how to get tinkering
March 13, 2010 8:08 AM Subscribe
I want to make little machines that do cool things. I've been daydreaming and doing moderate "research" for years and years. How do I make this into reality?
posted by elephantsvanish to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a kid (5th-7th grade) I was all about C++, Lego Mindstorms, and computer camp. For a variety of reasons, I set aside dreams of friendly robots for books and writing. Now that I'm almost through with college, I'm sick of everything being so opened ended. I love problem solving, and (at least the thought of) crafting things with my hands, particularly bizarre amalgamations of small, everyday objects.
Last year, I started reading a lot on the tinkering community and the cool things people do with Arduino boards. I planned to make an interactive coffee table and got some glass and wood, but never got any further. I feel like I'm just piling up ideas in one corner, which are lovely to think about it, and solving some conceptual problems about how they would function, but not sure how to begin making them into reality.
How do I get a serious tinkering hobby cranking? Should I set up a workbench? Buy a particular book? I would love to get into the hobby with a friend, but I've never really 'hobby-dated' before (do people do that?) In terms of a long-term goal, I would love to create a fleet of little beautiful machines that can communicate with each other & loved ones. 'Physical tweet machines' like a bulldozer that would rearrange scrabble pieces into messages, or a mini hot air balloon that would wander around the apartment avoiding objects and streaming NPR (okay, impractical). I've always been intrigued with sculpture and would like to acquire some good techniques to work with metals/wood as well.
As a sidenote, I'm leaving to study abroad in Tokyo for five months in a couple of weeks. Anything I can grab there, ways to learn more, etc? Thanks mefi folk!