"Oh my god, this is beautiful!," "What IS this?; this is SO cool!" It's not often you get such reactions (especially from non-techies) for a nerdy computer hardware and electronics book filled with esoteric-looking diagrams. But that's what happened when Alberto Piganti sent me a prototype copy of his ABC: Basic Connections book and I left it out on my dining room table. Alberto sent the copy because he's currently crowdfunding the book on Kickstarter (now with only 14 hours left to go!). UPDATE: The book is now available to pre-order on Indiegogo
Anyone who knows Alberto's work on his website PighiXXX knows that he creates gorgeous, free to download, and easy-to-understand circuit diagrams, pinouts, and other electronic schematics for the Arduino user community. His work is laudable for being exceptionally clean and clear, easy for non-techies to understand, and rendered in the most human-readable ways possible. And it's all just too dang purdy!
His ABC: Basic Connections book is a small 2-ring binder collecting (and adding to) the best and most useful schematics from the site. The idea is that the schematics are printed on sturdy pages that you can remove from the binder to use on your workbench (and updates will be available). He describes the impetus for the project:
Back in 2013 I began designing my own and making them available for free on my website pighixxx.com. I have created so far more than 300 high quality circuit diagrams and pinouts that are used by more than 500,000 makers worldwide. Read the rest
It's been called a Camping Chair, a Bog Chair, an X-Chair, a Stargazer Chair, a Viking Chair, an African Chair, but "no one can agree on where the design first came from or what it ought be called," says Rain Noe. In his article for Core 77 he looks at the many variations of this simple flat pack chair.
Steve Ramsey shows how to make one:
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If you don't have an iron handy, you can always use a pot of hot water to smooth out your clothes. This method looks like it does a pretty good job, but you might want to use oven mitts – this guy keeps burning his fingers. Read the rest
Brian May, the lead guitarist and composer for Queen, is a multitalented guy. A Guitar World readers poll ranked him as the 2nd greatest guitarist of all time. He also has a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London was on the science team for NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission. He also made his own guitar with his father in the 1960s, which he called The Red Special. Hackaday has the build notes.
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Every part of the Red Special was a process of trial and error. This is the true hacker spirit behind the guitar. Most trials didn’t work the first time, but Brian and Harold iterated until they reached their goals. An example of this is the pickups. Brian’s experimentation with pickups started with his Egmond guitar. He bought some Eclipse Magnetics button magnets from the local hardware store. These formed the core of the pickup. Harold then helped him build a coil winding machine, which allowed Brian to manually wind thousands of turns of fine copper wire around the pickups. It even had a wind counter built from a bicycle odometer.
Brian didn’t have an amplifier yet, so he plugged into the family’s radio. The pickups worked! They were very bright sounding, but had one flaw. When bending notes, Brian found there would be an odd sound as the string moved across the pickup. He attributed it to the North-South alignment of the disk magnet poles. Cutting the magnets was beyond the tools he had, and custom magnets were out of the budget.
I bought a 50-pack of plastic centrifuge tubes for $14 on Amazon a couple of years ago. I was planning to use them to do geocaching with my daughter but we both lost interest. I left the tubes in a bag in the garage.
A couple of weeks ago I needed a screw to fix something. I have a plastic bin filled with loose hardware - nuts, nails, screws, picture hangers, wire nuts, and so on. When I reached in, I poked my finger with a thumbtack. It wasn't the first time that a sharp thing in the box had poked me, so I decided to sort the stuff into separate containers. As I thought about what kind of containers I should use, I remembered the centrifuge tubes. I used those.
I could have just kept the tubes in the same plastic bin that I'd used to hold the loose hardware, but since I have a new Original Prusa I3 MK2S 3D printer (which is amazing), I went ahead and made a wall-mountable tube holder. I used Tinkercad to design it. Here's the model.
I used double sided foam tape to mount the tube holder on the wall. I'll need to print out 10 of these to hold all 50 tubes. Read the rest
Using cardboard, hot-glue, popsicle sticks, a pencil, and rubber bands, this guy makes a working coin-operated gumball machine. Good work!
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This week in Maker Update, Donald Bell presents a zoetrope combined with a fidget spinner, an SLS printer from Formlabs, a Raspberry Pi weather chamber, component carnage, and a tiny OLED Pi screen. Our featured Cool Tool is the Hakko FX-901 cordless soldering iron. Read the full review on Cool Tools. Read the rest
I got this Morakniv hook knife ($25, Amazon) last week so over the weekend I tried it out by making a couple of small spoons. The hook shape makes it easy to whittle out the concave part of the spoon, which is almost impossible to do with a regular knife.
Whittling spoons is fun, and they make nice gifts. I give most of mine away and people remark, years later, that they still use and like them. If you are just getting started - I have two book recommendations: Heirloom Wood: A Modern Guide to Carving Spoons, Bowls, Boards, and other Homewares, and The Artful Wooden Spoon: How to Make Exquisite Keepsakes for the Kitchen. Read the rest
I have a bluetooth OBD2 Scanner for my car, but this integrated, corded device looks pretty convenient. Its function is to determine the cause of the check engine light when it appears on your dashboard. It's on sale for the next hour on Amazon for $10.
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If Mad Max had a fidget spinner, it would probably resemble this one. Make your own with a bearing, assorted nuts, and a few zip ties. No tools necessary. (MAKE:)
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...is the wide range of choice it provides. Read the rest
This week on Maker Update: a giant mechanical iris, a lightsaber, remote control Arduino, a
, python boxes, Google HATs, Processing Spirographs, and Maker Faires. See expanded show notes here
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Adam Savage is on a tour of maker spaces around the country. He visited the Tulane School of Architecture's Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, where students are assigned real-world projects. He went to a local homeless shelter "to learn about one of the center's recent builds: an outdoor space that the class conceived, designed and built in just 16 weeks!" Read the rest
My friend, John Edgar Park, has a video about low-bandwidth, long-range packet radio signals, which he uses to make a remote effects trigger box. Really cool! Read the rest
There's something really odd, if not a bit eerie, about this tutorial. It's as if robots observed human beings for a few weeks, then decided to make this video on how to pluck a pubic ingrown hair. Read the rest
FinnAndersen spotted this wonderful vintage portable TV in a dumpster. He gutted most of it and outfitted the shell with a new screen and Raspberry Pi 3 to run RetroPie. Demo video below.
"It can emulate everything up to and including N64/PS1/Dreamcast, with a built-in wireless XBOX controller receiver for multiplayer parties!, he writes. "It also has a digital tuner inside to watch actual television, using the original knob for channel switching."
I'd love to do this to a JVC Videosphere!
"I turned an old portable TV into a dedicated retro gaming system!" (Imgur)
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Hayburner Guitars makes guitars from vintage oil cans, and they look as great as they sound. Read the rest