Aug
20

R2-D2 inventor relies on Maker community

Jason Cross' daughter smiles with the R2-D2 replica he'll exhibit at the first-ever Des Moines Mini Maker Faire.

Jason Cross' daughter smiles with the R2-D2 replica he'll exhibit at the first-ever Des Moines Mini Maker Faire.

By Taylor Soule

When Jason Cross received the first issue of “Make” magazine in 2005, he felt an instant connection to the content and mission. But years would pass before he turned that Making intrigue into… well, R2-D2.

Last year, Cross began building a full-scale replica of the beloved “Star Wars” robot.

“I hadn’t really fiddled with anything until I started last year, but I’ve been a Maker fan,” Cross said.

His journey from fan to Maker peaks at the inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa, where Cross will exhibit R2-D2.

In the world of mass-produced everything, Cross cites a growing sense of DIY pride in the Making movement’s recent popularity.

“I think we seem to be moving toward this artisanal movement in a way where people are moving away from mass-produced,” Cross said. “It’s still there, but there seems to be more pride in people learning how to do things themselves.”

Thanks to how-to videos and online sharing, the Maker community has expanded from basements and garages to encompass a global network of innovators.

“Now, you can watch YouTube videos and communicate more readily,” Cross said. “You can communicate with a small group of people in your community or people around the world to figure out how to do things.”

When people hear about Cross’ R2-D2 contribution to the Making movement, they often react with surprise.

“Some are a little incredulous like, ‘Really?’” he said.

He’s quick to mention that Makers are a community. If Cross has questions or needs a part for R2-D2, he can count on a network of fellow Makers and “Star Wars” enthusiasts. Though they’re all building replicas of the same robot, Cross said Makers value inventor and project diversity. 

“They often ask, ‘Do you have a kit?’ or, ‘How are you doing it?’ and it goes back to, ‘There’s not really a kit, but there’s a group of people who make them,’” Cross said. “People who help each other to figure out how to do it their own way.”

 

Category: Make@SCI