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Don Wilcher pictureDon Wilcher is teaching our Introduction to Raspberry Pi  Training Camp.  Don is an Electrical Engineer, Author, Educator, and Entrepreneur. He’s worked in Automotive, Industrial, and Consumer Industries as Product Engineer, Electronic Systems Designer, and Engineering Manager. When he’s not helping ITT Tech Students with Capstone Projects or teaching Electrical Engineering Technology courses, he’s hard at work developing Arduino/Raspberry Pi projects, writing DIY electronics books, blogging for Design News Magazine and developing online classes for Maker Training Camps (stay tuned for  Advanced Raspberry Pi). In addition he’s maintaining a life as a husband to his beautiful wife and father to his 3 wonderful kids. Also, he has two dogs, Jewel and T-Bone that keep him busy.

 Name one project you are particularly proud of:

1) The maker books (Lego Mindstorms Interfacing & Mechatronics: McGraw-Hill) and articles (The Solderless Breadbox column: Nuts & Volts magazine) I’ve written in the past . I’m also proud of my current book titled Learn Electronics with Arduino published by Apress. The Introduction to Raspberry Pi course I developed for Maker Training camps is another project I’m very proud of because it inspires people to learn to have fun by making cool tech projects. Finally, I’m really proud to be writing 2 books on the Arduino platform for Apress (Arduino Robotic Motor Controllers) and Maker Media (The Ultimate Microcontroller Projects) publishing houses. The total number of Arduino projects I’m building for both books along with writing sketches is 48. I guess, if I had to summarize these individual projects into one category is, my writing and teaching is helping to enrich people lives through technology, which to me is my ultimate Maker project.

Two past mistakes from which you have learned the most:

1) I remember working on an energy monitoring light dimmer prototype for Hunter Fan where I incorrectly wired an optocoupler IC. I knew the circuit wasn’t going to work but I wanted to see the prototype’s response. Well, upon powering the circuit, a small flame appeared on my solderless breadboard and quickly extinguished itself. Needlessly to say, I have a burnt section on my breadboard which I covered up with an Arduino.

2) The second mistake I made was touching a partially exposed high voltage anode cap on a picture tube during high school electronics class. For a few seconds, time seem to have frozen. It was quite a strange feeling because I could see the class working on their projects but I wasn’t able to move or communicate with them. I’m quite thankful the 15kV shock I received didn’t do any permanent damage to my body. From that point forward, I always turn off the power and discharge any voltage/current storage components prior to making repairs or modifications to electronic devices.

Three new ideas that have excited you the most lately:

1) Open Source Hardware –Prototyping platforms like the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino are awesome Open Source Hardware tools with lots of potential Embedded Device applications for education and commercial development spaces.

2) Physical Computers – I’m very interested in adding/developing sensors for the Raspberry Pi. I want to explore new ways of creating Physical Computers using Pygame graphics for developing interactive animation devices for education, engineering prototyping, and video game creation.

3) Interactive Graphics– Processing is a very easy and cool programming language to quickly sketch ideas through graphics and animation. I’m currently developing a few Arduino projects with the Processing language in the Ultimate Microcontrollers book.

Four tools you can’t live without:

1) An oscilloscope

2) Multimeter

3) Global Specialities Proto-Board Model PB-503

4) Android smart phone and tablet

Five people or things that have inspired your work:

1) My wife Mattalene who encourages me through love, good conversation on enjoying life/not to sweat the small things, and a gentle nudge to complete my Maker projects.

2) My kids (Tiana, D’Vonn, and D’Mar) who keep me young through creative play and to provide humor for a good laugh.

3) My mom, dad, and sister who believe in my abilities as a Writer, Engineer, and Educator.

4) Forrest Mims who is a good personal Mentor whose Popular Electronics magazines motivated my hobby in electronics and career as an Electrical Engineer and writer.

5) Clive Maxfield who’s Bebop to the Boolean Boogie Book inspired me to purse my passion as writer.

Parker Thomas

Parker leads the team that keeps makezine.com and makerfaire.com running. He used to build two-seat, 200 mph airplanes and now focuses on treehouses, zip lines, Lego dioramas (Hogwarts and Tattooine), pens and anything else his kids want to build. He can be reached at [email protected]


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