My name is Craig. I am a freelance Electrical Engineer in Building Services. This site, while primarily a landing page for my business, will also be a home for discussions on new things I find out during my work (every day is a school day – but I’ll only write about the ones I find interesting), my continued work on improving processes, and also my personal side projects.
I started my career at a large consultancy as most people seem to, slowly learning working my way up and acquiring new skills, however a few years in I started to diverge away from the work I really enjoyed. I was moving from exciting designs of complex electrical systems into the realm of approving time sheets, coordinating annual leave, and chasing late payments. So I quit. I left to focus on the part of the job which brings me joy. I find far more satisfaction in doing a job properly start to finish and being proud of the job at the end.
The more time I spend working in this industry the more I’ve become a process geek. Years ago at my first company I asked for “20% time” to standardise things within the office. 20% time was a management philosophy at Google where employees spent 20% of their time working on what they think would most benefit the company; and much like Google this 20% got added on to the end of the day with paying jobs obviously taking precedent (i.e. 120%).
But the bug never left me, and while no company will pay their employees a fifth of their wage to work unassigned, I still keep the flame alive with the dream that one day, with the correct process, the jobs will practically do themselves.
Over the years I’ve found there are certain ways to approach a project, which while they don’t guarantee success, they help along the way. It starts with extracting a cohesive brief, to producing quality information with few errors, to ensuring what you designed is installed and operates as intended.
And how do you achieve this? Well, the answer is threefold…
Personal Side Projects
Some people like to build ships in a bottle, some people like to carve ornaments out of wood. Some people like to watch TV. And while I’m sure I’d enjoy watching more TV, any free time I can get you will find me in my office or at my workbench making things.
It started out innocently enough, I was playing in a band called “The Filthy Affliction” and we had the great idea of making a backdrop for the band to use during gigs, so I set to work designing a logo for the band in CAD.
But wouldn’t it be nice if the poster ‘lit up’? I had some experience with electronics from University (as that was my degree) so I set to work on designing how this poster would light up. And in the classic timeworn tale, engineering scope creep happened. Wouldn’t it be nice if the poster could do more…
After soldering 600 LED’s into a spray painted tarp and inhaling more lead than I would have liked, I set to work on controlling all of this. Using an Arduino microcontroller and a few external transistors to switch the larger power loads I was able to make the whole (or part) of the poster flicker like an old neon sign, light up bright for the end of the gigs, and flash during particularly energetic guitar solos.
Next, the Raspberry Pi was launched, leading to learning to love the command line and making all manner of computer systems using these versatile little devices.
I have always been interested in computers, however since I discovered you could make things with computers that have a real world interaction, my free time has gravitated towards making more and more.
I have channelled a lot of this focus into Home Automation too. If you are ever unlucky enough I will happily spend hours talking about all the different ways I have improved my house with all the little buttons, switches and sensors which make up a ‘Smart Home’.