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We can make *anything*

7 February 2020

I'm a pretty lucky guy.

I have a workshop that has a bunch of tools which can be used to make almost anything... including more tools.

Like most blokes in sheds, I've accumulated a vast array of stuff over the years and that stuff now enables me to create almost anything I can think of. It doesn't matter whether it's made of metal, wood, plastic or whatever, I have the necessary fusing and whittling equipment to shape it into something useful.

Likewise, my bench (although a completely disorganised mess), contains most of the devices and components to create a vast array of hi-tech electronic wizardry

As if to prove my point, I've created a vast range of things over the years, as long time readers and viewers of my YouTube channels will confirm.

Jet engines, things that fly, video transmitters/receivers for RC models and even my own low-cost cruise missile. It's all well within the grasp of anyone with sufficient tools, raw materials and a basic understanding of the science/tech involved.

So what shall I make now?

Yes, I'm wondering what my next project should be, hence today's column in which I invite YOU to offer up suggestions.

I am, of course, still working on my RPi4-based video-server platform that will host all the videos I post to YouTube and which are subsiquently demonetized. I figure that if YouTube isn't going to support those videos, I'll host and publish them myself.

It seems that YT is on a roll with demonetization and I've had two of my recent vids consigned to the "unsuitable" bin in recent weeks (including the Coronavirus one). I guess that they figure anyone who's posting a video about Coronavirus but who isn't an "established mainstream media source" will be spreading disinformation and fake news. Of course CNN, Fox and the other big names would *never* distribute fake-news so they get to carry ads whilst my humorous encounter with a phone scammer does not.

But back to the project ideas...

Hopefully, once the coronavirus scare dies down and China gets back to work, I'll have a 3D printer to add to my array of cool toys. That opens even more doors for making interesting and useful devices from scratch.

Having been working with the RPi4 for a couple of months now, I'm truly impressed with just how much bang this thing delivers for your buck. The mind boggles at just how may different, useful, powerful devices could be made using little more than the RPi, an LCD touch screen and a suitably 3d-printed enclosure. Any suggestions?

Let's not stop there however. I'll be setting up my new TIG welder in a week or so, having had it sat in a box for a couple of years while life got in the way. It'll also be time to dust off the mill and the lathe so making stuff out of metal will be back on the table.

One idea I've been toying with is to create a nice big X-Y table and convert an old MIG welder into the equivalent of a 3D printer for metal. The concept is sound... all I'd be doing is effectively replacing the extruder and thermo-plastic filament found in traditional 3D printers with the MIG torch and a choice of steel, stainless or aluminium wire. In theory, this would allow me to print stuff made of metal rather than just plastic.

Existing 3D metal printers are incredibly expensive, this would be ludicrously cheap by comparison, albeit it would be woefully crappy from a resolution and "finish" perspective. However, when a "quick and dirty" prototype was required it may just be able to stack weld-beads sufficiently to create something that would do the job. At the very least it would be a fascinating project and "proof of concept".

But now it's your turn dear reader. Tell me what fantastic device, tool or project you'd like to see me apply myself to creating.

Of course you should temper your suggestions with reality. No temporal-offset devices (time machines) or teleportation systems. Let's keep it within the bounds of proven science and my budget of just pennies.

I will, of course, document the project by way of video and a few webpages so we can all watch the successes and failures along the way.

To the forums with you and your best ideas!

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