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

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.’”