Monday, December 19, 2016

Mice, Roaches, and Circuits

I have wanted to do something "technological" for a long long time, and since all my friends are technology/computer experts they encourage me and give me things which will teach me electronics. Unfortunately I am inept at technological things, given my age which puts me right on the edge of the "senior digital divide." I will never have the ease and familiarity with our tech that a kid in middle school has now. But I want to keep trying. I apologize to my friends for my timidity and incompetence, and hope that someday I will be able to play with these technological teaching toys. They gave me things which were easier and easier, hoping to give me confidence. Finally they gave me something aimed at the pre-teen crowd, a charming technological primer called "Chibitronics." This involves sticking together electrical (electronic?) circuits with conductive copper tape, paper craft, a coin-like battery, and light emitting diodes (LED's) so that you can make a page that lights up. After destroying many inches of pretty copper tape, I finally managed to follow the instructions and produce a visual circuit with a bright little light.

The Chibitronics people are smart about who will use these kits, namely young girls since their male counterparts are already doing much more complex engineering. When it comes to Chibitronics I feel like I am 10 years old anyway. One nice thing about the design of the Chibitronics kit and booklet is that the authors leave space for the young tronics person to draw and get creative with the tapes and lights. The drawing above is my response to the idea of a little lightbulb that glows right in the book when you make the connection on the battery. If you look closely you can see the drawing prompt which asks, "What does the lightbulb illuminate?" I went at it with my tech pen and drew a crowd of mice and a crawling squad of roaches as well as one black spider, that is, creatures which flee the light. This is actually a two-page drawing on the book which I spliced together in Photoshop.

My ambition is to get better at working with electronics hands-on. I don't know what purpose it will serve other than to keep me off the street. When I was young (1960s) I was surrounded by loads of gear and technological stuff including the awesome Buchla synthesizer but I never handled the hardware part let alone programming or design. In those days most girls including me were not encouraged, or outright deterred from pursuing engineering. But I suppose it's never too late, and a new year is coming, which we all hope will have more light.

Black tech pen ink on Chibitronics sketchbook pages, December 19, 2016.

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