For a while now I have been keeping an eye out on how I could contribute to the community. When I was around 16 years old I volunteered at a museum restoring and maintaining steam engines (I kid you not). I designed, build and maintain to this day a wireless internet service provider network providing internet to a rural community (see my projects section) but it practically runs self sufficient other than the occasional software update. It left me wanting to do more. I scoured the internet for any volunteer work near me that looked like something I might enjoy. I can’t remember exactly how but one day I stumbled across an event called “The Upper Hutt repair café” and it intrigued me. What is a repair café?
A Repair Café is a meeting in which people repair household electrical and mechanical devices, computers, bicycles, clothing, etc. They are organised by and for local residents. Repair Cafés are held at a fixed location where tools are available and where they can fix their broken goods with the help of volunteers. Its objectives are to reduce waste, to maintain repair skills and to strengthen social cohesion. (Source: Wikipedia)
That sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately the next upcoming event got postponed because of COVID-19 so I didn’t get a change to check it out. Instead I emailed the organisers and instead of trying to write in an email what knowledge and skills I might be able to bring to the table.
I have since attended two events and I am looking for forward to the events to come. During the January event I was able to put the 3d printer to good use. My first client brought in a mechanical board game which was missing a little spur gear. There where other gears still present which I could use to take the dimensions from and it didn't take long to design it up in fusion 360 and print a replacement.
My second client brought in a broken remote for a Rise & Recline lift chair. The thumb switch had broken off and no spare parts are available anymore. It was possible to buy a second hand remote for a lot of money. Instead I designed a need thumb switch that fitted on the original broken part and could be glued in place.
It's a lot of fun showing the potential of 3d printing and seeing the excitement of the visitors when a sketch becomes a functional part within 30 minutes.
If you are interested in visiting the Upper Hutt repair café, I suggest you follow them on Facebook "Upper Hutt Repair Café Trust @uhrepaircafe" or find a repair café near you!
George Timmermans, Research Toolmaker, Software Engineer and Tinkerer