JJ Dasher works as an eBay seller, selling items that have been lost in shipping. But on the side, Dasher is a self-taught tinkerer, and has been taking things apart and inventing gadgets for most of his life. To view a short documentary on Dasher, visit HalfCutTea.com/videos/jj-dasher, and to see some of Dasher’s projects—including a giant Tesla coil—visit YouTube.com/RedRum0381.
What was your first project?
When I was really little, I used to tear apart all of my toys. And when I got a little older, I figured out how to put them back together. And then as I got older, I started building go-karts and things like that, fixing motorcycles. My dad had a motorcycle-repair shop, so I learned a lot from him.
What’s a time when something has gone horribly wrong?
I have definitely electrocuted myself several times. I built a Jacob’s Ladder—there’s two metal poles, and the light goes “nyer, nyer” between them. You see them in Frankenstein movies and stuff like that. I built one for a science fair in junior high, and I managed to electrocute myself with that, in front of a huge crowd, and screamed at the top of my lungs. I had burns on my hands—it’s like 9,000 volts. I learned my lesson.
Do you think technology is too easy these days?
Back in the day, people used to repair things. People don’t anymore—if a TV breaks, they throw it out and get another one. And they also build stuff now so it’s harder to repair—they put locking screws to make it more difficult to work on—especially phones and things like that. But I really think that today, technology is too easy, too accessible.
Is it just a hobby, or does it improve your life?
Well, what I do now, with freight-recovery goods, a lot of it is damaged or broken, and I’ll repair it and resell it. So, I can make money repairing things.
Any big projects in the works?
Right this moment, it’s not really a big project—it’s a small one—I’m working on an automated dog door that only works for my dog, because my son keeps trying to go out the dog door. The dog will wear an electronic tag so that when she gets close to the door, it’ll open and close for her.
Do you want to have the next big invention?
I’m not really looking to invent stuff to make money. I like to tinker; that’s just what I do.
Do you think we’ll see any more life-changing inventions, or has everything been tapped out?
I think we’ll see it occasionally but not as much as during, like, the industrial revolution, when people were coming up with all sorts of neat stuff. I think, and I hope, that we’ll continue to advance, and discover new and amazing things.