Just look at these spooky banana ghosts

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Just look at 'em with their evil chocolate chip eyes. Part of Let's Go Chipper's series on healthy Halloween snacks in the run-up to Saint Beetus Day. Also:

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Video: maker of incredible working model engines

Retired naval mechanic José Manuel Hermo Barreiro makes incredibly intricate models of engines like the V-12. (via Devour)

Video: turning plastic bottles into string

Demonstration of a DIY device to turn plastic bottles into plastic string/ribbon. (Thanks, Rick "Under The Weather" Pescovitz!)

Kegging improved my homebrewing experience

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These 2.5 gallon ball lock kegs have reinvigorated my homebrewing hobby. I now have 6 of them in rotation and bottling is no longer a giant, messy pain.

The upsides to kegging, for me, are myriad. No more clumsy bottle filler. No more sanitizing cases of empty glass bottles. No more stinky, sticky bug filled bottle collection waiting to be cleaned. At its simplest, you siphon your beer from your fermenter into the keg and seal it up.

The only nuance is carbonation. You can bottle/cask condition in the keg, but you need less sugar (about 1/2-1/3 of what you'd normally use.) If you'd rather, it is also very easy to force carbonate your beer with CO2 and skip the entire bottling sugar step.

I use this handy CO2 charger and this tap, force carbonation is harder with them but it can be done. If you buy a more complex CO2 filling system, it gets quite easy.

Refrigerate a keg for 24-36 hrs before serving. It takes a while to cool them down!

Kegging was a major step in simplifying my homebrew process. Without the mess of bottling this hobby became fun again.

2.5 Gallon Keg New w/ Ball Lock Connections

DIY AT-AT cat house

Would you like to make your own felt cat house in the shape of a Star Wars AT-AT? First, you'll need a cat. [The Owner Build Network. Thanks, Heather!]

Hapheads: new web-series from Jim Munroe and the "Ghosts With Shit Jobs" crew

Jim Munroe sez, "Ten years from now, videogames are so immersive that teenagers learn lethal skills just by playing. They're called hapheads. The folks I made Ghosts With Shit Jobs with made this trailer I adapted from a book-length story I'm working on. Don't know if we can honestly call what we do lo-fi sci-fi anymore -- with fight scenes and full-on special effects, it's way more in the mold of traditional action sci-fi. I'm thinking what'll set it apart is the characterization of the father & daughter (my emotional entry into the story, thinking about my relationship with my daughter in 10 years) and the subcultural millieu that'll emerge."

Haphead (Thanks, Jim!)

Cambodia's creaky, funky bamboo trains: like riding 'a bat'


A norry being operated by Doak Khemra moves down the tracks at the village of Stung Touch. Jesse Pesta/The Wall Street Journal.

Jesse Pesta has a wonderful, colorful piece in the Wall Street Journal about a form of transportation unique to Cambodia: bamboo trains, known locally as "norry." Snip:

In Cambodia, real trains are almost as rare as bamboo trains anywhere else. The impoverished country has a network of tracks left over from French colonial days, but there are hardly any actual trains running anymore. Only one line is in service. The railway never recovered from the horrors of Khmer Rouge murder and war decades ago.

Don't miss his great photos and videos accompanying the article online A six-year-old girl photographed just before her first norry ride is told by her mom that it would be like riding "a bat."

"Creaky Trains Made of Bamboo Still Rule the Rails in Cambodia" [wsj.com]

White House Maker Faire taking place in 2014

BB pal Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House, sends word of the first White House Maker Faire taking place later this year. From the White House Blog:

Inspired by “Joey Marshmallow” and the millions of citizen-makers driving the next era of American innovation, we are thrilled to announce plans to host the first-ever White House Maker Faire later this year. We will release more details on the event soon, but it will be an opportunity to highlight both the remarkable stories of Makers like Joey and commitments by leading organizations to help more students and entrepreneurs get involved in making things.

Meanwhile, you can get involved by sending pictures or videos of your creations or a description of how you are working to advance the maker movement to maker@ostp.gov, or on Twitter using the hashtag #IMadeThis. Take Joey’s advice – don’t be bored, make something. Maybe you, like Joey, can take your making all the way to The White House.

"Announcing the First White House Maker Faire"

Open source brain-computer interface for makers

Joel Murphy (co-creator of the nifty PulseSensor, an Arduino sensor that detects pulse) teamed up with Conor Russomanno to create the OpenBCI, a Bluetooth-enabled, Arduino-compatible, 8-channel EEG platform that gives you access to high-quality, raw EEG data. What can you do with it? Biofeedback, DIY sleep research, creating art, controlling systems, and more.

They've got a Kickstarter going to fund it.

Seahack: participate in sea exploration!

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Five years ago this month, my pal, BB contributor, and IFTF colleague Ariel Waldman created Spacehack, a directory of projects through which anyone can participate in space exploration. It was a very influential endeavor, igniting many people's interest and excitement in space research and how we can all get involved even here on terra firm. Today, Ariel has launched Seahack, a similar site to spur participation in sea exploration! From DIY underwater robots to crowdsourced analysis of deep-sea videos to a project aimed at decoding the language of whales, Seahack is a great way to get your feet wet (sorry) in ocean science even if you're a landlubber like me. Congratulations, Ariel!

Seahack: A Directory of Ways to Participate In Sea Exploration

How to: Build a $10 DIY microscope

First, Kenji Yoshino, a post-baccalaureate fellow at Grinnell College, came up with a way to build a microscope out of an old smartphone using just $10 worth of extra parts. Which is pretty awesome, in and of itself. But, then, scientist and blogger Bethany Brookshire tried to follow Yoshino's instructions. She sort-of succeeded — after a lot of small failures. But it's that story — about the messy, imperfect process of real-world DIY — that really rocks. Read it, and you'll learn a lot about the process of making, and what it's like to make somebody else's project your own. In the real world, building the microscope is as much a learning experience as using the thing.

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A kids' mystery novel with electromagnets, burglar alarms, and other gadgets you can build

Nick and Tesla are a couple of teenagers who get themselves into trouble and must build MAKE-style projects to save the day. There are two books in the series, aimed at ages 9-12, and they contain a number of fun DIY projects. The publisher, Quirk Books, kindly gave us permission to run a lengthy PDF excerpt from Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab that includes plans for making a compressed-air water rocket.

The forthcoming followup title is called Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself.

Nick and Tesla Excerpt

Popular Mechanics: The 110 Best DIY Tips Ever

To celebrate their 110th anniversary, our friends at Popular Mechanics assembled a collection of 110 tips from their archives.

The August 1955 issue told a farsighted person to punch a pinhole in cardboard and peer through it to read small type. It still does the trick!

DIY Halloween: Baby Jackhammer Jill

This year, my husband, Chris, and I made a baby and a costume to put her in. Here, Althea Koerth Baker, 4 days old, shows off her Halloween costume and her ability to tolerate parental shenanigans.

Inkodye: cool alternative to traditional screenprinting

On Monday night I had dinner with Jesse Genet, the founder of Lumi, a company that makes photographic fabric dye called Inkodye. She was wearing a shirt with an Inkodye print on it. This stuff is amazing! Jesse made the above entertaining video that shows the process of making a photographic print. I just ordered a starter kit. I can't wait to try it out.