On Makevember

Last month was November, which seems to have more than its fair share of the modern kind of do-things-for-a-month observances: see NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo (perhaps now defunct), Movember, even AcWriMo. And, as I discovered some time in the middle of October, #makevember.

For a bit of background, I’ve been doing some fiddling lately with basic electronics and Arduinos and other microcontrollers. I spend my days at work writing software, and I’ve been pining for something a bit more physically creative. Maybe I’m approaching an early(-ish) mid-life crisis, or getting in touch with my own mortality or something. Microcontrollers and bleeps and bloops and lights and whirring motors have cropped up as a way to connect the non-physical nature of software with something that I can touch.

It was while noodling with this stuff that I came across the notion of #makevember, on Dominic Morrow’s blog. The friendly and accessible manifesto of “make something you wouldn’t normally make, as long as it’s fun, with no pressure and shared with kindness” drew me right in.

So, for November, I made random things. Not every day, but enough to get into a bit of a rhythm. Some were ugly failures, some were daft, some were useful, all taught me something and all were fun. My favourites that I produced are:

  • Servo-driven blinkenlight: I know, off the top of my head, at least half a dozen approaches to making an LED blink. This was an attempt at a new one.
  • A SparkFun Weevil because I’m still new at this electronics hacking business and need all the soldering practice I can get.
  • An ongoing effort to write a custom firmware for my Pimoroni Keybow Mini. It’s almost at the point where I’ll be using it to turn some lights on and off in my office.
  • And the pen wrap, which is very, very far from perfect, but also the project that was furthest from any existing experience or skills I have. My wife showed me the basics of using her sewing machine, and provided gentle encouragement as I discovered (a couple of times) why “measure twice, cut once” is a thing. I plan to have a second run at this sometime soon.

The best bit of #makevember, though, was watching with wonder all that was posted on the Instagram tag by folks who have much more talent and expertise than I do. I’ve been able to expand the list of those I follow on Instagram and on Twitter to take in some properly impressive and inspiring makers. I hope to follow this post up with one that includes some links and recommendations of who to follow. In the meantime, I’ll be over here with my gradually reducing reluctance to take a screwdriver or multimeter to the things around me.