Wednesday, 30 May 2012
The Power of Projects (Pointless or Purposeful)
I've had these thoughts about projects bubbling around in my mind for the last few weeks; sort of since my crystal growing project. I've realised over the years that devising and journeying through a project build gives me the impetus and drive to learn the new skills or knowledge required to complete them. What I've sort of realised in the last week however is that sometimes the project doesn't always have to be actually achievable or even have a point for the learning and self development to take place. If you are following me on twitter (@concreted0g) you may have picked up on the fact that I have become a little obsessed with “CubeSats”. CubeSat is a defined and accepted open source design specification from Cal Poly and is a platform for small 10 x 10 x 10 cm fully functioning satellites. Now if anyone builds one out of NASA approved materials and if it passes all the NASA tests and you have some cash and contacts with someone with a rocket you can (and amateurs have) get these into a low earth orbit (heck current trends/developments in cubesats is that companies are developing small propulsion systems so these things can go interplanetary). Now...I kinda want to build one....not helped by this wonderful artist and amateur satellite builder....
Now back to the point of this diatribe...as much as I feel the era of personal satellites may be coming...I realise that this is a ridiculous project for me that would never be completed let alone ever see space... but do you know what? Even if I gave this an hour a week the skills I would develop would be really interesting and possibly benefit my other areas of work/hacking/making and inspire other thoughts. I certainly am drawn to developing some engineering and fabricating skills and also would love to get into using a 3d modelling environment like google sketchup...as well as taking a big step forward in my electronic engineering. So watch this space, feel free to mock and berate my foolish ways but remember if you see posts about satellites - it's all about the journey not the destination! If nothing else reading about this technical stuff is a better brain workout than sudoku or crosswords.
I'll finish with a quote attributed to Dr Robert Twiggs who is the man responsible for the entire cubesat project that I feel links nicely:
“I hope the CubeSat is like the personal computer....you don't know what the heck you're going to do with this little box when you build it or what markets will be enabled. But it's so cool, you've got to do it.”