engineer

tim   .

                                                      


newpad.gif (50 bytes)

.   hunkin

                                                         


cartoonist

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF COMPONENTS

A series of youtube guides for designers and makers

 

If you enjoy my 'Secret Life of Components' videos, please support the project

I'm not starving, but it encourages me to keep at it.. 

 

 Each video with a synopsis of the comments have their own page: 

CHAIN                  
LEDs                    
HINGES               
SWITCHES          
SPRINGS            
CONNECTORS   
GLUE                  
BEARINGS         

 

AN INTRODUCTION 

Its now 30 years since I finished making ĎThe Secret Life of Machinesí TV series with Rex Garrod. Since then Iíve spent most of my time happily in my workshop, mainly making arcade machines for my two arcades, one in central London and the other on Southwold pier. Iíve been very fortunate to have had such freedom to make exactly what I like for so long.

For some Iíd been wanting to find a way of passing on something of what Iíve learnt about making things. Covid 19 brought the idea into focus and it has been the perfect time to do it without distractions. The videos bring together two aspects of my career Ė explaining things and making things.

Its impossible to teach Ďexperienceí. I obviously have the experience to make complicated machines but I donít know exactly what it is that I know. So much of it is non verbal or Ďtacití. I work with my hands and at times they just seem to take over.

In the past, when people asked me how to learn practical skills, Iíve told them they just have to make things badly to start with but to keep going and they will improve. I made things badly for the first half of my life. However, I now learn a lot from watching practical youtube videos and realise that they can teach the sort of informal tips that used to be part of traditional apprenticeships. So Iím delighted to be contributing to this wonderful new learning resource! I hope my videos, each about 45 minutes long, are entertaining enough to be fun for beginners, but also detailed enough to be useful for pros.

Working out how to film them was interesting. My wife has a Canon Legria Hg30 which is a great camera. It orginally cost about £1200 but the model is now 8 years old and on Ebay are now about £400 so I bought a couple. At first I thought my assistant, Bill Parks, could be the cameraman. But he only comes on Wednesdays and I gradually found the flexibility of filming whenever I wanted was essential. So I experimented with various camera setups to do the filming myself, making a rig to suspend the 'closeup' camera from the roof of my workshop. Then I have a monitor so I can see  the closeup camera image to check things are in frame. At first I mounted it behind my shoulder but then my head kept getting in shot (you can see this in the Bearings episode). I changed to having the closeup camera near to the other camera. This makes the picture in the monitor very confusing because my hands moved in the opposite direction to their actual movement. The breakthrough was turning the monitor upsidedown - surprisingly this makes the movements completely intuitive. 

Lighting was relatively simple. I really like the natural light in my workshop with the big skylights. To make 'natural 'light simple to work with, I added translucent blinds to the skylights to cut out direct sunlight. On dark days I found that a couple of 600mm square LED office lights (intended for suspended ceilings) mounted on tripods shining up at the white painted roof cast an even light which didn't look too unnatural. 

The animations at the start of each episode were amazingly quick. The slowest part was arranging all my components to make the title. A still camera mounted above the table then started taking photos every few seconds.( I connected the remote control to a microcontroller) while I went round the table gradually breaking up the word and creating chaos. The actual filming never took more than 15 minutes. Obviously I then reversed the film in the edit. The films were edited in Premiere 6, the last version that could be bought outright before Adobe switched to monthly rentals.   

 

 

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