Maker Dad presentation at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014

[Video Link] Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 was a blast. On Saturday I interviewed author and biohacker Tim Ferriss, and on Saturday my daughter Jane and I demonstrated some of the projects we built that are in my book, Maker Dad (get a copy of the book here). Above, the video of our talk, which lasts about 25 minutes. We show the Ice Cream Sandwich Necklace, a cool card trick, mind-boggling non-transitive dice, a drawbot, and more.

Zombie Dice expansion pack: the hunk, the hottie, and Santa

zombie-expansionMy family and I have been continuing to enjoy Zombie Dice, a "press your luck" game in which you play a zombie who wants to eat as many human brains as possible without getting shot in the head. We recently picked up the expansion pack, called Zombie Dice 2 Double Feature, which adds good complexity to the game.

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Sounds of the Friendstrument

[Video Link] Here's the circuit that started out as a lie detector but turned out to be more fun as a way to turn your friend into a music instrument. It can be packaged in a bracelet or other small container.

Here are step-by-step instructions for making a Friendstrument, which is featured in my new book Maker Dad.

Mark's online Arduino and intro to making classes

Skillshare is a online learning community that costs $10 a month. Subscribers get access to hundreds of video classes on a wide variety of topics. I have two classes on Skillshare that were released today. One is called Introduction to Arduino: Creating Interactive Projects, and the other is called Introduction to DIY: Becoming a Maker. I'm excited to have discussions with the folks who take my classes!

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Maker Dad: DIY projects for grownups and kids

maker-dad-cover-300[Video Link] My new book came out today. It's called Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects.

The books is focused on teaching girls lifelong skills -- like computer programming, musicality, and how to use basic hand tools -- as well as how to be creative problem solvers. The book’s twenty-four projects include:

• Drawbot, a lively contraption that draws abstract patterns all by itself
• Ice Cream Sandwich Necklace
• Longboard
• Antigravity Jar
• Silkscreened T-Shirt
• Retro Arcade Video Game
• Host a Podcast
• Lunchbox Guitar
• Kite Video Camera

Above, a video about the Friendstrument, an electronic musical instrument girls can play with friends. Tomorrow, I'll run the complete step-by-step instructions for building it here on Boing Boing. If you can't wait that long, you may purchase the entire Maker Dad book with all 24 projects as a Kindle ebook right now for $5.99.

Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

(Thanks to Eric Mittleman for directing and editing the video!)

Fun video series teaches electronics to kids

Circuit Playground is a cute and informative video series created to teach kids (and everyone else) about electronics. The videos are based on the A-Z coloring book that Adafruit Industries published last year. So far, they've released 3 episodes: A is for Ampere, B is for Battery, and the latest, C is for Capacitor. I learned quite a bit by watching them.

Cleopatra in Space: trailer for kids' graphic novel

[Video Link] I'm a big fan of Mike Maihack's artwork, and he's got a new graphic novel called Cleopatra in Space. It's published by Scholastic. My 11-year-old daughter, Jane, enjoyed it.

cisWhen a young Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo's style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, while trying to figure out how she's going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!

Cleopatra in Space

App to make your own platform games

[Video Link] I haven't tried Pixel Press Floors yet, but I like the idea that you design the game using pencil and paper! I'm going to ask my 11-year-old daughter to check it out and report back.

Pixel Press Floors for the iPad lets you create games with platforms, coins and ladders. Once you’ve mastered the basic creator elements – try enemies, spikes, lava pits, powerups & more.

Zombie Dice: eat brains, avoid shotguns

Zombies aren't known for their critical thinking skills, but in Zombie Dice, a fast-paced, risk-vs-reward dice-rolling game designed by Steve Jackson, you play a zombie who must balance its desire for human brains with its fear of getting blasted to necrotic bits by a shotgun.

The game comes with 13 specially marked dice. The dice have three kinds of markings: brains, shotgun blasts, and footprints. (Green dice have more brains, red dice have more shotgun blasts, yellow dice are in-between).

The rules are simple: two or more people can play. Everyone is a zombie. The dice represent humans. When it's your turn, pull three dice from the cardboard cup (without looking) and roll them. Set any brains to one side. Set any shotgun blasts to the other side. Footprints mean the human got away - keep those in front of you. Do you want to roll again? No problem. Just re-roll the footprints dice along with enough fresh dice from the cup so that you roll three dice. You can roll as many times as you like in an effort to eats lots of brains in your turn (my record is 11 juicy brains in one turn), but if you end up accumulating three shotgun blasts, you lose all your brain points for that turn and the next player-zombie gets its turn. When one player gets 13 points, play continues until the round is finished and whoever has the most points wins.

Here's a sample turn:

Colorful keyboard how-to

The process shots for Chica and Joe's colorful keyboard how-to are like photos from a candy factory.

DIY Colorful Computer Keyboard

77 fun ways to play fast-moving Tenzi dice game

A couple of weeks ago my friend Kent Barnes recommended a simple, fast-moving dice game called Tenzi. I bought it and my wife, 11-year-old daughter, and I had fun playing it. The rules are simple - everyone starts out with 10 dice and the goal is to roll your dice as fast as you can until all of them show the same number. Every time you roll, you are allowed to set aside any dice that match your desired number. When all ten of the dice show the same number, you shout "Tenzi!," throw your hands in the air, and gloat while the other players gnash their teeth. The game rules included a couple of variations on the basic rule set, which we also played and liked.

A few days later Kent told me about a $10 deck of cards called 77 Ways to Play Tenzi. I ordered the deck and last night my wife, 11-year-old, 16-year-old daughter (who doesn't like games and joined us reluctantly), and I tested the deck out. Ninety minutes later we decided that this deck takes Tenzi to a new level. The deck adds variety, surprise, and humor to Tenzi. It makes Tenzi so much more fun that I think the company shouldn't sell the dice without the cards. My 16-year-old daughter was surprised that she had such a good time.

77 Ways to Play Tenzi | Buy Tenzi cards and dice as a set See example cards

Kandu: kids' app development program on iPad

[Video Link] Kandu is an iPad based app for kids that lets you make apps and games. Here's co-founder David Bennahum demonstrating it at New York Tech Meetup earlier this month.

There are more ways to arrange a deck of cards than atoms on Earth

[Video Link]There are roughly 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique ways to order 52 playing cards. “Any time you pick up a well shuffled deck, you are almost certainly holding an arrangement of cards that has never before existed and might not exist again.” (Via Adafruit Industries)

Tenzi: fast dice game with simple rules

My friend, Kent Barnes, told me about Tenzi, a simple dice game. The object of the game is to end up with all of your dice showing the same number.

Here's how to play: Each player gets 10 dice. When one of the players says "go!" everyone rolls their dice. After the first roll, you set the dice with the most matches, and roll the remaining dice to try to match the ones you've set aside. You don't take turns; you just roll as quickly as you can. It usually takes less than a minute for someone to win. It seems idiotically simple. It's more fun than it sounds.

We play a variation: the winner of the previous round gets to choose the point number (between 1 and 6), and everyone has to try to match their dice to that number.

Tenzi $14

Arduino for Beginners, by John Baichtal

John Baichtal is a contributor to MAKE online, and is good at explaining complex things to newbies. He's put this talent to use in his new book, Arduino for Beginners, which assumes nothing from the reader except for a willingness to learn. (Arduino is a inexpensive electronic prototyping platform.)

The Arduino projects in the book are presented in full color: a laser/infrared trip beam to protect your home from intruders, a Bluetooth doorbell, an LED strip coffee table, a plant-watering robot, an ultrasonic cat toy, a bubble-blowing robot, and more.

The book goes far beyond teaching you how to make cool things with Arduino. His chapter on maker tools (hand tools, power tools, laser cutters, 3D printers, design software, etc.) alone is worth the price of the book.

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