From a Student to a Visiting Faculty

Change is the end result of all true learning.

It’s been almost four years since I took a leap of faith and arrived in Ahmedabad and jumped into the relatively unknown and under-appreciated realms of design. National Institute of Design has been my home for these past four years. I came here to unlearn and relearn and also to look at the world which at times I felt was to superficial. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my student time at NID in the place we called KMC (Knowledge Management Center, Yeah the name is a bit wacko!) and read some crazy nice stuff a list of which is available on the book list blog post, and I was fortunate enough to have come across and having interacted with some of them most humble and creative people from across the globe. People like Praveen Nahar, Shujoy Chakraborty, Vikram Singh Parmar have been really great mentors and I gained a lot from whatever time I spent with them. 

I owe a lot to two of my friends, Swapnil Vibhute and Tanisha Vernekar for being part of the Systems Design course I did with them. This single module had been a transcendental experience and something which has defined my work in the past two years.

One of the most important thing I figured out in the last two years is that there is so much power in open and collective sense making. As Christopher McCandless said “Happiness is only real when shared.”. So, is knowledge, information and resources. These things are meant to be shared and not kept captive by a few. When the entire world is starving, hording doesn’t do any good.

Studying at NID has been a very hands on, mind on, senses on experience, it is like a long drive along the hills or a beach, you come across such beautiful and life enriching things. A lot changed in me as a person on this crazy ride, I became more appreciative of the little things and realized that in the end everything comes down to making sense of the world around you and fostering relationships which are lifelong. The time at NID as a student was really meaningful as a lot of people contributed positively to it and the entire idea of working with open source systems, collaborative and personalized making had run deep within my value system. I wanted to share the same experience with others.

After convocating I’ve been thinking of doing some small workshop on getting people introduced to ideas of my thesis “Design Democracy and Tinkering”. So, I sent a workshop brief to Praveen and he was kind enough to let me take a module with the 7th semester Product Design students. The basic idea of this module “Making for the Real World” was to get them introduced to concepts like open source, digital fabrication, redistributed manufacturing, technology, DIY & maker culture, sustainability and the most important thing of documentation of work and publication. I also made a manifesto on the same principles and can be read on this link.

We tried to run an intense studio for a span of 8 days and everyone is making a real life objects and not renders. I was a mere facilitator in the process and working with the students was a really fun and enriching experience for me (and hopeful for them as well!). The course is official over, we are still in the process of making the objects. We’ll soon be sharing the workshop details and the outcome.

 

Sonic Architect SA/CDA-250 Amplifier

Amplifier is the heart and brain of an audio system. In the past I have been using amplifiers which were sourced either from USA or China. The quality of amplifiers from both the places is exceptional. But there were a few logistical and economical issues. It takes around 4-5 weeks for the amplifiers to reach and then because I make very limited number of systems I don’t have an importers custom ID. So, a lot of time the amplifiers are stuck in customs and take another 3-4 weeks for processing. I found a vendor who sells and sometimes stocks the amplifiers I was using but the downside is that they turn out to be too expensive.

I wanted to use something which was built locally (Made in India) as it saves a lot of shipping time, cost and fuel. I came across an OEM for making custom made amplifiers. I had already decided on the specifications of the amplifier, and there were a couple of option for the chipset. As I’ve built a considerable number of systems, I went ahead with a Class D amplifier setup which gives a clean sound with exceptional efficiency. These boards use the same chipset as the ones which I was getting from USA and China. The boards have been branded as well as this is an OEM product.

I was facing the problem of mounting the amplifiers from USA and China as they had the volume potentiometers soldered to the board, so placement and accessibility was a problem. The custom made amplifiers which I have, the volume potentiometer and 3.5mm aux jack are connected to the board using ribbon wires. This makes the placement, access and replacement of the board very easy. Board can be kept at one place and the potentiometer and AUX can be kept wherever is the control panel.

 

 

Specifications of the SA/CDA-250 board are

  • 50 Watt Per Channel Power
  • 20Hz – 20KHz Frequency Response0
  • 4 – 8 Ohm Impedence
  • Bluetooth 4.1 aptX Connectivity
  • 3.5mm Auxiliary Input
  • Taiwan Volume Taper Potentiometer
  • 12-24 Volt Voltage Supply
  • 2A-4A Current Supply (Preferably 2A)

 

Sonic Architect Marconi: Behind the scene

Marconi is handmade using Pine and Teak wood. The process is as:

  1. Cutting the components on to approximate dimension using a paper template glued to wood. Cutting done using a bandsaw or jigsaw.
  2. Sanding the components to the proper dimension using the template lines as guides.
    Sanding the Grill
  3. Gluing the four enclosure panels together using 90 degree clamps. Fevicol is used.
    Clamps
  4. Centerpunching the holes on the grill using a 1mm centerpunch and mallet.
    Centre Punching the Grill
  5. Drilling the holes on a drill press using a 6mm drill bit.
    Drilling the Grill
  6. Countersinking the drilled holes using a 10mm 90 degree bit.
    Countersinking the Grill
  7. Drilling holes in the enclosures sides using a 3mm drill for putting dowels.
    Drilling Dowel holes
  8. Gluing the 3mm dowels using Fevicol.
    Gluing Dowels
  9. Making volume knob by using 30mm circular cutter. Gluing a 2mm thick teak wood panel on the knob to cover the drilled hole from one side.
    Knobs
  10. Drilling two 15mm holes on the back panel and then using jigsaw cutting out a capsule shape. Sanding the edges for a smooth transition.
  11. Chamfering the capsule shaped cutout using a 45 degree chamfer bit on router. Sanding the chamfered edges.
  12. Sanding the dowels to make it flush with the rest of the wood.
    Enclosure with Dowel
  13. Lasercutting the back plate to make space for a switch, charging and charge status.
  14. Staining grill, battery plate, knobs and handle using oil stainer.
  15. Soldering the switch, charging board connections and mounting them on the back plate.
    Back Plate
  16. Mounting the back plate on back panel.
    Back Panel with Plate
  17. Hot gluing the speaker to the speaker mounting plate. And soldering wires.
  18. Gluing the speaker mounting plate on the enclosure.
    Speakers mounted on the Enclosure
  19. Soldering the connections on FM receiver. Mounting the receive on the front panel.
  20. Fitting the knobs
  21. Gluing the Grill and front panel on the front edges of the enclosure.
  22. Mounting the battery on the enclosure and testing the electronics and the acoustics.
  23. Gluing the back panel and battery panel edge to edge.
  24. Gluing screw plates on the enclosure sides.
  25. Drilling holes in the back panels and countersinking them
  26. Screwing the back panels using powder coated dry wall screw.
  27. Mounting the handle using 5mm dowel.
  28. Sanding the entire speaker with 320 grit sandpaper.
  29. Finishing using linseed oil.

Marconi is ready to bring back the childhood memories of radio.

Why I started making Watercolor Illustrations?

Since I was a kid I was fascinated with watercolors and for some reason I could never control the way they worked. Maybe it was because of the tiny hands trying too hard to be perfect or because eventually as I grew up I had a problem which makes my hands tremble. I became afraid of using the medium which had this attribute of entropy in it. I could use sketch pens, markers and pencils easily as they still had some control.

So, what exactly changed after so many years of fear?

As I got more time to work on things in a very hands on, physical, tangible way; I started exploring various materials, techniques, process, tools in making things. The entire mindset of getting into making things rather than looking at them in tutorials and thinking one day I’ll do it made the difference. I was no longer thinking about the entropy which came with any sort of tools. I learnt something new with every mistake I made.

And one more thing which was important was that I set goals which were achievable and then once I could get past them, I’ll set a new one which would be complex in varied ways. It could be using the same technique with a different tool, it could be using the same tool in a different way or it could be employing a process in a setting where I had never used it before. And all this re-observing and re-learning lead to the belief that I could venture into getting started with watercolors which I wanted since I was a kid.

I started making small cards which were 8cmx9cm to begin with. And I didn’t try some really fancy technique or handwork. I just started by making rectangular blocks of watercolors, sometimes mixing two or even three of them, I saw a lot of YouTube videos. They really helped me to get the basic and the physicality of the process. I would use these colored cards and do hand lettering on them. Pinterest came to the rescuse. I found some of the most beautifully done hand lettering there. In between I’ll do some on my own as well. And also because I wanted to make these cards for someone I really liked, so I was in a way putting my heart and soul into it.

Eventually I ended up making a lot of these cards and giving it to a lot of people as a token of love, gratitude and care.

From the 8cmx9cm cards I moved on the A5 size notebook. I wanted to try out the same technique of merging colors as I wanted to have a certain sort of mastery in it. I again made hand lettered pages. And all this I was trying on cartridge sheet or ivory which is really not meant for watercolors. These sheets will get all crinkled because of water and I’ll just iron them out. I still had the fear of using a good quality sheet.

And recently I thought that it’s time to use watercolor sheets and make complex forms than hand lettering. I started looking at complex forms which I have been fascinated (themes like space travel, animals, life in passing, movies I like) on Pinterest and Google. Found some crazy good stuff specially the animal series by Kerby Rosanes. I took out black and white printouts of the illustrations I liked and after getting the delivery of watercolor sheets I headed down to the giant lightbox at NID. I started tracing the illustrations using Pigma Micron fineliners. And soon I had a bunch of them which I wanted to watercolor on. As I had learnt color merging it became easy for me to color the illustrated sheets. The hand was still the same but the mindset had changed, so I was fine with making mistakes and during this entire process beginning from the small cards I sort of had found ways to rectify the mistakes. I’ve become better at handling the material, tools, technique and I think I’ve improved a bit in illustration and sketching as well.

My current setup is

  • Brustro 200gsm Cold Press Artists’ Water Color Paper
  • Camel Artists’ Water Color Cakes 18 Shades 300 – C -18
  • Sakura Koi Water Brushpen Medium
  • Chinese Water Brushpen Large
  • 50mm Flat Synthetic Bristle Brush
  • Technical Art Mechanical Pencil 2.0mm
  • Grafo Mech-Pencil Lead 2.0mm
  • Jinhao Ink Pen
  • Pilot V7 0.7mm Pen
  • Pilot V Sign Pen
  • Pigma Micron 005 01 02 03 05 08 Fine Liner
  • Pigma Brush Pen
  • Uniball Signo 0.7mm White Gel Pen
  • Oddy Correction Pen
  • Staedtler Rubber Eraser

Watercolor Setup

Some of the channels I follow on YouTube

Sonic Architect: Marconi

A tribute to the one who made long distance work, Guglielmo Marconi!

The body of Marconi is made using Pine wood which has a buttery color. Each part of the radio was cut using a jigsaw and sanded with 3 successive sandpaper to get a smooth finish. Enclosure was glued using wood glue and then held in place using 90 degree clamps.

Grill is made using teakwood, the grill has a grid of 11×11 6mm holes. A plan of the grill was printed on paper and then glued to the grill piece. All the 121 holes were center punched and then handrilled on a drill press.

The FM receiver is mounted on a pine wood piece with two holes for the volume and frequency pots.

One of the pinewood part can be removed from the back to change the battery, which should ideally last for a couple of years. Grill, FM Receiver mount plate, back plate are all glued to the enclosure.

The handle is made out of pine wood and are then attached to the main body. The volume and frequency knobs are made out of pine as well.

Marconi is handcrafted with an old school look in mind. It takes roughly 10 hours to make the system.

 

Specifications

  • FM Receiver
  • Stained and hand oiled Pine Wood
  • 2000 mAh Battery
  • 1.6″ Full-Range Drivers
  • Hand Drilled stained Teak Wood Grill
  • Pine wood Knob
  • Pine wood or Leather Handle
  • Aluminum Antenna
  • Dimension: 25cmx13cmx11cm
In the box
  • Marconi
  • USB cable

Open Source Directory of Makers/Designers/Fabricators/Suppliers

Two years back we started generating a sort-of Marauder’s Map for all the explorers/tinkerers/makers/designers of the city of Ahmedabad. We wanted to let people move beyond their worktables and the entire city to become the space of action. Why not utilize the whole town which is at your disposal providing you with unlimited resources, interesting people and events.

 

Over the top-left of the map , you shall find the filters to locate specific amenities.

I’m planning of expanding this further to connect Makers/Designers/Fabricators/Suppliers with an Open Source Making Directory with maps and the facilities and resources which are being offered.

I’m open to suggestions, ideas, collaborations, funding (If someone is generous enough) etc. So, in case you want to get back, please send in your messages at

ekprayog@gmail.com

Sonic Architect: Wilson

A tribute to the brilliant Progressive Rockstar Steven Wilson!

Satisfy your inner audiophile with this hand crafted wooden audio system! The Sonic Architect Wilson is handmade using Teak and Pine wood with a handwoven fabric grill. Each unit is hand assembled based on “Less is More” approach. A power switch and an aluminum volume knob makes the system easy to use.

Specifications
– 20 Watt Class D Amplifier
– 2.2″ Full Range Driver
– Passive Radiator
– 3.5mm AUX Input
– Aluminum Volume Knob
– Stained Teak Enclosure
– Handwoven Fabric Grill
– 12 Volt DC Power Adapter

Sonic Architect: Lasercut Series

This new line is an amalgamation of digital fabrication, DIY and handcraftsmanship. Every system is handmade using MDF lasercut panels, grill and is hand assembled. Very functionalist in its approach, the speakers fit well along the lines of “Less but Better”; A lasercut Volume Knob, a 3.5mm AUX jack and a Micro USB charging port is all that these systems have. All the systems are powered by a Class D Amplifier and uses Fullrange drivers along with a Lithium Ion Battery lasting around 10-15 hours depending on the usage.

 

Portable music back with a Classic form!

 -Efficient 6 Watt Class D Amplifier
-Small Form Factor with Big Sound
-Sealed MDF Enclosure
-2000 mAh Battery
-Fullrange Drivers
-3.5mm AUX input
-Stained Grill
-Lasercut Volume Knob

Available as built and in kit form. Made to order.

Sonic Architect: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Sonic Architect’s Stevie Ray Vaughan(SRV) is an amalgamation of digital fabrication, DIY and hand-craftsmanship. The vintage character of SRV comes from the usage of materials like wood, leather and lasercut grill. Every system is handmade using Sagwan wood and MDF lasercut grill and is hand assembled. The system is built on Dieter Rams ideology of “Less but Better”. The volume knob acts as an On/Off switch and the listener just needs to plug in the 3.5mm AUX cable and let the music play. Charging is done using a micro USB cable. SRV packs a punch with its full range drivers and an efficient class D amplifier and comes with a 25 hours worth of portable fun.

  • Efficient 6 Watt Class D Amplifier
  • Handmade to Order
  • Small Form Factor with Big Sound
  • Sealed Sagwan Enclosure
  • 4400 mAh Battery
  • 1.6″ Full-Range Drivers
  • 3.5mm AUX input
  • Detailed and Natural Sound
  • Leather Handle
  • Aluminium Knob

Watercolor Poetry

I transform words into watercolor poetry. From simple quotes to songs, I like to make small 9cmx10cm hand-lettered cards. Made using watercolor, paper, a brushpen and some micron pens. These handmade token of love and affection are made for friends and family for the happy times.

 

If anyone is interested in buying or get a new set made, send an email to thappa.sahil@gmail.com