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"
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"
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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?’”
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.
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)
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)