The 4th and 5th grade students at Honey Creek Community School in Washtenaw County, Michigan made vibrobots as part of their Design & Technology curriculum. The looks of pride on these kids’ faces are amazing. Vibrobots are a great project for kids this age (kids of any age, really) ’cause they’re easy enough for anyone to build, but just mechanically and electrically involved enough to give you that joy-of-making sense of accomplishment.
Those inspired crazies at Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, built a giant, working coding cryptex. The device was built for a demo at the RSA Conference, held at the Mascone Center in SF, in April. Now the pair is auctioning it off on eBay. Proceeds from the sale will go to the EFF.
Expected to debut during the Adobe MAX developer conference, Flash Player 10 is geared to bring it’s widely popular media distribution format to a large selection of smartphone systems. According to a recent earnings call Adobe will be releasing Flash Player 10 for Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile and WebOS this October.
My latest guilty SkyMall pleasure is this “Moloniki” transparent polycarbonate canoe by Clear Blue Hawaii. It’s 13′ long, 3′ wide amidships, and almost 1′ deep, and the polycarb is UV-stabilized to prevent sun-yellowing. Of course it looks cool, but what is really attractive, to me, is the prospect of being able to see what’s going on underwater beneath you. The price, unsurprisingly, is prohibitive: $1600 new.
Ouch. I can’t justify that. Especially since the lip-syncing scandal tanked sales of my album.
So, as usually happens sooner or later, my thoughts have turned to making my own more accessible version. And, as I’ve learned by many embarrassing experiences, the first step of any new design project is researching what people have done before. There isn’t much out there, but after googling around for awhile I finally hit on it with “plexiglass boat.”
These pictures are from a fairly anonymous Picassa album belonging to “Shadicus.” If you know anything more about this boat or its builders, feel free to drop me a line. From what I can tell, this craft, which took first place in a “junk boat” contest, has a hull made of scrap polycarbonate sheet. It’s not great looking, and one of the captions mentions that “it takes on a little water.” Still, it’s a starting point: The Thing Can Be Done. And obviously it didn’t cost much.
Now, having wiled away the better part of a day building boats in my brain, I have my own fairly well-developed ideas about how it might be done. But I want to hear yours. So make with the comments, folks: How do we do this?
From the pages of MAKE:
Totch Brown’s Pit Gator Boat from MAKE 06 might be a good starting point.
Steampunk devote slickshughes can only wear his goggles on his head because of his glasses, so he spruced up his forehead-only pair with some LEDs. Reminds me of The Fly.
We are proud of our friend and colleague, Thomas Zimmerman, who was honored today as California’s Volunteer of the Year.
Tom, who has written a half dozen terrific how-to articles for MAKE (including an electronic drum kit, a lensless microscope, a simple way to interconnect protoboards, a one-string electric guitar from plastic tubing, a TV-to-synth interface, and a wireless remote control camera on wheels) was given the award by California First Lady Maria Shriver.
“I even got to speak a little German with Arnold during our photo op,” says Tom. “Mrs. Hoffer, my 7th grade German teacher, would be proud.”
Zimmerman has been bringing his hands-on approach to volunteerism to local schools for more than seven years, with specific focus on low-income, non-native English speaking students. Together, Zimmerman and the students have built circuits and devices, an electric guitar and drum kit out of plastic pipe, a microscope with no lens, and a mini Mars rover, among many other things. Many of these projects have been published in MAKE, a magazine for do-it-yourself enthusiasts.
After receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation, Zimmerman formalized his activities into a curriculum at the Latino College Preparatory Academy (LCPA), a public charter high school in East San Jose run by the National Hispanic University. Over one hundred students have participated in this two-year program that combines extreme activities with science and includes a summer camp.
Tom, we salute you. You’re an inspiration to us all.
Saw a piece on the news last night about the increase in urban chicken coops. Here’s one quick n’ dirty way of creating a coop for your birds. Just make sure some wiseguy doesn’t plug it in to see if it still works.
Gijs Gieskes introduces another intriguing musical machine, the opto-sensing multi-armed Servo Seq -
The frequency circles speed can be set with a pot on the controller.
The arms can be sequenced with the three buttons on the controller, in combination with the joystick.. If the joystick is moved up, the volume will go up for the arm that is being controlled. Moving the joystick left and right will change the position of the arm.
On the tip of the arm there is a line detector, that plays back the frequencys, but the arms can also hit objects placed next to the circle to make drum sounds.
The Seq’s brain consists of an ATMega168 configured as an Arduino compatible – more info, code and even a web app for generating compatible disc patterns are all available on the relevant project page. [via Create Digital Music]
George Pendle wrote the highly-recommended Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, the biography of rocket pioneer Jack Parsons (whom I profiled in MAKE, Volume 13). In Saturday’s Financial Times, George writes about the Materials Library at King’s College, London.
Deep in the bowels of a brutalist concrete building on the Strand, long shelves are packed – crammed, really – with some of the world’s strangest substances, from the past, present and sometimes, it seems, the future. Take Aerogel: the world’s lightest solid consists of 99.8 per cent air and looks like a vague, hazy mass. And yet despite its insubstantial nature, it is remarkably strong; and because of its ability to nullify convection, conduction and radiation, it also happens to be the best insulator in the world. Sitting next to the Aerogel is its thermal opposite, a piece of aluminium nitride, which is such an effective conductor of heat that if you grasp a blunt wafer of it in your hand, the warmth of your body alone allows it to cut through ice. Nearby are panes of glass that clean themselves, metal that remembers the last shape it was twisted into, and a thin tube of Tin Stick which, when bent, emits a sound like a human cry. There’s a tub of totally inert fluorocarbon liquid into which any electronic device can be placed and continue to function. The same liquid has been used to replace the blood in lab rats, which also, oddly enough, continue to function.
knuckles904 writes [by way of adafruit]:
Ok so I, after much research, have been able to read the gyro data of the new Wii Motion Plus peripheral with the Arduino microcontroller. With this code and the code previously developed for the Wii Nunchuck, we are able to create a 6 DOF IMU for under $40. Thanks Nintendo! Best of all, everything is I2C so only 2 analog inputs (A4 and A5 needed for the wire library) are needed to read 6 sensors and no ADC conversion happens on the Arduino board.
Tarver’s instrument is unique to say the least. I recently spent some time with him to witness his invention first-hand and was taken aback. High above his loft, entangled into the foundation, sits his creation. It is a beautiful expression of do-it-yourself ingenuity that is one part concrete and two parts found objects. The interlocking elements and nautical details distinguish its custom look and feel. Tarver’s ability to reconcile the geometry of its construction proves necessary in achieving musical harmony. Witnessing the instrument being played can only be described as extraordinary.
Tarver, details the precision involved in achieving the sublime resonance which bellows from the instrument:
The main beam was built up with a pair of 2×8′s glued together at the outside edge, blocking a short way in along the joists, a 3/8″ plywood stress-skin bottom, and concrete fill in the cells. The platform is not supported with any post(s) from the ground, but rather suspended from the I-beam in the ceiling with the 2-inch square hollow steel bar. The steel post terminates in a concrete finial which supports eight steel wires that go from corner to corner. The rings which anchor the wires are supported with railway spikes.
A big thank you to all those involved. Check out the rest of the photos on Flickr.
Randy Sarafan writes:
Standard fuzz pedals were just not fuzzy enough for me. Only the fuzziest fuzz pedal was going to be suitable for my musical endeavors. I searched high and low for the fuzziest fuzz pedal in the land, but I couldn’t find it. Finally, I resolved that if I wanted a fuzzy fuzz pedal, I was going to have make my own. After much careful analysis and planing, I can confidently say that I have made the fuzziest guitar fuzz pedal ever to grace this planet Earth. If that’s not enough to wet your whistle, it’s squishy too.