What do you make?

I specialize in making projects using Arduino – from control systems to displays to prototypes to low-power wireless sensors and data collection devices. I handle everything start to finish – from specifying and ordering the necessary components, designing printed circuit boards, assembling everything, and all the programming.

Who do you make it for?

I have clients all over the country ranging from lone inventors to Fortune 500 companies in many different industries. Some examples include a control system for an ampule sealer, control boards for rental storage lockers, monitoring of groundwater levels, monitoring tension on conveyor belts, and a display board that’s used in aircraft.

The Arduino is really much more robust than many people initially assume and it makes a great replacement for expensive PLCs. It makes putting a controller in a low-volume product incredibly viable.

Where are you located?

Macungie, PA – (Allentown area). Macungie means “Bear Swamp.” I haven’t seen any bears here though.

When did you start making and how long have you been making?

I’ve been specializing with the Arduino for about 7 years now, but I’ve been programming and building things since before high school – over 20 years ago.

TOBOR - the Robotic DinosaurWhat inspired you to make TOBOR?

Robotics is a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering and programming, all of which I have experience in. I had been working for one of my clients redesigning an ampule sealer for them, which originally relied on mechanical arms and linkages for motion and timing. Before the Arduino came along there were a variety of microprocessors, each with high prices, low market share, and a limited community. Back in about 2011 I saw that the Arduino was taking over in terms of market share, the price was low, and it had huge support in terms of the availability of sensors and libraries. At that point I decided that it made sense to use the Arduino for the re-engineering of the ampule sealer for the cost savings and capabilities we’d get from it. My client had no idea what an Arduino was – they just know that they pull one off the shelf and load the program onto it and it works. Prior to this I was focusing my business on database development, but I had one line on my website that said that I worked with Arduino. I got a call from a prospective client in Boston, who told me “I’m looking for someone who specializes in Arduino. The next closest guy I can find to you is in India. I was about ready to give up and at the 11th hour decided to do one more search and found you.” And I thought to myself “You’re 20 minutes from MIT, which has one of the best robotics programs in the nation, and you’re calling me down here in Pennsylvania… there’s definitely a need for an Arduino consultant.” So I decided it would be easier to focus on being the best Arduino consultant instead of competing amongst thousands of database developers.

What makers inspire you?

Elon Musk. He may not be as “hands on” in the traditional sense as a lot of makers, but he’s responsible for the development of reusable rockets lowering the cost of launching into space and bringing affordable electric cars to the masses and disrupting the auto industry in the process. I have a special place in my heart for disruptive people who make things happen even when everyone else tells them “no.” There’s absolutely no reason a major automaker couldn’t have brought a viable electric car to market first. GM probably spends more on office supplies than Tesla spent to build the Supercharging network.

What’s next?

I’m coinventor of a product called the SeeSaw that can be retrofit to any existing power tool in about 30 seconds to indicate when blades on for example a table saw or a band saw are still moving. Many people injure themselves because they try to remove the scrap from the last cut and don’t realize the machine hasn’t come to a complete stop yet. There are other devices out there to mitigate injuries from spinning blades on table saws, so this is definitely a problem in search of solutions. We’re working on bringing the SeeSaw to market.

What would you like to ask the maker community?

My question is “What have you done to improve your corner of the world lately?”

Anything else you want to add?

Just because there are many people out there with more money and resources than you that have been doing something a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean that they’re right. They’re often so entrenched in their ways that they’re blind to new possibilities.

And never be afraid of standing up for what’s right. The entrenched interests will often try to bully you into keeping your mouth shut. If they threaten to fire you and follow through with it, they’re doing you a favor. Sunshine is the best disinfectant and word gets around much more quickly these days.