Troy Hawkins (known as Tomatoskins here on Instructables ) has been a long time member of Instructables and joined the team as a Community Manager just over a year ago. If his name looks familiar, that's because you've probably gotten an email from him when you posted an Instructable. He also stands on the front lines by managing our service email. If you have a question, he's there to answer it.
Besides being a great source of Instructables information, he also makes many awesome projects in his spare time. He has a wide variety of Instructables including many woodworking projects, a handful of unique rings, and even a Do-It-Yourself luxury shower. I recently had a chance to learn more about him and his making history. Read on to learn more.
When did you first start making things? What was your first project/what types of projects were you interested in?
I have been making and designing things for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I liked to take anything and everything apart in an effort to discover how it worked. The first project I can recall was a string and pulley system I designed when I was eight or nine. This system would allow me to turn my bedroom light on and off from the comfort of my bed.
Tell us about your workspace.
My workspace is ever changing. As a student/newlywed, I've lived in several different places. In my current residence, I have two work spaces: a 480 sq. ft garage that I share with the car and a home office. In my garage, I have mostly hand tools and I have only recently been able to start growing my shop to some larger power tools including a band saw and table saw. My office is where I do smaller electronics based projects as well as my 3D prints, 3D modeling, and programming. My office features a giant desk, that I use for many projects, as well as a whiteboard that is useful for designing and programming.
What are some of your biggest sources of inspiration when deciding what to make?
I get inspiration from my hobbies and interests (other than making) such as drumming, SCUBA diving, and all things retro. All of my projects are the result of one of three things: finding a solution to a current problem, seeing something either online or around town, or thinking something up that no one has done yet.
Will you tell us about some of the other designers and/or other Instructablers whose work you admire? Why?
There are so many amazing makers that I admire it's hard to name just one. One of my favorite YouTube channels is run by Matthias Wandel. I'm always amazed at the functional projects he can make with wood. I love seeing kludge77's Instructables. He usually takes a very unexpected twist on his projects and they are usually always filled with humor.
Can you tell us a little about your Mechatronics degree and how you use it in your making?
Not many people understand what Mechatronics is. In short, it's a combination of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and Computer Programming. This degree was geared heavily towards high-speed automation. This helps me greatly with understanding programming and mechanical design. When working on my various projects, I often turn to SolidWorks to plan my design before I head out to the shop. This helps me overcome obstacles in the digital world before they arise in the shop.
What are your goals, plans, or hopes for your future projects?
I have an ever growing list of projects that I'd like to attempt someday. As I gain more experience in the shop, I am more comfortable trying new and different projects I never thought possible.
Tomatoskins' reimagined Instructables robot.
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