ThinkGeek is now selling “Wire Glue,” a conductive adhesive made with micro-carbons. They’re selling a .3 oz bottle for $4. I like what BotJunkie said about it:
It looks like a neat product, and I’m sure it works well, but if you’re thinking of getting this rather than learning how to solder… You should just learn how to solder. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and you get to melt metal and make stuff. Give it a shot, and then after you burn yourself, you can go ahead and buy the glue without feeling guilty.
This was posted to the MAKE Forums and I thought I’d repost it here:
We need to create a revamped “Cooper Rand” which is a speech device for those who have had throat cancer or other larynx related illness. This device needs to be wireless. Is anyone interested in sharing wireless technology ideas?
Limor and Phil are up to plenty of good over at Adafruit Industries, where they’re working on controlling a hotplate for soldering circuit boards. Check out the video of Limor demonstrating how the laser-cut wheel and servo controls the temperature knob for the hotplate.
On this week’s Make: Talk, we’ll be chatting with John Edgar Park, host of the Makers Workshop segment of Make: television. John will be talking to us about the show and about his articles in MAKE, especially the Florence Siphon Coffee Brewer from Volume 17. John is also a “character mechanic” for Disney and was responsible for the hamster physics in the movie Bolt. Character mechanic? Hamster physics? And I thought I had a cool job!
Mark is on the road this week, so Dale and I will be joined in the virtual studio by Keith Hammond, MAKE magazine’s Copy Chief and our liaison with Make: television. Be sure to call in to talk with us and for prizes that we’ll be giving away during the show!
What are the reasons we see light bulbs made up of lots of small LED’s instead of one large LED?
As Collin showed us in his excellent video about the subject, LEDs pass electricity through “dies,” or little chips cut from a larger wafer of semiconductor; there is just a small active area that’s actually lighting up, which is then reflected out in the desired direction. Engineers try to make the most efficient LED possible, which is linked to the size of this semiconductor as well as the heat it puts out, among other things. There is such a thing as a multi-die package, which puts more than one piece of semiconductor inside the same plastic casing. My favorite electrical engineer, Matt Mets, found me this interesting article comparing the efficiencies of single-die and multi-die packages for LEDs. Essentially, the maximum usable size of the semiconductor is limited, and there’s a limit to how many you can cram into one lens before the thing generates too much heat. On the practical side of your question, the market is just now seeing a boom in these “bulbs” containing many LEDs, like the one pictured above (image from Treehugger). The product designers for these things are buying off-the-shelf components and putting them together into a product, not engineering new LEDs… yet. We’re able to see a massive reduction in energy consumption with these LED bulbs when compared to incandescents, so the demand for an even more efficient model (perhaps using multi-die LEDs) hasn’t quite caught up to us yet. The takeaway: bigger isn’t always brighter!
Young maker Justis writes in:
I’ve just started out in electronics and I want to make some cool stuff! but alas, being a kid and all, I don’t have much time to bike to radioshack every time I need a resistor. How do you recommend I start gleaning things for projects?
Simple: you’ve got to build up a stash! Components aren’t that expensive, especially resistors. I’d recommend asking family members for gift certificates to Sparkfun, the Maker Shed, and even Amazon, which all carry excellent components and kits, and they’ll mail them right to you, no bike-riding required (work with your parents to ensure you’re buying form a reputable site). If you come across older devices at the thrift store, like VCRs and the like, they often contain full-size (not surface-mount) components that you can remove while you practice your de-soldering skills. When I was a kid, I was really into baking, so for every gift-giving holiday, I’d ask for a different item that I couldn’t afford myself, namely a stand mixer. If you make a wish list for those who might shop for you, include web addresses for particular products to ensure your non-savvy relatives get you the things you really want. To start with, I’d highly recommend the DIY Design Electronics Kit by Sparkle Labs. It comes with a great starter assortment of many different types of components in common varieties, so you won’t have to ride over to RadioShack quite so often. Show us what you make!
If you have additional advice for Tim or Justis, leave it in the comments! And if you have a question for MAKE about a project you’re working on, concept you’re trying to understand, or anything else related to the complicated life of makers, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (or record a video, tweet at us, etc.).
Joe Grand is always getting into something interesting. He’s been a contributor to the pages of MAKE since our very first issue. The man lives the MAKE ethos for sure: “Hardware hacking is, to me, a perfect example of ‘anti-establishment’. Make a product do something it was never intended to do, add a personal touch, and make it your own. Not just buying a product and using it as is (which is what The Man wants you to do!).”
In Volume 01, he broke down the basics with a Primer on soldering and desoldering. Then, in Volume 02, he gave us one of the longest projects we’ve ever run: coming in at a whopping 35 pages, “Retro Game Heaven: The Atari 2600 PC” shows you how to cram a full-featured PC system into an Atari 2600 video game case. Just so you can get a glimpse, here’s a window into the project in our Digital Edition and some pics:
Also in Volume 02, Joe taught us how to add a power switch to an external drive. In Volume 03, he offered up the basics of reading and drawing schematics for folks just getting started. He also had articles in Volume 05 (building your own satellite dish mast), 06 (building a kit to read radio frequency ID tags), 08 (a chat with Ralph Baer), and 10 (voltage, current, and resistance broken down).
We checked in with Joe to see how he’s been spending his days and he wrote:
“I’ve been very busy lately. Let’s see. Here’s a partial list
I finished filming a season of thirteen episodes of Prototype This, an engineering show for Discovery Channel. That was a great way to introduce/show off engineering to the masses. It was a very interesting experience and ended up turning a lot of viewers on to the fun side of engineering, which was a nice surprise.”
“My backup unit (Ben) was born in October and is well on his way to becoming a young hacker. He’s a lot of fun “
[Yes, folks, Ben maybe a baby, but he has his own blog!]
“I’ve started Kingpin Empire, a project that gives back to the computer underground, technology, and health communities through charitable donations. In 2008, we donated just under $2,500 to the EFF, ACLU, Hackers for Charity, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association! I know we can do better, even in this tough economy, so I’m hoping to get the message/cause spread far and wide.
I’m currently working on the DEFCON 17 badge for DEFCON. It’s the 4th year in a row that I’ve had the honor of designing the conference badge as an active, artistic electronic device. Previous years’ [14, 15, and16] work here:”
“I’m also working on some still-in-stealth-mode hobbyist electronic gadgets and getting back to my roots with some security analysis of hardware infrastructure. I’ll go public with this stuff when it’s ready.”
Our pals at Adafruit have released kits for their most awesome Tweet-a-Watt, a kit that turns a lonely Kill-a-Watt power meter into a Twittering energy-usage reporter. Now you can tweet your ravenous power hunger to the entire world!
The Tweet-a-Watt Starter Kit, with everything you need to create one outlet monitor (minus the Kill-a-Watt unit), costs $90. Additional Add-on outlet kits sell for $40. We should have Tweet-a-Watt kits in the Maker Shed soon and will let you know as soon as we do.
How to make your own Tweet-a-Watt will also be one of the major projects in MAKE, Volume 18, so stay tuned for that.
I really like this project by Joshua McGinnis. It uses an Arduino and ultra sonic sensor to keep track of the distance the user is from the computer. Then it calculates the size of the font and background color based on that distance. Oh, and it will twitter that distance too! Nice touch!
Arduino & sonar returns your distance away from the computer and it is displayed on the screen. the farther away you are from the computer the larger the text and the greener the screen. the closer you are, the smaller the text and the redder the screen. get within 5 inches and a buzzer alarms. distance is twittered.
UK subscriber John Honniball sent us a link to a piece on the BBC’s site, with videos, about the recent Maker Faire Newcastle and the maker movement in general. I like the title: “We are all makers and hackers:”
And it is this urge to control that is among the most important parts of the maker movement, said Mr Frauenfelder.
“Western culture has forgotten that our hands have this full range of motion and ability to do things rather than just pressing game controller buttons and tap on a keyboard,” he said.
“You gain a great sense of self-efficacy once you master things,” he said. “It gives you confidence in other related areas and it builds upon itself.
“This is what we are evolved to do.”
John Honniball himself is in the video piece, talking about his retro-computers (the Compukit UK101 from 1979). Way to go, John!
One aspect of Make: Outreach that we’re particularly excited about is the Project Pack. As those of you in the maker community know, MAKE magazine and Make: television celebrate the do-it-yourself approach towards technology, and events like Maker Faire and Make: Day present a means of engaging with others interested in doing the same.
But chances are you know someone who looks at all things DIY as unfamiliar, or even daunting and intimidating. This is where the Project Pack comes in handy. You can find it, along with the Outreach Toolkit, by clicking on the Outreach Tools tab at the top of the Make: Outreach website.
The Project Pack is a PDF file containing full instructions for four simple, cost-effective projects, each inspired by a project featured in Make: television’s Maker Workshop, and perfect for incorporating the MAKE message into everyday situations.
If you were a fan of the Mini Robots that John Park built in the Maker Workshop on Episode 108 of Make: television, but want to start at the basics of robotics and circuitry, check out the instructions for a Simple Motor.
All of these projects were designed with the idea that DIY is an empowering process, which will encourage the maker spirit in both experienced makers and those who are building these projects for the first time. Strong partnerships make for great outreach, and the Project Pack is perfect for instructing and inspiring participation in creative activities.