David Pettit.jpgJoin me in a well-deserved round of digital applause for our latest Member of the Month here on the element14 Community, David Pettit!


He caught our eye after whipping up some great content such as his own, relay-equipped take on one of our Halloween projects in his Assembly Part 1: Building the Foginator 2000 series of blogs, he picked up a signed copy of the BeagleBone Cookbook after completing the Tuned Up! badge, and he's made some great efforts in helping out other Community members over the last few weeks (and, indeed, months).


So thanks for all your efforts David, and now let's all get to know you a little better.




pettida: Wow!  I'm really surprised. I don't feel worthy!


element14: You are though, David. Well, you're worthy enough for us, at least So, how did you first get interested in engineering, and in electronics?

pettida: It all started with an article in Boy's Life magazine on shortwave radio listening. I was enthralled by the possibility of listening to radio stations from places around the world. My parents bought me a shortwave radio for Christmas that year and I was hooked. From there, I branched out into amateur radio. I started out as a novice when I was an 8th grader. In a little over a year I had advanced to Extra Class and learned a great deal about electronics. I enjoyed it so much that I decided early on that I wanted to make a career out of designing radios.

element14: And this prompted you to pursue an education that focused on engineering?

pettida: Indeed. I have a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and I currently work as an RF design engineer, designing circuitry for satellite communications devices. I work for a small company so I have to wear a lot of different hats including doing firmware, power supplies, and digital hardware when it's necessary. I often do my own soldering and assembling small boards by hand.


element14: Is that what brought the element14 Community to your attention?

pettida: I believe I received an email invitation once upon a time. I was a member for quite a while before I started posting. I started participating in order to take part in a RoadTest. I've always been interested in keeping up with electronics especially areas that I don't normally deal with in my everyday work. I like to have as broad a knowledge base as possible.

David Pettit 2.jpgelement14: How did the RoadTest go? Was it a positive learning experience (and fun to do)?

pettida: I enjoyed taking part in the Atmel SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra RoadTest. My project never really got off the ground due to a hardware failure (as far as I can tell). However, I learned quite a bit about the Yocto build environment for embedded Linux platforms. I think this will prove useful in my future work endeavors as embedded Linux products are gaining in popularity every day. I'll probably apply to other RoadTests as long as work and personal commitments allow me time to participate.

element14: Has being a member of the element14 Community proved beneficial in terms of building your own projects?

pettida: I believe it has been. Until the Halloween build-a-long, I hadn't done much with the Raspberry Pi. I purchased one when they first came out, but I got busy with work and my personal life and never got around to doing anything with it! The Halloween build along was a good chance for me to get involved in the Community, learn more about the Raspberry Pi, and even improve my communications skills.

element14: Are there any projects you're working on right now, or thinking about starting, that you can tell us about?

pettida: I'm working on a project called the Robot Astronomer which has been very interesting and challenging. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to work on it as much as I'd like. My dream for a very long time has been to design and build my own custom multi-band HAM radio transceiver. I hope to get a chance to make it a reality some day.

element14: What advice would you give to someone who's new to the maker scene, and to the element14 Community?

pettida: Don't be afraid to ask questions, there are quite a few knowledgeable people here who can provide good feedback and help you make your project successful.  Also, don't be discouraged by failures.  Treat them as learning experiences and you will be better for it.