In the Maker Spotlight

Makezine (and author Caleb Kraft) were kind enough to do a Maker Spotlight interview with me. In it, I was able to talk about my perspective on problem solving, mechanical design, and multidisciplinary research.

From the article:

I’m also really proud of the microscopic tardigrade aquarium I made for Midnight Commercial and Google ATAP. It was this microlens-array powered microscope that looked into a tiny self-contained biome of waterbears, algae, and other microscopic critters we mixed up as an artificial biome – all designed to live in your phone and let you watch this little world through your screen. I got to do everything from design biological research experiments, to diving into whitepapers on micro-optics and tardigrade lifecycles, to simulating EDM cut sheet metal flexures, to figuring out how to cheaply duplicate micro-machined lenses using silicone casting.

The Little Spaceman Lamp I sculpted as a personal art project (featured in the article).

How to be Seen

Early on in my days as a maker, I really struggled with documenting and publishing projects. Almost everything I make starts life as something I wanted to build, something I wanted the experience of playing with. Most often I build because building things is gratifying in and of itself, and the other aspects (recognition, money, internet fame) are ancillary. However, only ever being beholden to myself made for some pretty shoddy documentation. I have few if any photographs of my projects from college and my record of things before that is more or less nonexistent. Over time I’ve discovered that a huge motivating factor for me getting things well documented, taking time out to photograph a project in progress, and updating my records, is having other eyes on me. Having other people witness my work validates it, gives it context, and creates a network of fascinating relationships and interactions that help fuel the next piece.

I don’t think I need to emphasize how important documentation is. Objects have a nasty habit of being pretty solid and aren’t often seen hurtling through cables at the speed of information. I know, Thingiverse is neat, but if you truly want to convey the awesomeness of something to another human, it’s infinitely more likely that they’ll extrapolate the fact from a picture than take the time to print and assemble your design. So, if you want the world to feel the impact of your handmade steam powered arduino based self balancing stainless steel unicycle junkbot, you’re going to have to show them… by force if necessary. Continue reading

Downloadable Source for Hackerspace Passports

People have been asking for a more customizeable version of the Hackerspace Passports as a launching point for their own projects. I’ve made a kit packed with the illustrations I made for the passports, psd’s for all the patterns, stamp designs for the hackerspaces used in the passports, and the original InDesign file. This should be everything you need to build your own customized slice of awesomeness.

Everything’s released under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCom license, so remix to your heart’s desire. As long as you aren’t selling off the elements or removing the credits or something reprehensible like that you’re free to make ’em, remix ’em, distribute ’em, download ’em, share ’em, and make the world a better place with the collaborative magic that happens because of ’em.

Download the editable source here. Download the print-ready PDF here.

Hackerspace Passports

For the past month I’ve been designing some passports with Mitch Altman. The purpose is to get people visiting more hackerspaces, interacting with the communities held within, and spreading ideas across different groups.

I find the scavenger hunt element – trying to fill every blank space in your “visas” section with stamps from hackerspaces across the world – incredibly appealing. I’m eager to see the stamps spaces come up with, the inks they use, and the clever elements they find to tuck in with their own passports.

If anyone reading this happens to be investigating creating stamps for their own hackerspace I got some awesome ones made up for incredibly cheap at Simon’s Stamps. I’ve been experimenting with laser cutting my own in rubber, and the results are pretty promising. You might also consider laser cutting molds and casting your own stamps. I’ve also found that gradient stamp pads lend an incredibly polished bureaucracy-approved look to your stamps.

You can download your own passport here.

Bonus:

MAKE, Adafruit