Reclaiming Career Freedom

My life’s script was nothing short of a narrative that had the potential to make every conventional Indian parent happy, right from getting an Engineering degree to working with a multi-national corporation, I did tick all boxes at a nascent stage of my career graph, but somehow, career freedom gave me a better sleep at night than a secure paycheck ever could.

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The road less travelled – Profiting from your passion

You’re in Robert Frost’s shoes, standing at the juncture of two roads, and you choose the one that is less traveled. The one without all the engineers, lawyers, doctors, and every other professional everybody desperately pushed you to become. But this wasn’t even the hardest part, was it? It’s the daunting question - “what comes next?” Unlike the ones who took the other road, your path is not outlined for you, which is why you decided to walk on it in the first place, but this also means, you could either profit from your passion or become a lost soul in the crowd nobody talks about. The path is perilous, but if you reach the destination, you’d be at the peak of fulfillment.

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Maker Spotlight at Maker’s Asylum Delhi

Maker's Asylum Delhi recently hosted a Maker Spotlight event to showcase some of the projects being worked on by our community as well as exchange stories. Sharing with us his experiences was Tudor Tarlev. Self titled ‘Soviet kid turned world citizen. Full time venture creator and failure master’, Tudor is the Hacker in Residence at Tsinghua University, a public speaker, writer and maker.

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Maker Spotlight at Maker’s Asylum Mumbai

Following the awesome Pecha Kucha format, Makers Asylum Mumbai recently hosted a Maker Spotlight event to showcase some of the projects being worked on by the community. We had a great list of speakers talking about a wide array of things ranging from experiences, travel adventures, making designer leather bags, handcrafted wooden eye frames to electronics and interactive learning products.

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Wood build: Storage and display Unit

Over the weekend I got myself involved in 2 build groups. The first being the wood build to store and display the various tools and their accessories at the makers asylum. The other is a very interesting track called synthetic biology or bio hacking which we have begun, with an easy build. More details in another post. Wood build group - Storage and display unit As you know, after much thinking, thunking and procrastinating we have finally decided to throw some "green" at the storage problem we have at the wood lab. Problem statement We keep running out of space and then "growing organically" which ends up with interesting ideas, but still a hodgepodge of hastily executed day long projects, which anyway run out of space all too quickly. The main problem though will always remain this, "Where is the quarter inch chisel". Solution 1 (Organic) Build a rack for all the chisels. Done that. If you remember Akshay the speedy spaceman at the mumbai asylum, built a pin board for the chisels, the hammers, the spanners and screwdrivers. All in one place. This turned out to be good for a month and THEN more chisels arrived. The wood working class build mallets and suddenly all the chisels were competing with the hammers and the poor mallets never even had a chance to get in on the quarrel. Lucky the clamps and the saws had their own area, which they are slowly growing out off. This now begins to sound like the development plan for our lovely Mumbai, doesn't it. Solution 2 In comes Mr "inorganic growth", I'm not very sure what these terms mean. So if I'm using them wrong let me know. Lets build at least 1 but preferably 2 large units where we can store the tools. But having learnt exactly how blatantly racist the tools can get, we will segregate them into classes. for example, Measuring and marking section will contain the scales, rulers, guides, try squares, tape measure, scores, pencils, sharpeners, protractors etc. There are about 7 sections. 8 when you count power tools. And a few sections are going to need to be broken into subsections. So our first order of business was to design something which could easily house more than one section. could be moved around the wood lab. could allow tools to be accessed easily. and most importantly, would be intuitive regarding where to find and put back a tool. Build activity On Saturday, we discussed various designs and came up with something that looks like this. [caption id="attachment_5325" align="aligncenter" width="700"] rough sketch of storage unit[/caption] The build is going to take a bit of time so we've broken it up into a few logical sub-builds, that can exist in isolation. Mini-builds Base with castors. Main frame 4 feet x 5 feet x 1 1/2 feet deep. Section 1: Measuring and marking. Section 2: Clamps and vices Section 3: Pounding Section 4: Cutting - saws Section 5: Cutting - chisels and planes Section 6: Finishing Section 7: Nails, screws, bolts Shelf for Power tools Each of the 7 sections will have the same basic structure, but will need to have different hooks knobs etc to hold the specific tools hence each will have to be made separately. Ideally we would like to have had a 2 person team for each sub section, that way the build would be done in a couple of weeks. But 20 persons didn't show up. So get up, step in and help out.

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Bio hacking: Of glowing algae and bio reactors

Bio Hacking, Synthetic Biology, Genetic modification and such terms are something I've only heard in the newspapers until a few weeks back, when the Makers asylum Mumbai announced an event. Yesterday was the first meetup for this exotic sounding vertical and I attended it simply to see what was going on, this was something new to me plus Keenan had said something about making something and I can not say no to make a thing. Meetup Sunday evening, 8 person in a circle, and I was transfixed. Keenan and Palak introduced us to terms like Wet Labs, and lab on a chip and bio mass, and glowing algae. Turns out that this genetic modification stuff which we had had a glimmer of in school is not some heavy rocket science; its not exactly easy stuff, but it is definitely within a motivated persons reach. Keenan seems sure that a maker space like the makers asylum could easily house the equipment required for synthetic biology. All that is needed are makers (oh dear where will we find those!!) and fiddlers(hahahaha of which we have no dearth) The meetup quickly devolved into a free for all with ideas and counter ideas flying around and plans being made and futures being discussed. But finally, when the dust had settled we had a plan Action points Team 1: maker team - Build a bio reactor Team 2: ideation team (otherwise called tinkerers and dreamers), source the algae and lets make some bio fuel Bio reactor Why A bio reactor is apparently the first and most basic reactor of all things "bio hacked". This is where the modified algae gets to grow, replicate and provide the researcher with a tangible outcome of all his tinkering. Lets say the researcher has managed to get a gene from a cuttlefish(which allows it to glow) and has managed to somehow (wet lab) splice it into the DNA stand of an algae. He needs to see if it really works. here is where the bio reactor is used, the bio reactor provides optimum condition for the algae to grow and multiply and thereby "shine". If it shines, the reasearcher can go out for a drink, if it doesnt then its back to the drawing board for the poor sucker. What A bioreactor happens to be simplicity itself. remember your fishtank, and the green sludge that coated the glass if you didnt clean it when mom told you too. Well that's algae on the glass, and that fish tank is nothing but a bio reactor. It encouraged the growth of the algae. Of course this is not very efficient. a more efficient reactor would be where the maximum number of algae get exposed to the maximum amount of nutrients and sunlight to grow at their maximum rate. How Hence a bioreactor is nothing but a reservoir of water with algae culture(a tiny amount of algae). This water is run into thin pipes, which maximise the amount of cells being exposed to sunlight or LEDs. After the exposure cycle is over the water in the pipes is pumped back into the tank, while the next batch is pumped into the pipes.   Eventually the algae water mix grows into this thick dark green mass which is "harvested" and somehow converted to bio fuel. This is done in a fermenter which is next on the list of things to make. The fuel can then be poured into the RC cars at the asylum and we can have a matchup. If this is successful, we will go on to growing glowing algae. Hahaha, imagine painting that on a few walls during the rains.

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Introduction January 12th 2016 saw [Anool] and [Vaibhav] land up in Bengaluru. We were there to curate the “Maker's in India” track at Electronics Rocks Conference the next day. The eROCKS conference itself was part of a larger week long event called “India Electronics Week”. We had started planning for the event since August 2015, when we were contacted by [Dilin Anand] from “Electronics For You” asking us to host this event. Coordinating the logistics, working out the detailed schedule, getting people on board and planning the event took a while, but we were glad that everything looked set a day before the event. Early morning on the 13th , we made our way to the Bengaluru International Exhibition Center (BIEC), and took charge of the conference room allocated for our track, hoping to start off by 10:00 am. Reaching BIEC in Bengaluru during rush hour is a challenge, so we were asked to wait until 11:00 am before starting for the day. To help us with some logistical support at ground Zero, we had asked our good friends [Pavan] and [Anupama], who run the awesome Workbench Projects maker space in Bengaluru, and they deputed two of their team members to be at our side throughout the day. Thanks, Workbench Projects – you folks rock. Morning Session We kicked off the event by talking about our personal journeys as Makers, the story of Maker's Asylum, and how we are excited to be at the forefront of the Maker Revolution in India. But this wasn't about us. We were excited to be able to invite and get makers to come and share their experiences and projects with the audience. We started off with [Sandeep Patil] and his team from ExploreEmbedded, who showed off their modular, Internet connected LED matrix called Starling. It's an open source project and they are currently raising funds via crowd funding to help fund a production run. [Harsha Muroor] from Teslon talked about Feedoo – an IoT enabled Pet feeder that was developed in collaboration with ExploreEmbedded. [Viswesh Srinivasan] of SVP Laser Technologies came down from Chennai, and talked about the Maker Movement and how rapid prototyping tools, especially CNC machines are fueling the Maker Movement. [Arvind Sanjeev] is an awesome hacker and runs DIYhacking based out of Cochin. He talked about how DIYhacking is helping students move away from paying for pre-built, off the shelf projects for their Capstone submissions and instead enabling them to innovate and build hardware by doing their own research. Two of his interns then showed of a couple of very interesting projects that they have built. [Nitin Vasanth] showed off his Brain-Computer-Interface (BCI) based on the OpenBCI board. It uses electrical signals tapped from the skull to control physical objects. And [Mohammed Ibrahim] talked about the OpenHybrid augmented reality system. Finally they showed how both of their projects could be combined to allow a Motor to be controlled using brain wave signals. Afternoon Session Post lunch, [Chetan Velumurugan] showed of some Drones and talked about the work that he has been doing with Agriculture mapping. And [Stanislaw Bobela] gave a presentation outlining the pros and cons of fixed wing drones v/s rotor blades, and how to prepare for the future by adding features like autonomous navigation, parachutes for safety, crash protection among others. [Vaibhav] chaired the next Panel discussion on “Open Source vs Closed Source”. On stage, discussing this topic were [Neeraj Gupta], [Myshkin], [Anool] and [Nihal Kashinath]. [Vikram Rastogi] from HackLab_in was up next. HackLab is a maker space trying to build a portfolio of projects by teaming up with other makers. They showed off the I2U2 Telepresence Robot which is work in progress, for which they received a lot of feedback from the audience. Also on show was their “Cruize” motorized wheelchair. We had to wait for [Myshkin] to arrive, but in the end it was worth it. [Myshkin] had used simple, off the shelf parts to add electric-assist to his bicycle. He rode 40kms to reach the conference venue, but had to struggle with a flat tire on the way. He gave us a run down on how he did the conversion for Project ButterScotch. The last talk of the day was by [Abhijit Sinha] who talked about his unique Project DEFY. It’s a maker space he set up in a village just 30 kms away from Bengaluru. The children there have never seen a Computer. He let these children, who knew no English, play with the computers on their own without any instructions. Within a year, these kids were teaching and learning from each other, looking up projects on the Internet, building and improvising, and then sharing and documenting their work. Some of the kids were on hand to tell us about their experiences too. Pretty inspirational. The second panel discussion for the day was about “Scaling up your Ideas (money matters)”. On the stage were [Mishkin], [Vijay Varda], [Imtiaz], [Somnath Meher], [Pavan Kumar] and [Anool], moderated by [Anupama]. We wrapped up the day with a quick round of thanks, and a truckload of ideas for the future.