Mini Hacker Breaks Down How To Build It

I read the other day that the hot career choice for kids these days is: YouTuber. That means every kid — yes, including mine — has two or three attempts at a YouTube show on their account and then they get into the next big thing and forget about it. On the other hand, sometimes you find someone who has a lot of ideas to share, and the dedication to keep sharing them.

[Kevin Zhou], an 11-year-old from Indonesia, has filmed around  70 videos in the past couple of years, with a fantastic variety of nerdy projects ranging from Mindstorms to Arduino to wood shop projects, and even a Blender tutorial. His projects show a lot of complexity, with serious, real-world concepts, and he shares the technical details about the various components in the project, and he walks you through the code as well.

He made a Mindstorms carving machine, pictured above, with a gantry system holding a motor steady while the user carves into a block of floral foam with LEGO bits. He does a lot of home automation projects using an Arduino and relay board, as well as a number of water-pumping robots. He doesn’t stick to one medium or technology. He has a jigsaw and in one video he shows how to build a Thor’s hammer out of wood. He prints out each layer’s design on office paper and glues the paper to a piece of wood, cutting out the cross-sections on his jigsaw. The whole stack is glued together and clamped. [Kevin]’s design featured a hollow space inside to save weight, which he cut by drilling a 1-inch hole in the center with his drill press, then threading the jigsaw blade through the hole to cut out the inside. As an amateur woodcrafter myself, I like seeing him branching out working on small wood projects.

[Kevin]’s full automatic water dispenser is one of a series of water-pumping projects including a couple of plant-watering robots. [Kevin] uses a relay-triggered pump and a water-level sensor, all running on an Arduino Mega plugged into a 1360-point breadboard.

He has a lot of common modules. He uses a LED display plugged directly into the breadboard, with its backpack plugged into same rows so it can lay flat. He plays around with an IR remote, as well as a 12 V / 5 A Peltier thermo-electric cooler running off of a relay. He has a couple of different relay boards making for a number of home automation projects, including a fairly complicated security system featuring RFID and keypad entry.

There are many LEGO and Mindstorms projects as well, including a complicated robot arm controlled by a smartphone app, as well as a Technic beam sorter that rolls the beams down a conveyor so that shorter elements fall through smaller holes, while longer pieces continue on to fall in larger holes down the line. Intriguingly to me, he did a couple of projects involving mixing Arduinos and LEGO/Mindstorms, and frequently uses the building set to build enclosures and support structure.

I suppose you could say the individual projects aren’t that challenging–connecting a relay board to an Arduino, for instance. All of these parts are fairly simple to run individually but together show he’s been working at this for a long time: 70 videos. A DIY security system is a far cry from turning on a LED.

Besides, I like how [Kevin] finishes projects, then riffs off of them. He tries out a few variants in a row, making changes and improvements. I just hope he keeps building–I can’t imagine what he’ll be making fifteen years from now.

Check out some of his videos:

10 thoughts on “Mini Hacker Breaks Down How To Build It

  1. Great to see kids this involved in tech & engineering – while other kids are flattening their butts and exercising their thumbs in front of the TV, this one is building his/our future.

  2. Great kid, hope he doesn’t shift his attention to girls (or boys) as I did once he becomes a teenager…

    On a more serious note, this kid has a lot of resources to his availability. Makes you wonder if there’s another Tesla or Edison out there that lacks the available resources… let’s agree as “oldtimers” to always support our local hacker spaces and give back to the community either with Hardware or time…

    Maybe one day there’s a hackerspace with full state of the art tools in every outskirt of the world.

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