This week, I’d like to pay tribute to something we’re probably all familar with. The Kludge. “An ill-assorted collection of poorly-matching parts, forming a distressing whole” Now there are few words that have such conflicting connotations. (except perhaps ‘hacker’…) To some it’s the worst insult you can imagine. To others it’s a mark of pride to have their work called a kludge. In just the last week, we’ve had 3 great examples of elegant kludges that I’d like to share.
You can never find a relay when you need one:
For the last few weeks we’ve been getting our MakerBot working again. We machined our own MK-V extruder entirely in-house, lasercut the drop in paxtruder to give it extra grip on the filament, a new heated build platform and other nifty improvements. Many thanks to Kean and others, for their tireless hours on the mill and lathe:
Sadly when we went to put the MK-V heater under control of the extruder controller, I blew the solid state control that Kean had made. (Darn ground plane differences between power supplies. Grrr…). We have an official relay control board in the post on its way to us, but that could be a week or more away. This was the only thing holding us back from printing right now. So we decided to find the quickest way to get the extruder running. Rummaging around the junk room muttering ‘Relays, relays…’ soon produced a solution:
An old kids electronic kit, with relay onboard. A bonus is that spring terminals means no soldering was required, saving valuable seconds!
Anybody got a light?:
One of our regular two wheelers, Bec, got stuck in a bind when the headlight on her scooter blew on the way to the space. It was dark, the local service station didn’t have a suitable globe. What to do?
After scrounging in the hackerspace’s ample junk room, she found a solution. A halogen bulb! Soldering didn’t have much effect on the pigtails, so it couldn’t be soldered in directly. Hence the socket to hold the bulb:
It may not be pretty (or shall we say conventionally pretty), but it worked well enough to get home safely:
Returning a lost mobile:
Jeremy had a rare find when he stumbled across a touchscreen phone and camera in some shrubbery. Sadly the battery was completely flat, and we couldn’t tell if it was working. Rather than shell out for an expensive charger, which might end up being wasted if the phone was broken, we pulled the back off and had a look at the battery contacts. It used a 3.6V battery, which my old nokia does too. I pulled the battery out of my phone, and we were about to make some jumper leads to connect it up, when we realised. “Hmmm… the pin spacing there looks about the same.. I wonder if we can just tape the battery in place?”. It just about fit, with the end sticking out over the case. We tried to power it up….
Surprise! It worked!
And of course, being the good citizens that we are, we had a look through to find the persons number and see if they wanted it back. They were so surprised to get a call from their mobile after a week of it being lost. “Oh my GAWD! Thank you so much!” And we were able to return it the same night.
Score three for three on kludges! So the next time you hear someone discounting something as a kludge, you can ask “Yes, but did it work?”