Horrendous Mess Of Wires

When do you post your projects? When they’re done? When they’re to the basic prototype stage? Or all along the way, from their very conception? All of these have their merits, and their champions.

In the post-all-along-the-way corner, we have Hackaday’s own [Arya Voronova], who outlines the many ways that you can start documenting your project before it’s even a fully fledged project. She calls these tidbits “breadcrumbs”, and it strikes me as being a lot like keeping a logbook, but doing it in public. The advantages? Instead of just you, everyone on the Internet can see what you’re up to. This means they can offer help, give you parts recommendations, and find that incorrect pinout that one pair of eyes would have missed. It takes a lot of courage to post your unfinished business for all to see, but ironically, that’s the stage of the project where you stand to gain the most from the exposure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the folks who document their projects at the very end. We see a ton of these on Hackaday.io and in people’s personal blogs. It’s a great service to the community, frankly, because at that point, you’re already done with the project. This is the point where the reward, for you, is at its minimum, but it’s also the point where you feel least inhibited about sharing if you’re one of those people who are afraid of showing your work off half-done. The risk here, if you’re like me, is that you’re already on to the next project when one is “done”, and going back over it to make notes seems superfluous. Those of you who do it regardless, we salute you!

And then there’s the middle ground. When you’re about one third of the way done, you realize that you might have something half workable, and you start taking a photo or two, or maybe even typing words into a computer. Your git logs start to contain more than just “fixed more stuff” for each check-in, because what if someone else actually reads this? Maybe you’re to the point where you’ve just made the nice box to put it in, and you’re not sure if you’ll ever go back and untangle that rat’s nest, so you take a couple of pictures of the innards before you hot glue it down.

I’m a little ashamed I’m probably on the “post only when it’s done” end of things than is healthy, mostly because I don’t have the aforementioned strength of will to go back. What about you?

21 thoughts on “Horrendous Mess Of Wires

    1. What is the best and at the same time most annoying invention of mankind? Cables! They get knotted, they suffer cable breakage…

  1. im more a chase is better than the catch kind of guy. my projects stretch for years only to die upon completion. it goes directly onto the salvage pile, my own monument to the second law of thermodynamics.

  2. You make a big assumption that any meaningful documentation of the project is made…
    You probably should, and you know it, even if you have no intention of sharing it just for your own use. However easy not to, and often easy to get away without.

    In my case it tends to be I design reasonably detailed concepts that will have lots of thinking about so they should just work and document that working as part of the ordering the right materials phase. But any changes that get made in the later phases often won’t be documented at all – I’ll remember that deviation from the plan long enough to adapt every other part right? And once its made that is generally good enough for me, who needs further documenting it then…

    Does depend on what I’m doing though…

    1. “the ordering the right materials phase” indicates that you’re in the “figure out what you want to do, then acquire the stuff to do it” camp.

      A lot of us, I think, are in the “what can I do with this cool part/tool/technique that I just found?” camp. (And “found” can mean “invented”, “impulse-bought”, “rescued from the dumpster”, etc.)

      I would guess those of us in the second camp are less likely to post documentation at ANY stage, beyond bragging about what we found. But the exceptions can be delightful.

      1. Oh I do that cool part/tool method a great deal too. But I still have to plot out the plan for that cool thing first and almost inevitably will need some additional hardware – my workshop is tiny, so I can’t keep much on hand. Which leads to virtually every project requiring stuff I don’t just have on hand.

        So it is walk (usually, other modes of transit do get used) to the local hardware store and with their bricks’n’mortar high prices you want buy only what you really need, or order from the web, where it might be cheap enough you don’t mind getting some extra but the aforementioned lack of storage means don’t want to do too much of that either!

  3. I’m more of a “create documentation when the project reaches a point that would be useful to others even if the project itself is not complete.” This also helps me, so if I put the project aside for a while I have notes describing its current state when (if?) I come back to it.

  4. I haven’t posted any projects. The ones that actually get done are completing a task for me. The ones I’m just doing for fun never actually get done. I never go back to “untangle that rats nest” as you put it lol.

    I’m working on it though 😅

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.