Every serious “maker” has created some of the tools he or she uses. Sometimes it’s as simple as grinding a screwdriver to fit a particular screw, or as complex as building a custom CNC router for cutting out robot body parts. In the course of building gadgets in small production runs for myself and my customers, I run into simple, repetitive tasks and say, “I could train a monkey to do this,” but go on performing them because housing and training monkeys can be a messy business. Then, just before my mind goes absolutely numb from boredom, inspiration hits: “I could have a machine do this for me!” While my “monkey” hands are going on with their simple task, my brain’s engineering department kicks in, and my thoughts are off designing my next project. In this particular case, the task is to measure and cut battery lead wires. I’ve done thousands of them over the years — all the same length. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time designing and building a machine to do this because the goal was to save time, not go off on a new development project. Also, I had orders to fill.
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