The Little Big Dogs Of Invention

This is a story about two dogs I know. It is also a story of the U.S. Navy, aviation, and nuclear weapons. Sometimes it is easy to see things in dogs or other people, but hard to see those same things in ourselves. It’s a good thing that dogs can’t read (that we know of) because this is a bit of an embarrassing story for Doc. He’s a sweet good-natured dog and he’s a rather large labradoodle. He occasionally visits another usually good-natured dog, Rocky — a sheltie who is much smaller than Doc.

I say Rocky is good-natured and with people, he is. But he doesn’t care so much for other dogs. I often suspect he doesn’t realize he’s a dog and he is puzzled by how other dogs behave. You would think that when Doc comes to visit, the big dog would lord it over the little dog, right? Turns out, Doc doesn’t realize he’s way bigger than Rocky and — apparently — Rocky doesn’t realize he should be terrified of Doc. So Rocky bullies Doc to the point of embarrassment. Rocky will block him from the door, for example, and Doc will sit quaking unable to muster the courage to pass the formidable Rocky.

It makes you wonder how many times we could do something except for the fact that we “know” we can’t do it. Or we believe someone who tells us we can’t. Doc could barge right past Rocky if he wanted to and he could also put Rocky in his place. But he doesn’t realize that those things are possible.

You see this a lot in the areas of technology and innovation. Often big advances come from people who don’t know that the experts say something is impossible or they don’t believe them. Case in point: people were anxious to fly around the start of the 1900s. People had dreamed of flying since the dawn of time and it seemed like it might actually be possible. People like Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Wright brothers, Clément Ader, and Gustave Whitehead all have claimed that they were the first to fly. Others like Sir George Cayley, William Henson, Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanute were all experimenting with gliders and powered craft even earlier with some success.

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Harnessing Your Creativity Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, November 18th at noon Pacific for the Harnessing Your Creativity Hack Chat with Leo Fernekes!

(Note: this Hack Chat was rescheduled from 10/14/2020.)

You’re sitting at your bench, surrounded by the tools of the trade — meters and scopes, power supplies and hand tools, and a well-stocked parts bin. Your breadboard is ready, your fingers are itching to build, and you’ve got everything you need to get started, but — nothing happens. Something is missing, and if you’re like many of us, it’s the one thing you can’t get from eBay or Amazon: the creative spark that makes innovation happen.

Creativity is one of those things that’s difficult to describe, and is often noticed most when it’s absent. Hardware hacking requires great buckets of creativity, and it’s not always possible to count on it being there exactly when it’s called for. It would be great if you could somehow reduce creativity to practice and making it something as easy to source for every project as any other commodity.

While Leo Fernekes hasn’t exactly commoditized creativity, judging from the breadth of projects on his YouTube channel, he’s got a pretty good system for turning ideas into creations. We’ve featured a few of his builds on our pages, like a discrete transistor digital clock, the last continuity tester you’ll ever need, and his somewhat unconventional breadboarding techniques. Leo’s not afraid to fail and share the lessons learned, either.

His projects, though, aren’t the whole story here: it’s his process that we’re going to discuss. Leo joins us for this Hack Chat to poke at the creative process and see what can be done to remain rigorous and systematic in your approach but still make the process creative and flexible. Join us with your questions about finding the inspiration you need to turn parts and skills into finished projects that really innovate.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, November 18 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones baffle you as much as us, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

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Add Creativity To Your BOM: Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, October 14th at noon Pacific for the Harnessing Your Creativity Hack Chat with Leo Fernekes!

You’re sitting at your bench, surrounded by the tools of the trade — meters and scopes, power supplies and hand tools, and a well-stocked parts bin. Your breadboard is ready, your fingers are itching to build, and you’ve got everything you need to get started, but — nothing happens. Something is missing, and if you’re like many of us, it’s the one thing you can’t get from eBay or Amazon: the creative spark that makes innovation happen.

Creativity is one of those things that’s difficult to describe, and is often noticed most when it’s absent. Hardware hacking requires great buckets of creativity, and it’s not always possible to count on it being there exactly when it’s called for. It would be great if you could somehow reduce creativity to practice and making it something as easy to source for every project as any other commodity.

While Leo Fernekes hasn’t exactly commoditized creativity, judging from the breadth of projects on his YouTube channel, he’s got a pretty good system for turning ideas into creations. We’ve featured a few of his builds on our pages, like a discrete transistor digital clock, the last continuity tester you’ll ever need, and his somewhat unconventional breadboarding techniques. Leo’s not afraid to fail and share the lessons learned, either.

His projects, though, aren’t the whole story here: it’s his process that we’re going to discuss. Leo joins us for this Hack Chat to poke at the creative process and see what can be done to remain rigorous and systematic in your approach but still make the process creative and flexible. Join us with your questions about finding the inspiration you need to turn parts and skills into finished projects that really innovate.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, October 14 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones baffle you as much as us, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

Continue reading “Add Creativity To Your BOM: Hack Chat”

Maker Therapy Joins The Fight Against COVID-19

We love talking about makerspaces here at Hackaday. We love hearing about the camaraderie, the hacks, the outreach, the innovation, everything. Even more, we love seeing all the varying forms that makerspaces take, either in the hacks they create, the communities they reach out to, and especially their unique environments.

Recently, we came across Maker Therapy, a makerspace right inside a children’s hospital. Now, we’ve heard about hospital makerspaces here on Hackaday before, but what makes Maker Therapy particularly unique is it’s the first hospital makerspace that gives patients the opportunity to innovate right in the pediatric setting.

Inspired by patients and founded by Dr. Gokul Krishnan, Maker Therapy has been around for a few years now but recently popped up on our radar due to their unique position on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a makerspace located right inside a hospital, Maker Therapy is in the unique position to be the hospital’s very own rapid prototyping unit. Using 3D printing and other tools, Maker Therapy is able to make face shields and other important PPE right where they are needed the most.

Here at Hackaday, we salute and give our eternal gratitude to all the health care professionals fighting for our communities. Maybe some of your hacks and other designs could be used by initiatives like Maker Therapy? Until then, stay home and stay safe Hackaday. The only way we’ll get through this is together.

The Dyson Awards Definitely Do Not Suck

Named after British inventor James Dyson of cyclonic vacuum cleaner fame, the Dyson Awards are presented annually to current and recent students of engineering, industrial design, and product design, regardless of age. Students from 27 countries work alone or in groups to describe their inventions, which are then judged for their inventiveness, the production feasibility of their design, and the overall strength of the entry itself.

Much like our own Hackaday Prize, the Dyson Awards encourage and highlight innovation in all areas of science and technology. Some ideas help the suffering individual, and others seek to cure the big problems that affect everyone, like the microplastics choking the oceans. The Hackaday spirit is alive and well in these entries and we spotted at least one Hackaday prize alum — [Amitabh]’s Programmable Air. I had fun browsing through everything on offer, and you will too. This is a pretty good source of design inspiration.

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The 3D Printing Dream Is Still Alive At 2019’s Midwest RepRap Festival

3D Printers have been in the hands of hackers for well over ten years, but the dream is far from over and certainly not overslept. This year’s Midwest RepRap Festival is a testament to the still-growing excitement, and world where 3D printing is alive and kicking on the next level.

This past weekend, I took up my friend [Eric’s] advice to come down and participate firsthand, and I was simply blown away. Not only did we witness the largest number of attendees to date, MRRF 2019 spilled into not one but two conference halls at the Goshen Fairgrounds.

In what follows, I tell my tale of the times. Continue reading “The 3D Printing Dream Is Still Alive At 2019’s Midwest RepRap Festival”

Surfboard Industry Wipes Out, Innovation Soon Follows

For decades, Gordon Clark and his company Clark Foam held an almost complete monopoly on the surfboard blank market. “Blanks” are pieces of foam with reinforcing wood strips (called “stringers”) in a rough surfboard shape that board manufacturers use to make a finished product, and Clark sold almost every single one of these board manufacturers their starting templates in the form of these blanks. Due to environmental costs, Clark suddenly shuttered his business in 2005 with virtually no warning. After a brief panic in the board shaping industry, and a temporary skyrocketing in price of the remaining blanks in existence, what followed next was rather surprising: a boom of innovation across the industry.

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