DIY Electronics is Changing the World

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Recently I met Randy Schafer, CEO of EarthLCD. He shared with me some of the work he is doing with the Arduino community and how his products add into the mix. He also discussed the importance of Arduino and how it relates to STEM. Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for anyone creating interactive projects.

From young kids to seasoned professionals, these DIY electronic platforms are changing the world. It is inspiring and empowering people to create electronic products that they can imagine—and some are even reaching the commercial marketplace.  Be sure to check out the included video at the end of this interview for more information on Arduino.

arlcd1.jpgBarry Matties: Tell me a little bit about your company and what you guys do.

Randy Schafer: We've been in business for 21 years. We got started in the LCD industry by actually buying overstock inventory from LCD manufacturers. I don't buy that much surplus anymore, but I am always reminded of what Thomas Edison said, which was, "All you need to invent is imagination and a pile of junk."

I literally used to go to my warehouse and pull out LCDs and build products out of them. After that ran out I started building LCD products—monitors, touch screens and things of that sort. About four years ago, I went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo and I met Massimo Banzi, one of the co-founders of Arduino, an open-source, microcontroller, hardware, software project with boards you can buy for as little as $20. The software you download is free. It was designed by artists for designers, mechanical people and students, to easily develop computers that controlled things like lights, control relays, motors, etc. Your low-cost 3D printers were first based on Arduino and many of them still are.


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