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  • Making in the Metro: ‘Lifetime Maker’ builds custom circuit boards

    The electronics of Arduino weren’t clicking for Michael Landon’s 13-year-old daughter. He could have handed her an instruction manual. He could have told her to “Google it.” But for Landon, a self-proclaimed “lifetime Maker,” learning is a hands-on, collaborative process.

    He built a small circuit board equipped with eight inputs, eight outputs and eight LED lights, and together, they learned to program it using Arduino. Landon captured the process, logging every mistake, triumph and A-ha! moment.

    “I make notes, so in the future when somebody asks me how I did this, I can say, ‘Well, I did this,’” he said.

    Each scribble added up to a programming book he’ll pair with the circuit board at Maker Faire Kansas City this weekend.

    Though he can’t create a custom circuit board and book for every Arduino-stumped Maker, Landon is ready to share his project and most importantly, the process behind it, as a first-time Faire exhibitor.

    “I made this circuit board and realized, ‘Hey, this could be something,’” Landon said.

    After years of admiring other Maker Faire exhibitors’ work, Landon is (almost) ready to show off his own innovative work. Sure, he wishes he had another week to prepare, but Maker Faire Kansas City marks a long-awaited culmination of his lifelong knack for tinkering — one that started in the ‘60s and ‘70s with his first set of LEGO bricks.

    LEGOs led to carpentry, electronics, circuitry and even tech writing. And three or four years ago, Landon discoveredMakemagazine. At last, he had a word for the innovative mindset that had weaved its way through every stage of his life.

    “That was about the first time I was able to put a term to what I’ve been doing all my life and say, ‘Yeah, I’m a Maker,’” Landon said.

    He now has a word for it, but his definition of the Maker mindset remains the same.

    “It’s just the idea that, ‘Hey, I’m not the only one who sees stuff that’s being thrown away,’ and thinks, ‘I can use that for something.’”

  • Makers talk project inspiration, the self-starter mindset and more on Twitter

    Missed Tuesday’s Iowa Maker Tweet-Up? Here’s a recap of our conversation with inventors, tinkerers and educators from across the state, featuring all things DIY and upcycling! Tweet #iamakerchat every other Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 pm through August 11 for a fun, fast-paced discussion about a new Making topic.

    Next time: Join us on Tuesday, June 30, from 7:00-8:00 pm for a discussion about the role of technology in art, Making and innovation!

    Making is all about inquiry, so naturally we started with a question:

    Why is it important to have a 'self-starter'/DIY mindset as a Maker? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    If you don't have the drive, you're never going to get off the ground! #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    If you're not a self-starter, you probably won't end up making much. So if you are making, you are one! -@MichaelELandon

    Makers turn to a variety of resources for inspiration:

    Question time! Where do you get ideas for DIY projects? Pinterest? Blogs? Other Makers? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    All of those things. Plus the drive to develop a solution to a problem or issue. -@AAMers, American Alliance of Museums

    We learned there’s no right way to start a project:

    When you get an idea, what’s the first thing you do? Sketch? Write about it? Tell a fellow Maker? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    Depends on the person. Any of those things. Some of them just dive right in as soon as the idea hits their mind. #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    It’s OK to #MakeMistakes along the way, too…

    What’s one lesson you’ve learned through Making? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    How to bounce back from failures. They’re not the end of the world. And they always make a fantastic story #iamakerchat -@baileymader

    Join us on June 30 for techie talk. Get ready to discuss your favorite gadgets and gizmos at our technology-themed #iamakerchat on Tuesday, June 30, from 7:00-8:00 pm!