A few years ago, during my research for the series Puppeteer about the magic of puppetry, I found the old, dusty, book that was used to create the puppets. I knew I had to make my own puppets, but even getting my own hands on one required a lot of work. That is no longer true! You can purchase a few cheap, common, and readily available commercial-grade puppets through Craigslist.
Do you do a lot of puppetmaking?
Definitely. I’m a professional puppeteer with the same title as the series: Puppeteer. I’m the one who makes the puppet, handles the wiring, and creates the puppet’s body in puppet-speak.
What would you do with 3D printers?
I love 3D printers. I made the first one myself as a child and it took me years to find and set up a good place to test the hardware. If I did need to change it, all I would do would be to check out the 3D printer’s datasheet and check whether I needed to modify any part of the system. And what would I do if I was stuck in a position where I couldn’t change the printer’s settings? Well, instead, I’d just change what I was working with. You don’t have to be a programmer to use a 3D printer, and a little practice with its menu system can give you the hang of it.
What is your pet project?
I am very much a student of mechanical engineering. I studied electrical, electrical/communications, and mechanical engineering at MIT. I’m taking classes in mechanical engineering in the spring, and working on my final coursework to qualify me for the PSCI’s Mechanical Engineering Design Certificate. With that project complete and some more practical practice with the printer, I would like to do a study on robotic arm systems with the robot Armada. It’s a fascinating problem and requires some serious engineering and mathematics knowledge. I’d also like to work on a computer simulation of a robotic arm system for robotics applications, too. One day, once I know the basics, I’d like to learn how to build a robot using a 3D-printed robot arm assembly.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to work as a puppeteer?
Don’t be afraid to experiment—you don’t have to get the answer right the first time. I’ve experimented with most of the techniques described above, and
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