The pneumatics hissed along with the intermittent buzz of an angle grinder as I walked the safe, green path through NextFab. I was making my way with Eric up to the third floor where we’d join a few other people to assemble the actual awards for the 2014 Philly Geek Awards. I couldn’t wait to get my fingers wrapped around some tools and get to work!
I love working with my hands and building things. That probably explains my LEGO obsession. Just seeing something in bits and pieces gets my imagination working; twisting each one around in my mind, looking at it from all sides, and figuring out how it all fits together into some beautiful whole.
This year’s awards were designed and machined from scratch by a team of supremely talented people at NextFab, engineer John Combs, Clear Coat, and the mad genius behind the whole Geek Awards Creative Direction, Will Stallwood. Usually, they would be expertly assembled by a couple of the NextFab crew, but this year they wanted to do something a little different. In an effort to engage the community, anyone interested could come along and help assemble the awards.
After we all snagged a quick beer, we sat down at some work stations kitted out with a soldering iron and wire, flux, and all the parts we’d need.
First, we had to connect and mount the LED’s to their power source. Attached to a circular piece of corian, this would form the illuminated core inside the award’s base. Even at the best of times, soldering is a bit of a handful. Without the help of extra appendages, I resorted to holding the LED strip with the solder in one hand and the wire and iron in the other. It takes a bit of practice, but by the time I made my second award, I think my fingers knew the motions. I may have made a misguided attempt to hold one of the wires in my mouth, but let’s not focus on that.
Next, we sandwiched precut pieces of white corian and clear blue acrylic already cut to size by the team at NextFab. A few long bolts threaded through each piece and locked the base together. After a bit of sanding we were able to slip the battery and LED core into the base.
The core of the award’s base slid in and out with a twist and with the LEDs lit up, it looked like the ignition core on a futuristic neutron bomb. Topped off with that very pointy, laser etched lightning bolt, it really did look and feel like a ridiculous weapon from the far-flung future.
When everything was cleaned up, the awards went back to Brandon Boulden on the NextFab team for some quick adjustments, sanding, and attaching those gorgeous plaques with all the winner’s names.
Each year I’ve seen the actual awards get increasingly more intricate and beautiful. This year, I think Will and NextFab really outdid themselves and created a work of art worthy of the incredible people that won at this year’s Geek Awards. I’m simply thankful that I had the chance to help build these little beauties.