Mike Schropp's "BioComputer" is a PC casemod that actually grows wheatgrass, using waste-heat from the computer to provide a hospitable hothouse environment. He's posted detailed build-logs from the project, and plans more ambitious horticulture.
I can’t exactly recall when the idea came to me, but at some point I started wanting to use the heat from a computer as a way to warm the soil and help with germination/growth. I’m about as far from a botanist as it comes, I did some reading online and became pretty interested in the effects of soil temperature on germination/growth. I read different studies and papers from various universities. It was not too long into that process that I became hooked on the idea of using computer heat as a way to control the soil temperature of some sort of living plant life.
As the idea developed further I started looking into wheatgrass as a plant option. There is something clean and natural about the look and idea of a piece of grass growing in my basement. I thought the look would alter the space a little bit and add a bit of color along with something more than just metals and plastics. After reading enough studies and papers on the effects of soil temperature and germination with wheatgrass I felt like I had a good enough handle on the basics to tackle this.
Redditor BillyAppletini surprised a friend with an "Imperial CAT-AT (All-Terrain Armored-Transport)" -- a cat-condo/AT-AT walker. His Imgur gallery , which documents the build, has some rudimentary plans as well.
I wouldn't consider myself a great woodworker or an artist - but I will take credit for being committed to a joke. I wrecked my house for a month building this, which was about 27 days longer than I wish it would have taken. The trickiest part was keeping any of my friends from coming inside my place for that whole time - I knew they wouldn't be able to keep it a secret!
The inside of the CAT-AT has a fully furnished luxury cat condo.
I was originally going to forge an Amazon receipt and make it look like my buddy's cat ordered it on his Amazon account and have it delivered while he was at work, but enough was enough - when it was complete, I had to get it out of my loft and clean up.
My buddy loves Star Wars, and has two cats. So I built him this, and put it in his apartment.
On EnglishRussia (and apparently ganked from
a possibly defunct LiveJournal -- It looks like LJ had an outage earlier today), a wonderful detailed HOWTO for making the tiniest, most adorable kitchen knife you ever did see.
A kitchen knife may become an end in any argument… This knife is made on a scale of 1 to 12 from flat stained steel sheet 1.5 mm thick. Other elements are made of plastic and the clinchers are from aluminium wire 0.6 mm in diameter.The needed tools: a vise, 2 files, 3 broach files, abrasive paper of two types, a drill fixed on a vertical support – 1 set, a drill bit 0.6 mm, a piece of thick felt for polishing the handle, an extra wooden bar.
How To Make a Tiny Kitchen Knife
Bruce sez, "How Stella made her own Doctor Who themed TARDIS cake at home on her own with no previous experience. Includes pictures throughout the process."
I wanted a TARDIS cake that actually had the shape of the police box. I didn’t want to just draw a TARDIS on top of a cake. The TARDIS is vertical, not horizontal, so I knew I would have to stack cakes to make it work. Without wanting to make it too impractical or large, I decided to make a flat cake and cut smaller square pieces until I got to the right height. This would be my TARDIS, and then I’d put this on top of a second cake to make a scene featuring the TARDIS landing on a grassy field, which would also ensure I’d have enough cake for the guests, since the TARDIS itself might not be big enough.
Geeky Homemade Doctor Who TARDIS Cake (Thanks, Bruce!)
At the Criminal Crafts blog, a fun tutorial on "pairing zombies with a fuzzy pastel holiday," through delicious zombie bunny rabbits and haunted eggs. There's a photo gallery here.
(via Boing Boing Flickr Pool)
On Instructables, Natalina explains how she turned her motorcycle helmet into a disco ball: "This disco ball helmet uses real glass, as it is intended as a costume piece (to be paired with a disco backpack, coming soon!). If you want it to be functional, acrylic mirror would be safer and lighter weight (though not as shiny and reflective)."
Disco Ball Helmet (Thanks, Karen!)
Instructables user PenfoldPlant creates fascinating projects! I love the robotic-claw business card (video above), but I'm also extremely partial to the Spaghetti Yeti (right), and who could say no to a giant papercraft Trojan Horse (below)?.
CarlBass on Instructables (who's also the CEO of Autodesk) created a 3D modelled, laser-cut version of his son's head, designed to have a secret compartment instead of brains.
We made a box in the shape of my son’s head. We laser cut pieces of taskboard (corrugated cardboard works well, too) and laminated them together. The heads pivots on a dowel and is held in place by two magnets... Round magnets have been added on the top and bottom of the head so it snaps close and conceals the secret hiding spot.
Making a cardboard head with a secret hiding spot (Thanks, Karen!)
If you can make homemade corn syrup, you can make homemade marshmallows. If you can make homemade marshmallows, you can make homemade Lucky Charms marshmallows. If you can do that, you are become death, destroyer of worlds.
That said, making homemade Lucky Charms is not for everyone.
You can read that sentence as a warning or as a challenge to be one of the few who are up to the task. I will never make them again. That's not because they turned out poorly. No, quite the opposite - they were amazing! However, homemade Lucky Charms were so labor-intensive that both Jonathan and I are still recovering - we have blisters on our thumbs from continuous pressing on cookie cutters (Jonathan had to take over after my fingers hurt so much that I couldn't cut anymore).
Homemade Lucky Charms - Are You Up for the Challenge? ~ Cupcake Project (via Geekologie)
Instructables member TimAnderson has a great HOWTO for growing molded "portait gourds," a technique from China and would work with other vegetables. He starts with a 3D sculpture of his subject, creates a mold, and then coaxes the veg to grow within the mold's constraints.
This mold has a flexible rubber lining which makes it easy to remove from the gourd.
A plaster mold adheres to the gourd more tenaciously and usually the mold is destroyed in the course of removing it from around the gourd.
The gourd is then allowed to dry slowly, and the outer coating called the "cuticle" is removed.
Then the finishing steps, if any, are done.
On this gourd, the details of the face and hair were then traced with the point of a jade knife to enhance the detail, It was dyed with dark tea, and a coat of varnish was applied to make it shiny.
Portrait Gourds Grown in Molds
Bethany Nixon's husband claims to have found the exact proportions of peppermint extract, green food dye, and vanilla ice-cream to reproduce the seasonal McDonald's Shamrock Shake year round. This will certainly come in handy for those out-of-season snake infestations!
Dan is one of those people that run out the door to get a Shamrock Shake the day they are back at McDonald’s. You too? Well, today my husband created his own version in our kitchen, and I thought I’d share his recipe with you. Now both of you can have that minty goodness without ever leaving home & all year long!
Homemade Shamrock Shakes
Following on from their Internet of Things Printer
, the good folks at Adafruit have produced a set of plans and a kit for making an Internet of Things Camera -- a tiny, standalone gizmo that turns an Arduino, a webcam's guts and an EyeFi card into a device that can wirelessly transmit photos to a computer, with complimentary software for processing, uploading and filing the images it captures.
Here’s our Arduino based “Internet of Things” camera. It’s a simple remote monitoring using the Eye-Fi wireless SD card and Adafruit Data Logging Shield for Arduino. The Eye-Fi card is a tiny wireless memory card. It stores photos and fits inside a camera just like a regular SD card, but also has built-in WiFi transceiver that can upload images to your computer, smartphone or to various photo-sharing sites. We use one here when taking pictures for our tutorials — it’s a great timesaver, eliminating the extra USB transfer step that’s otherwise necessary. Can the Eye-Fi card work in an Arduino SD card adapter? You bet! Adding a TTL Serial JPEG camera, together with some minimal prep work, we can then create a self-contained wireless monitoring camera with motion-sensing capabilities. Hide it inside a hollowed-out book or a plush dinosaur toy and discover who’s been eating all your Thin Mints cookies!
What makes this combination way cooler than just a normal SD card or a USB cable to a computer is all the infrastructure provided by the Eye-Fi service — not just transferring images to your computer, but pushing them to your smartphone, photo-sharing sites like Flickr, issuing email or Twitter notifications, etc. This is all configured through the Eye-Fi application — there’s no additional coding required.
An “Internet of Things” Camera
From the August 1951 ish of Mechanix Illustrated, a modest HOWTO describing a "Snooperscope" that requires a 4,000 to 6,000-volt power-supply to fire infrared light at and through the materials around you.
Construction of the snooperscope: The image converter tube is mounted in a plastic drinking cup 3-1/2 in. high by 2-1/2 in. in diameter. The optical system required depends upon your intended use. We used a small tripod type magnifier lens of 10 power (1 in. focal length) for the front lens and objects from three inches to one and a half feet can be focused. There is no reason why a greater range cannot be had with this lens by moving it closer or farther away from the tube.
After selecting the lens system mount it in a hole cut into the bottom of the cup. A jeweler’s saw or coping saw is ideal for cutting the hole. Paint the inside of the cup with black paint. Black airplane dope works fine. No light other than that from the lens must be permitted to hit the tube. Place an infrared filter between tube and lens to reduce effects of stray white light.
The image converter tube is inserted with the graphite side toward the front lens and the metal ring toward the mouth of the cup. A thin flexible lead from the metal ring connects to the positive side of the power supply. Some tubes were manufactured without this lead, in which case a piece of spring metal pressed against the metal ring will work just as well. The front end of the tube has a graphite ring around it. This is the end where the infrared image is to be focused. The graphite coating is the cathode or negative lead. Connect this lead to the B minus side of the power supply. A piece of spring brass or even the flat sheet metal carefully removed from a tin can should be formed with the fingers so it fits snugly around the cathode terminal.
make this SNOOPERSCOPE and see in total darkness (Aug, 1951)
Karen sez, "Instructables user abetusk has designed her own animatronic cat ears." Holy awesomely cute. I mean keee-yooo-te.
I saw the demo video for the neurowear "necomimi" brain controlled cat ears and I thought they were pretty awesome. I'm just starting to learn electronics and I thought a fun project to start out would be making my own version. Sadly, I don't think I'm adept enough yet to take on making my own EEG and I don't think the EEG's that are available are very reasonably priced, so I settled for having a button input to control the cat ears.
I wanted to build something that wasn't too expensive and was easy enough to be done in a sitting or two. I picked out some cheap servo motors, some craft supplies, spent a weekend or two developing code to control the servo's from a microcontroller and after much trial and error, I built some kitty ears that I think are pretty decent.
Animatronic Cat Ears
I don't know an awful lot about fingernail painting, but this seems like a pretty straightforward painting task, and the effect is pretty awesome.
(via Super Punch)
Aerogel.org is devoted to making open versions of aerogel, the super-strong, super-light new material. They provide recipes for several sorts of aerogel, testing protocols, and projects you can undertake with your homebrew miracle substances.
Propylene oxide is a known carcinogen (exposure can cause cancer), and epichlorohydrin is probably too. If you plan on doing this procedure, take the proper precautions to prevent your exposure to the vapors of these substances by using a fume hood in lab, if possible, or at the very least a fitted respirator (gas mask) with the right organics cartridges and a well-ventilated space, on top of the usual splash goggles, gloves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes.
Look under Explore > Information About Chemicals to see where you can find health and safety information about these and other chemicals.
If you can’t use these substances safely, don’t use them until you can!
Aerogel.org » Make
(Image: A silica aerogel puck Rayleigh scatters light from a laser pointer like smoke.)
The wizards at Sparkfun, an open source hardware company, show us how to make one of these spiffy furry barbarian leather arm-bracers with a charmingly anachronistic D&D dice-roller built into, built around a Lilypad soft Arduino controller.
I’ve got nothing but respect for the DIY/open source community who take conductive thread, LEDs, and Arduino boxes and make them into marvelous little working crafts. I find it all a bit above my metaphorical pay grade. However, if there was anything that was going to convince me to learn how to rig a circuit, it would be the project that Dia forwarded to us yesterday.
It’s a fur-lined leather gauntlet that can roll 100, 20, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4-sided dice with the flip of a switch and the shake of a forearm. It combines my love of tabletop with my desire to live in the future where we all poke our wrists to get things done.
Theoretically, there's a complete tutorial for this beauty, but it's 404 at the moment. The link below goes to The Mary Sue's writeup.
New Life Goal: Make a Leather Bracer that Rolls Dice
Sillysparrowness, a self-described "German teacher with a leaning towards silliness," described the process by which she came to build a beautiful, obsessively finished Tardis.
I built a TARDIS
Chicago's Floyd Davis demonstrates how to make a boombox out of any case, including a Craftsman toolbox.
Boombox in a Toolbox
Sumitsumit sez, "Tired of carpet, want wood floors, but living in a rental apartment? If you have the low-pile variety, here's an economical way to make yourself a great new floor without damaging the underlying carpet. From the guy who brought you 'rope bondage for laptops.'"
How to Install a Wood Floor on top of Carpet
Oakleaf Cakes, creator of the life-sized Stormtrooper cake we featured yesterday, have a post up detailing the fella's construction, right down to his rice krispie skeleton.
The building of the Stormtrooper cake was an epic event in and of itself. It took our entire wonderful crew of ten people two full weeks of to put this guy together (although the cake wasn’t added until 2 days before it was to be served). Along the way we even had to invent completely new cake making methods so it could be put together modularly onsite, hold its fondant over long vertical stretches, and stand on two beautifully sculpted Rice Kripsy legs that supported his 300 lb body –all while keeping every bit of cake tasting light, fluffy, and delicious!
We built a life-size Stormtrooper and he was delicious.
Mark's written about winning rigged carny games before, and now the Art of Manliness has a nice little guide to winning five midway challenges, including the secrets behind them (for example, the milk-can has a collar welded around the inside of its mouth that makes it just a few millimeters bigger than the ball you're tossing) and strategies for beating them.
The secret to winning Milk Can is to give the ball a bit of backspin and hit the back of the can’s rim. The backspin will decrease the ball’s momentum, and instead of bouncing off the can, it will slide into the hole. Easier said than done, of course!
Aim for the back of the rim. Remember, we’re trying to deflect the ball in, not sink the ball straight through the hole.
Toss the ball underhanded, but grip the ball on top. This will allow you to give the ball the needed backspin.
Give the ball some backspin as you release it. As you release the ball, give a little flick of the wrist so the ball starts spinning backwards in the air.
Carny season's a few months off, but that gives you time to practice.
How to Win 5 State Fair Games
Makerspaces are pretty gnarly, filled with unwieldy equipment, fragile projects-in-progress, glorious fire hazards, and delicate instruments. Moving a makerspace sounds like a nightmare. MAKE's guide to moving a makerspace, penned by the Jigsaw Renaissance members after their last move, is a great place to start when your hackspace loses its lease or outgrows its boundaries.
Purge. No really. This is the best time to throw everything out. Yes, we know it might be useful at some point. Some tips: if it’s not slated for a specific project, toss it. Is the object of high value? Calculate your cost/sqft of space, including utilities. Is it worth the space it takes up?
Layout. Have an idea of where things go – this will help you with your purging process.
Insurance. Just like your landlord, find an insurance agent who “gets it” or at least gives you a confused smile. Talk to them about why you do what you do. Use terms like “community workshop” and “clubhouse for geeks.” Words like “hacker,” “fire,” “high voltage” might set them running. And yes, you do need insurance.
Moving Your Makerspace
Instructables virtuosa Mezcraft made a (sadly non-working) geared gingerbread cuckoo clock with internal gingerbread gearing. She kind of beats herself up for the mechanical unsoundness of gingerbread, but that's hardly her fault!
Well - this is a bit of a fail so this is where it gets sad. After all my research and all of my effort my gears have stuck to the axle and will not turn. Two of them have some movement but the other two are stuck. If anybody out there has tips on how to avoid getting icing down onto your axle I am all ears! I still haven't given up on this idea. I might try it again another time..I think also the weight of my top gear pieces limited the ability for the gear to turn. Ah well.. It was really fun to try and do. Plus my clock feels slightly more authentic, like it has a gingerbread gear heart on the inside. No Hollow Gingerbread house for me, that's right, I got a Gingerbread house with soul...
I spent a good deal of time "cleaning up" the edges of the gears with an exacto blade attempting to give them smooth surfaces in which to turn well. I then added wax paper "washers" as I was worried that icing might stick ( this was not an unfounded worry), and that the gingerbread might rub weirdly on all other gingerbread. My initial test before icing of the gears worked well. It turned and it had promise. I then assembled the whole gear section together with icing and crossed my fingers that it would not stick together...
So all that work on my gears that didn't work and got stuck AND you cannot even see them through my clock face! Not enough light I suppose...Pretty funny though. At least I know that they are there. I think next time I should set up some major lighting if I want to put something on the inside of a gingerbread house. LESSON LEARNED.
Edible Gingerbread Cuckoo Clock with Internal gears
Hallowe'en has come and gone, but it's always the right time for hats that make you look like your skull has been removed, exposing your brain!
It's best to study pictures of the human brain before tackling this project in order to best mimic the brain's convolution patterns when caulking the cap.
Weighing a little less than a pound and a half, this costume is still lighter than most professional bicycle and motorcycle helmets. Use a cap without an adjuster to ensure a perfect fit.
Project: Gory Brain Cap
Matters of Grey created some beautiful, downloadable designs for cutting out Star Wars-themed snowflakes, and Anthony Herrera extended the collection, adding several designs, including a smashing Admiral Ackbar.
Star Wars Snowflakes
This fairly straightforward HOWTO teaches you to build a tiny terrarium inside a clear glass Christmas tree bauble.
If you love terrariums as much as we do, why not trim your holiday tree with a some of them? With just a few materials and some fresh plants, you can create ornaments featuring these glass-enclosed garden worlds to make your home jolly and bright. We think they're much more fun than your typical store-bought ornaments, and unlike those shiny green balls you'd see on a generic Christmas tree, these terrarium ornaments can stay out long after the yule tide comes and goes. Read on for our step by step tutorial to learn how to make your own!
DIY: How to Make a Terrarium Christmas Ornament!
Karen sez, "Instructables user lvl_joe has built the ultimate Fire-Breathing Animatronic Pony from a FurReal Butterscotch play pony."
For Maker Faire Detroit 2011, I displayed a hack I made to a FurReal Friends Butterscotch Pony. My fellow LVL1 Hackers and I had taken control of the motor control system of the toy and added a flame thrower to it. It seemed to go over really well with the crowd, so I am putting up the information for anyone to make there own. It was a blast to make and I hope everyone has as much fun remaking it. Just remember that this project uses Fire and should only be built and operated by no less then 2 adults with appropriate experience in fire safety and proper fire safety equipment on hand.
Make a Fire Breathing Animetronic Pony from FurReal Butterscotch or S'Mores
Karen sez, "Instructables user AussieCFViolin has rigged up a carbon fiber violin. This tutorial is an early entry in Instructables' ShopBot Challenge, which is accepting all sorts of creative projects for the chance to win an their own ShopBot. This contest has only been running for a week, and has already seen a lot of fantastic entries."
I used the infusion method of carbon fibre making , were you lay all your layers up dry and vacuum bag it , once the vacuum is over 25hg (-12psi) you open the tap to the resin , and the vacuum pulls the resin into the carbon fibre fabric , the laying up of the rib mould took me 5 hours each side to get the fabric to sit in the right position , very fiddly ( pardon the pun) .
The gluing jig was made from MDF with 10mm cup heads sticking through , designed to allow side ways positioning of the rib and neck parts , and the holding down clamps for the top and bottom , the centre part of the jig was removed to glue the top on, with the 4 hour set time of the resin ,its important to keep it all firmly heard in position.
The cutting and shaping of the f holes is another reason they call them fiddles , carbon fibre is a bugger to cut , found that if you submerge the carbon fibre in water and use a Flexi Drive bit holder on a Dremmel, it keeps every thing cold , and produces no dust , just ware a rain coat
A carbon fibre violin i made from scratch
Instructables user Urant decided to create a pocket-sized espresso machine that could be built using simple tools and parts from a local home-improvement store. He came up with a tiny, soldered contraption with its own tinsy winsy alcohol stove that uses a filed-down syringe to deliver a very slow drip of fuel for a boil that goes long enough to extract a single shot. It's a great design.
Design constraints are some of the most important points of any product design; they tell us what the limits are. The tighter the constraints, the more limited the design, and we have to be more creative to be able to meet them.
On this project, I set the following ones.
1- The product had to fit in the pocket of my jeans.
2- The product had to be made out with common, cheap and easily obtainable materials from any home improvement store or corner hardware store.
3- The product had to be made using simple tools that most makers would probably already have, or could easily borrow or buy cheaply.
4- The product had to be self-contained.
5- The budget was maximum 30 dollars.
Pocket size Espresso Machine with integrated alcohol stove.