Unleash Your Stories – James Barclay

This article features a very special guest in our Unleash Your Stories series, James Barclay. The 4th year physics student is a self-taught electronics wiz who sets himself apart as the most frequent user of the Create & Maker Space, and is working on as many DIY projects as his schedule permits. His interest in electronics stemmed from a physics club in high school. Despite studying physics, James claims that his mind is tailored better for engineering. After a physics paper introduced him to digital logic and how to use a breadboard, James decided to convert his knowledge into a passion pursuit. He then remembered that he could use the Create & Maker Space in Unleash Space to bring his ideas to life!

James shares that his creative momentum comes from reading about DIY projects on an online forum. He does not hesitate to purchase off-the-shelf parts with his own funds and enjoys finding ways to modify those parts into novel contraptions. When asked about some of his recent endeavours, James was overjoyed to share. One of his achievements was augmenting a Hitachi oscilloscope by designing an external circuit so that he could read the data in a specific file format which could be plugged and recorded to a computer. Additionally, James is proficient in using KiCAD, a software tool that assists him in designing  and understanding PCBs (printed circuit boards). 

His current project is to create a remote-controlled, colour-changing light that can switch between red, green and blue colours. The device is a chip-on-board (COB) type of light emitted diodes (LEDs), which means most of the control circuits are already embedded on the PCB. Humorously, James calls it a “RGB LED COB PCB”. James has been working on this latest innovation since the beginning of April and promises that it will be completed soon. A natural tinkerer, James is not shy to test courageous ideas, such as using candle wax and aluminium components to insulate 200,000 volts of cascaded diodes in order to charge a giant capacitor. 

Needless to say, James deeply enjoys his time spent in Unleash Space and says he appreciates the encouragement. Most amazingly, James is often approached by both staff and students for his expertise and assistance. He states that the next step is to build marketable products, and is busy conjuring up ideas with high potential. He has completed all but two equipment trainings but hopes to take action soon. 

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