Shop Talk Podcast Episode 9: Becky Stern on the Joys of Engineering

Muna Idriss Muna Idriss February 23, 2024

2 min read

Welcome to this episode of Shop Talk, a podcast from the team at Autodesk Fusion where we catch up with designers and makers live from their workshops. Whether you’re a Fusion fan curious about what our users are doing or simply looking for something to listen to in your own shop, we’re bringing you candid conversations with talented designers who pour their hearts and souls into their craft.

In this episode, maker and Autodesker Jonathan Odom speaks with Becky Stern!

Becky is based in New York City and is a maker, content creator, and educator. She has a YouTube channel, a blog, and an online store. She has been in the maker community for a long time, working with Make magazine, Adafruit, and Instructables. There isn’t a corner of the maker internet she hasn’t touched!

Below is a short excerpt from the conversation to give you a taste of what to expect. You can also listen to the full episode below:

This excerpt is edited for brevity and clarity.

What inspires you to do the projects you do? Where do you get the inspiration from?

That’s an easy one. I’m a designer, so I find problems in my everyday life, and I solve them. But I’m also an artist so I think about what’s going to be creatively fulfilling to make. What materials do I want to get my hands on? What processes do I enjoy doing or what haven’t I tried before?

For example, PCB design: I had a fun project idea to replace the PCB inside of a PlayStation controller. I had a bunch of broken PS4 controllers where the buttons and the joysticks worked just fine, but the battery management or whatever the controller part was not working. Also, now we have a PS5.

So, what are you going to do with all your old PS4 controllers? I created a drop-in replacement circuit board that broke out all of the buttons and joysticks, not the touchpad, but the buttons so that you could use the controller for something else—an Arduino project, a robot, etcetera. That was a good project for me to stretch my PCB design skills because the controller itself, the board that I was replacing, had a membrane keypad it needed to connect to so there were these strange little pads I had to make.

In the process, I learned a new technique in Fusion Electronics to make everything in the right spot and then also used the Fusion 3D-to-PCB Board Shape tool to make a 3D-printed template because it’s a funny-shaped board. It has little curves and notches, so I made a 3D-printed template to ensure that it would fit inside the enclosure. Then I used that same 3D file to import as a board shape.

It was the kind of project that scratched a bunch of itches for me: I learned a bunch of techniques and I got to work on a cool project. I like to engineer fun experiments to do, and I’m lucky that people are entertained by them because then I get to do them professionally.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Shop Talk. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, catch up on any episodes you missed, and get your audio-only fix on Spotify.

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