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HOWTO make an intercom out of obsolete corded phones

Here's a great, simple Make project that teaches you how to make an intercom from a pair of old, corded phones, a 9V battery and a resistor. I loved walkie-talkies and intercoms when I was a kid -- the idea of setting up your own house-wide wireline intercom is super-cool, and the project is dead-simple.

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Build your own open source hardware Nest-style smart thermostat


Alan sez, "Spark.io provides instructions for making your own Nest-like 'smart' thermostat. Of course it's entirely open source, with files on github."

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HOWTO prevent people from sending to your Gmail account via Google Plus

Google continues to try and cram its users into Google Plus, its also-ran social network. The latest move allows people who don't have your Gmail address to send email to your Gmail account by using your Google Plus ID. I have a Gmail account that's associated with my Android devices and the last thing I want is for people to start sending email there. Thankfully, there's a way to opt out (though it would have been much better if it was opt-in). Tl;dr: Gmail -> Settings -> Email via Google+ -> Off. (via Cnet) Cory 45

HOWTO build a nixie clock from near-scratch


Jeffrey sez, "The renowned 360 photographer Andrea Biffi has posted complete instructions for building your own Nixie Tube clock, even including how to etch your own circuit board. While the process seems to be slightly more difficult that 'total noob' difficulty (also, with nixie tubes, hazardous voltages are involved, so be careful!), it looks like loads of fun, with an absolutely beautiful end product."

Simple user-adjustable DIY Nixie Clock by andrea biffi (Thanks, Jeffrey!)

HOWTO bake nested, hemispherical cakes

Cakecrumbs, who created the amazing Jupiter Cake and Earth Cake, has posted a tutorial (with video) explaining in detail how to bake nested, hemispherical cakes so you can create your own.

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Building your own teardrop camper


Make Magazine interviews Werner Strama, who built his own teardrop camping trailer (here's a detailed HOWTO if you want to try it yourself). Strama talks about how he approached the project and the lessons he learned about scratch-building something ambitious and wonderful:

After we decided on the teardrop, I started collecting hundreds of pictures of all the items we believed would be best for our needs: that is, three person sleeping area, a small kitchen in the back, self-powered when needed, very well insulated, for we would be going camping year round to different places, especially hot springs (we have very nice ones in Colorado). Also I needed to keep the costs down so not to be a burden on our finances, and not to fall into the “credit card trap.”

I enrolled my neighbor Denny since he is just an amazing bargain hunter on camping stuff; he was the one who found the old popup camper for free, as well as the stove with the oven, which turned out to be a very nice touch. With the trailer chassis, I set to calculate dimensions and average weights to maintain 12–15% of the total weight on the hitch, which would make sure the trailer would be stable. All it takes is some simple math and three bathroom scales. Then it was a matter of getting the wood, some extra tools, like a router, and a sabre saw to cut the profiles.

How and Why I Built My Own Teardrop Camper Trailer [Goli Mohammadi/Make]

Ergonomic advice from the 17th century


The 1611 treatise "A Nevv Booke, containing all sorts of hands vsvally written at this day in Christendome, as the English and French Secretary, the Roman, Italian, French, Spanish, high and low Dutch, Court and Chancerie hands: with Examples of each of them in their proper tongue and Letter. Also an Example of the true and iust proportion of the Romane Capitals. Collected by the best approued writers in these languages" is archived at the Folger Shakespeare Library and features extensive, cutting-edge 17th century advice on penmanship and ergonomics:

Place your body right forward, as it shall be most seemly and easie for you: and tourne not you head too much aside, nor bed it downe too lowe, for auoyding of wearines and paine: and for such as haue occasion to sit long, I would wish them to sit soft, for their better enduring to write ...

Let not your pen be too full of inke, for feare of blotting: and when it writeth not cleane, or is ouer worne, either wipe it, or mend it: If you should write smaller, tourne your pen a little more a side, and write with the lower neb thereof.

'Hovv Yov Ovght to Hold Your Penne'

Amazing old HOWTO book: "Lee's Priceless Recipes, a collection of famous formulas and simple methods."

My mom recently found and scanned this fantastic family heirloom, a 1917 edition of "Lee's Priceless Recipes, A Collection of Famous Formulas and Simple Methods For Farmers, Dairymen, Housekeepers, Mechanics, Manufacturers, Druggists, Chemists, Perfumers, Barbers, Chiropodists, Renovators, Dyers, Bakers, Confectioners, Woodworkers, Decorators, Painters, Paper-hangers, Metal-workers, Hunters, Trappers, Tanners, Taxidermists, Stockmen, et cetera, and all people in every department of human endeavor."

A quick internet search shows that the book was published starting in the late 1800s, and was reissued in later editions through the 20th century. You can buy a 1990's reissue here.

More scans below. Click on each to view larger size. Note the particularly grody use of Pomegranate root extract!

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Instructables based on Little Brother and Homeland

The awesome people at Instructables have launched a series of HOWTOs based on my novel Homeland, written from the point of view of Marcus, the novel's hero. They previously posted 11 of these for Little Brother, and the new Homeland ones should be kicking off any day. Watch this space!

m1k3y's Instructables

HOWTO make a set of junk-bagpipes

Instructables user smartin014 wants to show you how to make your own set of bagpipes out of PVC pipes and a plastic bag. It's Fat Albert chic:

Having played the highland bagpipes for a couple years now and having just finished a course on maintenance, I was greatly interested in building my own set of pipes just for fun. A few days later, a duct-tape and CPVC bagpipe emerged!

Assembly (from having taken out the parts to having a playable instrument) takes roughly 4-5 hours.

Here's a video of a seasoned piper giving the membrane pipes a spin! (Just a side note... the drones were HORRENDOUSLY out of tune in this video. They can sound better, really!)

Build your own Smallpipes for a few bucks! (Membrane Bagpipes) by smartin014 (via Neatorama)

HOWTO make a DIY bioprinter out of an old inkjet

Karen from Instructables sez, "Instructables author Patrik has rigged up a homemade bioprinter, a 3D printer that 'prints' in biological material. Check out his amazing project. This is one of the many creative entries we've seen come in for our SciStarter Citizen Science Contest, where we are challenging our users to create solutions for real scientific problems."

As our first real "bioprinting" experiment, we wanted to start with something simple, instead of jumping straight into printing with live cells. We decided to print with a solution of arabinose onto filter paper. Then we cut out the filter paper, and put it onto an agarose plate on which we had grown a lawn of E. coli that we had engineered to carry the pGLO plasmid. This plasmid carries the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), under control of an arabinose-sensitive promoter. (Stay tuned for an instructable on how to make your own GFP-expressing E. coli).

As a result, wherever we had printed arabinose on the filter paper, we now saw the E. coli light up green under UV light! Note that the beauty of this experiment lies in its simplicity: we only had to print with a simple sugar solution, rather than with bulky live cells; and we were printing on paper, so we didn't even have to change the paper handling machinery. You could also try printing with antibiotics, or even proteins, such as enzymes or growth factors.

The second-to-last image above shows our first test print, where we has printed arabinose over half of the filter paper - and half of the plate lights up under UV light. In the second image, we had printed the BioCurious "eyeball" logo. Success! Unfortunately the sharpness of the image definitely leaves much to be desired. Presumably, the arabinose tends to diffuse through the filter paper, which smears out the printed pattern. We should be able to do much better by printing directly on the agarose.

DIY BioPrinter by Patrik (Thanks, Karen!)

HOWTO convert an MP3 to a playable, 3D printed record

Instructables user Amandaghassaei has posted a HOWTO for making a 3D printed record that plays on a regular turntable. Her method converts any digital audio file to grooves ready to print. It's a bit fuzzy, but still rather exciting! I'm waiting for the way when taking a snapshot of a vinyl disc can be the first step toward deriving its audio content, converting that back to a shapefile, and printing out a high-fidelity duplicate.

In this Instructable, I'll demonstrate how I developed a workflow that can convert any audio file, of virtually any format, into a 3D model of a record. This is far too complex a task to perform with traditional drafting-style CAD techniques, so I wrote an program to do this conversion automatically. It works by importing raw audio data, performing some calculations to generate the geometry of a record, and eventually exporting this geometry straight to the STL file format (used by all 3D printers). Most of the heavy lifting is done by Processing, an open source environment that's often used for coding interactive graphics applications. To get Processing to export to STL, I used the ModelBuilder Library written by Marius Watz (if you are into Arduino/Processing and 3D printing I highly recommend checking this out, it works great).

I've uploaded some of my complete record models to the 123D gallery as well as the Pirate Bay. Check Step 6 for a complete listing of what's there and what I plan on posting. Alternatively, you can go to Step 7 to download my code and learn how to make your own printable records from any audio file you like.

3D Printed Record

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

How to draw Space Invaders-style characters

Pixel Dude is an image editing app for the iPad. Like the name suggests, it's pixel based, and is good for drawing chunky graphics. The drawing area is a 32 by 32 grid of squares, which I find to be more than enough for my purposes.

I've always liked the look of the Space Invaders aliens, and by using Pixel Dude's symmetrical drawing tool, it's very easy to create characters that have that Space Invaders look. The application has a lot of other features, like layer support and unlimited undo and redo.

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Electric candle that runs on the heat from a real candle


Instructables user Randofo has created a tutorial for his ingeniously perverse candle-powered electric candle. As the name implies, it's an electric candle whose power comes from the heat given off by a real candle.

I have been thinking a lot lately about being more prepared, and what supplies we should have on hand for when the 'big one' hits. After prioritizing the three most obvious things to have in a severe emergency - water, food, and a fair-sized crowbar - it came down to figuring out what else one needs to survive. It did not take me very long to conclude this item was electric lighting. I use that all the time. How can I live without that?

After assessing the problem, it became apparent to me that after a few days of constant lighting, all of my batteries will be dead. This means that either I need rechargeable batteries, or a way to generate electricity without them. Not needing batteries to begin with seemed most sensible to me. I explored different options and finally figured out a low-cost, long-term, and portable, method to keep my electric candles lit. I am going to use heat generated by tea lights. The nice thing about this solution is that they are dirt cheap, small, and will last forever. You can buy about 1,000,000 tea lights at Ikea for $1.99. With a fair-sized stock of small candles, I can keep my electric candle lit indefinitely. Thanks to my candle-powered electric candle, I know that I will never be left in the dark.

Candle-Powered Electric Candle (via Neatorama)