Crossing the Threshold 2: Making Things

I’ve learned something about myself this week. What I’ve learned is that I really don’t like sharing what I’m working on in the early stages of a project. When we were talking about the values of the Maker Movement and writing our class manifesto, the idea of sharing things throughout the process seemed simple. Of course you enjoy sharing what you’re working on!

Actually, sharing when things are just getting started or you have no idea what you are doing or when you feel a bit intimidated really isn’t that easy. At least I’m not the only one feeling this way. While I haven’t had a chance to look at everyone’s blog posts, I’ve skimmed through a few and I’ve seen several similar conversations.

Making: Mini-Project 1

Towards the beginning of class, I saw an article called “Make Your Own Wireless Phone Charging Pad Out of Almost Anything.” The example they use in the video is a video game case, but I’m not a huge gamer. However, I do have a few extra Harry Potter books that were given to me for a previous projects (in addition to the copies I actually own for reading purposes). I thought it’d be fun to carve out the center of a book for a wireless charging pad. It’d be like a magic Harry Potter book, except not actually magic.

I didn’t intend this to be my final class project, but took it on as a sort of “get into a making mindset for the summer” task (crossing the threshold, as it were, if you’ve been following my hero’s journey references).

My first challenge was ordering the parts. All the resources I found linked to Amazon, and I made the decision to try to avoid buying from Amazon several years ago. I didn’t want to break my streak for a few tiny parts. However, this required a lot more research into what I would need and what alternatives would be. I eventually found equivalent pieces on eBay for only a tad more expensive than Amazon.

I glued my book together and carved a space for the charging coils in the middle of the book. I made sure the two pieces communicated. Then I put the charging pad in the book and put my phone on top. No luck. Either my receiver or the charging coil isn’t very good. They only connect when they are directly touching in a very specific spot.

I have no way of telling which piece I need to replace, so now I have to decide if it is worth it to replace both parts or not. I mean, a hollowed out Harry Potter book is cool too, right?

Making: Planning for a Larger Project

What am I thinking about for my final project in this class?

My kitchen is in the back of my apartment, which means no windows or natural light. For awhile, I’ve wanted to grow kitchen herbs nearby (basil, mint, etc.), but didn’t know how successful the plants would be without light. I wanted to find some sort of solution to this.

My first instinct was to design a kitchen herb garden with a grow light attached. I started searching Instructables for other similar projects, and ended up falling down a garduino rabbit hole. Garduinos are gardening set-ups that use an arduino to fully automate the garden (think self-watering).

They’re pretty complex and take up a fair amount of room. However, I also was attracted to the idea of trying out an Arduino. So, I started visualizing a simplified garduino–not fully automated, but perhaps one that could tell you if the soil was too dry or if the plant wasn’t receiving enough light.

Once I started reading different garduino instructions, I got a bit intimated. The arduino stuff didn’t make much sense. I panicked a bit and wondered whether the project was too big to tackle.

However, following the idea that if something scares you, you should probably try it, I decided to move forward with this. I now have an Arduino (a surprisingly cute little thing) that I’m playing around with, trying to make sense of everything. A site called Adafruit has some nice tutorials.

My plan is to build this in phases, and slowly add components. That way, no matter how far I get, I’ll have something to present at the end. How I currently envision it:

  1. Put together basic garden structure (reuse old planter, build box around it)
  2. Add a small grow light above it
  3. Add Arduino component of some sort (probably a moisture sensor)
  4. Add a second Arduino component (moisture sensor)

And so on. I’m hoping to get through #3 by the end of class. Potential add-ons could include moisture sensor, light sensor, adding a LCD to communicate readings, connecting it to an app (or IFTTT) to communicate readings, etc. I have lots of ideas!

Critical Making

We’ve talked a bit about how makerspaces and the maker movement interact with things like gender, race, and socioeconomic status. This week, Madison, a recent MLIS graduate from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that I follow, shared a link to a conference poster called Metaphors of Privilege: Public Library Makerspace Rhetoric by Shannon A. Crawford Barniskis.

I started a conversation with Madison (who shared the link) and we both agreed we were interested in these topics, but hadn’t come across a lot of research. Then, several other libr* Twitter users saw this conversation and shared a few resource with us. I haven’t had a chance to fully read them myself, but I’ve found what I’ve read so far to be very interesting. I thought I’d share the links here, for anyone else who’s interested:

Has anyone else found any interesting readings on gender/race/class and makerspaces? I’d love more reading recommendations!

Edit: I forgot one resource I have found before. Lauren Britton, who was behind the creation of the Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab, has been doing research on the the maker movement that relates to these topics. Visit Examining the maker movement through discourse analysis: An introductionDemocratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement, and STEM, DASTEM, and STEAM in Making: Debating America’s Economic Future in the 21st Century. It looks like she has future plans for an article specifically looking at class, race, and gender.

This post was originally published on the St. Kate MLIS WordPress website.

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