A Curious Kid

The world is a wonderful place and there is a lot out there to discover and learn.

I’ve always been a curious kid, from taking my parents OO gauge tin trains apart with a screwdriver. Subsequently, losing the pieces and getting told off. I tell them they shouldn’t have given them to me in the first place… I must have been 6. I also used to take other things apart in Science at school and got a board duster thrown at me for my curiosity.

I’m going to document memories of stuff gone by, and put any new projects up. It helps document my personal findings and allow me to remember things when my memory starts to, erm, you know.

I plan to go back and document some of my old projects as well as document my new projects and any particular subjects that come to mind at the time and I just need to get out there.

I won’t be as long and winding as the excellent Martin Molin in the building of his wonderful Marble Machine X, but if you ever get bored with my stuff, why not check out his blogs.

I’m not expecting anyone to read this, so I fully expect to be talking to myself most of the time.

I’m a Maker

Star Wars was a marvel of special effects and included models made by kit bashing. This was and still is a technique where lots of different physical model kits, like tanks and ships were stripped to their individual parts used in the creation of new and unique models. Fleshing out intricate details on the sides of space craft. I wanted to work at ILM making models and blowing stuff up. Sadly that didn’t quite happen. I was only 9 when I saw it first time.

I’ve always been a Maker. Both of my grandads used to save me all of the cardboard boxes left over from the weekly shop so I could spend my time at weekends simply building stuff.

Look at that happy face

I built everything from working index systems using straws and cardboard to Death Star playsets for my Star Wars figures with working trash compactors filled with scrap paper and cardboard, a collapsible gantry to restrict access to the tractor beam controls and large drops for the figures to fall when their limbs get cut off. I also built full size robots (well my height at the time) with working arms, control panels with drawn on circuit boards and a large head made from polystyrene packing materials and black painted matchboxes.

It was fun before the internet, when you just made it up, without looking at how other people did stuff.

I’ve always been a model maker and when I got bored of the models I’ve built, I would break them apart and make something new. Now I do regret breaking up several classic Airfix Saturn V rockets, Space Shuttles and an Orion shuttle from 2001 The Space Odyssey. I’m sure those models are now worth a lot of money. To me they were just parts for something new.

I got my initial inspiration from Star Wars. My art teacher in middle school didn’t understand my facination with breaking up models and sticking them back together again.

Maker Culture is the Future

Rolling forward a few years and I started to discover the Maker Culture.

Maker culture emphasises learning-through-doing in a social environment. Maker culture emphasizes informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment.

 “Maker Culture (chapter in Innovating Pedagogy 2013)”(PDF). The Open University. Retrieved 2014-01-09.

Basically an amalgamation of a bit of DIY mixed with Hacking, 3D Printing, electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking and any other skill required to get a job done. You want to build a robot? Is it pneumatic? hydraulic? or servo based? Want to build a giant metal flying machine? You are going to learn how to fly and develop metalwork skills and work out a way to propel yourself.

How about a mind reading machine that can detect your mood or a pair of glasses with flashing LEDs that help you relax? It’s all been made and the Maker culture are happy to help you build your own. Most cities have a Makerspace with the tools to help you build your wacky dreams.

Maker culture is helping to develop a better and more engaging interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) education. It’s even helping to help the world. https://makezine.com/tag/plan-c/

Make Magazine started in 2005 boasted by the interest in Make Culture around the world, it was an instant hit. From that they started to host Maker Faire events around the world. The first UK Maker Faire was held in Newcastle in 2009 alongside the Newcastle ScienceFest. Obviously we attended and had an absolutely amazing time.

So, next year we had to get involved.

Spurred on by that event and another Sci-fi related event in Newcastle it was time to build something. So I built a Dalek. I learnt how to use fibreglass, a few bits of electronics, woodworking, painting, metalwork, use of various tools and a whole host of other skills. Again, will leave that blog for another day.

If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

Marty Mcfly. 1955 (although George Mcfly said it first in 1985)

Since then, I’ve made props, models, costumes and other fun stuff all because of the love of building, making and developing my skills. Picking up new skills and constantly experimenting.

Unfortunately the last of the Maker Faire UK events was in 2018. We were there in full attendance and so were thousands of visitors over the weekend at the Centre for Life.

Adults and children alike were soldering, building, demonstrating, blowing bubbles, watching amazing woodcarvers, electronic whizz kids and lots of people with smiles on their faces. I have amazing memories of the Maker Faires.

My kids grew up fully immersed in them and it is truly missed.

Maker Culture still moves forward. Maker and Hacker spaces are still run throughout the country and the world, but I feel a little of my own show and tell mentality has diminished a little. I always had a date to work towards and thanks to Facebook it likes to remind me of past fun every April.

I did have plans. Plans beyond the Dalek and foam creations, plans that would have brought some old piano music scrolls, bought in a charity shop in Derby, back to musical life. At least I got to meet Colin Furze and have amazing memories, videos and photos and I still have a bunch of electronic kits and parts to play with.

Dalek Bruce and Dalek Mack at Maker Faire in 2011

So, why this blog? I dunno. I just want to talk/type. I want to document stuff, physical stuff, digital stuff related to anything going through my head.

I plan to document some of my old projects, some of my old topics and I may yet build that Disney inspired audio animatronics.

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