This maker spotlight was brought to us through Maker Faire Rome. You’ll be able to find them and many more creative and exciting makers at Maker Faire Rome: The European Edition on October 18-20. Get your tickets now!
Who are you?
My name is Loïc De Buck, I was born in Ghent (Belgium). I’m an industrial designer by trade, but I’ve always had a soft spot for electronics.
where are you located?
I’ve been based in China and Shenzhen for 9 years, but I’m in the middle of re-locating back to Belgium now. Prior to this I spent 3 beautiful years of study in England. I’ve spent most of my adult life living outside of Belgium, so moving back is a big change.
what is your day job?
I’m the founder of Industruino (an Arduino-derived platform that helps makers and industry install robust long term automation installations).
what makerspace/hackerspace/fablab do you attend if any?
none at the moment, but hoping to get involved in maker spaces in Belgium.
What kinds of stuff do you make?
DIN-rail mountable automation controllers and smart sensors that can be programmed with the Arduino IDE.
How did you get started making stuff?
I grew up around the car dealership of my dad. I always spent time in his workshop when he was rebuilding engines etc. That gave me a predestination to be besotted by mechanics and technology. He would always give me the worn out parts which he had taken off cars such as small washer fluid pumps. With those I then found an empty plastic oil container where I drilled a hole in, installed the pump and made a plant irrigation system. I also remember the time he gave me a small battery and light bulb, I played with that for days on end. The old 4.5V-battery-on-tongue trick really electrified me.
My earliest memory of making an actual thing was when I made what you could call a mechanical version of the “Blink” sketch. It consisted of some old Meccano motor with flywheel, on which I constructed a rudimentary version of slide contacts with cardboard and stranded wire.
Some of my dad’s customers were very supportive and called me the ‘inventor’. I was 8 years old and set on my future profession. Eventually my parents gave me a small room under the stairs in the basement which I redecorated and made into my “lab”. Friends and family would give me their old electronics which I took apart, and desoldered the components to put into my parts bins. Years later I would rediscover all those desoldered parts, finally understand their use, and chuckle because most of them were probably totally fried during my early desoldering adventures.
What is something you’ve made that really stands out, that you’re proud of.
My first year at Brunel university in England (2008) was spent as an Erasmus exchange student (coming from Antwerp school of product development). I figured out that I could basically choose any teaching modules, spanning three different years/levels. As the workshops at Brunel are legendary I decided to choose all the modules that involved workshop time. In one of these modules we were tasked to design and built a desk light. My light was called AirLight and was intended to convey the element of Air, whilst using the new freedoms in design and materials that LED’s allowed (better thermal properties, lower profile). That in itself was already an amazing experience, using Bridgeport mills, lathes, sand casting aluminium, lasercutting jigs, thermoforming plastics etc. But as a cherry on the cake we were told of a competition organised by the Lighting Association for all design courses in the UK to which we could submit our designs. Together with 17 other designers I was invited to a 2 day finals event at a hotel in Rugby. There we were judged by companies such as Philips and Osram, and to my amazement I won the first prize!
What do you have on your horizon?
Really looking forward to building a decent workshop in Belgium, some place to call my own and burn the midnight oil. Living overseas made that impossible and it is something I have longed for.
The car bug is also not completely dead, so I’m kind of dreaming of doing a classic car electric conversion in the future.
I’m also thinking about starting an electronics manufacturing cluster around Ghent (Belgium). The aim is to create a fully local supply chain, from basic standardised component manufacturing to full assembly. If anyone in the area is interested to put heads together, please drop me a line.
what is something you’d like to work with but haven’t yet?
I would love to build my own IC’s in the future. It’s something the amazing Sam Zeloof (@szeloof) is currently doing, and he’s improving at an incredible pace (check him out!).
I’m also very interested in MEMS, but one is tied to the other.
Any advice for people reading this?
Take life with both hands. Make your passion your job. Try to travel/study/work in as many different places as possible, as early as possible.