Name: Blake Hodgson
Home: Mission, KS
Day Job: Project manager by day, prototype developer by night
Makerspace: Hammerspace Workshop in Kansas City, MO.
How did you get started in making:
I have always enjoyed make things, but the catalyst to me making bigger and cooler things started when I joined my local makerspace, Hammerspace Workshop. I finally had access to the tools I needed, and met a lot of people who helped me and taught me all about 3D printing, laser cutting, and how to use various tools to make all kinds of things.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as:
One of the lucky few who can make money from making. I had been making things and learning for a few years when a guy in a hotel bar I was staying at on a business trip started up a conversation about a product idea he had after watching me 3D modeling a replacement arm for my son’s transformer toy. That was the moment I realized almost everyone has an idea for an invention, but not everyone has the skills to make it on their own. From then on I started going to local start-up and inventing groups, and have been making pretty good money for over 3 years.
What’s your favorite thing you have made:
The most useful project and the one I’m most proud of is my remote controlled lawn mower. I have been using it to mow my lawn for the past 4 years now, and it gets a lot of attention from people driving by who stop to watch me listening to my headphones and doing my little white boy shimmy as I mow around my property.
The build itself took a lot of time and research. I spent a lot of time looking at other similar projects and decided on using a typical push mower pushed by motors from a mobility scooter and held together by a welded steel frame. The motors are controlled by a drone receiver and remote controller. I had an idea on how I wanted it to work, but had not welded anything besides a simple coat rack in my middle school metal shop. I designed the whole thing using a 3D CAD program to figure out how everything would fit together and to give me the exact measurements of the metal. Once all the materials were acquired, I started cutting and welding with help and guidance from the owner at the local makerspace.
Doing this without help would have been a lot more difficult, and I probably would have made some costly mistakes. After the frame was welded together, I painted it and assembled everything together. Because of all of the careful planning, everything fit perfectly. More information on the build process can be found here.
Any advice for people reading this:
The most important thing you can do to improve your making ability is to find a local makerspace and surround yourself with like-minded people. No one is born a maker, but the more people you can learn from and the more you can study, the stronger your skills will become. We live in a time where nothing can stop you from learning. Everything you could ever want to learn is on the Internet, and if you are persistent, you can make anything your heart desires. If you are making your first project, start with something simple that really interests you. This keeps you motivated and makes you appreciate the work you have done when you figure it out.