The Maker community is a “devil may care” assortment of all ages, cultures and “persuasions”. In a way, you can say they are the “Punk Rockers” of Electronics, or maybe better yet, the “Hackers”. They are rabid for anything that does something cool, and what I have experienced is that they think the URAT project (stepper motors that tune a remote antenna tuner) is cool.
Makers and Hackers love the “McGuyver Effect” – meaning you can “mash up” different technologies and components to make something new.
I recently submitted an article for consideration for QST, and a companion Pacificon presentation concerning the URAT. It was rejected by both parties. HOWEVER, both parties enthusiastically accepted my Low Band Antennas for a Small Lot presentation, and that makes perfect sense – its very “safe” and very well “known” in ham circles.
The URAT project is 100% a “McGuyver” hack. Yes, it is eccentric for sure, and definitely a bit “weird” for a Ham Radio project. I also received zero interest from any of my blog readers – not even one peep like “that’s a cool idea”. It probably is not relevant to most – but it is cool just because its cool. I guess I am really understanding what makes Makers tick – and seeing the difference between Makers and Hams. I don’t mean to lump everyone in one pile – but this whole “experiment” now has a “social” element to it that I’m finding quite interesting.
The Makers embraced the URAT instantly – and I am sure they did not even understand much (but I’ll bet at least some) about the actual task it performs – they just dig the technology:
I instantly and with great excitement – was featured in the Adafruit blog. One reason is because I used their very cool little OLED device. Yes, the founder and CEO of Adafruit is “Lady Ada” – AC2SN, and who sports a very cool modern look. Adafruit is revered with young Makers, Hackers and IT people.
From there, it was also featured in the “Geeky Gadgets” blog – I believe its because they read the Adafruit blog.
There was just an ARRL Letter sent out that discusses how the IARU President believes that we cannot sustain Ham Radio by trying to just invite people into the fold with our traditional use of technologies. I have read something similar from Tom Gallagher at the ARRL – and I have been very pleased to see that they recognize this. I think Tom even says we have to go out and “socialize” this link.
I honestly think that Ham’s would love to bring Makers into the fold, but that Ham Radio is so “entrenched” in our ways (especially our communication) that maybe we hams don’t really know How to go about this? The modern term is “socialize” a new thought, idea or technology.
I have been doing the same thing at work – making people aware how important a Data Dictionary can be – and believe me its like trying to sell something abstract and also along the lines of the URAT. Its the age old question – if I never knew what it was before, then why would I need it now.
I think I will start pursuing some new avenues. Simon Monk – who basically has the best electronics book I have ever read (yes I’d say even better than the ARRL Handbook), also writes for O’Reilly and I believe gives talks, and I think is big with the MAKE: people.
Holy Smokes! MAKE: is a couple blocks away from where I work! Hmmmmmmm.
Time to do some networking and “socializing”. I think maybe posting the URAT project on the MAKE: web site is a better route. I still think the URAT is cool – just because its cool. And that is the approach that Makers seem to have that Hams don’t have so much these days.
Makers seem to have eyes wide open and aren’t as “entrenhced”. So maybe I should approach this a different way? I’ll try and see what happens and report back.