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HOWTO make your own head-in-a-jar illusion

By photoshopping a pair of mirror-flipped profile-shots of your face onto either side of a full-on shot, you can make a gimmicked photo that, when curled and placed in a jar of water, creates a convincing illusion of your head in a jar. Mikeasaurus's Instructable has easy-to-follow instructions for making your own.

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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 make a $10 digital microscope kit for your phone


On Instructables, Yoshinok explains a clever, simple method for building a digital microscope stand that uses your phonecam, focused by a laser-pointer lens.

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3D printed open SLR camera


Bozardeux, a recent French graduate and Instructables user, has undertaken a project to make an open, 3D printed DSLR camera. All the parts and designs are licensed CC Attibution-ShareAlike.


The OpenReflex is an Open-Source analog camera with a mirror Viewfinder and an awesome finger activated mechanic shutter (running ~ 1/60°s). What's more, it's compatible with any photographic lens with custom mount ring.

All the pieces easily printable on any recent RepRap-like ABS 3D-printer without using support material ! Everything should print in less than 15h and anyone should be able to assemble it within 1h.

All parts are separate ( Film receiver, Shutter and Viewfinder ) to simplify builds and modifications. The source files are available under the CreativeCommon By-Sa license, fell free to modify them if you want a new feature, and don't forget to share your improvements on the web ;)

3D Printed Camera : OpenReflex by Bozardeux (Thanks, Gregory)

HOWTO make a multi-book secret stash

Here's a great Instructables for hiding a stash-box behind a wall of cut-away books. In some ways, it's a lot less fiddly than creating a single hollow book, though it does require you to use a scroll saw.

1. The height and depth of the books are the important dimensions of the book. The size of the cover is what limits storage space. Since you are using multiple books, the thickness of each one doesn't matter.

2. The books do not need to be the same size, but it is convenient if they are. Sets of reference books like encyclopedias work well because they are all the same and it is a reasonable excuse to have a bunch of large books all in one spot on the book shelf.

3. Hardback books hold their shape better than paperbacks do after being cut up.

4. The secret compartment only remains a secret as long as no one tries to read any of the books. So it helps if the book are relatively uninteresting while still looking like something that you would have on your shelf.

Multi-Book Secret Storage Compartment by DIYHacksAndHowTos (via Make)

HOWTO make a magnetic detachable stapler for center-stapled booklets and the like


On Instructables, DIYHacksAndHowTos has a great method for separating a cheap stapler and sticking magnets on both halves, enabling you to center-staple booklets and the like. Every year or two, I do something zine-like that requires this sort of thing, and I always end up wasting money on a long-reach stapler that's always lost by the time the next project rolls around. (Don't get me wrong, long-reach staplers are awesome, but if you only need to do booklets once every year or two, they're a lot of investment). This is what I'll do next time (and as a bonus, it'll be great for kid craft projects where we want to use a staple in th center of a large sheet of paper).

One limitation of a typical office stapler is that it only lets you staple about 3 1/2" into the paper. This isn't enough for a lot of projects. If you want to put together your own comic book or a large banner, you are usually stuck stapling your project onto a piece of cardboard or carpet and then bending the legs of the staple by hand. They do sell extra long staplers or staplers with swivel heads but they still have their limitations.

A better option would be to make a stapler with a detachable base. The base would be positioned under the paper and aligned to the top half of the stapler with magnets. This would allow you to staple any area of a project regardless of location. So in this project, I am going to show you how to convert a standard stapler into a two part magnetic stapler.

How to Make a Two-Part Magnetic Stapler by DIYHacksAndHowTos (via Lifehacker)

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!)

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)

Candy Corn on the cob

An Instructable exists for this. It must be made. Alaskantomboy writes, in the prelude:

I experimented with fondant first, that was completely unsuccessful. Then I though of gluing it together with caramel (since I had a fresh bag of that around too). Too messy and too hard. Then, another light bulb went off.....cookie dough! Sugar cookie dough works perfectly (don't attempt with chocolate chip dough, the chips just get in the way and jeopardize structural integrity). It only took about 4 minutes to assemble and looked authentic.

Vegans: it can be done vegan.

(Photo: alaskantomboy. Thanks, Tara McGinley!)

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)

LN2-frozen cocktail popsicles -- the cocksicle!


Karen sez, "Instructables user kazmataz has figured out how to freeze alcohol using liquid nitrogen, and made her own cocktail popsicles."

CAREFULLY pour your liquid nitrogen into the container, making sure to not hit the top of your pops. You want enough LN2 to go about halfway up your pop molds.

While that's continuing to bubble away, pour some more LN2 into your smaller container. Delicately pour a little bit on top of your popsicles. It will all evaporate away, so don't worry about consuming any - this is just to ensure things freeze evenly from all sides.

Let the whole thing sit for a few minutes, or until the popsicle sticks seem firmly in place.

**pro-tip: besides just sitting there, and watching the popsicles slowly freeze (booooooring), feel free to carefully move the container around, to keep the liquid nitrogen moving. It speeds up the freezing process a little.

Cocktail Popsicles (aka Cocksicles)

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)

HOWTO make a disco-ball helmet


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!)