Creative Minds, Tinkerers & Inventors – The Maker Community and Where You Can Find It

In the last few years events for creative minds, tinkerers & inventors – "makers" – have started to pop up everywhere. They offer space for creativity and networking and have names such as Make Munich, Maker Faire Berlin, Hackathon TECHFEST Munich, and Electromagnetic Field.

Makers are creative minds, tinkerers, inventors and generally people who like to make things, modify things and find solutions to problems. Nothing new really. What makes makers a new type of subculture is their networking in communities - not only online, but also through using “Makespaces” or “FabLabs.” These are shared workspaces furnished with group-funded equipment. They offer technical capabilities and tools that makers would not have been able to afford on their own. The other main difference, when compared to the resourceful DIY enthusiast of the past, is the use of state-of-the-art technology. In addition to the revival of traditional crafts, the Maker scene is shaped by digital controls - 3D printing and robotics.

“Makers are creative pioneers who use digital tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters and micro controllers etc. to invent, develop and produce creative things. They do not want to be mere passive consumers. Instead they strive to understand technology and want to transform it for their own purposes to create something new. They experiment and develop in Makerspaces and FabLabs together – globally networked.” This is how the makers “Make Munich” describe their open innovation culture based on sharing and community.

Nothing but a game?

Don’t be deceived by robot competitions, pure fun machines and art projects. These Maker Festivals seem like a lot of fun, but they are often driven by remarkable innovative energy. In fact, time and again you can find inventions here that are being developed further by their makers with marketability in mind.

From Maker to Start-up

Maker projects frequently become business ideas and innovative tinkering develops into genuine products. In fact, technical start-ups are often conceived in the Maker Scene. At Würth Elektronik we definitely see ourselves as a partner and supporter of start-ups. In Berlin, we are particularly active in partnerships with start-ups and support innovative projects. In mid-January 2019, we opened our own showroom at the EUREF Campus (European Energy Forum). Here, we showcase products and design kits and offer training courses and workshops. So, for example, if you build electronic circuits for new mobility solutions, we provide you with the right components and advice regarding their ideal application.

If you have ever worked on the development of a new product, you will understand the importance of obtaining the right components – and how difficult this can be. Many of our engineers are familiar with this problem. That is why Würth Elektronik offers samples for free, does not require a minimum order volume and offers free advice and information, for example about EMC. Würth Elektronik is not only “start-up friendly”, but also committed to partnerships.

Offers for makers

We hope you don’t mind some self-promotion. For makers (and naturally for students and developers as well) we offer various tools and kits.

Wireless Application Design Kit for Raspberry Pi

We offer a Design Kit that enables makers to develop applications with wireless connectivity in the Sub GHz band. AMBER PI is a plug-in board for Raspberry Pi 3B. In addition to the energy saving Sub GHz wireless interface, the board is equipped with integrated sensors for temperature, humidity, air pressure and movement. The supplied wireless stick serves as remote wireless station. Together with the features of Raspberry Pi, such as a monitor port, USB, WLAN and Bluetooth interface, AMBER PI is a very user friendly evaluation board for the energy saving proprietary wireless solution AMB8826. Typical applications include remote monitoring and wireless control as well as the use of serial cable connections or sensor network in industrial automation. Video: How to install an Amber PI Design Kit!

USB Type-C Kit

This comprehensive kit allows you to learn everything about USB Type-C Power Delivery. It supports power supply from SOURCE to SINK for up to 100 W and works seamlessly with existing USB hosts. The USB type-C connector makes connecting USB devices more user-friendly and minimizes the confusion regarding cable and plug.

TI-PMLK Learning Kit

You can use the TI-PMLK Learning Kit to analyze the effects of magnetism on the performance of a switching power supply and consequently accelerate your design. You can find more information in one of our previous reports. The TI-PMLK Learning Kit consists of a power board for testing power inductors with two step-down switching regulators, one of them using hysteretic control and the other peak current control. Analyzing the inductor properties, such as core type, material and size, will help you find the right solution for your applications and projects. The kit includes a book of experiments with structured laboratories for you to analyze the board. It enables you to independently perform six detailed experiments for common stationary, transient and dynamic conditions.

Energy Harvesting

A very interesting topic for new innovative approaches is Energy Harvesting. Many electronic circuits do not actually require much energy. Instead of equipping devices such as Smart Home sensors with a battery, electronic components could harvest their energy themselves. Light, temperature fluctuations, vibrations or radio waves could potentially provide sufficient energy. For this, we offer two demo kits: The Energy Harvesting Demo Kit and the Gleanergy Kit.

Wireless Power

You already know them from electric toothbrushes and mobile phones: cordless chargers. Inductive energy transmission allows for enclosed designs without tiresome cable interfaces. Try our range of Kits and Development Boards and discover the possibilities of Wireless Power.

And one final tip for all makers excited about electronics: You will find interesting tutorials on various topics and a simple resource for all your technical questions at #askLorandt webpage.

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