Page 1

no.1 january 2017

the big question


vlad raducanu about diy guitar pedals

The maker culture Why diy Brandz & makerz Interview Vlad Raducanu Burning Man Infographic What is a

The maker culture is a group of people, of which the number has been increasing in recent years, that create products in the do-it-yourself (DIY) or do it with others (DIWO) spirit. The products these individuals make are a lot focused on electronics and all kind of devices and gadgets, but it would be a mistake to think this is all the movement is limited too. Part of the culture are skaters that create their own ramps, people making concert stages, artists & designers creating graphical wonders & I can go on with examples, but the idea feels pretty clear by now. Enthusiasm around this is growing, and that’s without a doubt a good thing. Workshops around the world are being organized, and education systems are adopting the “maker lab” idea, providing students with modern technology such as laser cutters and 3D printers. Most of the products are created open source, so everyone can access and bring their contribution to improve the project. Also, the maker movement includes inventions and creations that are totally new, built by people in the their homes, garages or any other place with limited resources. 04

Another important aspect of the maker movement, is that many of their inventions and recreated products are being built using discarded, unused or broken raw materials such as electronics, plastic, silicon and the list could go on. This is a step towards a “recreate” mentality, a way of thinking that can be considered a response to the consumerism era that we live in. This attitude towards products, that they can be repaired or turned into something else, is a very healthy solution to the habit of “throw it away, we’ll buy a new one tomorrow”, consumeristic thinking. It also promotes ideas like “do it yourself” in terms of making your own clothes, jewelry or furniture. Maker culture also has to do a lot with getting people together and rediscovering the joy of making. It’s an interesting thing about our society how for example we invent cars, and spend a lot of energy on making them better and faster, and then rediscover the pleasure of riding a bike. We start to see the advantages again.

First of all, I feel there’s a need to redefine DIY, in the present day context. Traditionally, the term refers to the “how-to” content, that enabled you to quickly figure out how to change a tire or sew a button on a shirt. Today, the examples have gained quite a bit of complexity. Now, it relates to the activity in which you use creativity and the “know-how” to create something of your own. This can stand for a wide range of things, starting from baking a cake to building robots and complex electronic devices. Across the web, you can find the tools, software an learning material to support people getting started. Sharing ideas and spreading inspiration, has shown it’s influence as more people form communities across the world, and events like Maker Faire, the biggest of this kind now takes place in many global cities. The world is starting seeing the advantages of doing it themselves. They are finding the joy of it once again, and this seems to be the a very good start for the future.

This generation of adults, were children growing up with probably both parents mostly busy at work. Because of this people find themselves with lacking skills in repairing something or making something on their own. And that's because school didn't focus too much on this aspect and as for the mentioned context, parents didn't have the time to get into this with their kids. So, that's why the web now is filled with DIY websites and apps that teach crafting, cooking and many other skills that there is a need for. Working with our hands, and not always relying on laptops and technology to get something done is refreshing. You can find your focus on one thing, and trying until you make it work, as contrary to doing multiple tasks at once at your job. In conclusion, the answer to why diy? Well it's as simple and at the same time as complex as it's good for you, as you can discover yourself through making, as you will see what you are capable of, it's good for your future of our families and society and it is a positive response to consumerism.


To show the support of this new wave of makers, brands such as Levi's are promoting people like, Alice Saunders, a designer from Boston, with an interest on old military fabrics. She tells the history of the World War II by designing in the style of the era. She uses stuff made of recycled, upcycled materials and even vintage tents, grainsacks and backpacks to her unique line of accesories called Forestbound of vintage bags, hats and other women's clothing products. Her idea for this line, came up sometime in 2007, when at a flea market in Lancaster, she got inspired by an old, olive green canvas military bag. She made a connection with her sewing skills and something clicked. She started combining these things to make a new kind of bag.Made it available online, for sale and from there it got off, the brand had is barely keeping demend in control. More brands such as General Electric, Best Buy and Home Depot are showing an interest in the maker movement to support their identities. They are making videos and all kinds of material, to inspire and show the values that they stand for.



Is a maker. And not part of a recent trend. He has been a maker for a long time, noting that around 2005 his skills were advanced enough to build his own guitar effects pedals & other gadgets. He is from Navodari, a small town near the Black Sea in Romania. He got his passion for electronics from his father, and has been experimented with a lot of ideas, until he started learning electric guitar. And that’s when he found his interest in making his sound like he wants it without spending a lot of cash on expensive guitar effect pedals. He made his own effects, thanks to his electronics knowledge and skills. In the interview to come, he will share with us, some personal history, talk about his passions, a little bit about his process and some opinions about the maker movement.



1. Hey man, first of all, how did the interest for electronics come up, did you have it since you were a kid? Hey there! Yeah, it was with me since day one. My father used to have these books on electronics and technology, robots and whatnot and he gave them to me to lure me away from him mostly. I used to look at the pictures inside and I liked them a lot. Sometimes he read pages from those books to me. He also had scavenged scrap electronics he gave me to fool around with. I was like 3 or 4 years old. Usually fathers pass words of wisdom to their sons like "...a woman it's like a gun, son! It's all how you hold her!", but to me was more like "...son, when you connect resistors in a parallel fashion, you increase the current draw! You shall never forget that!" 2. Ok, so what about the guitar, when did you start getting into learning an instrument? It was the same age I expressed my interest in music, playing guitar especially, but my hometown was to boring and dull and so were the people, so I eventually got a guitar years and years after. At first I got a guitar because I wanted to play death metal and heavy metal mostly, but I didn't learn too much during those days. But I really wanted to play guitar, and I was sure about that. It was at the end of the high school, one of my classmates actually got me into it. Anyway time passed by and my musical preferences got broader so I moved towards more sophisticated and artistic, if you want to, kind of things. 10

3. And somewhere down the line, when you got an electric guitar, I guess you started seeing some possibilities between the two‌ It was exactly what I thought! The idea of making my own equipment seemed so cool at the time! Like, using the same guitar gadgets like my favorite guitar heroes. It was very exciting but still, the main drive here was my interest in electronics. I don't know how a substance addict feels, but I know how I felt when working on a new thing! Sometimes I kept people waiting for me just because I was working on my primitive Tube Screamer or my homemade Boss DS1 didn't have enough gain. And hey, I could do the thing I liked the most while playing guitar, which was the other thing I liked even more. It was like hitting two birds with the same stone or getting two birds stoned at once or something like that... 4. Do you experiment a lot when putting things together, in the sense that you mix up between models? Well, I have to. Because it’s the only way that leads to progress regarding both my knowledge and playing. As I said, sometimes I use gear that I saw somewhere else, and I try to incorporate it into my sound. But there are times when I'm not totally satisfied with it or it just doesn't work the same way for me. That is when I start tinkering with the thing. If it's something out of reach and it's not digital, I build it myself adding my own modifications and upgrades. If I buy the unit then I proceed to modify its circuitry until I'm satisfied with the result. It happens for me to encounter a lot of new circuitry and equipment I don't know much about, so I have to do some research first. That's when progress comes into play, so next time when I encounter something similar I know just what to do.

the final product

5. What kind of benefits can you get by doing it yourself? Sometimes I save a lot of money. Certain models I use extensively cost more than 200 bucks apiece and I can build it for less than 20. Other times working on something gives me a new perspective about another thing that I want to do and I find new solutions. In other cases I get to learn certain electronic principles that I later integrate in my daily job or things that I can integrate in my playing style. Or I may tweak other circuits to make them run at their full capacity. The sky is the limit. 6. Can you take us a bit through your process? Well it's good that you asked, because even sometimes you work based on some old schematic or certain documentation, a fact that spares you the developing process which can take a lot because it's mostly confusing calculation and trial and error kind of a thing, you have to do a lot of planning. Usually I build a prototype, sometimes based on principles I know or principles or parts of circuits from other schematics. After the prototyping stage is over, I proceed to designing the final form of the project, a process that may take from a few hours up to a few days depending on what I'm building. Then I build the thing. Sometimes I make my own printed circuit board on which I mount the components, other times I use perforated test board, which is what I'm using most of the time these days because it spares me all the mess and the use of certain chemicals that the printed circuit boards require. After that I design the enclosure in which the project will fit. I gave up painting its surface because again it's just another process that eats up time. I carefully put every component in its assigned place, plug the cables and voila! The new DIY guitar effect, or sound processing unit, is good to go! 7. Did you try to do ones for other people? Yeah...a few times. Usually people come to me and tell me what they'd like me to build for them, or modify a certain circuit. And it's done. I don't do it often though, because mostly I don't do it for profit, maybe because there isn't much of a profit at the end of the day.

It takes relatively much time to build something, and I'm running low on free time these days. But I'm usually excited to build new stuff for fellow guitarists and musicians. It's like they imagine the whole thing and I see what I can do to make it work. And it works most of the times. It's easier to thinker with stuff nowadays, everything you ever wanted and needed it's right out there on the Internet, everyone can do it actually. You just got to love it. 8. What are your thoughts about the maker culture? There is always a balance, which resides in every aspect of the Universe. It's like playing guitar actually, if everything is in harmony than it's alright. If it is of great use to you and it has only upsides, it's great to build your own things, but if it drains you more than actually buying it then it's pointless try to make certain things like...your own shoes or your own furniture etc., because it won't be as good as the store bought ones. You just have to evaluate the facts, and see if it's worth it. Keep the balance like I said before. There are a lot of people hooked up on this idea of DIY, and they're making their own everything and post it on the internet or whatever, but to me it seems like exaggerating the whole thing. It's pointless to me to try to make a 1500 bucks amplifier that is extremely complicated, using tools that cost twice that dollar and it will take two months before it's finished. But if the components of that thing cost only a couple Benjamins, it has a simple topology and its price skyrockets just because it is called A "vintage", than I'm not falling for that, so I grab my solder gun and some transistors and get right to work. You don't want to turn it into a burden instead of a thing that you need, use and enjoy. We are walking on a thin line here. But anyway, when passion comes into play there is no such thing like anything becoming a burden. This is how inventors are born! To me, this is the genesis of technology, the maker culture.


Burning Man festival is a very popular festival organized in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. The event was organized for the 30th time, in 2016. With this occasion, they celebrated with 2000 art installations, made mostly out of recycled materials, created by 500 communities. Burning Man can be described as "the largest maker festival", because as makers organize workshops and courses to teach tequniques and how to use the tools to create something, within this event artists and all kind of people are taught and work together to create art installations. One of the ten principles of the festival is that everyone is an active participant. Marie, aka P’tite Lutine, the member of a community and co-founder of Playa Provides, an organization

that brings artists to Burning Man, says "everyting is interactive". So also lets us know that “The majority of the camps arrive at the beginning of the event, and everything must be built from there.” The event is also a place where people can experiment and test new inventions, techniques and ways of building. “If makers didn’t exist, Burning Man wouldn’t exist,” says French burner Laurent Garcia. A member of the Make Magazine, has been working at the festival for 13 years, and concludes that “Maker Faire is the closest thing to Burning Man I’ve experienced, only with less dust and more pants.” The maker movement is being celebrated in a big way within this festival.


2000 art installations made mostly out of recycled materials, created by 500 communities that participated in the the event


m a k er m ove m e nt gaining popularity

There have been over 400 Maker Faires organized around the world since 2012.

The White House held its inaugural Maker Faire in 2014. “Today’s D.I.Y. is tomorrow’s ‘Made in America.’”

$529 million was pledged to Kickstarter projects in 2014. That’s more than $1,000 a minute.

more resources available

3D printers

Laser cutters

Open source software & hardware

people are getting together

There are 1975 hackerspaces across around the world.

Workshops and classes are being organized around the world

People are sharing ideas, knowledge and techniques

The benefits of the movement

Workplaces are being created

Local economies are growing

It’s been called the new industrial revolution

With all this talk about, this new culture, this new trend, this new movment, people are still asking the question of what is a maker? What “makes” a maker. The truth is that is no single definition for this term, but some say that it is part of the human nature. Adam Savage speaks about this as:

In conclusion...

“Humans do two things that make us unique from all other animals; we use tools and we tell stories. And when you make something, you’re doing both at once.” Beautifully described, we can definitely say we are on board with his definition. We advice everyone to embrace their nature and focus their creativity on passion projects and share maker journeys.


Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you