“Widgets are great–there is no denying it. Arranging these small, lightweight utilities on your Mac OS X Dashboard desktop puts lots of useful and fun possibilities at your fingertips and eyeballs. But when a widget you want doesn’t exist, there is only one thing to do: make it.” Here’s our how-to on making a RSS widget for Mac OS X (other PC/Mac widgets coming soon) and here’s a direct download on Apple! Link.
Mike Smyth makes these incredible compressed air engines. On his site, he has photos and information on the V-twin and radial air engines he designed and constructed. The videos give you a good idea of how they work. His homepage also has his walking robots project to check out. Thanks B45man! Link.
Turn your optical mouse into a scanner! Erik writes: “A Maker posted his project on a very large Dutch forum, after he read some datasheets of the sensor in his optical mouse. He wrote a application in VB for reading the sensors outputs, so he can use the sensor like a hand scanner. The software is available on the site and works on mice which use an ADNS-2610 optical sensor, recognisable by the eight pins, the sun-like mark and the text ‘A2610′.” Link.
Peter writes “Here’s a Haile, a robotic drummer that responds intelligently to your playing with an expressive performance on a Native American Pow-wow drum. They’re set to create a Jewish-Arab drum circle composition featuring the robot commissioned for performance in Jerusalem.” Here’s how they did it. Link.
Paul writes “If you’re anything like me, you just spent your last bit of cash on a wicked gaming mouse and didn’t leave any money for a mouse pad. Typically you would just game without one, but over time those teflon feet on your mouse will fill with gunk, get scratched up and your mouse won’t glide as smoothly as it did in its infancy. Enter the waxpaper mouse pad. For the cost of pretty much nothing, you can have the smoothest gliding mouse/mouse pad combo known to man. Let’s begin the fabrication…” Link.
Snowmobile fuel gauges are hard to read in the dark. Glen adds a green LED to his Arctic Cat Firecat to illuminate the mechanical gauge at night. “The Arctic Cat Firecats have a simple mechanical fuel level gauge mounting in the top of the fuel tank. The problem is that when you are driving around at night, there is no illumination on the gauge so it can’t be seen. After nearly running out of fuel one night, I decided I needed to come up with something better than carrying a flashlight in my pocket to check the fuel level.” Thanks Glen! Link.
Here’s a fairly old how to, but a good one that could be handy for new projects. If you have a Cisco Aironet card, or want to score a cheap one on eBay to hack up to add an external antenna here’s how. Link.
Badger writes “This holiday season my lovely lady wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Since my hobby is hard to buy for, we often have these conversations. One of the things I had mentioned was a 8â€³ Slow Speed Grinder I had seen at Woodcraft (on sale no less) for sharpening lathe chisels. Something I haven’t really mastered the art of yet, but it’s hard to get good results on 80 grit 6â€³ grinder wheel.” Here’s how he made a lathe tool sharpening jig…Link.
Simon made a simple iPod dock for his iPod nano using all the parts it came with. On the Flickr photo set he posted it shows making a hole in the desk, modding the connector cable and securing it flush on the desk. I go through too many devices to settle on one music player, but boy, this would make the desk less cluttered. Link.
This is a trend I think we’ll see over and over again this year with phones and the music stores carriers are going to roll out – the slow death of MP3 playback on phones, or having to have a Windows PC and Media player 10 to convert to WMA before your phone can play your music. Techdirt has a story about Verizon phones that will no longer play MP3s one upgraded to use their new music store, if customers complain they’ll get an old refurbished phone with older firmware, but it doesn’t appear that the user is warned before updating that they’ll lose their MP3 playing feature. [via] Link. (and more details here).
Peter writes “In response to the earlier post, I’ve heard back from people who are using circuit simulation software to create highly accurate models of physical circuitry in software. The folks at Audio Damage use the free SPICE model and software to produce audio/music plug-ins like an upcoming bi-phase effects pedal model. That’s not the only geeky tool out there that’s useful for music: an add-on for MatLab lets you visualize MIDI music files.” Link.
Holly writes: “Step by step instructions on making a batch of hard apple cider, from picking fruit through bottling and adding letterpressed labels.” Link. You can also see a very complete Flickr photo set here of making your own hard cider. Link.