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Prolific Instructables maker creates robotic claw business cards, spaghetti yetis, and more

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)?.

PenfoldPlant

HOWTO turn a loved one's head into a laser-cut 3D model with a secret compartment


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!)

HOWTO Make your own Lucky Charms marshmallows


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)

HOWTO make a molded portrait-gourd


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 (via Make)

HOWTO make a shamrock shake at home

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 (via Craft)

HOWTO make an Internet of Things camera

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

HOWTO make a 4,000-volt infrared "snooperscope"


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)

HOWTO make animatronic cat-ears

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 (Thanks, Karen!)

HOWTO do Converse fingernail paint

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.

Converse Nails (via Super Punch)

HOWTO make aerogel


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.

Warning!

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 (via Make)

(Image: A silica aerogel puck Rayleigh scatters light from a laser pointer like smoke.)

HOWTO make a fur-lined barbarian forearm bracer with a digital D&D dice-roller built in


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. ,p> 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

HOWTO build a Tardis, the adorable German schoolteacher way

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 (Thanks, scottiep!)

HOWTO make a boombox out of a toolbox

Chicago's Floyd Davis demonstrates how to make a boombox out of any case, including a Craftsman toolbox.

Boombox in a Toolbox

HOWTO lay a wood floor on top of the carpet in your rental apartment

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

HOWTO make a scrumptious life-sized Stormtrooper cake

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.