These are some of my after-hours projects that keep me stimulated and challenged outside of the day to day work.
I ride a 1983 Honda Shadow 750 that I purchased a couple of years ago and have been restoring since. The bike was in pretty good mechanical shape when I got it, with good compression, transmission and brakes. There were a couple of fuel leaks that needed to be fixed, including a carburetor rebuild, but other than that she was all right.
Since I got her on the road, I’ve experimented with colours, namely by employing plasti-dip for prototyping. I’m liking the way the matte red looks, giving the bike a somewhat retro/futuristic fusion. My plan is to do a proper paint job in this colour in 2017. This winter, I will be working on removing the corrosion from the aluminium parts and cleaning up the chrome. That should be the most visually-distinct update that will make the bike feel like new again.
I’m liking the idea of pursuing a retro-futurism look for the bike, like the 80’s vision of what the year 2000 will look like. Expect this to be a pretty unique bike in a few years’ time. As I spend the warm months riding and not working on the bike, the year-to-year transformations will be pretty interesting.
Gardening and Planter Boxes
My wife and I enjoy landscaping and food gardening. Our kids are involved in each home project and our older son especially enjoys working in the garden, tending to vegetables, watering, and doing the dirty work.
As a hobby business, I build planter boxes for friends and family. One of my designs is a high-end cedar box that is insulated and includes a sub-irrigation system (read: self-watering). While that one is the most visually striking one, it is also very expensive. To work around the price issues, I have come up with a design that is inexpensive, modular, and very practical, my bin-planter. The bin-planter uses food-safe Rubbermaid bins, and you’re able to configure them for 3 different bin sizes in order to customize the soil depth and composition to your needs.
The bin-planter has been really popular over the last couple of years. So popular, that I had to stop taking orders as I had spent every spare hour building these into June. I am looking to open source the design and draw up some easy to follow plans (and maybe a video or two) so others can enjoy them.
One thing that’s come up in 2016 was that Rubbermaid, the maker of the plastic bins that are used for this planter, have changed the formula used for the plastic. The new bins are really soft and flimsy, and don’t work out so well like the original ones do. I’ll look for alternatives and modify the design before open-sourcing. The alternative for now is to put 2 more vertical rows of side-skirts and hide the bins all-together. That also gives extra reinforcement to the bins, despite the crummy plastic.
While I left behind the gaming industry as a full-time career, I continue to enjoy the craft. Because of the 15+ years that I’ve spent building games, writing 3D engines, and working through game designs, the act of making games puts me in a nice state of flow. Highly challenging work meets high skill and the result is pure bliss. While I wouldn’t work in the industry for a living, building games as a hobby makes me very, very happy.
I may start a blog at some point covering design challenges I encounter, but for now I enjoy it as a solo activity … apart from the times when my kids play my prototypes and give me direction on things they’d like to see. That part is the best 🙂