reaction we've got all around the country. Doris has even been signed by many of the Doctors."

Mainly constructed from MDF with her own voice modulator, Doris is the only Welsh-speaking Dalek in the world and is one of the most entertaining exhibits at the inaugural Welsh Maker Faire.

But Stephen, a technician at Aberystwyth University, says the purpose of the event is far more significant.

"As an engineer, the maker movement is something I am very interested in," he said.

"The idea is for people to share new technology and designs at the forefront of technology."

The original Maker Faire event was held in California eight years ago and in 2013 boasted 900 makers and 120,000 visitors. The New York World Maker Faire held last week attracted more than 500 makers and 55,000 people in attendance.

The Machynlleth Mini Maker Faire organised by bloc, the Creative Technology Network for Wales, follows the Maker Faire model: "Make, create, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology."

A spokesman for bloc said: "The event has been devised to inspire and attract the best makers, producers and creative technologists from across Wales and beyond and to capitalise on the burgeoning DIY culture in the countryside."

Another Machynlleth exhibitor, Paul Granjon, teaches part-time on the BA Fine-Art course in Cardiff School of Art and Design.

Since 1999, he has developed and shown internationally live performances and exhibitions with hand-made robots.

He mostly creates self-made machines, words and actions that comment on current technological developments and their effects on humans.

He said: "I am interested in the co-evolution of humans and machines, imagining solutions for alternative futures and minimising human impact on the planet's resources."

Agnes, a life-sized humanoid knitting robot created by scientist Andy Noyes, was also in Machynlleth yesterday.

Like a human, she can knit by hand and is capable of making woolly hats, scarves and other items.

"The most challenging part was getting her to make repeated small and accurate moves so she can knit without making mistakes," Andy said. "This is harder than it sounds as I wanted her to look and more like a human.

"If I simply wanted to build a machine to knit, there are much easier ways of doing it!" He added: "People have responded very well to Agnes. At the UK Maker Faire, many people told me she was their favourite exhibit although some people also find her a little creepy."

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Tomos Fearn, from Aberystwyth, with his dad Stephen's creations Dalek Doris and K-9
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 29, 2013
Words:629
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