Pauric O'Callaghan, known around the site as radiorental, has been on Instructables since the very beginning! He's posted a fantastic mix of projects.Everything he makes is extremely functional and much of it is beautiful as well. I recently got to ask him a few questions about his previous projects and what he's working on now - he shared some photos for everyone to see, too!
How did you discover the site and what inspired you to start posting projects?
I used to kitesurf with Eric & the rest of the MIT crew when they were here in Boston. While no where near as smart as those guys it was always fun to geek out with them on the crazy kitesurf gear they were inventing. When they first shared their idea for Instructables I was fully onboard, I firmly believe in sharing ideas in the hope that it will inspire others. Information wants to be free.
If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?
I have a theory why it is that time seems to go more quickly as we get older. When we're kids we are always learning and always looking forward to something. As we get older we start to focus on what we're good at and inevitably invest less time in the apparent random activities our childhoods were filled with. My advice? Master a skill or technique but also continue to learn new skills and look forward to the next big project, get out of your comfort zone and go to meetups/events that have nothing to do with your current interests. Never stop expanding your horizon, you'll be a better person for it.
You dabble in so many different types of projects - what are your favorite projects to do?
The ones that are as simple as possible. If I make a piece of furniture I try to design it to be glueless. This stone wall I put up along the front of my house is 'dry' (no mortar) which requires a lot of thinking & planning, I'd never built a wall before.
There's something deeply rewarding about the challenge of creating without relying on modern technology. On pretty much every project I've worked on there are 'constraints', the limitations that you need to work around. What ends up happening is that these constraints drive what the project becomes. Embrace them, simplicity is my favourite constraint, it's also one of the hardest to work around.
So many of your projects are super functional - do you often find yourself building something you need instead of buying it? Or do you mostly build things you want?
I try to keep my 'needs' simple and allocate my consumerist 'want' desires to making/hacking. If I need something, such as a new reverse osmosis filtering system for my house, I will research and buy - I'm not going to reinvent the wheel for the sake of it. Wants, though, there's nothing better than channeling those desires in to a project where you end up learning a lifetime skill that outlives that momentary desire, and you end up with an object you truly own. Alongside the mantra 'if you can't open it you don't own it' I like to add; If you didn't make it, it's not 'yours'.
Is there anyone who has been particularly influential towards your work?
People are blessed with intellect, some greater than others. I'm inspired by seeing anyone take what they've got and and create something out of an idea. But, more than anything, I'm inspired by nature. We're not doing an awesome job of housekeeping on our little blue spacecraft and I think nature is about to start telling us that. My hope is that we as a species become a little more humble and look towards nature for more inspiration instead of trying to control it so much.
Which of your projects is your favorite?
An old tree fell down in my backyard, the table I made from it will most likely outlive me:
Maybe some day in the distant future when I'm done being wormfood, the atoms that were once me become someone else's project - it's a thought!
Any big projects you're working on right now?
I'm restoring a VW camper, I just finished putting a new Ford 4 cylinder engine it in and I'm about to start remodeling the interior.
We're about to have our second child and my dream, what keeps me going late at night when I'm busting knuckles on 30 year old german technology, is the vision of the four of us going on road trips in a vehicle that I rebuilt, designed just for our needs.