Boing Boing 

Rube Goldberg's marvelous machines

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg’s absurdly complex mechanisms for achieving easy results are so ingrained in popular culture that the artist/engineer’s name appears in the dictionary as an adjective. A new book highlights his happy mutant approach to engineering.

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Floating UP! house posts photos to Instagram via Raspberry Pi

Valentin Squirelo and friends at HackerLoop built a miniature model of the flying house from UP! outfitted with a Raspberry Pi computer and floated it above Paris where it posted live photos to Instagram. This was particularly interesting because generally photos can only be uploaded to Instagram via the official iOS or Android app. HackerLoop worked around that limitation. HackerLoop's #Upstagram

HOWTO guide: Soldering is easy!

Solderrrr

PhotoMitch Altman, inventor of TV-B-GONE and co-founder of San Francisco's Noisebridge hacker space, is a master maker and educator who finds great joy in teaching people of all ages how to get creative with electronics. At last year's Science Hack Day SF, Mitch taught my 7-year-old son how to solder and he's been at it ever since, making increasingly-complicated kits from Mitch's Cornfield Electronics, Maker Shed, and Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Mitch even taught a weeklong Creative Electronics camp for elementary school kids at my son's school over the summer and it was a huge hit. If you (or your kids) want to learn to solder too, I highly recommend the "Soldering Is Easy" comic book (PDF) that Mitch created with Andie Nordgren and Jeff "mightyohm" Keyzer. You can download the free PDF in multiple languages from Mitch's site. And there's also a single-page "Soldering Is Easy" reference sheet too. Thanks for all that you do to inspire young makers, Mitch!

"'Soldering Is Easy' and other DIY projects!"

LED stick person costume for toddler

Royce Hutain made a wonderful "stick person" costume for his toddler from LED lights and a body suit.

DIY Myazaki ornithopter and Totoro

Kazuhiko Kakuta made a terrific flying ornithopter model of a Flaptter from Hayao Miyazaki's "Laputa: The Castle in the Sky" (1986). Details here. And below, video of Kakuta's radio-controlled Totoro. (via The Kid Should See This)

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Player piano and robot drummer play Nintendo audio live

Classic Nintendo audio is translated in (very near) real-time for live playing by a modern-day "player piano" (Yamaha Disklavier) and robot percussion system, under Raspberry Pi control.

The software is responsible for translating the gameplay audio to instructions which ultimately define which solenoid should be actuated. In full disclosure, there is normally a half-second audio delay that was removed in editing, but it's still very playable live. The piano is controlled through the Disklavier's MIDI interface, while the percussion's solenoids are directly controlled through the Pi's GPIO interface.

"Nintendo audio played by player piano and robotic percussion"

Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson's DIY musical instruments

Untitled Above, one of the exquisite hand-made acoustic/electronic instruments played by the late, great Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of Coil and Throbbing Gristle. Many more at Pacmasaurus's Flickr set of "UnkleSleazy's Instruments." (via @chris_carter_)

The Coffinmaker, a mini-documentary

Marcus Daly of Vashon Island, Washington, is a carpenter who specializes in handcrafted wooden coffins. One of his design principles is that the coffin needs to be easily carried. "The Coffinmaker" (via the Smithsonian In Motion Video Contest)

Boing Boing Ingenuity: Data Driven hack day

1958 Ford X2000 01

On August 17-18, 2013 in San Francisco, Boing Boing is hosting its first ever large-scale live event, called Boing Boing: Ingenuity. The invitation-only extravaganza starts with a hack day on Saturday (8/17) and will continue on Sunday (8/18) with a mind-bending theatrical experience of presentations, performances, oddities, and wonder! This coming Thursday, we'll announce the stellar line-up for the August 18 stage show, and next week we'll tell you how to score an invite! (Of course, the entire Boing Boing: Ingenuity weekend will be heavily documented in video, photos, and text that will be shared on the site during the event and after.) Meanwhile, a bit about the hack day…

Starting bright and early on Saturday morning August 17, several dozen of our favorite hackers, designers, and developers will gather at TechShop San Francisco. We are thrilled that our pal Ariel Waldman, global instigator of Science Hack Day who was recently named a White House Champion of Change, is orchestrating the hackathon with us. The theme of the day is Ingenuity: Data Driven. In an age of big data, hardware hacking, and open source culture, how can makers bridge the gap between cars and drivers to enhance the driving experience? Of course, any ideas the participants dream up will belong to them, although Boing Boing and Ford, our partner for Ingenuity, would be thrilled if the creations became open source.

The hackers will have an opportunity to use the new OpenXC Platform developed by our partner Ford and Bug Labs. It's a compelling open-source hardware and software toolkit for exploring what can be done with over 300 sets of live vehicle data points. And of course, there's no shortage of other driving-related datasets and APIs, from traffic, weather, and fuel economy to location-based services and environmental impact calculators to play with online.

Already, the hyper-talented hackers are devising ingenious plans, secret projects, and unprecedented uses of driving data. Stay tuned.

Boing Boing: Ingenuity in partnership with Ford C-Max.

(above, Ford X-2000 concept car, 1958)

WaterColorBot: drawing robot kit

Wondrous young maker Super Awesome Sylvia and our friends at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories are hoping to release their amazing WaterColorBot as a kit. My 7-year-old son and I both want one, and we can vouch not only for Sylvia's awesomeness but the quality of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories kits! They've launched a Kickstarter for the WaterColorBot kit.

Doug Engelbart (RIP): "The Mother of All Demos"

In memory of computing pioneer Douglas Engelbart, who died last night, please watch this 1968 video of his "Mother of All Demos." Thank you Doug for helping augment human intellect.

Untitled"The key thing about all the world's big problems is that they have to be dealt with collectively. If we don't get collectively smarter, we're doomed." - Douglas Engelbart (1925- 2013)

Makedo: connectors for cardboard construction fun

Makedo kitforone 1 web

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My kids (7 and 4) love to make things out of recycled cardboard, from curious Rube Goldberg-ian contraptions to palaces for stuffed animals. They do wonders with scissors, tape, and magic markers. A friend told us about Makedo, a system of reusable plastic clips and hinges for cardboard construction. We ordered a set and have been having a ball. The sets even come with a plastic saw for cutting the cardboard. It's not as quick as a box cutter or sharp scissors, but sawing itself can be fun, and the point on the saw handle is meant for punching holes for the clips. And yeah, I guess it's safer too. We didn't make the cardboard gorilla at right but I'd like to! We're gonna need a lot more clips though. There are a variety of Makedo kits available but the 65-piece starter kit is only $14 from Amazon, and comes in a sturdy tube. Of course, if you buy it from Amazon, the shipping box is part of the present! "Makedo FreePlay Kit For One"

R2-D2 birthday with Leia "hologram"

Marc Freilich made an R2-D2 birthday cake for his son's sixth birthday. He integrated a pico projector into R2's dome to project the Leia "hologram" and a special birthday message. He's posted the baking and build notes online. "Just another R2D2 Birthday Cake Build"

Flying bicycle

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The XploreAir Paravelo is a flying bicycle. The front is a collapsible bike that docks with a trailer containing a flexible wing and a biofuel-powered fan with an electric starter motor. In the air, it apparently operates like a powered paraglider. The two inventors have a Kickstarter running to develop a commercial model they hope will sell for $16,000. More info at CNN. You can watch a video of it flying below.

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HOWTO: DIY bike helmet LED nav to Citi Bike stations

Inspired by NYC's newly-launched Citi Bike sharing program, Becky Stern tricked out a bike helmet with LED strips linked to Adafruit Industries' wearable electronics platform and GPS unit to guide you to the nearest Citi Bike station for drop off. "Citi Bike Helmet"

Paper anatomical model

Bodyyyy

Papercraft artist Horst Kiechle created an incredible anatomical model, complete with removable organs, and posted all the templates and instructions online for free. "Paper Torso"

Neil Young loves model trains

Neil Young talks model trains with David Letterman. Young isn't just a model train enthusiast, he's also an inventor. From Dangerous Minds:

Young first created a research and development company, Liontech, to help the storied Lionel, LLC train manufacturing company, founded in 1900, create model trains with sound systems and control units. Young then became part owner of Lionel, along with an investment company. It was Young’s designs and inventions for Lionel that helped to bring the company out of bankruptcy in 2008. Young’s first train-related invention was a control unit, the Big Red Button, that enabled his son, who has cerebral palsy, to control the trains.
"Neil Young, Model Train Geek"

Circuit Playground: Make a lemon battery!

Hardware hacking superhero Ladyada explains how batteries work and how to make one from a lemon! "Circuit Playground: B is for Battery"

Made In China: Eric Pan and open source hardware

Opennnn

Maker culture is being remade in China. Along with pioneers like Bunnie Huang and David Li, of Shanghai hackerspace Xinchejian, Eric Pan and his open hardware facilitator, Seeed Studio are accelerating the global maker movement by helping people source, design, produce, and commercialize their maker projects. And just as importantly, they are fueling a Chinese maker movement that is starting to take full advantage of both Shenzhen’s awesome manufacturing capacities and China’s shanzhai superpowers.

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Jewelry made from fragments of broken vintage china


Boodi Blu is a London jeweler who makes beautiful, clever pieces out of broken pieces of vintage and antique china, puzzled together with small metal fittings. I just saw them in person at a flea market stall and they're wonderful, the kind of thing a suicidal AI might piece together in the bittersweet denouement of a William Gibson novel.

Boodi Blu

DIY crosswalk painter arrested

Matthew says: "A Vallejo man wanted to easily cross the street in front of his house, so he painted his own crosswalk. He was arrested for felony vandalism Thursday morning."

Limor "ladyada" Fried profiled by MIT

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MIT is rightfully proud of alumna Limor Fried, the superhero hardware hacker behind AdaFruit Industries, creators of fantastic DIY, open source electronics components and kits. We're proud of Limor too! From MIT News:

Apart from selling kits, original devices and providing hundreds of guides online, Adafruit works around the world with schools, teachers, libraries and hackerspaces — community technology labs — to promote STEM education, designing curricula in circuitry and electronics, among other initiatives.

The company has released an online children’s show called “A is for Ampere.” On a weekly Saturday night program, “Ask an Engineer,” anyone can ask Fried questions online or show off their original devices.

One of Fried’s favorite stories, from a young viewer of “Ask an Engineer,” illuminates what she sees as the growing diversity of engineering. “A parent emailed us after watching the show with his daughter,” she says. “I had another engineer on the show with me — my friend Amanda — and this parent’s daughter asked, ‘Dad, are there boy engineers too?’”

"Meet the maker"

High school student's DIY submarine

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High school student Justin Beckerman made his own single-person submarine to explore a lake near his New Jersey home, he says, and "see fish and hopefully find a bit of history, like the cannons from my neighbors' historic house" dumped in the lake long ago. The project took him six months and cost $2,000. The window is an old skylight, the regulators and gauges are from a trashed soda fountain. From CNN:

The submarine has ballast tanks to maintain its depth and equilibrium; air vents that bring oxygen down from the surface; a functioning PA and a range of emergency systems including back-up batteries, a siren, strobe lights, a breathing apparatus and a pump to fight leaks. The vessel can remain submerged for up to two hours and travels beneath the waves at one and a half miles per hour.

Justin Beckerman's site

"High-school teen builds one-man submarine for $2,000" (CNN)

TV and TV dinner made from felt

Andrew Salomone of Craft says: "Fiber artist LeBrie Rich of Penfelt created this amazing felted TV diner (complete with TV) using a combination of commercial wool felt with needle and wet felting."

I would've preferred the TV to be showing Land of the Giants instead of a football game, but I won't complain.

Felted TV Diner

Incredible pipe cleaner thylacine and other animals

Artist Lauren Ryan creates incredible animal sculptures entirely from pipe cleaners. My favorite is her palm-sized thylacine, a Tasmanian "tiger." The last confirmed thylacine died in 1936 but some crytpozoologists think they may not be extinct after all. Lauren Ryan's "Chenille Stems" (via The Anomalist)

HOWTO make a "Swiss Army knife" key ring

I have an annoyingly bulky key ring. I frequently clip it to my belt like a janitor, but this DIY "Swiss Army Key Ring" seems like a nice alternative. However, it does mean giving up car remote fobs. Swiss Army Key Ring (Instructables)

Amanda Visell's Ren & Stimpy carved wood figurines

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Amanda Visell hand-carved an excellent collection of Ren & Stimpy sculptures. To give you a sense of the scale, Ren is 2" x 8" x 3". The set of five is $2,200 from iam8bit.

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!

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HOWTO: Laser-cut and 3D printed record albums

Amanda Ghassaei used a laser cutter to engrave audio into wood, acrylic, and paper discs. Sure, the sound quality is, er, terrible, but… art! Previously, Ghassei 3D printed records from MP3 files. She's posted HOWTOs for both on Instructables! Laser Cut Record and 3D Printed Record

Excellent DIY mailboxes

Excellent collection of DIY geeky and arty mailboxes. "22 unusual and creative mailboxes you don’t see everyday" (via MAKE)