For thirty years an electronics and software engineer. Now of independent means. I use this for sounds, photography, travel but also about engineering on my own terms.

What’s an independent engineer when it’s at home?

It’s all to do with the independent means. The world Is a fascinating place to travel and explore and spend time with people who matter to me, and to explore inner worlds. I did list myself as retired on LinkedIn but it didn’t really turn out that way, because I still ended up doing some engineering – just one interesting project at a time on my terms rather than for an employer. Since leaving employment in 2012 I’ve built remote sensor networks, run PA for the teachers, established remote cameras on pigs to make sure they behave, learned how to mix in key, and done a couple of crowdfunding campaigns.

The world’s an interesting place. And every so often in needs independent engineers to make it work a bit better or to break out and do new stuff.

What sort of engineering do you do?

Mainly electronics and coding, because these skills are still useful in real life after working. They enable me to make things happen that otherwise couldn’t, get information that would be hard to get otherwise. It’s good to be a generalist again, and to apply these things in the real world where I am in control of the variables. Do I miss having the resources of a big company behind me – sometimes. There are limits on time and resources. But the freedom to follow my own interests in my own way far outweigh that!

Sounds lovely. How do you get to do that?

Shoot the demon of consumerism. Take a leaf from Wilkins Micawber and live below your means – spend less than you earn, after working for a few decades that adds up.

I have a use for something I have read here. Do you do consultancy?

Yes, if the project is interesting, and it’s worth my while. I’m happy to discuss proposals. It’s important to me to be able to add value, and being of independent means I don’t have to pretend to add value if I can’t. If I add value that is worth paying for.

Nowadays I specialise in being a generalist – it is systems integration and being able to apply disparate technologies to solve individual problems through my knowledge of engineering. I’ve covered a wide range of things in a long career – video, electronics, RF design, cable TV, microcontrollers, single board computers, using off-grid power, web design and programming, audio and video recording. At a guess I’ve got more to offer a local SME trying to solve problems with a range of technology that someone looking for a specialist in any of the things I’ve done, but I wouldn’t preclude designing and rigging analogue CATV (used in London 2012 for some uses because of its very low temporal latency). All a project has to do is be something where I can add value, interest me and be worth my while.

What a strange way to pitch for work?

I’m not hustling for it 🙂 The world would be a much better place if we base things on mutual benefit rather than one side being a supplicant. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s nuts to turn down interesting projects because I don’t need work, but I still value my time.

That’s what being of independent means does for a fellow. As summed up in a naive and American way by this 1963 ad 🙂