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9th grade student Sidharta “Sid” Vadaparty was dissatisfied with the accelerometer available in his high school physics class. He decided to make his own “portable, affordable and mod-able” version. With his bright mind, supportive father and a little help from NextFab, the open source Kinemeter was born. Here we profile Sid and his exciting new project.

Sidharta Vadaparty’s “GearsNGenes” YouTube demo of the Kinemeter

Sid’s father Kumar Vadaparty went to great lengths to be sure that Sid had access to the tools that he needed to build his project, an Arduino-controlled accelerometer dubbed the “Kinemeter.” Sid’s open-source, easily built and inexpensive tool makes accelerometers accessible to schools and organizations that may not otherwise be able to afford them. Kumar and Sid explain Sid’s interest in science and the genesis of his curiousity:

When Sidharta (Sid) was about 4 years old or so, he would incessantly watch dinosaur movies and tell all of us about them (which could be typical of many children). But then it transcended into giving us walking lectures in the Museum of Natural History (NYC). The specific day when I recognized is when he corrected my stating that a certain dinosaur far away was a T-Rex to be instead, an allosaurus — from 100 feet away. When I asked how he knew, his answer is “Well, everyone knows Allosaurus has 3 fingers and T-Rex has 2 fingers”. I did not know what an allosaurus was…but looked it up and he was right. Perhaps also a typical behavior, but then I decided to provide whatever he needs to have for learning science.

If you define science as the investigation of how and why things work, I would say that was a natural aspect of me rather than an interest. For how long? I would have to say for as long as I could consciously remember having an interest in dinosaurs which earliest I can recall was when I was 3 turning 4.

Discovering NextFab

Kumar wanted to support his son’s interest and was willing to go to great lenghts to do so. Living in Princeton, NJ, he didn’t have access to a local maker space, but he knew that he wanted to give Sid access to hands-on engineering. After travelling to Washington, DC and Pittsburg, he discovered NextFab in Philadelphia. NextFab wasn’t exactly in the neighborhood, but it was close enough for weekly visits and by taking advantage of a flexible membership plan, it proved to be an excellent resource.

When I got Sidharta to train on Laser Cutter and 3-D printer, we had no idea what he would do with them… projects came later…skills first — that’s at least how it happened for us. I want him to train on solidworks and cartooning (He spends awful time writing a new cartoon book on “Life in the black hole” — don’t ask). The people at NextFab are terrific.

Close up of Kinemeter accelerometer
Vadaparty’s Kinemeter, photo courtesy of Sidharta Vadaparty

The Spark

Sid’s introduction to maker level engineering and equipment access at NextFab provided a foundation to achieve his project goals, but required the spark of his intellect to reach the next level:

The killer point we needed was a way of measuring instantaneous velocity. Since measuring the velocities at the site of the sensors gave us inconsistent results, we needed another solution. One day, while we were going to NextFab, I was thinking:

Since the Kinemeter will be used for measuring constant acceleration scenarios (e.g., falling objects, objects on the ramp), we could use average velocities to obtain instantaneous velocities. I know it sounds unintuitive. Please see: In the Part 1 of my instructables on the KINEMETER, I described an idea, stating that average velocities are instantaneous velocities at 1/2 delta t.

This. Was. Huge. When I told my dad this idea, boy, you should have seen him. He was driving so he did not show much emotion, but he said that if my idea was correct (it was), then that would be immensely helpful. That would be the nail and the hammer, the killer. When we tested this idea later, WOW, were we excited!


In addition to encouraging his son and supervising his work at NextFab (a requirement for junior members) Kumar assisted in other ways, including the coding required for the Arduino controller and enabling Bluetooth compatibility. NextFab’s Walt Barger, Manager of 3D and Laser Processes assisted with the structural work which is comprised of laser cut acrylic.


Having conceived of the idea, designing it, protoyping the design and testing it, Sid is ready to share his work with others, promoting it as open source and sharing it through Instructables, so that others can benefit from and improve upon his work.

I am at the last stage of the scientific method: communicate the results. So, that is why I am showing exactly how to make a small version of the kinemeter (the Kinemini) on instructables. The idea is that the proccess is divided into three parts: first explaining how it can measure acceleration, next showing how to construct the kinemeter’s body, and last show how to build the circuitry, tying it all together.

Kinemeter Instructable Pt. 1

Kinemeter Instructable Pt. 2

What’s Next?


As for its long term future, I hope that the kinemeter becomes the go to tool for students to have access to when performing physics experiments. This year, my teacher and I are hoping to write the Kinemeter into the school curriculum.

I hope it is not only me that will be contributing to the innovation of the physics lab. Being a maker means that you need to get others to follow your lead and help modify their surroundings in their own ways.

Interested in family and junior memberships?