Blog: Nick Britsky

There is a method behind the madness associated with creations like a Red Green Robot or a Cupcake Electric Vehicle, we promise. Their inventor, i3 Detroit hackerspace co-founder Nick Britsky, is here to talk this week about his community toolbox, the Maker Movement, and the state of DIY.

Post 3: The DIY Toolbox

Last post I discussed the Maker Movement. This movement is affecting a small but growing set of individuals across the globe. The force really driving this on a macro scale is a resurgence in a Do-It-Yourself attitude. Nothing pleases me more than to see people going back to the workbench to build and repair their possessions. I think there are a number of things that have led to this: the economic downturn, a lost feeling of ownership, and exploring ways to be greener. While this trend is growing much like the Maker Movement, it could be bigger and embraced by more people.
If you're interested in embracing your inner Bob Vila, there are things that you can do to enhance your D.I.Y. skills.  
Online Resources
Back in the day, the humble repair manual used to be a wealth of information. You could find out how to order replacement parts, see an exploded diagram of how your item was put together, and see a list of the suggested maintenance schedule times. These days, you're lucky if you get instructions on how to assemble the item without any words. Instead, you get cute little pictures of "Mr. Wrench" tightening bolt A to panel C. However, this is not the case for everything you buy and some manufacturers are still producing quality manuals.
A lot of this content has gone online – always check the manufacturer's web site to see if resources are available to you. The more you can read about your products the better. Often repairs can be far cheaper than replacement and are easy to do. Sometimes a bit of hacking is involved in these repairs and a quick search online could lead you to a number of people with the same problem. If you're without any information, turn to one of the many grassroots communities such as Fixya offers manuals and community support to help get the job done.
Similar to Fixya, is a community where members post projects with step-by-step instructions, including photos all along the way. From crafts to electronics, you'll find a variety of ideas and techniques there.
So, you've decided to create a toolbox. Now, as full disclosure, I have a bit of a tool problem and it's often been suggested that a visit to Tool Anonymous is in order. Repairs and projects can run the gamut of tools, but some of the basics will get you far and are inexpensive to purchase:
•         set of screwdrivers
•         set of sockets
•         Allen wrenches
•         pliers
•         a hammer
You get the idea.
So what happens when you're working on a project and you don't have the right tools? Or you're not ready to buy your own? Or you don't have a place to store them? Obviously, the right tools are critical to get the job done. This is where hackerspaces can help out. Often resembling a small hardware store, hackerspaces purchase and provide tools on loan inside their spaces for situations just like this. Stop by i3 Detroit sometime to see our selection for members to use.
Whether it's a simple repair or a new hobby, embracing the D.I.Y. mindset can not only save you money, it can spur all kinds of new ideas and passions. 
Thanks so much to Metromode for the guest blogging opportunity.  If you like these posts, I encourage you to follow me on Twitter (@nbritsky) and check-out i3 Detroit for yourselves.