Boing Boing 

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.

Read the rest

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)

Funny & profane guide to digital inking

On DeviantArt, Mayekoposted an indispensable and profane guide to digital inking called "Lie, cheat, steal your way to better art." The tl;dr is: work at very high rez (then shrink), and use texture brushes set to 100%. But the commentary is hilarious and convincing -- go read it.

LIE-CHEAT-STEAL LIKE A FISH by *Mayeko on deviantART (via Making Light)

HOWTO make a Minecraft Herobrine costume

Matt sez, "Here's a link for the Herobrine costume I made for my son. After a bunch of requests, I put up the PDF files and instructions to make your own. It was a huge hit with the kids at his school. Even bigger than when we went as Finn and the Ice King last year!"

(Thanks, Matt!)

HOWTO make a machete wrench

EV Builder and friends were in the midst of refitting a vehicle to be of use in a zombie apocalypse when it occurred to them to turn a machete into a variable hex wrench. They liked the result so much that the published the HOWTO on Instructables.

Perhaps one of the more useful tools I have ever owned was a flat bar with a series of hexagonal cutouts in it. While minimally useful as a wrench because of its long length, it proved invaluable as backstop for holding nuts in place while I was tightening them down. Not to mention that when my wrench set was annoyingly missing just the size I needed, my hard to misplace flat bar always had me covered.

It therefore stood to reason that a Katana with a similar series of hexagonal cutouts would be valuable both for taking down Zombies/Mutant wildlife and complementing any set of tools used for post apocalyptic DYI projects. However, after a bit of research it became apparent that in addition to being expensive to make, “Katanas are notoriously high maintenance”* and at ApocalypsEV we hate the idea of high cost high maintenance (

So seeking a simpler more affordable concept, we created the Mechanics Machete. It combines the Zombie fighting power of a machete with the utility of a set of wrenches. Also when using stainless steel for the blade, it eliminates the maintenance hassle of trying to keep the blade rust free.

Every time I see a hex-wrench made by cutting a shape out of a piece of metal, I remember the time Gatwick airport security stole my belt-buckle, including the little loop that held the belt's tongue, because the loop had a hexagonal cutout that was a "wrench."

Apocalypse Mechanics Machete (via Neatorama)

HOWTO separate eggs with a plastic bottle

This Chinese-speaking woman has a cool tip for separating eggs, using the suction of a slightly compressed water bottle. That's a pretty clean separation. I could watch it all day.

如何巧妙分离蛋清蛋黄 (via Kottke)

HOWTO survive a DDoS attack

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a comprehensive, multi-lingual guide to keeping sites that are undergoing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks alive.

Denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are increasingly common phenomena, used by a variety of actors—from activists to governments—to temporarily or indefinitely prevent a site from functioning efficiently. Often, the attack saturates the target with server requests designed to flood its bandwidth, leaving the server unable to respond to legitimate traffic.

Though the owners of major sites often have the resources to fend off or even prevent such attacks, smaller sites—such as those belonging to small independent media or human rights organizations—are sometimes permanently disabled due to a lack of resources or knowledge.

This guide aims to assist the owners of such websites by providing advice on choosing an appropriate webhost, as well as a guide to mirroring and backing-up their websites so that the content can be made available elsewhere even if their site is taken down by a DoS or DDoS attack.

Keeping Your Site Alive

HOWTO bake a cake inside the skin of an orange

Here's a cute idea from CHOW and Chris Rochelle for baking chocolate cakes in campfire coals, using scooped-out orange peels as molds:

Cut the tops off about 10 oranges and scoop out the pulp. Fill the oranges three-quarters of the way with chocolate cake batter (cake mix works fine), then put the orange tops back on and wrap each orange in aluminum foil. Place directly onto the smoldering coals of the campfire, avoiding any intense flames, and cook for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice.

I've had sorbet served in an orange and pate served in an orange (AKA "meat fruit). Both were delicious. You could probably do a whole meal inside of citrus peels.

Step Up the S'more: 7 Ideas for Campfire Treats by Chris Rochelle (via Neatorama)

HOWTO use skateboards as ceiling-fan blades

Converting three skateboard planks to act as the blades on an electric ceiling fan is surprisingly straightforward, as Notcot's NOTlabs demonstrates: "staring at the ugly, boring ceiling fan that hung above us led to the idea of of skateboards as fan blades! And sure enough a few days later, skateboards and a nice simple ceiling fan was acquired to test with!"

NOTlabs: The Skateboard Fan- 07.05.12 (via Neatorama)

HOWTO make unicorn poop cookies

In case the Epic Poop post has you reaching for a unicorn chaser, I bring you...unicorn poop. Specifically, DIY unicorn poop from Instructables user kristylynn84. The secret ingredient is love. And poop. And "sugar cookies, rainbow dragees, rainbow star sprinkles, white sparkle gel, and rainbow disco dust."

Unicorn Poop!

HOWTO make Star Wars vehicles from 3.5" floppies

Instructables user Jetpack5 created a series of Star Wars space vehicles out of floppy-disk parts and office supplies. There's even a rubber-band-ball Death Star! Also in the set: a Millennium Falcon and a truly spiffy X-Wing fighter. This is a potentially productive way of using up the 5-billion-odd 3.5" floppies kicking around, slowly decaying. Better than my idea of a massive Beowulf cluster of 486s with four floppy drives each, rack-mounted and spanned to create a massively inefficient, room-sized virtual ZIP cartridge, which would be serviced by a dozen rollerbladed teenagers who would whisk around, swapping out corrupt disks.

Millennium Falcon and X-Wing from Floppy Disk (with Special Guest Appearance: Death Star) (via Neatorama)

Casemod that grows wheatgrass

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.

Bio Computer (via Neatorama)