I often get asked by people what a maker is after I tell them what I do. A Maker is somebody who creates things either as a professional or as a hobbyist. These days’ people buy their products in a store, and have no idea how it works, who makes it, or where it comes from.
Not that long ago, we knew how to make objects as our survival depended on it. Sure there were specialists like blacksmiths that did our iron work for us, but most common things were made by us or our direct community. We repair or repurposed until nothing was left.
These days we throw out stuff just because it is out of fashion and want a newer faster one. The emergence of Makers, that make their goods on the kitchen tables, or in Makerspaces who are sprouting up in most North American cities, instead of going out and buying a factory made item.
I started a few years back when my two African Hedgehogs (Puffy and Beanie) had an issue with the temperature in my Apartment. The landlord always turns off the heat early in spring, and turns it back on late in fall. Hedgehogs don’t like the cold; it can actually be a life threatening situation if the temp drops below 20C.
Suddenly I needed a device that could turn on a heat source when it got to cold. I could have run out and bought a device made for this purpose, but I decided to build it myself. I had just heard about this microcontroller board called an Arduino that could help me with this problem.
I bought an Arduino starter kit and two weeks later I was building my solution. The solution has an Arduino with two temperature sensors to check the temperature in the hogs cages. Using an RF communication it talks to a secondary Arduino unit which uses Infrared to send out commands to an electrical fire place I already owned. It turns on when it is too cold, and turns off when the temperature is just right.
Was it easier than buying heating elements for the cage? No it wasn’t, but it was a lot more fun and I learned a ton. With this action I became a Maker.
I put out the call goes to the readers of this article, go and make something amazing, repurpose a piece of furniture, It doesn’t have to be an electronic device, it can be anything. Use your imagination, take a risk and learn something new and become a Maker.