# Dancing automaton powered by falling sand

By , 2010/01/31 @ 11:27 pm

Although the “look” of this dancing-girl automaton by English toymaker Ron Fuller is not personally to my taste, I could not resist the fact that it is powered by a stream of falling sand, which is a trick I’ve never seen before. Thanks to YouTuber greninmotion for the video. [via The Automata / Automaton Blog]

# How-To: Make a giant octopus

By , 2010/01/31 @ 11:13 pm

YouTuber bluworm took on the task of making a great big octopus puppet for stop-motion animation in a film by his friend Daniel LennÃ©er. Along the way he produced this informative and entertaining video describing the casting, sculpting, and armature-work that went into it, as well as showing off some of the finished animation (starting around 5:00). Besides the cool propcasting info, I gotta give it up to bluworm for his video editing chops. This is definitely one of the most watchable how-to videos I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a bunch of them. [via Propnomicon]

# How-To: Make a three-pendulum rotary harmonograph

By , 2010/01/31 @ 10:33 pm

MacArthur fellow and MIT Media Lab alumnus Karl Sims brings us this great tutorial on how to build your own complex harmonograph (Wikipedia) for making cool…um…”geometric figures?” I’m looking for a 50-cent mathematician’s word (which may or may not exist) for these periodic spirally figures. Can anybody help me out? [Thanks, David!]

# Math Monday: Morton Bradley sculpture

By , 2010/01/31 @ 9:28 pm

## Morton Bradley sculpture

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

It’s amazing what can be made from paper. These two mathematical sculptures by Morton C. Bradley are 16″ and 20″ in diameter, respectively, made from 2-ply Strathmore paper. The geometric forms are each based on twelve copies of a Kepler-Poinsot polyhedron, with twelve great dodecahedra on the left and twelve small stellated dodecahedra on the right. If you want to try putting together your own paper models, all you really need to know is that, in each case, the visible facets are isosceles triangles in which the ratio of one edge length to the other is 1.618. In the form below-left, each triangle has two equal short edges and one longer edge; at right, they have two equal longer edges and one short edge.

The originals, now at the Indiana University Art Museum, took months to painstakingly create and paint in the 1970s, but modern additive fabrication techniques can make plastic replicas of the forms in hours (see below). These three-inch models were made from nylon by selective laser sintering. If you have access to a 3D printing machine, you can make your own copies of these and other Bradley designs by downloading the STL files available here. At The Museum of Mathematics, we like the way these illustrate both the beauty of math and the notion that complex structures can be understood in terms of simpler parts.

# Briggs-Rauscher oscillating chemical reaction

By , 2010/01/31 @ 9:10 pm

Discussion about yesterday’s mercury “beating heart” reaction post got me thinking about chemical oscillators in general. Turns out, the mercury beating heart may be the only mechanically oscillating chemical reaction that anybody knows about. It’s certainly the only one I know about, and its the only one I can find on the web. But if you know of another mechanically oscillating reaction, do please drop me a comment. However……there are other oscillating chemical reactions. None of them result in mechanical action, but the cyclical color changes of, for instance, the Briggs-Rauscher reaction (shown above) are pretty cool in and of themselves. The prototype chemical oscillator is the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction (Wikipedia) which was only discovered in the 1950s. For years, no respectable journal would print reports of oscillating chemical reactions because many editors could not reconcile their understandings of thermodynamics with the notion of an oscillating reaction. Guess who had to eat crow?

Thanks to YouTuber groswilly for the above footage.

# 16-year-old's cave radio wins the 2009 International Science Fair

By , 2010/01/31 @ 6:39 pm

Alexander Kendrick’s project consists of a low-frequency radio allowing a person to send text messages from almost 1,000 feet underground. Read his fascinating story on NPR.com. [via Slashdot]

# Festo iFab in action

By , 2010/01/31 @ 6:21 pm

I know it’s just a video of a 3D printer laying down plastic, but Festo sure does a great job of showing how sexy the hardware is! I love the spool holding the plastic, and the threaded rods spinning as the extruder rises and drops.

[via the Technocratic Anarchist]

# In the Maker Shed: Detection of lead paint test kit

By , 2010/01/31 @ 5:31 pm

The Detection of lead paint test kit provides the equipment and reagents you need to perform reliable multi-step laboratory tests for detecting lead content in paints. The sulfide test, a sensitive preliminary screening test, quickly identifies paint samples that may contain lead (but may instead contain only traces of cobalt or other innocuous metals that yield a false positive with the sulfide test). Samples that test tentatively positive with sulfide reagent can subsequently be subjected to confirmatory tests with chromate and iodide reagents, each of which produces a characteristic precipitate in the presence of lead.

# Using paper airplanes to learn about flight

By , 2010/01/31 @ 8:59 am

Need a way to help the youth around you learn about flight? Try out paper airplanes! Most people know how to make a basic paper airplane, but there are other designs out there, some even claiming to be the ultimate paper airplane design. Inside the Dangerous Book for Boys is a two page section on paper airplanes with a few alternate designs you may have not tried.

Some of the concepts you’ll want to feature are lift, drag, thrust and gravity. A project with such inexpensive materials as this is also a great way to help make students aware of the design process. By using working paper models, you can also help students grasp airfoil design and theory. By adjusting their designs and making additional iterations, students can see real examples of how and why planes fly.There are some great resources for understanding flight and designs for paper airplanes. Share with us the comments how you have used airplanes in the classroom as a student and teacher.

Related:

Medicine Man Glider on Make: Projects

# Star Trek Next Generation Pinball Modifications – Trouble with Tribbles

By , 2010/01/31 @ 8:55 am

Jeri’s Star Trek Next Generation Pinball Modifications – Trouble with Tribbles. Nice!

Modifications to a Williams Star Trek Next Generation pinball. Added lasers to the cannons, custom-etched flipper bats and added animatronic tribble for replays.

The end of the video has some great tribble action.

# Another Make: Electronics lab journal

By , 2010/01/31 @ 8:03 am

We’ve posted about Jim Kelly’s online weblog, chronicling his way through our beginning book, Make: Electronics. But Jim’s not the only person taking this trip online. Ian Fitzpatrick is doing the same thing. And he’s doing video for most of the entries, giving you another way into the experiments. Nice. Many thanks, Ian.

Domo Domo, Ian Fitzpatrick’s Project’s Log: Learning Electronics

More:

In the Maker Shed:

Make: Electronics
Our Price: \$34.99
Want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun and experiential way? Start working on some excellent projects as soon as you crack open this unique, hands-on book. Build the circuits first, then learn the theory behind them! With Make: Electronics, you’ll learn all of the basic components and important principles through a series of “learn by discovery” experiments. And you don’t need to know a thing about electricity to get started.

Deluxe Make: Electronics Toolkit
Our Price: \$124.99
Do you want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun and experiential way? Not sure where to start, or what tools you might need? We’ve taken care of all the questions with our deluxe tool kit from the Maker Shed, featuring our best-selling book, Make: Electronics.

# Workshop envy!

By , 2010/01/31 @ 7:03 am

I don’t have my own workshop, just a desk in my bedroom that is more likely to have a pile of kid socks on it than an actual project. (Or, even more likely, it would have both projects and socks on it, making for a huge mess…) Consequently, I’m envious of and fascinated by other people’s setups. So, please share your workspace, workshop, desk, bench, what-have-you! Leave a URL in the comments, add a photo to the MAKE Flickr pool, or send me an email (johnb at makezine dot com) and I’ll post the most interesting ones.

(Thanks to Pat for the photo of his excellently messy workbench.)

More: