I first met Matt Little
about two years ago when I first attended a Nottinghack
Open Hack Night. Matt is still very involved with Nottinghack and gives a lot of his time to help out at Maker Faires, hack the space days and organising workshops. After seeing his Pedal Power 'Cuppa-Meter' machine at the Creator Fair
this year I thought it was time to get to know the man behind the name a little better.
I went to see Matt at Hopkinson's Gallery
where he rents a workshop, the atmosphere in the tea room was very warm and welcoming as always.
Inevitably whilst we waited for tea we got to chatting about the previous weeks Derby Mini Maker Faire
, both agreeing that it was very well organised and the busiest yet, but what I really wanted to find out was how Matt got into renewable energy, and where did he get his clear to see passion from?
Unlike me Matt was involved with electronics from a very early age, getting his first multi-meter at the age of 8, and by the age of 11 getting his own shed to get him out the house. It's not surprising therefore to learn that he went on to study Electronics and Engineering at university, but I was surprised to hear him admit that the lack of hands on projects led him for a short time to feel a lack of inspiration.
In 1999 though he built his first small pedal generator which was used to power a small stage sound system at the Dulwich show and that, it would seem, reignited his passion.
In 2001 he then went to Loughborough, where both of our directors studied, to do a renewable energy systems technology course, and was then invited by Loughborough University to do a PHD in off grid hydrogen storage systems, where he also developed a solar car kit funded by Women in Engineering
to help attract women into STEM. This led to an interest in remote electrification and a year spent volunteering with SIBAT, a Filipino NGO, working to supply energy services to remote rural farmers, which was funded by Engineers without borders UK
Upon returning to the UK and knowing he wanted to continue working in this field, Matt started working on open source electrical systems for renewable energy projects, and that has led him to where he is today.
Which brings me back to the Cuppa-Meter
. The reason this caught my eye in the first place was that although I am passionate about investment and research into renewable energy, I always find it hard in real terms to visualise the impact of a specific technology. And that's where the Cuppa-Meter comes in. It's very visual meter not only lets you see how much energy is generated, but the fact that you have to pedal to generate the energy means you really feel how much energy goes into each cup. It's about 15 minutes of relatively hard cycling by the way!
Matt is now working hard on his new project Bespoke Gear, which includes the various pedal generators he has designed and manufactured. And that solar powered car kit? Well that's still in use today, most recently used by Nottingham City Council to help raise environmental awareness for primary school children.
You can read more about Bespoke Gear here.
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