Sunday, August 17, 2014

Becoming a Maker?

Last spring or so I went to the Generator Launch up in Burlington, a maker space as they say. There were hundreds of people all milling about a warehouse looking at neat gadgety things spaced out amongst food and cubicles. There were some really neat toys creations there, some of which I hope to replicate, but mostly I came away with a sense that I had to become a maker and that decision mattered twice as much because of my gender.

I don't recall a single female exhibitor. That bummed me out a little bit.

There were a couple of devices that had rattled around in my brain for years that had never manifested, and so I decided they needed to come out. I had to at least try to build these things. I knew there was some kind of blockage that prevented me from doing so, but I have yet to fully name that blockage, but I knew I had to get through it for all of the other young female makers of the world. For my physics classes. For myself.

So I started this summer cleaning out a space in my garage for tinkering. I have three projects I'm working on at once (of course) so that when I get stuck with one of them I have something else to keep my hands busy. But I'm finding that for so much of this I don't know what I don't know. I feel like an utter novice.

Here's the basic plan for one of the three projects: music from a headphone jack is modulated over voltage of a very bright flashlight. That light is picked up by a solar cell, which then transmits that voltage to some kind of speakers (probably with an amp).

Yesterday I made a little progress.  It was a tiny tiny amount or progress, but it was still exciting. I had an old phone handset that could be used as the speaker end of the project, so I had cut the end of the cord off. Inside there were four wires. I attached two of these to the leads of a 1/8" headphone jack plugged into my iPhone. And you know what? I could hear the music playing on my iPhone in the handset. :D What glee!

But the next step was unclear to me. I thieved this plan from the former physics teacher and he really just told me about it, so I don't have any written instructions or diagrams.

Perhaps this is why the maker space exists. What I really need is advice and alone in my garage answers are sometimes hard to come by. I know probably 100 electrical engineers, and all I would have to do is call one, but there's this block.

Short term solution - I'm just going to email the former physics teacher for some clarification.