Isaac is a very capable and talented engineer, capable of cobbling together new gadgets to use, as well as fixing broken spaceship parts and whatnot. He’s also very good at adapting to new and weird situations, especially considering the extreme conditions he has to endure. These two skills, combined with his own mental fortitude, are basically all that see him through the hells he has to endure in the Dead Space games. His high level of intelligence helps, but in the end it’s also his resourcefulness and mental fortitude that get him through the day. So what sort of skills should we look into to be more like Isaac?
You ideally want to shoot for being a well-rounded individual, gifted in multiple areas. These people are typically known as “polymaths,” and they excel in multiple, usually separate arenas. Steve Martin, for instance, is a well-known polymath. In addition to being an acclaimed comedian and successful actor, he’s also an extremely talented musician, and an author. But we’re going for a different kind of polymath here, looking into skills like…
Obviously Isaac has some serious chops when it comes to electronics. The cool thing is, a lot of this stuff can be learned and/or self-taught online! Here’s some good sites to check out:
In addition to basic electronics, you might want to look into the following mini-computer setups:
Arduino boards are an accessible, cheap method of getting into micro-controllers. It is important to note, however, that an Arduino is not actually a full-blown mini-computer. It’s a microcontroller, which means you can program some smaller tasks into it, but it’s basically a mono-tasker. It’s FANTASTIC for someone starting out in electronics, or someone who wants a machine to run a few simple tasks very, very well with little time investment. There’s also a huge community, replete with tutorials and developer support.
Raspberry Pi is a full-blown mini-computer. This means it’s basically the same thing as the device you’re reading this on, but in a teeny tiny little package! They are more complex than Arduino, so there’s is a steeper learning curve. They can also do a LOT more than an Arduino can, though, like run a household multimedia center, or build a custom handheld game emulator. The community is a bit less extensive, and not quite as full of tutorials, but it’s still a pretty friendly development environment, and growing every day.
Welding and Machining
Honestly, these are a bit harder to learn online, due to their more “hands-on” nature. Also, getting started in welding can be pretty expensive, with even the cheapest systems running in the hundreds of dollars range. So what’s an aspiring space engineer to do? Well, I would say see if there are any welding shops in the area. Typically these places are happy to pick up an “apprentice” in the shop, if you’re willing to do grunt work for little or no pay. If you’re lucky, and old enough, you can even get hired for an actual job as an apprentice welder, and get paid for learning the trade!
For machining, there’s a somewhat lower barrier of entry. I would recommend picking up a good Dremel (that’s a link to the Dremel I have) to start, and just playing around with it. Try to make a few things. When I first got my Dremel, I made some custom throwing stars and knifes out of plate steel I picked up from Lowe’s for ten bucks. Seriously, go grab one, along with some safety goggles and a couple clamps, and start playing around. It’s a lot of fun, and there’s always a use for a good Dremel in any home project.
For those not in the know, MacGuyver was the name of a popular TV character, famous for constructing all manner of outlandish devices from simple components he found lying around. Similarly, you too can solve home problems using just a paperclip, a rubber band, and an old pill bottle!
No, seriously though, using everyday objects to construct outlandish devices is a great exercise in panic engineering. You’ve already seen my homemade dehydrator, but I’ve also made the following:
- A boat made out of soda bottles, trash bags, rope, and a few lengths of PVC.
- An “assassin’s creed” style wrist blade out of a keyboard wrist wrest, an old wire coat hanger, some rubber bands, thumbtacks, and a letter opener.
- A homemade augmented training vest with resistance bands, sand weights, and leg straps (to anchor it when I’m upside-down)
- A bolas from old tennis balls, braided jute twine, leftover masonry plaster, and duct tape.
A great challenge for yourself is to give yourself a ten or fifteen dollar budget, walk into a dollar or convenience store, and, using what you find on hand in the store, see what sort of outlandish device you can create. If you make something cool, send me pictures, I’ll feature it here on the blog!
That’s it for this post! Sorry we’re a day late on this one, it’s been tough getting back into normal life after the craziness of the honeymoon and post-wedding nonsense. Next up after this is The Ordeals of Isaac Clarke. If you haven’t joined The Champions Guild yet, head on over and sign up now so you can be kept current with what’s going on with the blog! You’ll also get two free eBooks written by yours truly. Check it out!
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Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace