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." Read the rest

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) Read the rest

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!) Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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] Read the rest

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' Read the rest

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!

Read the rest

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 Read the rest

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.

HOWTO make a DIY bioprinter out of an old inkjet

Instructables author Patrik has rigged up a homemade bioprinter, a 3D printer that "prints" in biological material.

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

Instructables user Aandaghassaei 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.

How to make a powered speaker for your MP3 player

Make the Monobox, a nice speaker with a built-in powered amp.

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.

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.

Read the rest

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) Read the rest

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!) Read the rest

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 (www.ApocalypsEV.com).

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) Read the rest

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