Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

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 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 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 make a stained-glass D20


On Instructables, CaseyBorders's recipe for making stained glass 20-sided dice. A bit tricky to carry these around in your grandad's old Crown Royal bag, but otherwise, they make some pretty smashing (ahem) RPG accessories.

Now we need to cut 20 triangles out of our sheet of stained glass that match the template that we created. The easiest way to do that is to cut a stip of glass the same height as the triangles we cut in the jig. In the example pictures we used a strip that was 1.5" wide because our triangles ended up being 1.5" tall. Place the strip flush across the bottom of your cutting board and set your angle guide to 60 degrees. Follow your angle guide with your scorer so you end up with a 60 degree angle cut off the end of your glass strip. Depending on the kind of glass you bought you might simply need to flip it over to get the other side of the triangle, but the glass in the demo pictures is textured on the back, so we can only cut on the front, so we need to change our cutting guide to 60 degrees the other way. However you end up doing it, make sure that you are making your cuts and angle adjustments as precisely as you can, because if the triangles are not correctly shaped they will not make a good-looking d20.

Once you have 20 good pieces we can etch the numbers on them. Place each triangle in one of the holes of the cardboard template on the laser cutter's cutting surface. Now you can use the same file that we used to make the template but be sure to set your laser to etch only! We don't want to cut around the holes again!

Making a Stained-Glass d20 (via Neatorama)

Win $100K worth of 3D printing gubbins

gmoke sez, "Post an Instructable on how to turn a virtual item into a tangible object by April 30, win $100,000 in 3D printing tech and supplies. Examples include 3D printed objects, laser-cut files, and even printed decals using an inkjet printer." Cory

HOWTO make duct-tape roses

Here's DIYHacksandHowTos's great Instructables for making duct tape roses. The method is simple and produces a really beautiful (and romantically geeky) end-product.

Realistic Duct Tape Rose (via Craft)

Cheap Ikea anglepoise knock-off is a good articulated arm for webcams


Ikea makes a super-cheap, $9 articulated anglepoise knock-off lamp. The articulated arm is a useful for anything lightweight that needs to have an adjustable X- and Y-axis. Instructables user Brianandrewparker shows how to use a blob of Sugru to mount a webcam to the lamp-base and give yourself a nice, adjustable camera. He notes that this would be useful for mounting other things, too.

Tertial Webcam (via Lifehacker)

Gingerbread cuckoo clock with gingerbread gears


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 (via Craft)

HOWTO make a fire-breathing animatronic pony

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 (Thanks, Karen!)

HOWTO make a scratch-built carbon-fiber violin


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 (Thanks, Karen!)

HOWTO make a home-made pocket-sized espresso machine with tiny alcohol stove


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. (via Make)

HOWTO make your own 3D printer


Karen sez, "Instructables user RobHopeless has engineered a way to make your own 3D printer. This tutorial is an entry in Instructables' 4th Epilog Challenge, which is accepting all sorts of creative projects for the chance to win an Epilog Laser."

I have wanted a 3D Printer for a while now and there are some very reasonably priced kits available like the Makerbot, Ultimaker and the RepRap project. I could have just bought a kit and started printing things but at the time I had not seen great resolution or print quality from those. I started looking around at the other 3D printing technologies and found SLA made some amazing quality prints, so I decided to try making my own. Since I started this a while back those projects have come a long way and they can make some beautiful prints now. There are also people working on a UV resin and DLP projector 3D printer which is showing promise.

Build a Laser 3D Printer - Stereolithography at Home (Thanks, Karen!)

HOWTO make your own skateboard truck lazy-susan table

Inspired by the skateboard-truck lazy-susan table I blogged last year, Instructables user Wilgubeast has produced a HOWTO for replicating it for about $70, excluding the glass: "Think of the possibilities: Play board games where nobody has to look at the board upside-down. Bring the remote within reach without getting up from the couch. Epic tea parties."

Skateboard Table

HOWTO recreate the Haunted Mansion's singing busts


TheNewHobbyist has posted an Instructable for re-creating the "Singing Busts" effect from the Disney Haunted Mansion rides, using an Arduino to control the effect so that it springs to life when trick-or-treaters step up to your porch.

After I started learning to program my Ardunio this evolved into a photocell actuated video "on demand" Halloween display. I used an example I found on Arkadian.eu to control a Dell Mini 9 netbook running AutoHotKey. When the photocell switch is tripped the Arduino sends a serial message to the Dell laptop which is converted to a keystroke by AAC Keys which in turn triggers the below AutoHotKey Script and finally plays back using VLC. The "AAC Keys" could probably be replaced by setting up your Arduino as a USB HID but at the time this was all a foreign language to me.

(via Neatorama)