Meet Chris Dawson, a long-time RC model enthusiast and Maker of all things! Chris is passionate about 3D printing and has channeled his skills to create an incredible indoor obstacle course for his drones. We chatted with Chris to talk about how he got his start in the Model Airplane Club, his journey into Making and the ordinary, everyday technologies that give him inspiration.
What kind of Maker are you?
I’m into a bit of everything depending on the project. I 3D print things, do a lot of work with tiny computers, build (and fly!) model planes and drones, and even build robotic prosthetics. Given enough time and resources I’d be into everything, but for now I’m happiest when the 3D printer is running, all the drones are ready to fly, and I have a soldering iron in my hands.
How old were you when you first got involved in the Maker community?
I’ve been a bit of a builder since forever. My dad has built model planes from balsa since as long as I can remember, so there was always some kind of building going on around me. The Model Airplane Club always had some interesting project going on, and when the weather was too bad to fly, we had a model train set that we used to work on – everything from making trees from sticks and fluff, to wiring up all the electrical things.
Why did you get into Making?
A couple of years ago a friend was running an introduction to Arduinos as a lunchtime group at my workplace and I realised how much I loved it and how easy it was to do! Shortly after, I got a 3D printer kit (they run on Arduinos!) and it’s been all on since then.
What inspires you when you are working on a project?
Helping people and having fun. I really enjoy being able to make things, whether it’s stuff for around the house, electronics for a replica Star Wars blaster, or the robotic prosthetic I’m building for a friend who needs a hand. The technology we have access to in our living rooms is simply amazing, and I love being a part of it and finding new ways to make things and use the tech we have around us.
What advice would you give to young people who want to get involved?
Get stuck in, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and iterate on your projects and skills. You might not be able to make a 40-foot tall Giant Metal Robot as your first project, but every little thing you make goes towards something bigger you can make later. I started off making an LED blinker and was really happy with that and now I can make lots of other cool stuff. Finally, don’t feel you have to go at it alone. Many of my projects are made all that much better by sharing what I know with friends or clubs, and I learn a lot by sharing, and having others share with me.
Join Chris on his amazing Indoor Drone Racing project at Maker Faire Wellington on November 4!
Chris sadly passed away in early 2019. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.