Last evening I went to RIT (One Lomb Memorial Dr., campus map) to see Mark Frauenfelder, and Carla Sinclair speak about the "maker movement" going on now. This morning, Mark brought some kits from The Maker SHED — the store for MAKE Magazine's products — to share with The RIT Make Club. Although I just wanted to hang out to see how basic the Learn to Solder Kit really was, I couldn't resist[*] trying to build the Drawdio Kit. With it, you draw a line with a pencil then use the line to change the pitch the Drawdio emits — the line acts as a resistor to complete the oscillator circuit [* har har]. I finished it up pretty quick, and got back that old feeling of how nice it was to build a project from a kit that, well, just worked. If I remember correctly, 4 people were also building the Drawdio's and they all got them working.
Anyway, the Learn to Solder Kit was pretty nice. The circuit board has some extra pads so you can learn to melt and work with solder before going on to build the basic circuit. Mark had also brought several Super TV-B-Gone Kits which were very popular because they were more than just toys, they were actually useful (for turning off nearly any television by sequencing through all the known TV power-button codes).
In all it was a really nice experience. Mary Lynn Broe organized this as part of The Caroline Werner Gannett Project which brings together "21st century thinkers and scholars in the arts, sciences and technologies who ask the unasked questions." Hopefully we can build from this to get people who make things together, as well as the people who don't make things yet.
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glad to see you got the kits working. i've been thinking about "maker culture" a lot lately and what it means. exciting times!