Gizmo-maker extraordinare
April 25, 2005 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I want to make a widget. Where do I find people who can help me make such widget? In this specific case, I want to make a co2 powered gizmo that goes around and around.

Are there forums where I can ask people/engineers/hands on people how to accomplish the project? I want to build this (at least a prototype) myself, so I'd like to avoid a firm that does it all for me.
posted by striker to Technology (4 answers total)
Usenet has many many newsfroups that discuss all kinds of things; that'd be my first stop. If you don't have access, you might try Google Groups. I don't use them myself, so I don't know how live they are, but it's a starting point.

As for which newsgroup you try, it all depends on the details of your widget. For example, if by "around and around," you mean you want to make a little CO2 powered motor, then maybe one of the radio-control modeling groups would be a good place to start.

If you're a high-school or college student, you might find some joy at a local community college or university engineering department. There are often mechanics geeks who like building stuff, and some of the "technicians" who build experimental equipment for chemistry & physics research are full-on geniuses in their own right.
posted by spacewrench at 3:04 PM on April 25, 2005

Could you describe what it is that you want to make? Unless of course it's some super-secret invention.
posted by randomstriker at 5:37 PM on April 25, 2005

It sounds like you want help from a "mechanical engineering" firm, but they're all dicks who won't give you the time of day. As mentioned, talk to a school with an engineering department, I am sure that the professors would be delighted to talk to someone they don't teach.

Alternatively, I run a machine shop for above engineering companies to send stuff to. email me.
posted by wzcx at 10:58 PM on April 25, 2005

Not really a direct answer to your question, just a note that there are comprises between a firm doing it for you, and doing it yourself, such as places like eMachineShop where (in this case) you download their CAD/modelling software at no charge, and use it to design the parts of your gizmo, upload the results and then their prototyping machines produce those parts for you, mail them to you, and you assemble them. (In my experience, people either have money available, or free time available, but not both, and this kind of online DIY prototyping service seems to require a fair bit of both, so I don't know how useful that is.)

It sounds like you're more interested in finding people with expertise to discuss it with. I've found that robotics hobbyiests are a good source: They have to know (or learn) mechanical as well as electrical and computer skills, they're tech orientated so there are plenty of large online discussion forums, and everyone has their own unique project, so everyone invaribly needs other people's help online with this or that aspect, so people are helpful. And there are robotics clubs in most cities. I think some of the clubs also buy things like computer-driven laser-cutters for the members to use - machining tools that no member can afford but every member would benefit from having availible.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:38 AM on April 26, 2005

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