Cliff Dax has been a maker since before the maker movement began and that gives him a sort of hipster cred within the local community. We’re pleased to bring you the following interview with Cliff Dax of LumiDax Electronics LLC, who will be at the Eugene Mini Maker Faire on June 13.
Question: When and how did you become a maker?
Cliff: I have been “making” gadgets since junior high school in 1968. I was very popular. I made a radio in a bandaid box, fun “shock boxes”, an FM transmitter (with a vacuum tube) and other amazing things. In college, I built a light show for my friend’s rock band and an Alien from the movie set for the dorm’s Halloween weekend bash (complete with a metal jaw that the dorm RA wore). I have been making laser light shows and other various items continually since. I also enjoy restoring old radios and TVs.
Q: Given that you received your electrical engineering degree and began work at Rockwell Engineering 20 years before the first MAKE Magazine was published, what do you think of this current DIY maker movement?
Cliff: I think it is wonderful. There has been a growing innovation deficit nationally and I feel the Maker movement is a strong force in filling this void. People have created a grassroots movement that is rekindling the love of innovation in America. As an instructor at the University of Oregon, I have noticed an increase in students who are excited about hands-on experiential learning which is useful for approaching many engineering challenges.”
Q: Did you show something at any of our past Eugene Maker Faires?
Cliff: We showed our prototype Bakerboard last year. Kids loved the ability to play with the waveforms on the function generator and how they changed on the built-in oscilloscope.
Q: Do you mentor or work with newbie DIY’ers in the Eugene/Springfield area? What wisdom could you condense into a few principles to follow for someone who wants to become a maker?
Cliff: Well, being a maker comes naturally to those who are in engineering and the sciences. We create things that don’t exist, and solve problems that haven’t been answered yet. I have been involved in the past with assisting people with their projects, both inside and outside the university system. As for principles – just be curious about the world around you. Take a closer look at the way nature works. There is also a wealth of information online that can boost your maker experience. Finally, don’t exist in a bubble – get out and meet people. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can create when you pool your resources.
Q: What are you planning for Eugene Maker Faire 2015?
Cliff: Lasers above the indoor floor [and] a color range projection display next to our Lumidax display table. We’ll also have a set of computer speakers so kids can hear what the output of the function generator sounds like.
Q: What projects have you made recently? What do you consider your Magnum Opus?
Cliff: High power ‘Air Effects’ lasers for outdoor projection at a rock festival in Creswell. I am working on a 6C33 Russian tube amplifier with no output transformer which is considered the perfect audiophile amplifier. The Bakerboard concept is the most popular of the ideas that I have done.
Q: How do you get your project ideas?
Cliff: Just look around and find holes in what is available to do specific tasks, then find a solution and most importantly, check to see if it will be affordable for those who might need it, If so, then go for it.
Q: You are a senior development engineer by day, repairing and building custom scientific equipment on the University of Oregon campus. What drives you on your own time to make your laser light-show gear as well as invent educational hardware such as the baker board?
Cliff: The desire to create business here in Eugene. My vision is to get people interested in making things, to provide jobs, jobs that are fulfilling and create something with tangible value. Oh, and it is fun for engineers like me.
Come check out the LumiDax Electronics LLC table at the Eugene Mini Maker Faire! We will have lots of fun activities for kids and adults alike! Get your advance tickets online or purchase them at the door.