Boldport’s Tap Sensor project is a beautiful refresh of a project that first appeared in the premier issue of 1974’s Elektor magazine. The organic lines of the circuit board traces — a hallmark of Boldport’s design aesthetic — look right at home on this retro project, which is largely unchanged from the original ‘70s design.
The kit includes the bare board, a few stickers, a printed link to project information, and all of the electronic components you’ll need to complete the board. In order to functionally demonstrate the project you will also need three LEDs, a breadboard, some hookup wire, female-male header wires, and a 5v power supply. If you’ve completed Boldport’s Cordwood Puzzle project, you can also hook the Tap Sensor directly to it with some header wires and skip the breadboard and LEDs.
Because Boldport’s boards are so thoughtfully labeled on the underside with component outlines and reference numbers, the project basically revolves around correctly placing and soldering things, with bonus points for clean, tight work that can complement the beauty of the board.
Welcome to the lab. What I’m attempting here with Maker Project Lab is a space to rebuild, evaluate, and review other people’s projects (O.P.P.).
So, why review projects? Well, the short answer is that it’s something I’ve been trained to do, so I may as well do it. When I was a Projects Editor at Make: magazine, my job was to find great projects, rebuild them, fix errors, and make the instructions as clear and easily understood as possible before running it in the magazine. In a way that’s what I’ll continue to do here, though it remains to be seen how much I’ll be publishing project instructions or something closer to tips and annotations that point back to the original project.
The longer, more thoughtful answer is that I believe that the Maker community needs a place to reflect on their best work and possibly refine it. A place that sifts through and polishes up the best of what’s been done and sheds some pretty words on what makes it so good and why others should make it too.
I love the group of artists, engineers and tinkerers that make up the Maker movement. I have never known a more enthusiastic, motivated, intelligent and inspiring community of people. It may sound obvious, but Maker’s are extraordinarily good at making new things. Every day, I check the feed of new projects coming from places like Instructables, Make, and Hackaday, and it’s like standing under a waterfall.
But — and I believe this is true with any creative pursuit — the people who make a thing aren’t always in the best position to explain it. And instead of putting in the work required to explain it better, they do what they do best and move on to their next invention.
I don’t think that’s a bad thing. No one expected Pablo Picasso to make a beautiful work of art, then write a book on how he made it, beginning with a foreward on why his art is important and how his style fits within the canon of great art. But somehow, we expect this of Makers, and it doesn’t always work.
So, for my part, I’m going to let Maker’s make, and use my skill set as an editor and wordsmith to select and highlight great projects, kits, and tools, and help them reach a wider audience. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, sign up on the email list, and follow Maker Project Lab on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.