Sunday, July 23, 2017


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Yesterday my son brought me to DUBLIN MAKER in Merrion Square. This event has been going on for a few years but I had never made it until yesterday. It is for young and old alike. The only requirement is that you are curious and have, hopefully, not lost your initial sense of wonder at the magic of every day "science".

You could get lost here for a whole day. The exhibits are fascinating and the exhibitors are not only helpful and good humoured, most of them are young and all of them are nearly as excited by your interest as you are by their exhibits.

I've just picked out a few below to give you a flavour of my own experience.

I well remember making little stick men out of pipe cleaners. My Da smoked a pipe but you wouldn't dare interfere with his cleaners. You actually bought bunches of them for the express purpose. But life has moved on and the pipe cleaners have moved into high art. Simple to do but very effective, even after the Da gives up the pipe.

From the simple to the complex. This little guy is a 3D print. The arms can move. And he has been printed all in one go, ready assembled. Amazing. Until you realise that the printing is done by building up layers and so anything is possible.

You can programme this parrot with your own sound and it's beak moves as it speaks.

My perverse ambition would be to have it annunciate the sermon from Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when the Parish Priest came visiting, in the hope that the same sermon would scare the shit out of him as is did me when I was young and impressionable.

Only one flaw. The PP doesn't come visiting any more and if he did I could probably not resist the temptation of filling the parrot up with the foulest language at my disposal.

To prove that I am not just spectating and that I have never grown up I undertook to join up the dots myself. This is done with a pen and conducting ink, and they go from 1 to 23. The result is a visible circuit board which illustrates the required shape, in my case an airplane.

This is then plugged into the computer and an appropriate "working" image comes up on the screen. My prototype is unlikely to fly in real life, but it did clunk its way across the screen and, anyway, I'm only a novice.

Time for a beer break and the only cúpla focal I came across. It's a bit early in the day and I think the emphasis here is more on manufacture than on consumption.

This unlikely object is a trio harp. It's made out of piping, with builder's twine for the strings. I would consider it more an idea in the making than a final product. There is clearly scope for developing the strings, both in terms of material and variable tension. It might even be turnable into a mini orchestra with the addition of a fret board.

There is also a need for the development of the sound chamber and possible addition of further amplification. I suggested a microphone and speaker but that didn't go down well as it involved electricity and a departure from the homemade/discarded material approach. As an alternative I suggested some further piping/funnel work on the lines of His Master's Voice and I think this is being looked into.

This lady showed me a blindingly simple device. Suppose you are deaf but you have to get up early in the morning and are unlikely to hear your alarm going off.

In days gone by the hard of hearing or deep deep sleepers could always put the wind up alarm clock in a metal basin or bucket and the noise would bring the house down. But they don't make them like that any more and, anyway, if you are completely deaf it would be no use.

In today's world you simply put the red bracelet on your wrist, set your phone alarm, and Bluetooth does the rest. I tried it and the vibration on your wrist is guaranteed to bring the dead back to life.

I have blogged on MAKESHOP before so I didn't stay too long at their stand. They are an outreach of TCD's Science Gallery and are currently located in the old Lennox Chemicals building in Clare St. where I used to buy my bomb-making, stink bomb and amateur detective raw materials.

Not sure what these do. Maybe a fight to the death.

This is FABFOUNDATION IRELAND. They have a network of FabLabs throughout Ireland where people can come to learn and do stuff. They do all conceivable kinds of printing and the green robot above is one of theirs. Check out their video. Having said that they could do with some serious work on their website.

I'm sure most people have at least seen a picture of a spinning wheel. Many may even have seen the real thing in a museum or in one of Synge's plays. But what does this iconic piece of furniture do?

Well you can't knit with all those sheared pieces of wool. They have first to be turned into string (or knitting wool as we know it) and that's where the spinning wheel comes in.

But that's not the end of the story.

In the old days, when Clery's was Clery's, you used to buy wool in folded form which had then to be rolled into balls for knitting. I well remember holding my arms extended with the wool, until they ached, while the Mammy or the Granny rolled it into a ball.

This is paper folding with a vengeance. Just look at those pets, duly shot and mounted. Only joking. No pets have been hurt in the making. Check out Laura's blog post on DUBLIN MAKER.

Instead of hiring a magician for your children's parties why not hire a bus load of lego and let them at it. This just goes to prove there's always a niche in the market.

I could go on but I'm sure your attention is flagging at this stage. Best thing you could do is to go along next year and I'll guarantee you'll stay the day.

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