Turner's Charley Lind invents pen to take toys from concept to reality

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Charley Lind flies one of the jets he made at his Turner home recently.

TURNER — Like the next-generation computer processors Charley Lind helps design, his Make-It Pen isn't strictly real.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Charley Lind uses a hot knife to cut out a foam jet from one of his designs in his Turner home recently.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Charley Lind shows a motor he built himself to power the jet he made, background.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Like father like son. Plans his son made for a jetpack that eventually turned into a Halloween costume.

Courtesy Charley Lind

This is the tracing plan for the foam MIG 15 fighter jet Turner's Charley Lind created for the Lewiston-Auburn Mini Maker Faire last August.

Lind recommends printing the plan on ledger sized paper, 11-by-17  inches, and tracing it on to quarter-inch thick fan-fold foam insulation, which you can buy at a hardware or construction supply store.

The plans can be also be printed on letter size paper,  eight-and-one-half inches. The result will be a much smaller plane, but one that should still fly.

"It's whatever pen you happen to be holding," Lind said. "It's just a way to encourage people to realize they can build what they want."

The Make-It Pen is a game Lind plays with his three sons: If they can imagine something and commit it to paper, he'll help them make it real. It doesn't matter if it's an airplane, a rocket ship or a sword — they'll do the math together and figure out how to bring it to life.

"It's just a concept we have," Lind said. "If they are drawing something like a sword or an airplane profile, they can have whatever they want right away. If they can draw it to scale, I'll help them build it."

So far, Lind and his sons have built a gold sluice to help find precious metals and gems in local streams, an underwater remote control robot, and numerous jets and other flying machines.

"My son wanted a water-rocket jetpack," Lind said. "So we did some math, and we figured out how much thrust a water rocket would give you. In the end, we couldn't build one that would let him fly. But we turned it into his Halloween costume. He was Boba Fett, and he had a water rocket that launched off of his back."

There is no limit to what the Make-It Pen can do, and Lind has devoted much of his life developing his own.

"When I was a kid, I had Saturday morning cartoons, pens and paper, and as much tape as I wanted," he said. "I sketched, and I crafted things with paper."

Lind, 40, works as a verification engineer for chipmaker NVIDIA. His current project, testing the specifications for a next-generation microprocessor for mobile phones and computers, is almost all in his head.

"It takes about a year and a half to design a chip, and you don't have a physical chip to work with," Lind said. "You spend all your time simulating in the computer. My job is finding flaws or bugs in the chip before it's built."

Lind thrives in that sort of an environment, but he's also a hands-on kind of guy.

"I work at home, and I'm working over the Internet," Lind said. "It takes a year and a half to make what I'm making, and I never get to touch it. So I need to have things I can actually do and touch."

That need inspired him to create all sorts of things — parafoil kites, model rockets, launching racks for fireworks and model airplanes made from his own handmade parts.

That's what he decided to show at the Lewiston-Auburn Mini Maker Faire last summer.

Lind took one of his favorite pastimes, building foam model airplanes, and created a simple design just for the Mini Maker Faire — a MIG-15 jet fighter. He usually assembles his models in his home workshop, using quarter-inch foam insulation from Lowe's, a hot-wire foam cutter and a hot glue gun.

That's the equipment he brought to the Mini Maker Faire, helping 43 young makers cut out and assemble their own flying foam MIG-15s.

"What I didn't anticipate was kids' using a 300-degree knife and hot glue gun," Lind said. "I didn't realize the audience would be so young. But they were able to do it, with help from their parents."

That brought him to his current big project, sort of: He's about one-third of the way through building his own computer numerical control machine, a robot-controlled cutting tool that will be able to carve material like wood, plastic or foam into any shape he can design.

At some point, he figures he'll even be able to use his CNC machine to carve the parts for another CNC machine.

"Talk about a Make-It Pen," he said. "When I finish this, I'll have a Make-It Robot."

He hopes to have his CNC machine carve out dozens of the pieces for his foam airplanes to bring to next summer's Lewiston-Auburn Mini Maker Faire.

"My goal is to make it easier to have more kids make airplanes," he said. "It's a trade-off. You're able to give more kids a chance to make something, but each one gets to do less."

Ultimately, Lind said he wants to bring the idea of the Make-it Pen to as many people as he can, showing them that if they can imagine it, they can build it.

"My ultimate goal for the Maker Faire was for each young maker to hold the Make-It Pen and do their own design and make it," he said. "I really was hoping there would be enough time to teach everyone to just do it and be creative."

 Do you know a creative person with a technological bent? We'd love to talk to them. Contact Staff Writer Scott Taylor at staylor@gmail.com, on Twitter as Orange_me or call 207-689-2846.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Tinker Tech: Turner's Charley Lind can make it real

Scott and Russ . 12.09.12 19:00 hst ?
Great story and pix , guys ?
I have several sons myself and we engage in similar pursuits on a more - or - less daily basis
Just the other day , ( when i had my WW II vet Henry Klein over for a second Thanksgiving on Dec. 7th ) , we joked about how kids aren't as mechanically inclined these days as we were . That doesn't mean they are any less intelligent or inquisitive . All four of my kids are smarter tham me and , quite frankly , it ticks me off . HAhahahah !
I'd like to ask Mr. Lind when we are going back to analog 'puters and how come we haven't done 3D chipsets yet ? Digital machines are decidedly 2D -- flat and scaler .e.g. , laptops and tablets and rack mounted servers
Here's a thought problem a lá Einstein : If you had a pole that was the length from here to the sun and pushed one end , when would the other end move ? I've never figured that one out and i thought the stupid question up . Even my brainiac Bates physics friends didn't like that question . .but they would tell me things i didn't particulalry agree with like , "If it wasn't for the interstellar dust it would be daytime 24 x 7 x 365 . "
HHmmm. . l o l , Nope • Does not compute
I guess it all simply proves that time isn't real and everything is relevant , yes , relevant , Relative , too
/s , Dr. Dosh, Bates '78


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