“I like to make things and experiment with different materials and technologies,” says Ben Brandt on his YouTube channel. Given his degree in manufacturing engineering and current career as a programmer, this intersection of technological interests was bound to lead to some fascinating builds.
Perhaps his best known work is Stanley a hammering automaton, seen below. It was previously featured on our site and uses a set of gears and cams to make the head, arm, and a driven nail move. He also had an interesting clockwork pumpkin featured here as well.
Besides clever mechanical devices, Brandt integrates electronics into many of his builds. One example is his video tether shown below.
It uses an Arduino MKR1000 and a stepper motor to pull a timing belt at the speed you select. With this setup, you can pull any sort of camera slider to take panning videos or time lapses. Since this Arduino board features built-in WiFi, you can interface with the device using a smartphone or computer, so it doesn’t need an LCD display or buttons for human interface.
In true Maker fashion, when asked what inspires these projects, Brandt says that, “Overall, it’s a love of learning and trying new things. Any time I can learn and develop a new skill is time well spent. I may not claim expertise in any particular area, but having a broad base of skills and knowledge makes me a better and more self-sufficient maker and problem solver.”
He also lists YouTube as a source of inspiration, both seeing what others have done for ideas, and as motivation to share his projects with others. His channel sort of revolves around what he finds useful at the time, so though he may come out with a great woodworking video one day, the next one might be more electronics focused.
One project he thinks is really cool, but is not as popular as Stanley (yet) is his walnut box made out of both wood and aluminum. According to him it was a unique project and a fun video editing experience.
Brandt encourages other potential YouTube Makers not to “hold yourself back because you don’t have the perfect setup, tools, etc.” He adds that “My early videos were pretty bad compared to my newer stuff, but I’ve improved with each one.” As great as the newer videos look, he actually films most of them on an Android smartphone.
Naturally, Brandt has some cool projects on the horizon, and without giving too much away, he hinted that it had something to do with using a Raspberry Pi and a table saw. He also notes that he’d also like to do more things like the Stanley automaton, but makes no promises. Be sure to check out and subscribe to his channel to see what comes next!