Picture if you will the evolution of our species…

In a very Homer-esque (Simpson rather than Iliad) way we’ve evolved to a point and are now devolving. We were once hairy cavemen dragging home our tapas at the point of a blunt club and now we are mere couchmen, nursing our irradiated Lite’n’Lazies on our rotund bellies, fueling our demise via coronary artery blockages.

Where did our ingenuity go? Why do we now buy rather than jury rig?

Part of the reason for our lack of self-sufficiency lies in the glut of cheap goods flooding our shores. You name it, you can get it – all for next to nix – and most likely made by some person earning peanuts but certainly deserving of more. This is the crux of our story for good and bad reasons. Bad because we’ve become lazy and so willing to consume mindlessly. On the other hand good because we’re seeing the rise of the Maker. The geeks, the tradies, the house husbands and wives, the kids – you name it – all banding together under the moniker of the “Maker”.

So let’s dig down and uncover the definition of the Maker.

In a nutshell it’s a person that makes something. Be it the knitting of a schnazzy vest instead of buying one. Or it could be the dad that makes a cubbyhouse, complete with moat,  for the kids out of old fence pailings, rather than buying a plastic one from the multinational toy conglomerate. And my personal favourites are the the gadgeteers, tearing down broken toys and turning them into home watering systems. Sweet.

So that’s the direction we’ll be heading. Down the path of the electronic, mechanical, gadgety Maker. Your direction may be different but my course was charted from childhood. And don’t forget – being a “Maker” lets you merge any streams of Makerdom. Just imagine the auto vest-knitting machine created with two Tonka trucks and a pair of old John Lennon sunnies.

So what do you need to snaffle before you start down the track of becoming a Maker?

Not much is the short answer. At the core of Maker ideology is ingenuity, adaptation, and the sweet science of opportunity – all of which can, in some way or another, provide you with all of the toys and tools you’ll need.That being said, a small float fund wouldn’t go astray. But here is a non-exhaustive list of the basics for the “Techno-Maker”:

  • Soldering Iron – you do get what you pay for. We’ll explore your options at a later date but asking the shop-keep for a hand is a great idea.
  • Some solder – leaded solder is easier to use but might be unavailable in your area.
  • Desoldering wick or a solder sucker. Mistakes are part of the fun and these two help fix mistakes and reclaim old parts.
  • A digital multimeter.
  • Mini diagonal cutters – can be used for a whole host of tasks including cutting and stripping of wire.
  • Mini long nose pliers.
  • Set of slotted and Philips head screwdrivers.
  • Hot glue gun with extra glue sticks.
  • A big tool box to fit your gear into. Bigger is better – you’ll want to add to the kit.

At the end if the day you’ll learn to make do with what you have. Don’t forget that borrowing tools is completely acceptable if you make sure you return them and in the state they started in. After all, being a Maker is about exploring, reclaiming, recycling and innovating.

Why buy when you can turn prospective landfill into a usable masterpiece.

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