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Iva Jankovic
February 9, 2015

Meet Øyvind Dahl

True creator, inventor, entrepreneur, writer and a teacher! All of this in one young professional that goes under the name Øyvind Dahl! Dive into the interview and hopefully it will be inspiring and fun, as it was for me conducting it!

Your father was an engineer, how much has he inspired you to start exploring in electronics?

Because my father was interested in technology, I grew up with computers from an early age. My father always liked to build stuff, and he had created a huge workshop in the basement of our house, with tools for building stuff. And I remember that I loved going down in the workshop in the weekends to work on some project. In the beginning, it was mostly projects with wood, but as I grew older I got more and more curious about electronics. And I usually asked my dad questions like how it is possible to make a light blink. And because of the simple explanations he gave me, I was able to understand it and got inspired to learn more.

How old were you when you built your first Electronic Circuit with the blinking light? What were your thoughts and plans afterwards?

I was around 13 or 14 I think. It was just incredible to be able to do that on my own. It was like a new world had opened up to me and I felt like anything was possible. At that time, I didin't make any big plans for the future, it was more just an amazing feeling that made me want to learn more.

Together with your partner Elias, straight out of University, you founded Intelligent Agent, a company that developed radar sensors. Was the idea around before you managed to do it?

We started that company without any idea of what to do. We loved technology, and wanted to do something fun with electronics. The idea of the radar sensor is something we kind of just stumbled upon. And I had been studying radar technology in my master thesis, so when that opportunity arised, we jumped on it.

How long did it take you two to formulate the idea of a radar sensor through the prototyping process and then to the final product?

We manged to get a prototype working really fast. Sometimes we would get an idea for how to use our technology, and have a simple prototype up and running just a few hours later. That was one of our strengths. And we had alot of fun building prototypes. In the beginning we usually worked for the whole week from monday to sunday, morning till night – because we loved building things.

But because we didn't have a clear idea of who our customer were and what market to serve, the final product took some time. And it eventually failed.

After that, we started developing electronics for 3D printers. Like the award-winning Replicape and a really cool mini-screen that is about to finish a very successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter right now.

But now, it's mostly my partner Elias who is doing everything in Intelligent Agent, and I have started to focus on teaching electronics instead.

Through your website Build-Electronic-Circuits you have been providing free tutorials on how to build electronics. What was your drive to offer this kind of service?

When I studied electronics, I learned a lot of theory, but we didn't actually build much electronics. But I have found through my own experience and from talking with other people that has built cool stuff, that to build cool things with electronics, you need to actually build things, you can't just learn the theory. So I started the page to teach and inspire people to get started building things.

You are a passionate instructor, have you always had the desire to teach and share or is that something that just came naturally?

It think it comes from the «Aha!»-moments I got when my dad taught me stuff. I just loved the feeling of really understanding something. Not just memorising a definition of something, but to be able to see it inside my head how it works. But I don't feel like I have had a desire to teach necessarily – it's more that I'm just so excited about these things that I just need to share it. And now suddenly, I guess I am a teacher of some sort :)

Getting started with Electronics is the title of your book, which is available for purchase here. What was the reason to write it?

I asked my readers what they were struggling with. And a lot of people said that they were really interested in electronics, but they just didn't know where to start. So I decided to write a practical guide on how to get started building electronics. And people loved it :)

What makes your manual so easy to read and understand compared to other books on the market?

I think it's because of my background. A lot of the electronics books out there are written by retired electronics engineers. They tend to be very serious and use complex language. And some tend to be focused on showing of how knowledgable the author is, instead of focusing on the reader and what the reader really needs to know at a beginning stage.

I aim to give the reader «Aha»-moments and to explain things in a simple way. And I try to push the reader to start building things right from the start.

Do you have a long term idea of an project you wish or dream to build?

My mission is to teach the world how to build electronics. So my long term project is based around creating something huge online that I can use to reach a lot of people.

When it comes to electronics projects, I am building a mini quadcopter/drone at the moment. I want to include some cool and fun features on it, so that I can use it to inspire people to build other cool things. 

Recently you moved to Berlin and I am very pleased to say you are a part of betahaus Community as a course holder and a maker in our new Hardware.co Lab. How do you perceive the Hardware community here in Berlin?

I really love the things that are going on in Berlin when it comes to hardware. There are so many things going on. Almost every week I see some meetups posted online where like-minded people come together to share ideas or work on projects.

And with the new Hardware.co lab at the betahaus, I think a lot more things will start to happen and that we will see many more hardware-based startups coming to life.

You will be holding a Workshop Introduction to Hardware Lab and a Course Build Your Electronic Gadgets here with betahaus I Education. Could you explain the main difference and the outcomes for each of them?

The introduction course is an introduction. So it's open to anyone who is curious about building things with electronics. Here the participants will learn some of the basics of electronics, build a  fun little circuit and learn to use the equipment in the lab.

The Electronic Gadget course is more a bit more hardcore, with a steeper learning curve. Here we learn to build things that are more interactive. We'll build some circuits using sensors, speakers, lights and buttons. And we will code. We'll learn how we can connect the thing you have built with the Internet. And we will design circuit boards and learn the tricks to get them made professionally for just a dollar per board.

Last thing, if you would be stuck on an island without any electronics, how would you entertain yourself?

Ohhh... Tough one. Actually you can create a battery out of a lemon. So I'm gonna assume there are some lemon trees on this island and build myself a battery. Then I will go from there and see what else I will be able to make out of the things I find on the island. Yeah, I think you would see me going around the island and building things. I would definitely build myself a house on the beach.

Oyvind-highres

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