Radio whiz Greg Charvat just published this video showing off a very cool experiment with the low-cost coffee can radar system he and co-workers developed, in the fall of 2010, for MIT’s open courseware initiative.
In the video, Greg describes and demonstrates a simple circuit that causes a red/green LED on the receiving antenna to glow one color when the amplitude of the received wave is positive, and another when it is negative. Moving the LED back and forth in front of the transmitter, while taking a long-exposure photograph, gives a visual map of the wavefront in space. Impressive! [Thanks, Greg!]
- How-To: Coffee Can Radar
- How-To: Build a synthetic aperture radar from $240 worth of junk
- PARTS radio perfect for apocalypse readiness
The Opena case is the brainchild of Melbourne area makers Robert Ward and Chris Peters. Besides protecting your handset from the occasional ding, it’s also handy with liberating the contents of bottled beverages.
Just because your device doesn’t do what you want it to, doesn’t mean you should give up and accept what is handed to you. This N900 game controller from Polish maker Emeryth is a shining example of modifying technology to suit your needs. Plugging directly into the device’s USB port and controlled by an ATmega8A microcontroller, this one-off adds an analog stick and six buttons, which is perfect for playing emulated games on the workhorse handset. [via engadget]
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the opening of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, a consortium of San Francisco Bay Area arts organizations have announced a campaign to fund an enormous LED light installation that will run abstract, glittery animations across the vertical cables of the West Span of the bridge.
Proposed by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights project will be a grid of 25,000 white LEDs spaced every foot on the suspension cables. “Each node will be individually addressable…each single pixel is controllable but working as a group to create an overall effect,” says Villareal.
Villareal has developed custom software and utilized Max/MSP/Jitter to get to a place of nuanced, three-layer control of the grid — something akin to video mixing. “It’s a long a process of making these discoveries, layering, refining; it becomes kind of like painting.
A graduate of ITP at NYIU, Villareal used to make his own LED boards and sequencers — when he was working with a microcontroller and 16 lights. Now Villareal leverages commercially available Phillips hardware, but is deep into designing custom enclosures that could secure and protect the Bay Lights grid over its two-year lifespan.
Villareal has authored other fairly massive LED projects (witness his permanent 200′ interior installation in DC at the National Gallery of Art, or his recent Tampa Museum building facade project), but the Bay Bridge project would be his largest public artwork yet. To give you an idea of scale: the Bay Lights are 7x the scale of the hugely successful light array that was installed on the Eiffel Tower.
In a video interview about The Bay Lights, Villareal speaks of his interest in seeing how the installation could transform the vast landscape of San Francisco Bay into a shared space. “I’m very interested in scale, of what happens in shrinking this whole space down by creating this focal point.”
Of course, a project of this size has a price tag: $7M for a two-year run. Interestingly, because of the energy-efficient nature of LEDs, only $11K of the budget is for electricity — and they’ve already covered that amount with a donation of solar credits by Clean Path. Most of the budget estimate is for installation: the project would take four to six months to install, and would have to be installed at night, involving lane closures—not to mention the crew flying in harnesses, hanging precision pieces of electronics in the wind.
The Bay Lights has been in discussion with Caltrans for over a year on permits, and the team’s goal is to have funding by March and to begin installation October of 2012. A campaign to secure the funding has been launched, and the project is looking to civic minded individuals and institutions to contribute towards turning on the lights.
Find out more about The Bay Lights—and participate—at their website.
Our friends at Open Source Ecology are doing great, ambitious work in the world, and they need maker volunteers of various skill levels to lend a hand. What is Open Source Ecology (OSE)?
Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters building the Global Village Construction Set — a modular, DIY, low-cost, open source, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.
The aim of the GVCS is to lower the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing. Its a life-size lego set that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, or in the developing world.
In the immediate future, they hope to release the OSE Christmas Gift to the World, full product release and complete documentation (3D CAD, 2D fabrication drawings, exploded part diagrams, CAM files for open source torch table) of four machines, Tractor, Power Cube, Soil Pulverizer, and CEB Press, by December 24, 2011.
If OSE’s mission resonates with you and you have a little extra time on your hands, why not lend your skill to a project that will make a big difference in the lives of many? Check out this blog post for their goals and the 11 specific tasks they need help with, and then email them at opensourceecology at gmail dot com to get involved.
For inspiration and more info on OSE, here is founder Marcin Jakubowski’s engaging TED talk:
I am usually immune to the lure of pure luxury items, and at $2400 a set, there’s no question that these Army Men cast in solid silver by L.A.artist Josh Warner are pure, unadulterated bling. Still: Wow. Mr. Warner claims the figures are “all true to the original Vietnam era Louis Marx & Co. toys,” with the notable exception, of course, that their faces have been replaced with skulls. [via Boing Boing]
- Make: Projects — Army Guy Bowl
- How-To: Make little green army men from paracord
- Lego’s take on little green army men
The Maker Station is a 50-foot trailer in the parking lot of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind. It’s a hackerspace where do-it-yourselfers share tools and expertise. Credit: TekVenture.
Over the weekend, NPR’s Jon Kalish, who’s also a MAKE special correspondent, did a piece on how libraries are starting to outfit themselves with hacker/makerspaces. This is something we’ve talked about here at MAKE for awhile and it was the subject of one of Phillip Torrone’s Soapbox columns. It’s great to see the idea starting to acquire some serious legs. It has always seemed like a natural to us.
“People in the library world have noticed that 3-D printers would be a fit for libraries or that libraries should be paying attention to this technology and how it develops, because this could be a really big deal,” Backus says. “I’d be completely surprised if we don’t all have 3-D printers in 20 years.”
There’s already a 3D printer, donated by a local computer store, in the Fayetteville Free Library in upstate New York. Not only that, the library was recently awarded $10,000 for the creation of a hackerspace. Lauren Smedley, 29, is the librarian responsible for winning the grant and raising $3,500 in pledges for the hackerspace on the website IndieGoGo.
…HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.
HP if you’re going to kill it, open source it – or at least consider giving it away, just like google is doing with Android. On a related note, there will be about 250,000 HP tablet flooding the market, below cost soon. It will be interesting to see what makers do with them.
And here’s a press release from late last week – looks like open source is becoming a good way to exit and return value when a product ends.
“webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”
HP will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.
HP will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project under a set of operating principles:
- The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the
- HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
- Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
- Software will be provided as a pure open source project
HP also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the community in the near future along with a plan for the remaining components of the user space.
Thanks to a commenter on my recent Lego Reuleaux triangles post for hipping me to the work of Lego builder Jeff Sanders, whose work with the unorthodox method of using rectangular Lego bricks to make complex curvilinear forms has reached levels of complexity and beauty far surpassing a few simple convex triangles. Wired’s GeekDad recently did a feature on Jeff, and Discovery News followed on with a story that emphasizes the “educational” angle. [Thanks, Adam Brucker!]
We’re thrilled with the response we’ve been getting for the Make: Ultimate Kit Guide 2012. As you might imagine, people are seeing it as both a perfect Christmas present and a way of researching a great kit-based present. And, like us, they understand our inspiration for the Guide, which is basically seeing kits as a sort of gateway into making for an expanding audience interested in getting their feet wet. Here are a couple of recent reviews. Lifehacker did a whole gift guide dedicated to it and our friend, and Wired “Senior Maverick,” Kevin Kelly included it on his indispensable Cool Tools site:
Lifehaker chose their ten favorite kits from the Guide and called it “perfect for the do-it-yourself lover in your life.”
In Kevin’s review on Cool Tools, he calls it a “fantastic collection of 175 of the best kits available today. Each one selected, tested, and reviewed by the folks at MAKE magazine. Each kit is rated on five criteria” and ended on “…kits make great gifts, too. I recommend this Guide as a first step, or even as a gift itself.”
Do you have your copy of the Guide? Get it here from the Maker Shed.