Maker Spotlight: Rick Wilkinson

Maker News
Maker Spotlight: Rick Wilkinson


Rick Wilkinson

Where are you located?

San Diego, CA

What is your day job?

I was a career technical trainer for 25 years. I recently “retired early” to pursue my Hot Holder invention, manufacture and sell DIY Audio Kits online, and teach hands-on workshops building cool electronic stuff at colleges, high schools, trade schools, music shops and maker spaces.

Do you attend a makerspace/fablab/hackerspace? in the Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood of San Diego.

AustinMics | The Hotholder

What kinds of stuff do you make?

Electronic project kits for musicians, and an innovative new soldering tool I invented: “The Hot Holder.” I make DIY Kits for guitar pedals, ribbon microphones, preamplifiers & student projects. I also engineer and direct the manufacturing of my invention: “The Hot Holder” soldering tools.

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How did you get started making stuff?

My dad was a Manufacturing Engineer, and we couldn’t always afford to buy new stuff when it broke, so he fixed it to save money. We always had hand tools, adhesives, and soldering irons in our garage. I grew up just before the internet, and had lots of unscheduled time as a kid to be bored… which lead to creativity!!

What is something that you’ve made that you’re really proud of?

I designed a DIY “learning” guitar pedal kit where the builder inserts, compares, swaps, auditions, and listens to different circuit components to change the sound of their pedal. They don’t just stuff components and it sounds one way: The builder learns about the characteristics of the different components and participates in designing their own tone.

They can completely change the sound hours, weeks, or years later! It is a pre-engineering springboard to an entire world of modifying and troubleshooting electronics and understanding circuits.

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What is next on your project list?

Several new guitar pedals in the works, and learning to use graphic design software.

what is something you’d like to work with but you haven’t yet?

Screen Printing

Any advice for people reading this?

Take risks, and FAIL from time-to-time! Learn from setbacks, stay on it, and make the changes you need to get past barriers. The payoff always feels awesome! Also, if you tinker with electronics, buy some resistor and capacitor “substitution boxes.” An electronics circuit simulator will tell you what “works,” but in audio you need to HEAR it to be sure. Substitution boxes allow quick changes of critical tone components to literally “dial-in” a sound. Active participation, not just moving numbers around on a computer.

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Rick will be at Maker Faire Orange County in September! Be sure to get your tickets today so you don’t miss out.

I will be at Orange County Maker Faire Sep. 10. I have 100 DIY Soldering kits for kids and teens to solder at my booth. They’ll make their own coffin-shaped flicker-flame LED light for Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns. —FREE— at my Austin Ribbon Microphones booth!

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at

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