Lifelong learning and STEM

I have been making things from a very young age and was one of those odd children that collected roadside junk, dragging it home on a billy cart to see if I could get it running, learn how it worked or find useful parts to make other things.

  • Batteries, Motors, Magnets and Lights
  • Clocks, gears and mechanical parts.
  • Valve Radios and B&W TVs
  • Lawnmowers, telephone handsets and wheels

Some projects I built:

  • Billy Carts
  • Lights on the end of my bed
  • Many Tree Houses, rope ladders and tarzan rope swings
  • Crystal Radios and many long wire antennas and earthing rods
  • Simple Telephone sets, running wires to cubbies and along fence lines to friends nearby
  • High-voltage experiments to make sparks and shock my friends
  • Dams across creeks and log rafts

As a teenager, these become more adventurous

  • Lawnmower motor, powered Billy Carts and Scooters
  • Broadcast Pirate Transmitter
  • Various kinds of Radios TRF, regenerative and superheterodyne
  • CB Radio modifications and antennas
  • Surplus Army Radios were available at low cost and easily modified for CB use
  • Radio and TV Jammers to scare the neighbours
  • Chemistry and explosive experiments
  • I acquired and then lost a Novice Amateur Radio Licence for using homebrew equipment
  • Learned how to build radio equipment using old surplus parts like Triodes and Pentodes

As I had Dyslexia, I left school at the age of 16 and so went to TAFE to study electronics. I built, repaired and sold equipment at home and worked part-time in a hardware store to earn some money. Projects included:

  • CB Radio Linear Amplifiers built from B&W TV Pentode Sweep Tubes.
  • Spitters for CB radios so their antenna could be used in the place of a car radio antenna
  • Modifying CB Transisvers for more channels and VXOs for channel sliding.
  • Surplus Army Radio modifications and upgrades
  • Motorbikes repairs

I finally got a full-time job at 18 as an Apprentice Electrical Fitter. Being able to demonstrate an understanding and experience with electrical and electronic equipment.

  • HV Transformer Manafacture, Single, 3 Phase, HV Line PFC, Motor Starters and FRT
  • Metal Working, welding and brazing
  • Making custom equipment enclosures
  • Building factory equipment benders, coilers and cutting machines.
  • Wiring motor controller switchboards, various switchboards and control panels
  • Being an electronic enthusiast, I introduced a regulated DC supply and digital panel meters

Once a tradesperson, I began working at Ferguson Transformers in the special products division, building custom-made-to-order equipment:

  • Electronic regulated supplies and FRT
  • Specialised military and science power supplies.
  • Factory automation using pneumatics
  • Custom metalwork enclosures

Projects at home changed:

  • Rebuilding motorbikes – Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Ducati and BMW.
  • Tesla Coils of all kinds and sizes rotor-spark and VTTC
  • Many Vacuum, plasma, cathode ray and x-ray experiments
  • Galvanic Bio-feedback Monitors as a bit of side business
  • Negative Ion Generators also as a bit of a side business
  • Started an electronics group with friends in a garage.
  • Involved in a really bad garage band and tinkered with synthesisers and tape loops.
  • Computers also became an interest. I joined a club with friends, Altair 8800 and Microbee

My work career moved into the electronics manufacturing industry, first as a technician and then line manager, which I didn’t really like that much but paid okay for the time.

  • Circuit Board Assembly
  • Automating some factory equipment
  • Wave soldering
  • Cable Loom assembly
  • Power supply and battery charger design and testing
  • Overseeing and training factory workers

While studying at TAFE again, my lecturer introduced me to someone heading up a new kind of business in electronics manufacturing that employed people with disability. It was based on a program developed by the University of Oregon, Macquarie and Sydney University called the Specialised Training Program. I was employed as the Production Manager and set up an electronics assembly facility. As a research program, all staff involved were trained in the latest training technics working with people with disability. As a business, we also needed to use modern methods of factory efficiency and planning.

  • Vocational and Habilitation Training methods.
  • Behavioural management technics and ABC analysis
  • Computer inventory management and account systems
  • Statistical quality control systems
  • Methods Engineering, Task Analysis, and Kanban Systems
  • PCB loading line, wave soldering, vapour cleaning, assembly and packaging
  • I also started building assistive technologies and jigs for people we employed to access more work.
  • I was later promoted to General Manager, meaning I could make real improvements by designing and developing some of our own product lines. This Included:
  • Surface Mount assembly jigs
  • More semi-automated assistive technology
  • Power over coax Power supplies for Hospital TVs
  • VHF FM Receivers for ethnic and special narrowcast programming
  • Ancillary Subcarrier Decoder for subcarrier reception inside broadcast FM stations
  • 4-stage SLA battery charger for golf trolleys
  • Computers became mainstream Spreadsheets, Databases and Wordprocessing
  • Remote Fax over a telephone using 2400bps modems
  • Also involved in several BBS groups and Fidonet discussions
  • 10Base IP Networking over coax
  • Implementing the ISO1901 Quality System
  • Member of several industries, business and professional development groups.

I relocated to SA as the CEO of a small organisation which I grew into several Social Enterprises

  • Developed a custom database for MRPII and Kanban system for steel fabrication
  • Custom-built keyboards and assistive technology in our graphic design business
  • Lots of factory equipment repairs, modifications, upgrades and semi-automation
  • IT systems, Internet, website hosting and CMS development
  • Won two national awards for Assistive Technology, increasing access to work
  • Development of electronics recycling equipment and processes
  • Member of several industries, business and professional development groups
  • Member of the Technology Industry Environmental Sususatianablity review committee.

In my spear time

Major Career Change, STEM Coordinator in a Primary School.

  • Creation of a STEM intervention program for children with challenging behaviours
  • STEM activities to support Teachers in class from reception to year 7.
  • RC Cars, Plans and Quadcopters
  • Programmable Robots
  • Billy Cart Building
  • Electric-powered Billy Carts
  • Raspberry Pi projects and networking
  • Reusable Air-Water Rocket Launching System
  • Collaborations with artists on light and electronic music installations

Next Career Change, STEM Learning and Programs Officer

  • Hands-on STEM programs for children 9 Years and older across 3 libraries
  • 350W Bicycle Generator and displays
  • Hand Crank Generators and displays
  • Many science discovery workshops
  • Jacobs Ladder Display
  • Air-Water Rocket Launching workshops
  • Billy Cart workshops
  • RC Battle Bots, Rovers and Paddle Boat workshops
  • One Plank Woodworking workshops
  • Cutlery Creations workshop, making jewellery from cutlery
  • Telepresence Robots
  • Microclimate Sensors, LoraWAN and IoT workshops
  • Many IoT Projects using Arduinos and Raspberry Pi
  • Repair Cafe’ Organiser and repairer
  • Addressable LED and IoT Workshops
  • Collaboration with Artists for Biennale of Sydney Rivus 2022