Protospace is a hacker and maker space in Calgary where all types of people from all areas of expertise convene to exchange ideas and inspiration – and most importantly make. Dan Damron is a member, and one of the directors of Protospace who is continually involved in projects, from the Scoperta robotic furniture project, to an electromagnetic ferrofluid display window, to a homemade segway. Dan’s abilities and perseverance to get a project done, and out the door has inspired others to tap into their greater potential as makers and begin learning how to do the things they want to.
C – You are involved in many different activities – from HAM radio operation, electronics, welding, fabrication and coding – to name only a few. Where do you find that most of your passion lies?
D – My passion lies in the maker lifestyle. I learn from doing, as most people do, and I enjoy getting my hands dirty.
C – Spending so much time working on project after project do you find that your enthusiasm as a maker is sometimes tried?
D – There are always times when I feel overwhelmed. The trick is to step back, take a break, and reorganise!
C – What about those projects that never quite make it out of the shop? Do you ever revisit these projects later with a new approach, or new people? When do you decide that a project just won’t work, and what queues do you look for to know when a project must be abandoned?
D – Some projects are never done. Take Scoperta for example, we are constantly revising the H-Bdrige driver, a basic building block of the mutant furniture. Making changes is required as we find more information, what works, what doesn’t.
As far as abandoning projects, I think it’s important to NEVER abandon a project. If it’s a bit out of your league, that’s what Protospace is for, there’s a metric TON of intelligence there, and always a fresh new way to look at the current problem.
Projects may take years to complete, but should never become abandoned — unless they are surpassed by a more complex project!
C – Protospace is all about collaboration with many different character types from many different fields – where do you feel that you fall in to the group? What character types do you find work best with one another – if any specifically?
D – I believe I am member of Protospace. No more, No less. I will contribute to other projects as needed, help other makers as needed, and ask others for their help when I need it. I find all kinds of character types at the space, and I get along with all of them. Disagreements do happen, but then you move on. One of my favorite fields is electronics, and I would have to say I get a charge from others in the same field!
C – Can you talk about the future of Protospace and the impact you believe the group will have on the growing city of Calgary?
D – Calgary is a growing metropolis, known for it’s leading edge in technology. I believe Calgay is one of the best cities for a makerspace to exist. Even now, Protospace membership is growing by leaps and bounds. I love being on a team that keeps getting better and better!
C – Could you talk a bit about your homemade segway project that will be on display at the Maker Faire this Saturday?
D – The Segway has been done before. I’ve seen many maker’s renditions.. With the Segway Project,I am taking the Scoperta Project up a notch. Scoperta is an open source project aimed at engaging people to build robots. Our Scoperta Senior frames (moving furniture) are what brings people into the tent, and the Scoperta Jr is the outcome!
I’ve taken the proven Scoperta H-Bridge, and adding a few sensors, Gyrosopes and Acceleromaters, to sense it’s orientation. This project is really not that different from the moving furniture, save the control signals..
One other change I’m working on is the Processor. Currently we are using Arduino Mega processors, and I’m using one as well for prototyping. For the Segway, I have a smaller processor I would like to use, the Teensy 2.0. We also have plans to take all our code and port it to Microchip’s PIC line.
C – What’s next?
D – Recovery. I just had unexpected surgery, and I want to be well for Mini-Maker Faire!
For more details on Protospace go to: www.protospace.ca
by Casey Hughes