I live in Minneapolis. I really like it here. I like to spend time with my wife and my two sons. We like cooking, baking, playing board games, dancing, travelling, going to museums, taking photos, and reading together.
I am an engineer, and I spent my time consulting and doing freelance engineering. I do "in the trenches" technical work, like PCB layout and writing firmware and software, but I also do a lot of systems engineering, architecting systems and creating experiments to help folks do the right work. After nearly a decade in design services, I've worked with well over a hundred teams all working on their own interesting problems. Some of my best work is when I'm dropped into a project with a goal of sniffing out what's not working, and helping the team get past it, whether it's a culture issue, a systems issue, or a technical issue that needs to be approached from a different angle. If this sounds like something you need, let's talk!
I’ve worked on many products across many domains, including medical devices, fancy and not-fancy consumer electronics, and a lot of industrial projects. This work sometimes takes me around the world! I enjoy quickly learning what's necessary in order to help people out.
I also spend my time with Wayne and Layne, a company I started with Matthew Beckler, a close friend of mine. We’re both engineers, and we have a lot of fun making new things together. We make a lot of fun DIY electronics kits. Lately, we've been mostly working on museum exhibits and helping Open Source Hardware.
Since 2009, I've been volunteering and working on KiCad, an open source electronics CAD suite. I also help out with chipKIT, an Arduino-inspired PIC32 development platform.
I like both computer and human languages. Although I have been studying and practicing German for many years, I feel like I am better at Esperanto. I have been practicing Esperanto every day since 2015.
I like to dance, and I am a certified OULA instructor.
I love to learn and get better at what I do. I've been a superfan of Beeminder since 2015, and started contracting with them at the start of 2018.
I started running Dungeons and Dragons games with some friends in late 2017, and have been running games whenever I can! We have a lot of fun. It's a good combination of storytelling and planning and quick thinking on your feet. At the same time, I need to watch everyone's reactions and steer the game appropriately. Every game I run, I can see myself getting better.
I've worked with many technologies in many domains and with many types of teams.
With Wayne and Layne, Matthew and I have designed and sell some DIY electronics kits, like our Blinky Grid and Blinky POV.
I also make the electronics and programs for interactive installations and museum exhibits, partnering with exhibit fabricators. These projects are usually quick-turn and completely unique. I usually combine hobbyist electronics boards with other electronics. This helps me stay on the leading edge of rapid prototyping.
One of my favorite collaborations was when Dessa asked us to design some custom wearable electronics for the last Doomtree Blowout. They turned out really well! (That photo was taken by Ricardo Zapata.)
In the summer of 2015, Actobotics invited me to participate in their "Expert's Home Automation Contest". I made a robotic attachment for our washing machine to help with washing cloth diapers. I called it LAUNDROBOT19, and won the challenge! They donated $1000 to Leonardo's Basement.
I'm pretty handy with a soldering iron and a Linux terminal, but I'm always trying to learn new things. After getting pretty good with Fusion 360 and designing for 3D printing, I'm practicing my milling skills.
In February 2020, I designed and milled a charm necklace with art representing the positions of the planets on three important dates for my wife and me.
Matthew and I designed these at Wayne and Layne. Our Blinky kits are little microcontroller-powered LEDs that can display text and little animations. One part I'm really proud of is that they're reprogrammed by holding them up to our webpage, which flashes two squares back and forth and transmits your new program to your kit's light sensors.
Not every project of mine is a huge undertaking. Lots of them are a few minutes of 3D modeling and an hour of printing. Others are a screenful of code and some off-the-shelf parts.
Many of the Wayne and Layne DIY electronics kits are Open Source Hardware. Open Source Hardware mostly means that you give away the design files, and ask that if people modify them, they give away the modifications the same way. We were some of the first signers of the official Open Source Hardware Definition, and sponsored and attended the first Open Source Hardware Summit.
I’m a lead organizer of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Mini Maker Faire. I ran a booth and presented at the Bay Area Maker Faire and New York Maker Faire for years and years. When an opportunity arose to plan and help run this event in 2015, I jumped at the chance. We’ve hosted our event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Our Education Day draws near a thousand students, and we draw thousands of attendees each year during the Faire itself.
I teach summer classes at Leonardo’s Basement. Leonardo’s Basement is a non-profit educational organization that believes in self-directed learning and learning through play. They’ve been around since 1998! I’ve done a variety of sessions there, but they’re usually microcontrollery. One of my favorite classes I’ve done is “Redstone in Real Life” where we played with redstone in Minecraft, and then created simple logic circuits on a breadboard. I’ve done “Arduino Big Builds”, LEGO stuff, and a class using the Particle Photon. I’ve been helping Leo’s out since 2009.
Wayne and Layne has been helping out KiCad since 2009. Since 2009, we’ve worked on packaging, done some small updates, gave many presentations at Maker Faires and hackerspaces, and helped a lot of people get started. We ran the Ubuntu PPA for years, and for the past few years we’ve hosted, maintained, and improved the macOS build.
Wayne and Layne promotes diversity in engineering. We actively look for ways to help underrepresented groups in engineering, like women and people of color. This extends to helping children realize that engineering might be an option for them, even if they don’t “look the part”. We try to give both money and time. We’ve done internship-type projects with local non-profits, where we help people get engineering experience while inventing something for the non-profit. We also regularly donate money to both individual creators and other organizations that help.
I've always got a bunch of things I'm looking to learn. Right now, I'm really excited by Rust, vue.js, and incremental reading. I took a class on personal knowledge repositories, and I'm starting to see the returns of having a framework.
We all have some big problems ahead of us. Getting better at solving big and small problems has pretty big dividends. Imagine if we all were 5% better at making decisions. Think of the network effects if we were 5% better at working in groups! While it's easier to work on being a better knowledge worker as an individual, I find it very important to work on the tricky parts as well. Many of us have worked on both teams dominated by egos and on teams where that would seem extremely foreign. The same goes for teams that empower and give marginalized voices a meaningful say, rather than only pay lip service (if that!). I'd love to live in a world where everyone does their part to improve our "herd immunity" against more types of team dysfunction.
I've been a big fan of Beeminder since 2015, when I used it to lose (and keep off!) 60 pounds. At any time, I usually have about 70 Beeminder goals keeping me on track!
In 2018, I started contracting with them. I maintain their Android app, help on their website, and wrangle their servers.
OULA is hard to describe, but it's a dance fitness feminist modern mind-body practice. That's a lot of adjectives and it's hard to put them in the right order, but it's great exercise and amazingly therapeutic. You can see a little of what it's about in their OULA promo video. I've been a participant for the past few years. In early 2019, I took the training and became a certified OULA instructor.
I mostly read Science Fiction, Fantasy, middle-grade, YA, or non-fiction, but sometimes I read other things too. I try to write a small review and rate most things I read.
I write, sometimes, but not as much as I’d like. I blog over at Feels Like Burning.
I wrote a book for O’Reilly with some friends. It’s called Make: LEGO and Arduino Projects.
It was a lot of work, but we worked through a lot of projects that interfaced an Arduino to LEGO Mindstorms NXT and its peripherals. I learned a lot about reverse engineering and how to write a book.
John, a friend of mine, collected stories and interviews from a variety of people in the Make scene, in a book called "Maker Pro". I wrote an essay and interviewed Emile Petrone, the founder of Tindie. I wrote about the first time Wayne and Layne did a large order of kits for a brick-and-mortar retail chain.
In the summer of 2016, John asked me if I had any projects for an upcoming book of his, so I came up with something beautiful and wrote a chapter on creating the starfield effect. It's featured in "10 LED Projects for Geeks", published by No Starch Press.
In addition to books and book chapters, I've written for other publications, like Make: Magazine.
I blog at Feels Like Burning, tweet as @adamwwolf on Twitter, look at pretty pictures on Instagram as adamwwolf, rate and review things I read over at Goodreads, post 3D-printable, CNC-millable, and laser-cuttable designs on Thingiverse, post some code over at Github, and even, for some reason, keep a LinkedIn profile relatively up-to-date.
If you'd like to get in touch, email is best.