Introduction: Maker Auto

About: I experience life through my finger tips and taste buds. Can't stop making new things. In my day job I manage a student workshop, and in my free time I volunteer as an EMT and for a local food rescue organizat…

The Maker Auto is a mobile maker space lab based in Mumbai India. The goal of the project is to bring the tools, equipment, and most importantly, the inspiration of the maker movement to a larger section of Mumbai's population. The auto is fully equipped with four folding tables and 16 tool boxes filled with a variety of tools. In the very back section of there is room for a 3D or small CNC machine along with a computer and a backup battery system.

Our goal with the auto is to run collaborative workshops with other organizations, schools and companies all over Mumbai. Each workshop will combine the work of the partner organization with the expertise and experience of our team as it pertains to design, art art and making.

Step 1: Design

The primary goal of the project was to provide access to the tools and ideas of the maker movement to individuals and organizations in Mumbai who would not otherwise have access. One important part of that goal was to create a vehicle with an iconic and exciting appearance. From early on in the ideation phase for the project we decided that using the platform of an auto rickshaw would be a familiar and approachable form. We also decided that we would include gull-wing doors would give the auto an extra bit of excitement and wonder.

We used Autodesk Fusion 360 for 3D cad and Adobe Photoshop for the initial concept renderings.

Step 2: Get an Auto

In a country with millions of rickshaws, you wouldn't expect this to be a challenge, but getting our hands on an affordable auto in a good condition was much harder than we thought it would be. After a week or so of searching we found one to buy and drove it back to the Maker's Asylum to start work immediately.

Step 3: Cut It Up

After getting the auto to the workshop it was time to start cutting immediately. We removed the flatbed and frame in the rear, as well as the floor in the cab and other rusty components. Angel grinders reigned king in this phase of the project.

Step 4: Hoist

The main workshop for the Maker's Asylum is on the second floor of the building, so we hired a crane to lift it up though a big rollup door.

Step 5: Fix

The auto was not completely without mechanical problems, so before getting to work on the body of the vehicle. The main lesson for this stage of the project was to bring in experts when we got in too deep. Big thanks to the professional mechanics who came in to help us out.

Step 6: Skeleton

I keeping with the traditional style of auto rickshaws we decided to use a fabric covered frame to cover the tool area. The main curved sections of the frame are built from stock rickshaw canopy frames. Extra pieces were cut from steel tube and bent to fit.

We also installed a new steel floor and a rack for storing the tables.

Step 7: Paint

Much of the sanding for the auto was done in house, but we outsourced the painting to a professional shop down the road.

Step 8: Upholstury

The upholstery of the auto was another area where our team lacked expertise, so we had a local expert help us out.

Step 9: Waterproofing

For waterproofing we used a modified car door sealant strip riveted through the fabric to the frame.

Step 10: Graphics

Graphic decals were printed on vinyl stickers and cut by hand to fit on the auto just before it's first public appearance.

Step 11: Tables

The tables were also designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and cut by hand with a jig saw and hand router. Each of the four tables folds up for storage in the back of the auto. The steel parts were bent at a sheet metal fabricator and fit sock plastic bins for tool storage.

Step 12: Tools

The auto is outfitted with soldering irons, drills, Dremel tools, saws, glue guns, and a multitude of other hand tools as well as a 3D Systems Cube 3D printer.

Step 13: Present

Before the auto ever hit the road we were on stage at Autodesk University India 2016 for the official launch event. We also presented it at the Bangalore Mini Maker Faire, and have plans to present at IIT Tech Fest in Mumbia next month. Workshops also start very soon.