Tag Archives: Nick Thatcher

The Thatch Bug.

I’ve mentioned Mr Nick Thatcher before. If the two of use make an occasional double act then I’m definitely the Watson to his Holmes as he, far more than I, is a bit of a genius.

A couple of weeks ago I booked two tickets to an HTC gathering (more on which later) and Nick and I had one of our occasional meet ups to discuss plans. I said I’d love a snap on clip for my trusty new One M8 and he said he’d see what he could do, as long as I was aware that he’d be out of action for one of the weeks we had before the day with work in Amsterdam.

As it was he made this… A very cool 3d printed shield and lens system for the phone:

((ahem. I’ll tell you what it looks like later 🙂 )).

In fact he made four of them…

((also more of which later)).

It allowed me to take pictures like this:

…on the train going to the venue and these pics:

…in the venue. Lovely stuff. We gave away the hair band lenses (and I hope we see some very cool images form them in the future) and I’ve got the shield clip lens so that I can play with it some more over Christmas.

The plan is, possibly, to make a limited run for sale in the new year. We’ll see, but certainly the vibe was pretty strong on the night…

But again, here’s to Nick, who makes these cool things happen even when he has a bucket load of other things to be doing… You can catch up with his awesome inventions here. If next year pans out the way I think it might remember you (possibly) heard it here first…

The illustrated Sunday Brunch…

I’ve chatted about him before but a good friend of mine is also an amazing inventor/maker. Occasionally he invents things for me (such as this wonderful tablet easel stand called the Eye) and more often than not he comes along and helps when we do amazing events at the college… Nick was invited to have his new one wheeled self balancing unicycle (link goes to last years version) shown off on Channel 4s Sunday Brunch – as part of promoting the Maker Faire happening next week in Newcastle and I was more than happy to help him carry the unicycles when they were powered down….

All in all it’s been a heck of a weekend. Let’s recap shall we?

On arrival, once we’d safely stowed the one wheeled objects away of course, we headed out for dinner. That was always going to be at Honest Burger in Camden. Because pudding in Camden is always:

Chin Chins
, but you knew that, right? This flavour is Mango sorbet with hot sawwce (chilli, garlic and other fiery ingredients) and Pistachio and Cardamon powder. Yum…. However:


Post dinner at Honest (yes, pudding came first) and drinkies at the Grafton we headed back to the hotel to have a very lovely chat with the Tech Camp team about their project that they would be showing off (something very cool called a Time Machine – strobe illuminated water droplets that could slow, stop and move backwards… ) prior to shut eye.

Five hours later and it was back up and running time. But that’s unfair on the hotel, which was excellent. Especially good were the complimentary Dairylea dunkers that had to be seen to be believed:


Onto the production studio for the show and a complimentary bacon sandwich, coffee and time for two pictures to be drawn on my trusty Tesco Hudl:


I honestly drew these before ‘the incident’ and no, I’m no claiming some sort of Odessa Effect style pictoral foreshadowing here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were whisked past a very cool ceiling window:

before Nick was filmed riding the Jackal:

It was deemed more suitable for Nick to drive the Jackal after Tim the presenter flew off the front of the machine having let go of the dead mans switch (which is perfectly understandable as a thing to do. I’ve done similar myself on the Noway Nick built). I didn’t take a photo but it’s there for all to see on 4OD as of tomorrow I think. He ducked and rolled well though and was smiling/still positive about the invention, which was very good of him. Did cause a slight wound to the Jackal:

…but if you’re going to get a ding then for it to happen on a pre recorded sequence for a live morning show on a major TV network seems the best way of doing it.

Pre-record completed there was a run through of the sequence, which they were kind enough to let me stand in the background and draw:

and then after a short wait (when a slight debate about whether a potentially strobing light was more dangerous than a Tesla Coil or a laser gun):

we were onto the live sequence itself:

…and, since I didn’t get thrown out immediately I drew Yvette Fielding prior to her interview segment which followed the Maker Faire sequence.

… and then I was chucked out 🙂 Partially as a taxi was  due to arrive to take Nick and I, and the unicycles, back to rainy Surrey. Which was a real shame… I’d have loved to keep drawing – especially would like to have drawn Lethal Bizzle and Katy B – but time was pressing and the studio staff had a million thinks to think about without also having to worry about an orange hairy potential trip hazard.

Then it was catch up with the family, sharing Easter presents, watching son play Wii Fit and, to chill, I hooked up with @DQSlothdude on iPad/Drawing Together app (all of the pictures above were drawn on my Hudl using either Sketchbook or Photoshop Touch) and drew this:

Basically? An Easter to remember 🙂

Introducing Mr Nick Thatcher.

Ah where do I start?

A short while ago I went to the British Tech Networks bash in Birmingham with a friend. I’ve known him since he was 13 and we’ve played computer games against each other, eaten together and run a youth group together for years now. Every Friday night he and I and a group of friends run a youth group on a council estate (and have done for 17 years now, every Friday in term time, although Nick’s only been a leader for 6 or so years I think), not every Sunday night we meet up at a friends house and play computer games. Generally I lose but, depending on the game, he loses more 🙂

What’s most interesting about Nick is that he makes things. Cool things. Amazing things. And at the Tech Network show he showed off one of the most amazing things he’s created: the bullet proof segway.

(Both photos: James Kenny).

So in a crowded garden, on a wooden patio, he drove the USB powered creation for all to see and when the rain stopped he drove it on the pavement in front of the house. That’s not the coolest thing though. He made it in a week, he designed the version you see above, cut the polycarbonate, pieced it together and implemented all of the machinery. He did most of the code for balancing the gyrscopes as well, from what I understand (although to be honest he starts talking technical jiggery pokery and my eyes glaze over).

That’s not the coolest thing. With the exception of the polycarbonate the fully working Segway is made from bits of broken machinery and equipment that his workplace, a kitchen tool engineering firm, let him take home if they don’t want them anymore. Astounding. He’s Ant and Dec meets the A-Team.

You can see a video of the Segway working here:

He’s also made a range of odd and extraordinary machines, projectile delivery devices (I probably can’t say the ‘g’ word) and, well all sorts of coolness. Nick and I collaborated on an art exhibition earlier in the year and nothing sat next to iPad artwork as well as photos of hand crafted strange machinery.

(USB powered working mini-coil gun. Photo: me).

You can see some of his inventions on his website here: http://www.thatch-industries.webs.com/ and see him talk for six minutes about a range of crazy inventions, including a temporarily working plastic pulse jet, laser gun, coil guns and all sorts here:

Why mention him? Because he’s the 21 year old sequel to James Dyson, a young person who makes me smile when he gets that faraway look in his eye and says ‘ you know, I could build…..’ and you know he could, he just needs the backing, the supporting and more. I have hopes and dreams for myself as an artist but, equally, I’d love to see him get to build the things he wants to make, because they would be awesome. I’d also love to see the Stig ride the Segway around the Top Gear track, and the things Nick wants to build next would look equally good being raced and being timed. The budget for materials he clocked in at ÂŁ500 for his next machine. What he needs is a garage and someone filming the process…

Hmmm wonder if that will ever happen… I really hope so, it deserves to be and, as has often been the case for me in youth work, the public assertion that kids these days are less interesting, vibrant, creative or technical is not really true. Maybe you have to search more for the most unusual kids but I’ve worked with some fab young people over the past 20 years. Long may that continue…