Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Power of Projects (Pointless or Purposeful)

I've had these thoughts about projects bubbling around in my mind for the last few weeks; sort of since my crystal growing project. I've realised over the years that devising and journeying through a project build gives me the impetus and drive to learn the new skills or knowledge required to complete them. What I've sort of realised in the last week however is that sometimes the project doesn't always have to be actually achievable or even have a point for the learning and self development to take place. If you are following me on twitter (@concreted0g) you may have picked up on the fact that I have become a little obsessed with “CubeSats”. CubeSat is a defined and accepted open source design specification from Cal Poly and is a platform for small 10 x 10 x 10 cm fully functioning satellites. Now if anyone builds one out of NASA approved materials and if it passes all the NASA tests and you have some cash and contacts with someone with a rocket you can (and amateurs have) get these into a low earth orbit (heck current trends/developments in cubesats is that companies are developing small propulsion systems so these things can go interplanetary). Now...I kinda want to build one....not helped by this wonderful artist and amateur satellite builder....

Now back to the point of this much as I feel the era of personal satellites may be coming...I realise that this is a ridiculous project for me that would never be completed let alone ever see space... but do you know what? Even if I gave this an hour a week the skills I would develop would be really interesting and possibly benefit my other areas of work/hacking/making and inspire other thoughts. I certainly am drawn to developing some engineering and fabricating skills and also would love to get into using a 3d modelling environment like google well as taking a big step forward in my electronic engineering. So watch this space, feel free to mock and berate my foolish ways but remember if you see posts about satellites - it's all about the journey not the destination! If nothing else reading about this technical stuff is a better brain workout than sudoku or crosswords.

I'll finish with a quote attributed to Dr Robert Twiggs who is the man responsible for the entire cubesat project that I feel links nicely:

“I hope the CubeSat is like the personal don't know what the heck you're going to do with this little box when you build it or what markets will be enabled. But it's so cool, you've got to do it.”


Draal said...

This kind of thinking I can relate to. Some consider my projects out there; painting, writing, amp building, guitar playing, lunetta/DIY electronic art crap....most the average joes don't get it.

Our brains need creative thinking to stay healthy. Keep those neurons firing away!

Miki Strange said...

I think that at least 90% of the fun in projects is the learning process you go through. About 2% is the actual completion and the rest is earned if you actually do something with the project after completion.
Most of the time the learning part gives you inspiration for your next project, it's like you know you're halfway to it already and sometimes that thought makes you drop your current project to get straight into the next.
The phrase goes that "Learning is half the fun." but it's more than that. It's about self expression and building the person you are and occasionally it changes your world or maybe someone else's.
Carry on learning and building. It's part of your present and future.
And as far as CubeSat goes, never say never.
Good luck with whatever you turn your hand to.

concretedog said...

Thank you Draal and Miki, I agree totally with your sentiments and I very much liked the phrase "building the person you are" excellent.