How to make a "TSA compliant" multitool mod


Carrying small pliers and screwdrivers can be helpful and comforting. When traveling without checked baggage, I feel strange leaving behind my small multitools. Being without tools is weird. Read the rest

Look at the size of this demonstration handcuff


Pressed into service recently to teach handcuff escape workshops to high school students, I built this. The huge, functional, see-through demonstration handcuff.

Learning how the ratchet and pawl mechanism works helped the students visualize the internals of the standard-issue cuffs; they were soon shimming their way out of behind-the-back cuffings using only a hair clip.

More info on the huge demo handcuff here.

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Swiss Researchers solve side-scrolling immersion


Researchers at the ETH Game Technology Center of the Swiss national technical institute in Zürich, have applied their considerable talents to the critical problem of immersion in 2D side-scrolling, 8-bit era games. Witness in this video the splendor of a 360° projected Mario world that unrolls across the walls as players reveal each subsequent tile of the game map.

Robert Sumner, founder of the GTC explains:

 ...we observed that the 8-bit era of gaming had a huge collective influence on so many people, but the actual gaming experience was typically an individual one. We wanted to turn this idea upside down, and elevate the NES console experience into a group experience where the game surrounds a large event, allowing multiple people to play in a collaborative setting. The panoramic stitching and 8-way controller multiplexing hardware were the main ways we accomplished this task.

The group submitted the paper "Unfolding the 8-bit Era" to the European Conference on Visual Media Production, and then built the system to unveil at the Eurographics Conference. Utilizing a vintage 8-bit Famicom/NES system and a PC with a point-correspondence vision tracking algorithm, the researchers developed methods to detect the edge of each screen segment, adding it to a continuously expanding texture map in real-time. This panoramic texture is then seamlessly displayed on eight aligned projectors. The vision algorithm requires no prior knowledge about the game, so it is possible to play any side-scroller on this system, such as Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Metroid, and the like. Read the rest

Help convince LEGO to produce "Lovelace and Babbage" play set / Raspberry Pi case


This delightful Lovelace & Babbage Analytical Engine is gathering support on LEGO Ideas (formerly CUUSOO) where the community can up-vote fan-made play sets into consideration for production.

Featuring Lada Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, this set pays beautiful, Victorian tribute to their collaboration on the mechanical general-purpose computer of his design, including her pioneering work in creating the algorithm that would be used to program it.


What's more, the lovely, monochromatic Analytical Engine model can be used to house a Raspberry Pi Linux computer. Swoon.

Creator Stewart Lamb Cromar also proposes two bonus sets, an "Ada Junior Classroom" and a "Babbage Tea Party".

If you're interested in making this set a reality, please head to LEGO Ideas and support the project. Currently at around 3000 votes, they require 10,000 to be reviewed by LEGO for possible production.

Lovelace ande LEGO Ideas set  Read the rest

An online Java course for kids, taught via Minecraft


At the beginning of the summer my son Ronan, age 12, and I built him his first high-powered gaming PC. Me being a dad and all, I did so happily, but with one proviso -- he’d have to dedicate time every day to learning a programming language. He was slightly sceptical of this, having taken a few less-than-interesting intro to programming classes in the past. Prepared for this, I recommended that we enroll him in Youth Digital’s comprehensive Java course called Minecraft Server Desgin 1. This got his full attention, as he had dreams of creating his own custom servers and gameplay modes to host Minecraft sessions with his friends.

We signed him up and dove in. Our immediate impression was that site and course are smartly designed and easy to navigate. All material is introduced through clear, well-produced, often funny videos that didn’t talk down him, but instead did a great job of walking him through new concepts, then pausing while he took pop quizzes and did hands-on coding exercises.  

The course includes a year of server hosting, 24-hour tech support (that was fast and helpful the few times he’s needed it), and perhaps best of all, a browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) for editing the game, player, and team Java files. Within this Codenvy IDE (Windows and OSX only), you can launch the updated server with one button, which makes it fast to test code and correlate newly learned concepts with the “real world” Minecraft results.

He chose one of the four pre-built maps, learned to modify the default server file description text, whitelisted a few friend, and launched his Minecraft server within the first hour of instruction. Read the rest

Just look at this Japanese 100-yen store banana chipper

Just look at it. Read the rest

Fixing a safe lock with a bullet casing

spline key

Manipulating safe locks can be fun and profitable! It also takes practice. I recently bought a used safe combination dial lock and mounted it to a  piece of reclaimed wood. Mounting a dial lock involves threading the dial spline bolt through the combination wheels, and then hammering a soft, brass "spline key" into the spline's notch so that the dial will turn the wheels.

My lock came without a spline key, so I searched around the house for some brass to use. I found a spent bullet cartridge casing, and attacked it with a rotary tool cutoff wheel to get a sliver of brass.

After sanding off the rough edges, I folded it over to the proper thickness to fit snugly in the threaded spline.

One solid blow with a deadblow hammer, and the soft brass wedged in place. The dial now turns beautifully.

I'll be bringing this and some other cutaway locks to Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder, where I'll be teaching lock picking workshops, so if you're attending, please come check it out. Read the rest

Illustrator is drawing every item in his late grandfather's tool shed


Artist Lee John Phillips has begun to lovingly draw the over 100,000 items housed in his late grandfather's toolshed. He plans to catalog every single tool, part, gadget, and bit of hardware over the course of the next five years.

I adore old tools and hardware, and I find that his illustration style is wonderful at capturing their essence. I'll be following along on his Instagram page, and would certainly purchase a print edition should he make one available (hint, hint).

Artist Celebrates Late Grandfather by Drawing the 100,000+ Items in His Tool Shed (Thanks, Oh Soon!) Read the rest

Just look at this intentionally confusing banana Arduino


Just look at it.

WTFDuino (Thanks, Marc de Vinck!)

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Imperial Melody Discharger - Stormtrooper helmet art build notes

Imperial Melody Discharger

I built the Imperial Melody Discharger, an articulated Stormtrooper helmet music box, for the Star Wars Day ("May the 4th be with you") vinyl Stormtrooper helmet art show . For the event, artists across the Walt Disney Company, including DisneyToon Studios where I work, were invited to participate by using a blank 6" helmet as the canvas for their work. What follows are my build notes and work in progress images. Read the rest