We're working Haunted Fox Hollow again, so our darling new baby girl is joining us in the pirate cove during the "light scares" hour. So far, she's done great. She's more giggles than Y'arrr, but we cheerfully tell the guests that she'll learn to swab the deck or she'll end up in the pirate's stew. When the little kids see that she isn't the least bit scared, it helps them get their courage back.
In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader slippy0 shares these snapshots and says, "Mine really isn't that fancy, but the stars aligned and gave me a week of time to work on props. I was Marshall Lee from Adventure Time, and decided to make his axe-bass instead of just painting a 2D cutout. The results aren't amazing, but they're more than I planned to do, and very DIY. I went with my friend who was Fionna. We got a lot of compliments. :) "
Brava, Sarah! "Sorry to be a party pooper but it should probably be attached closer to your mouth since it's actually a tooth," wrote one commenter. "Yes, but it would have interfered with my beer drinking," replied Sarah.
I experimented with fondant first, that was completely unsuccessful. Then I though of gluing it together with caramel (since I had a fresh bag of that around too). Too messy and too hard. Then, another light bulb went off.....cookie dough! Sugar cookie dough works perfectly (don't attempt with chocolate chip dough, the chips just get in the way and jeopardize structural integrity). It only took about 4 minutes to assemble and looked authentic.
Vegans: it can be done vegan.
(Video link) In non-entertainment news, I am a huge nerd for a cool t-shirt. Sometimes I buy them (usually from Busted Tees or Headline Shirts), and sometimes they find me. The latter shirts are generally men's sizes -- too big and shaped like a rectangle, but so groovy that I don't have the heart to throw it away. Fortunately, there are people out there who know how to fix such things! One of those people is Megan Nicolay, author of Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt (Workman Publishing) and its sequel, as well as the companion blog. Megan and I hung out in the Workman Publishing office recently to put together a instructional video on how to alter a gigantic potato sack of a shirt into something acceptable to wear in public. After the jump, a quick walk-through of another design.
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"The plan was simple. Take a nostalgic NES "duck hunt" Zapper, and retrofit it with a ridiculously powerful laser."
A project from North Street Labs. In case it's not obvious, this is dangerous, and could lead to death or blindness without safety precautions.
Components: "2.1A input buck driver, 2x 750mAh 35-70c Lipo batteries, M140 445nm diode, G2 lens. homemade custom heat-sink, turn key safety switch."
A couple of years ago I was on The Colbert Report showing some fun projects from MAKE, and Stephen fell in love with a project called "The Most Useless Machine." (Watch the episode here.) The Most Useless Machine is a box that shuts itself off when you turn it on. (After the show Stephen hinted that he wanted to keep it, so I gave it to him and he was really happy.)
Make:Projects just posted complete instructions for making your own Most Useless Machine. It's the simplest version yet, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who tries it.
Last year I saw a video of the "Leave Me Alone Box" built by Michael Seedman. Flip its switch on, and an arm reaches out of a door to turn the switch back off. To paraphrase The Terminator, that's what it does, that's all it does, and it will not stop until its circuit is dead.
I had to have one of my own, so I made one. Seedman's design uses a microcontroller to run two servomotors: one to open the lid, and another to push the switch. This makes for an impressive performance, but seemed too complicated, and actually, his circuit remains powered even when the box is idle.
For existential purity, I wanted a super-simple machine that really turned itself off. So I came up with a single-motor design controlled by a 555 timer chip, with a curved arm that both lifts the lid and flips off the switch. I called it the "Most Useless Machine" and posted it on Instructables along with a YouTube video of the box in action. The project soon went viral, attracting millions of viewers, thousands of comments, and many builds and design variations. Whew!
Along the way, Instructables member Compukidmike came up with an even simpler version that dispenses with the 555 circuitry entirely by using a gearmotor and two switches. The resulting project, presented here, is the ultimate in technology for its own sake, a minimal assemblage of parts that, through its one meaningless act of defiance, speaks volumes.
When NASA's Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide couldn't seem to get a bolt attached to the outside of the space station, ground crews came up with a clever solution: Fix the problem with a toothbrush. At Space.com, Denise Chow explains the details:
On Aug. 30, Williams and Hoshide completed a marathon spacewalk that lasted more than 8 hours, but the astronauts were thwarted by a stubborn bolt and were unable to finish connecting the so-called main bus switching unit (MBSU). The stuck bolt forced NASA to add [yesterday's] extra spacewalk.
But, following last week's unsuccessful attempt, flight controllers, engineers and veteran spacewalkers worked around the clock at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to devise a solution to the problem. Using only the supplies available on the space station, the teams came up with creative new tools for Williams and Hoshide to use to install the MBSU.
One was a modified toothbrush that was used to lubricate the inside of the bolt's housing after debris and metal shavings from inside had been removed. Another improvised instrument included a cleaning tool that had been made from wires that were bent back to form a brush, explained Kieth Johnson, lead spacewalk director at the Johnson Space Center.