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How to make a powered speaker for your MP3 player

Boing Boing reader Ross "rossindetroit" Hershberger created the Monobox, a nice speaker with a built in amp based on the venerable LM386 IC. MAKE produced a nice how-to video about it for its Weekend Projects program. This is a great project for parents and older kids (I'm guessing 9 and up).

MonoBox is a small, inexpensive powered speaker that amplifies the output of your headphone music player. It's little but it's loud! All the circuit parts are available from RadioShack. The speaker and cabinet are left to your preference.

You'll learn how to assemble and solder an audio power amplifier using an integrated circuit (IC) chip, and how to choose a speaker and install it in a cabinet with the amplifier.

The core of MonoBox is a compact and efficient audio amplifier based on the LM386 power amp chip. It will run on 200mA of current using power supplies from 6V–15V DC. This gives you the flexibility to power it from a wall adapter, a 9V battery, or a car accessory outlet.

You're probably thinking, "Sure, but it's so small. Does it rock?" Fair question. The prototype has been exhaustively tested and it does indeed rock. Maximum volume output is 90dB, and with the added bass boost your socks will be rocked clean off!

Complete step-by-step instructions for making a MonoBox

Report on making your own cleaning products

If you've ever considered making your own household cleaning products, you've probably asked yourself the following questions: Does it save money? Does it take a lot of time? Do they work as well as commercially made products? Gerri Detweiler of credit.com wanted the answers so she tried making her own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and all purpose cleaner. She was pleased with the laundry and dishwasher detergents, but found the all purpose cleaner to be somewhat lacking.
"These simple recipes gave me the confidence to try more. And that’s usually what happens, Matt Jabs [co-author of DIY Natural Household Cleaners] says: 'A lot of people just can’t believe that it’s going to work…because we’ve been conditioned through the excellent advertising agencies and commercials they make that (commercial products are) great. But really, it does work. So just start with one project and then go from there. It’s very exciting.'"

Credit.com: Making your own household cleaning products

Transform Robot from Japan's Brave Robotics brings "Transformers" to life

Above, the 1/12 scale Transform Robot Version 7.2 from Brave Robotics of Japan. There's an article about this creation in Wired Japan by Francesco Fondi, who saw the invention in action at the recent Maker Faire Tokyo.

The wirelessly remote-controlled Transform Robot took some ten years to develop, and includes wireless internet connected cameras for remote monitoring, and the ability to steer its arms and shoot little plastic darts from them.

Read the rest

DIY pipe menorah

Avi Solomon writes,

With the Jewish Diwali aka Hanukkah well nigh upon us, I was looking to provide my 7 year old son Uriel with a maker angle on the central artifact of the holiday, the Menorah. The Maccabees had hastily hacked together their Menorah by using hollow iron spearheads and I also wanted to capture this improvisational aspect of making the Menorah.

Inspired by Joe Grand's Pipe Menorah we set off to the nearest hardware store to make one of our own.The guys at the store were kind enough to let us putter around gathering the parts we needed and try them out together.

Read Avi's HOWTO: "Making your own Menorah is no longer a Pipe Dream!" (avisolo.blogspot.com)

Steampunk Dalek

About this spectacular wearable steampunk Dalek, BB reader Mark Dumont writes:
Electronics are contained in box at back waist containing arduino uno, 2 nine volt batteries, and small amp. Speakers are in ends of tube around neck and mic is on an earpiece. Arduino board powers eye stalk and dome lights as well as handles dalek voice modulation. I found the arduino sketch (source and circuit diagrams) can be found here, kudos to Andy Grove for the sketch. Originally created for my wife (the only dalek I will ever love) for the Time Traveler's Ball held at the Redmoor in Cincinnati 11/17/12
Photo Link. (Shared in the BB Flickr Pool)

How to: Tell the difference between real science and pseudoscience

Some pseudoscience is pretty obvious. I think most of us are comfortable saying that the world will probably not end this December, in accordance with any ancient prophecy. But distinguishing fact from fiction isn't always simple. In fact, "fact from fiction" might be too simple a way to even frame the question. In reality, we're sometimes tasked with spotting misapplication of real science. Sometimes, we have to tell the difference between a complicated thing that nobody understands yet very well but which is likely to be true and a complicated thing that nobody understands yet very well but which is not likely to be true.

Basically, it's messy.

Emily Willingham at Forbes has some helpful hints for how to make these distinctions. She offers ten questions that can serve as guidelines for approaching new topics you're skeptical of — questions that, taken all together, can help you see the patterns of pseudoscience and make informed decisions for yourself and your family.

3. What kind of language does it use? Does it use emotion words or a lot of exclamation points or language that sounds highly technical (amino acids! enzymes! nucleic acids!) or jargon-y but that is really meaningless in the therapeutic or scientific sense? If you’re not sure, take a term and google it, or ask a scientist if you can find one. Sometimes, an amino acid is just an amino acid. Be on the lookout for sciencey-ness. As Albert Einstein once pointed out, if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well. If peddlers feel that they have to toss in a bunch of jargony science terms to make you think they’re the real thing, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about, either.

9. Were real scientific processes involved? Evidence-based interventions generally go through many steps of a scientific process before they come into common use. Going through these steps includes performing basic research using tests in cells and in animals, clinical research with patients/volunteers in several heavily regulated phases, peer-review at each step of the way, and a trail of published research papers. Is there evidence that the product or intervention on offer has been tested scientifically, with results published in scientific journals? Or is it just sciencey-ness espoused by people without benefit of expert review of any kind?

Read the rest at Willingham's Forbes blog, The Science Consumer

Image: Day 35 of 365 - A Private Stash, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jesssseeee's photostream

Hand-crank mills with which to grind one's own flour ($675.95) are the new artisanal mayonnaise

At Acculturated blog, Abby W. Schachter writes about "bobos," short for bourgeois bohemians, and evidence that big consumer brands are now marketing to them with highly mockable DIY gear that re-creates artisanal (or, depending on your point of view, obsolete) food production methods.

Case in point: William Sonoma's new upscale DIY kitchenware collection, called the Agrarian Guide, where one can purchase "a reclaimed rustic chicken coop for $759.95... a Warre beehive made from “untreated Western Red Cedar” that retails for $399.95, a vinegar pot for $90, an $80 fermentation pot to make “your own sauerkraut,” and a hand crank Burr grinder grain mill retailing for $675.95. The accompanying grain mill clamp will set you back another $105.95."

Read the rest here.

I vacillate between coveting everything in the catalog, and wanting to mock everything in the catalog. Either way, I cannot wait for the Portlandia sketch.

(via Virginia Postrel)

Realistic Roswell space alien autopsy tableau

John Whalen says, "My brother, Dan, cooked up this little quasi-historical tableau for his wife, Rose, in San Francisco."

Read the rest

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Spider and Plague Doc masks

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Celeste says,

We've made masks again this year. My husband Jacob is a plague doctor. I'm a spider (ironically, my least favourite animal but I loved working on the mask!). More pics and a bit of info on how they were made here.

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Mars and the Curiosity Rover

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Shannon Stewart says, "My husband and I went as Mars and the Curiosity Rover. Had a ton of fun making these babies and the costumes were a huge hit everywhere we went!"

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Tardis Dress

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Chris Spurgeon says, "My daughter rolled her own Tardis dress!"

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: We are all Pussy Riot

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Becca Tarvin shares this photo of a gang of revelers dressed as Russian art-provocateur-heroes Pussy Riot.

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: 9 month old baby as a mermaid

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Jean Dunk shares this wonderful photo and says, "Here is my 9 month old as a mermaid." Here's a larger size.

Read the rest

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Fish-Man from Ugly Americans

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Sarah Pérez shares these images and says,

This year I have become Fish-Man! The idea was inspired by the fish-man character, Toby, in the show Ugly Americans. I think the idea of a fish wearing pants is pretty hilarious, and luckily the costume turned out to be as funny as I hoped it would. I've already worn it out on the bus and train home from work and it made quite a few smiles all around :)

The head is chicken wire, screen door mesh, paper mache, foam and fabric. I also had to special order some very large pants which I velcroed to the fish head. Oh, and the eyes light up too-- they're those battery-operated closet push-lights ;)

I'll be walking in the 16th Annual Halloween on Halsted Parade this Wednesday in Chicago at 7pm CST. Hope to see you Chicago readers there-- Happy Halloween!

Her video of fish-man in action below.

Read the rest

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Multicultural/Birthday/Gay Mummy

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Christopher Ing says, "Went as a multicultural mummy (a.k.a. the birthday mummy)."