I was approached by P1 to start a blog on their site some time ago. I came up with some pretentious concept and failed to deliver on even that. I was about to tell P1 I had decided to give it up when something happened at a local science-fiction convention.
You see, I love making stuff. Generally weird gimmicky stuff, or props, or hardware hacks. And something I've done way back since I was in 7th grade was make my own costumes for Halloween(years before I'd ever heard the term 'cosplay').
I suck at costumes in many ways: I can't sew to save my life nor do I have the equipment or drive to get into it any time soon. But I love making props for them and kinda improvising the rest, or, if all else fails, getting someone to do that last bit of embroidery I'd need. The first one I remember making was an eye stalk that grew out of my shoulder I could actuate with a string. It freaked my classmates out when I'd pull on the hidden string and the stalk would bend, shift and twist itself around as if alive. I was hooked.
Later, early 2000s, I added a condition to force myself to work harder on these each year: It had to use batteries and involve some kind of lighting. That tradition stuck up until last year when I did a Zack Fair costume, complete with 1:1 scale 6 foot buster sword, just because I wanted to make a weapon prop and a lightweight 6 foot sword that would be safe in an environment full of shoving fans was an irresistible challenge.
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. This year, I had revisited an older costume prop I did back around 2005. A Ghostbuster Proton Pack. This time, however, I wanted it to look at least a bit more authentic and add come smart circuitry like an Arduino in there.
Throughout the convention, I was approached by numerous people thinking I was a Ghostbuster enthusiast and had been prepping and creating this pack for over a year. They were gobsmacked when I told them maybe 48 straight hours of labour was involved, and that I did this kind of stuff every year.
I've stumbled into that often myself too. So many things look like arcane magic to me, yet the builder, crafter or coder involved looks at me as if I were from tribe disconnected from all civilization seeing a Zippo lighter for the first time.
As my bio on the side of this blog attests: I'm a jack of many trades and master of none of them. Yet I was building things that were impressing some folk. So I thought maybe I could be something of a bridge to those who are afraid they can't do some pretty crazy projects. It can be daunting sometimes, with all the information out there, to find something approachable, though with the modern maker movement this is significantly less of an issue now. It also often involves lots of crawling through web forums, which have a well earned reputation of being hostile or unresponsive to new folk.
So staring me in the face all this time was a blog idea or format I thought I might be able to maintain and be somewhat useful to people. I would use this platform as a build log of my projects. Show what I learned, how I tackled some design decisions and where I get my information from.
It could be used as a reference to both experienced and inexperienced builders alike, and maybe some of my fumbling/mistakes could serve both as cautionary tales as well as make people aware that everybody learns something sometimes. There is no such thing as a purely stupid question and mistakes happen.
With all that, I do hope you enjoy what I write down and document!
"Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out."
Réal is a jackass of all trades, master of none, with interests in politics, human interface design, animation, video games, VR, technology, and making random stuff. Has a skill to have both too much time on his hands and nowhere near enough to get stuff done.