Boing Boing 

Stream Machine water cannon - high pressure fun

The genius of these Stream Machine water cannons is their simplicity. A single moving part — a big fat piston with handle grip — squeezes a wide stream of water down and out their large diameter tubes. Filling them you reverse, sucking in water via the same orifice. When loaded (takes about 2 seconds) they gush water at least 30 feet. Impossible to clog, and nearly unbreakable, both kids and adults can operate them around pools, lakes, rafts, canoes and boats. These are the regulation-issued weapons at our place.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

New Makey Makey Go converts almost anything into a touch interface

Jay Silver is a very cool guy, and I loved the original Makey Makey, so I know the Makey Makey Go will be awesome. The video is terrific.

Small enough to fit on your keychain, book bag, or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the internet. It’s a simple tool-slash-toy that allows beginners and experts to make countless art, music, engineering, and science projects. It comes ready to use out of the box with no setup and no installations. Just plug and play.

Lego Simpsons Kwik-E-Mart Building Kit

kwik-e-mart

Since I've never seen a complete episode of The Simpsons (let me know in the comments if it's a good show) I can't vouch for this Lego Kwik-E-Mart Building Kit's verisimilitude. But it looks cool!

Jig for making paracord bracelets

Paracord bracelets (or survival bracelets) are a popular, fun-to-make fashion accessory, and can also come in handy if you suddenly need to unravel the bracelet and use the cord to make a tourniquet, secure a tent, tow a lifeboat, make a pair of snowshoes, or… fill in the blank here (choose from hundreds of emergency situations in which paracord saves the day). And making these bracelets is really easy, especially if you’ve got a jig to keep your cord taut while working the knots.

I just got this EZzzy-Jig ($14), which comes with 12mm and 15mm attached buckles to plug your own buckles and cord into, as well as an adjustable ruler on its side to help you make the exact length you want. If you’ve made these bracelets before, the instructions for the jig should make perfect sense. But if you’re a newbie like me, you might also want to check out Beadaholique’s How to Use the EZzzy-Jig Bracelet Maker on YouTube. The instructions that come with the Paracord Planet cord (which you will need since the jig does not come with any cords or buckles) will get you started on a basic cobra braided bracelet. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to whip one of these bracelets up in 10 minutes flat.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Prankster Magic – fake box labels, awesome card tricks, and other tomfoolery

Prankster Magic includes some excellent card and coin tricks that kids can quickly learn. The illustrations are clear and appealingly cartoonish. Some of the tricks are “self-working,” while others require mastering basic sleight-of-hand.

The prank section is fun, too. The book comes with a fake piece of chewed-up pink bubblegum, with suggestions on where to put it for maximum entertainment value (like the screen of your big sister’s mobile phone).

Prankster Magic also includes two pages of phony labels that you can apply to food product boxes. I put a “98% Free of Small Bugs” sticker on a box of Cheerios and freaked out my 12-year-old daughter, wife, and sister-in-law. “Take it back to the store!” my wife said, alarm in her voice. Hahaha!

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Encyclopedia of Electronic Components

When I was one of the editors at Make: Books, one of the projects I was proudest to have helped conceive of and edit was Charles Platt’s Make: Electronics (which has now been a best-seller for years). Growing up being absurdly visual and suffering from mild dyslexia, I found it incredibly difficult to learn electronics using the books of the day. They were usually very poorly written, with bad editing, dark and dreary photos, and crude diagrams. Forrest Mims’ 1983 Getting Started in Electronics, beautifully hand-drawn on graph paper, with succinct and clear text and playful examples, was a revelation to me.

For Make: Electronics we wanted to create a Getting Started for the early 21st century – well-written, beautifully photographed and illustrated, and in high-quality, full-color. Charles Platt and Make: delivered on that promise, in spades, with Make: Electronics and its follow-up volume, Make: More Electronics. And Charles continues to knock it out of the park with Encyclopedia of Electronic Components, currently in two volumes, with a third on the way.
 Volume 1 covers batteries, power supplies, motors, resistors, capacitors, inductors, switches, encoders, relays, diodes, transistors, and more. Each entry describes what it does, how it works, variants on the component, how to use it, and what can go wrong with it. Each entry is illustrated with well-shot photos (the components are shot on a graph paper background, so you can get some idea of their size), charts and graphs, and cut-away diagrams. The writing is very approachable while not shying away from technical rigor. These are fun books for picking up and scanning a component listing to learn more about the component, its variants, applications, and how it might fail. And, the books are an invaluable reference if you’re working on a project and want to gain a deeper understanding of the specific components you’re working with.

Volume 2, subtitled Signal Processing, covers LEDs, LCDs, audio, amplification, digital logic, and more. The two books together cover a lot of the common components you encounter in most basic-to-intermediate electronics work. Volume 3 (available now for pre-order) will fill in the one major missing component class – all manner of sensors.

I cannot imagine what it’s like to be growing up today with an interest in electronics and DIY high-technology. Smartly written, visual, and well-produced books like the Make: Electronics series and these Encyclopedia of Electronic Components volumes open up the world of electrical engineering and high-tech tinkering to a wider audience than ever before. – Gareth Branwyn

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Brock Magiscope is a rugged microscope for everyday use

The trouble with most optical equipment is that it won’t get used unless it is out of the case, opened up, and powered on. But if it is opened and lying around, it will get highly abused. I buy my cameras, spectacles, binocs, etc. assuming that they’ll be dropped and splattered, and they should hold up to this misuse. But until now I haven’t been able to find a microscope strong enough to do its job yet sturdy enough to be left on the kitchen table ready for inspections by toddlers and teenagers.

Now after several years of looking for an everyday microscope suitable for a busy family I found one: The Brock Magiscope #70 is exactly what I had wanted. It has a single-moving part that my 5-year-old son could handle. He could put a leaf in and focus it right. Rubber bands hold the slide. For light the scope uses a fat fiber optic bent pipe which channels ambient room light to the underside of the objective lens (no electricity). There is no fussing, no adjustments. The viewing field is amazingly bright and clear, good enough for high school work.

or smart phone to its eyepiece, and get pretty good microphotography shots. And best of all it is practically indestructible. The thing is simple and rugged as a hammer. In fact, it was built for the abuse of K-12 classrooms, which is probably as grating as a war. I know one educational sailing company that keeps several on its boat – probably the most challenging environment anywhere for optics. Brock offers a “lifetime replacement warranty, including accidents.” If it breaks, ever, they replace it. And they do. (Some visiting kids managed to break the light optic – I have no idea how – but Brock replaced it with no questions asked. This tool is always on, always out (it sits next to the fruit bowl); we use it.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Professional fort builder: Jay Nelson

Jay Nelson is a builder that makes shelters and vehicles made of wood. Film by Isaiah Saxon, founder of DIY.org

Princes of the Apocalypse is D&D’s killer app

Princes of the Apocalypse is a campaign about clearing dungeons, killing monsters and getting treasure, and the result will satisfy ardent hack-and-slashers to the very core of their being.Read the rest

Let’s Catch the Lion: young version of the ancient Japanese game shogi

The Japanese game of shogi is an ancient game of strategy and planning, similar to chess. And like chess, with a little effort, anyone can learn to play but becoming proficient takes decades of experience and study. Let’s Catch the Lion aims to make the learning process a little bit easier.

Let’s Catch the Lion replaces the standard kanji-labelled chips with large, sturdy, square wooden blocks. Each block is printed with an animal as well as a set of helpful red circles indicating permitted moves. The standard shogi board is also replaced with a much smaller one (3 squares by 4 squares), likewise printed with friendly animals.

The one caveat is that the provided instructions are all in Japanese. However, by reading a standard set of shoji rules (like those listed on Wikipedia) and studying the plentiful illustrations included in the rules booklet, non-Japanese speaking players can easily learn to set-up and play this most basic version of this most challenging game. And, once this set is mastered, Gentosha offers three more sets, each a little more complex than the one before it. – Joel Neff

Suspend – hang rods from a balancing sculpture without letting the pieces fall

suspend

Suspend is a fun, simple yet challenging game in the same family as Pick Up Sticks or Jenga, except you don’t pick up and you don’t remove and stack. Instead, you hang. Players divide metal grooved rods with colorful rubber tips between each other and then take turns balancing them, creating an attractive Calder-style sculpture in the process. With each hang the player must be careful not to disrupt the balance of the swaying sculpture and send rods crashing to the table, otherwise they must add all of the fallen rods to their pile. The first player to get rid of all of their rods wins the game.

After a few games everyone in my family mastered the balancing act, making the game less challenging, until we realized we were playing it the easy way, allowing each rod to hang from two of its grooves (lying across two other rods) instead of one. Once we modified this rule the game became more challenging and impossible to outsmart. Suspend comes with beginner, intermediate (uses a die) and advanced (uses die and points) rules, making Suspend an entertaining game for both kids and adults.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Great magic trick: The Block Escape

The Block Escape is a great trick that even kids can perform with ease. This wood model, which cost $6, is an excellent deal.

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My daughter and I almost escaped from a sealed cavern before running out of air

Dying in a mysterious cavern deep below the streets of Los Angeles was the most fun we've had in a long timeRead the rest

Wink Fun - reviews of the best games, toys, and puzzles

what-is-wink-fun

Wink Fun celebrates stuff that is fun, and we mean the kind of fun that's made from atoms – not bits. We mean putty you can bounce, slime you can squish, cards you can shuffle, forts you can build, skateboards you can race, water guns you can squirt – fun that matters, made of matter.

Every weekday Wink Fun reviews one entertaining item: the latest robot kit, a fast-moving dice game, a cool vintage board game, an astonishing magic trick, a role-playing card game, a brain-busting puzzle, a hilarious party game, extreme equipment for high-action fun, and so much more.

As part of the merriment, we're awarding a GIVEAWAY Perplexus (cool maze ball!) to a lucky reader. Simply find the word "Perplexus" that's hidden in one of the reviews and you'll be able to enter.

So pick a square, any square, click and have fun!

For more information about us, go to our about page.

Gigantic tub o' 22,000 Perler beads

My 12-year-old and her pals like making thing with Perler beads. They go through them quickly, so I bought a tub of 22,000 Perler beads for $15.

What are Perler beads? They are tiny colorful plastic cylinders. Each bead is a pixel that you place on a Perler pegboard to make a piece of art. Once you've placed all the beads down, you use a clothes iron to fuse the beads together, so your artwork doesn't fall apart.

The above video shows you a smart way to stack beads on a toothpick for faster beading.

Here are some great Perler bead drawings from around the world:

Perler Bead Majora's Mask by EP-380

Floppy disks by larrieking

Mario Perler beads by TheBeadLord

Mobile phone case by Lovely CraftsDIY

Perler beads Stormtrooper Star Wars by L000lz

Perler bead camera coasters by Maker Crate

Perler beads tree and mobile by Idee Creative

8-Bit Pixel Art Christmas Baubles by adamcrockett

Beastly Verses By Lewis Carroll, William Blake, D.H. Lawrence and other timeless poets

Beastly Verse is Joohee Yoon's beautifully illustrated children’s book of poems about animals on wonderfully thick, textured paper.

Each short poem, by classic authors such as Lewis Carroll, William Blake, D.H. Lawrence, and Carolyn Wells, is accompanied by a playfully silly illustration, many which pull out to create a three-page spread. And yet many of the poems, which are as whimsical as the beastly images, are also layered with a deeper meaning of nature and life itself. This is one of those books that adults will savor as much as – if not more than – the children who own it.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection just $14

I reviewed this beautifully designed Minecraft boxed set of four hardcover handbooks in December. The price has since dropped to $14, which is a great deal.

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