Hardware Things: Tool making and other stories
I’ve been a Nadya Peek groupie for years and I finally got around to reading her thesis last month. But what really caught my attention was something she said at a lecture in Stanford ‘when software developers have issues with using a tool, they can easily make another one using the same skills’.
Not so easy when making hardware, especially when the tools to make are out of reach. In this newsletter, the first two stories explore people on the continent making new tools and how they’ve done it.
Have a great October.
Things I Enjoyed Reading
Pipe bending is done quite often in local welding shops without the precision to make intricate shapes. William Maluki, inspired by this difficulty in the Jua Kali artisan sector in Kenya, designed a CNC-operated pipe bending machine. While the machine is well conceived, I suspect it will take some extra work to enable the artisans use the machine as designed.
Five years ago, Amr Saleh and Islam Mustafa launched 1Sheeld on Kickstarter from Giza, Egypt. It was a brilliant product: one board and one app that eliminated the need to buy a new arduino shield everytime you wanted to try a new gizmo. Instead, theirs recreated the shields as modules in the app; they raised 852% of their goal. This year, they are headed back to Kickstarter as they’ve developed a Blockchain development board that would accept a host of protocols to develop IOT solutions.
Ghana has introduced a one district, one factory (1D1F) policy that has helped Springs and Bolts, a factory that produces leaf springs and U-bolts, open in Kumasi.
The best writing I read this month was by Paz Bernaldo highlighting the wrong approach to innovation taken by UNICEF in developing drone tech particularly in Malawi.
The Open Source Hardware Association has rolled out its certification programme which will help hardware designers see the limits of prior art and what they may (or may not) tweak.
Mechanicus, on Hackaday, developed an interesting generator that converts friction to electrical energy. This triboelectic generators uses simple materials like silicone and carbon fibre.
David Patterson asserts that we are in a post-Moore’s Law era and we need new domain-specific architecture for hardware computing.
In Tunisia, where deserts are rapidly encroaching on farmland and droughts are rampant, Chabani Technologies develops a simple, effective buried diffuser that utilizes half the amount of water that typical drip irrigation needs, while raising yields 3 to 5 times. It also ensures that no water is lost through evaporation as the water is supplied directly to the crop’s roots.
Tweet of the Month
Engr. Kingsley in Enugu State fabricates shaft-style palm kernel crushers from scrap, sells as far as Ogun State, and has sold 70+.— Obinna J. Ukwuani (@Oukwuani) September 29, 2018
His crushers are rated 10MT per hr and sell for N900K. For comparison, our Malaysian crushers at @brukoilmills cost N12M and do 20MT per hr. pic.twitter.com/D3xC9sU8qQ
Thanks to Nonso for sending in links. Do share the newsletter with someone new.