As a child bristling with curiosity about everything around me, I asked more than my share of questions. I suspect I drove my parents, teachers, librarians, and every other at-hand adult nearly to the limits of their patience. “What’s that?” ”Where does that come from?” “How does that work?” “How can I do that?”
A beloved important early reference for me was David Macaulay‘s The Way Things Work, a far more practical codex for my research than any of my grade school teachers. Macaulay’s book was my mechanical World Tour1 guiding me from the simplest practical machines through to complex electronic devices.
There were just so many machines in the world — and learning how they worked, how their parts fit together, didn’t diminish their magic but rather enlarged it. Sure, I dismantled my share of toys and appliances beyond my ability to repair them, but I learned enough to use the automation functions on the VCR, and repair any mechanical clock I encountered.2
Thingiverse Teaches Us How Things Work
It has occurred to me lately that Thingiverse is staged to be the The Way Things Work for the latest generation of the curious and tinker-inclined. Not replacing resources like Macaulay’s book, but expanding from the printed word and 2D diagrams into tangible, real-world objects.
I have been extremely grateful to members of the Thingiverse community such as h-kimura who invite us into their own investigations of the world around them by recreating interesting machines, parts, devices, and structures as models that we can then print out on our MakerBots. A month ago, h-kimura shared Mysterious wood joint that he described as a “type of joint used in a gate of OOSAKA castle in Japan.” This is a level of detail I probably wouldn’t have picked up from a photograph of the castle, much less a hurried tour. His latest model works out how train couplers function on Japanese passenger trains. Checking out his site3 I was thrilled to see even more investigations and recreated machines.
Lately, I’m very much the same curious kid again from my youth, learning about gear mechanics from syvwlch, Skimbal, and stickoutrock, learning about math and geometry from George Hart, and learning a little bit about designing and distributing something called a “3D printer” from from my bosses and colleagues at MakerBot.
|Tagged with||architecture, construction, david macaulay, gear mechanics, makerbot, making things move, Thingiverse, train, way things work, woodwork||2 comments|