Want to build a DIY version of the Hubble Space Telescope? I posted last year that the Vehicle Power Interface Console used at the Goddard Flight Center during pre-launch testing of the HST was for sale on eBay for $75,000. Well, now the seller has significantly sweetened the deal by throwing in this stately and elegant two-person HST control console presumably also used during pre-launch testing. "NASA ARTIFACT VPI Vehicle Power Interface Rack & Console Hubble Space Telescope"
Science Hack Day is a fantastically inspiring and creative 48-hour event where scientists, designers, artists, and developers get together to make and do science and science-related projects. You and your friends should start one! Chief instigator Ariel "Space Hack" Waldman created a guide to organize a Science Hack Day and now, she's announced the 2013 Science Hack Day Ambassador Program. Thanks to a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, five people who want to organize a Science Hack Day in their cities will be flown to Science Hack Day in San Francisco on September 28-29 to see how it's done. Applications are accepted until May 1.
On Thursday (3/28) at 3pm ET, Boing Boing pal and White House innovation advisor Tom Kalil is hosting a Google Hangout to talk about the maker movement! Tom has been instrumental in helping President Obama and the administration understand the value of maker culture in sci/tech education. Joining Tom in the Hangout will be folks like MAKE founder Dale Dougherty, Super Awesome Maker Show's Super Awesome Sylvia, and Ford future tech lead Venkatesh Prasad. "White House Hangout: The Maker Movement"
(Above, President Obama checks out a soccer-playing robot built by Blue Bell, PA high school students. Photo by Pete Souza.)
Ray Gascoigne is a former shipwright. Well, he's still a shipwright but now the ships he builds fit inside bottles.
The Atlantic has a fascinating photo gallery about the DIY Weapons of the Syrian Rebels. Homebrew explosives are the norm, as are catapults (Reuters photo above) and tele-operated machine guns controlled with scavenged video game controllers.
Bitblox are wooden alphabet blocks inspired by our pixelated nostalgia. While pixels continue shrinking out of sight on our digital screens, they live on in full chromatic and tactile splendor in these one-of-a-kind alphabet blocks.$45 a set, available at glyfyx.com. Each limited-edition set includes 28 blocks, "featuring a total of 168 letters, numbers, symbols and quirky pictograms." They're "hand-manufactured in the United States from renewable, American grown, kiln-dried basswood," printed with non-toxic, child-safe inks, free of lead.
Steve Hoefer is a San Francisco-based inventor and creative problem solver with nearly 20 years of experience. He’s contributed projects to the pages of MAKE, including his Indestructible LED Lanterns, Secret-Knock Gumball Machine, and Haptic Wrist Rangefinder. He’s also active in the open source hardware and software communities and is a super nice guy.
One project you’re particularly proud of:
1. The Secret Knock Gumball Machine. A lot of the things I do are for a specific audience or solving a specific problem, but the Secret Knock Gumball Machine has something for everyone and it manages to make candy more fun. It has a feel of forbidden magic to it. It’s not immediately obvious how it works, but you get to see how the trick is done. It’s mechanically and technically pretty simple — you can build your own! I still regularly get messages from people, usually young people, who are inspired by it and have used it as their own springboard into making.
This week I visited BB pal Kirsten Anderson's wonderful Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle where Casey Curran has hung a number of his exquisite kinetic sculptures. Each sculpture is a baroque ecosystem of wire plants, synthetic flowers, metallic creatures, faux feathers, and other ornate faux-naturalia. Gently crank the handle on each sculpture and these fantasy worlds come alive. At first I thought they would benefit from an electric motor but I quickly realized that cranking them myself not only made me a more active observer, but it required a physical proximity that immersed me in each surreal scene. You can glimpse still photos and videos of the show here: "Casey Curran: Dissymmetry" Also showing at the gallery is a series of beautifully dark paintings and drawings by Sam Wolfe Connelly, titled "Nocturne." Both exhibitions will be up through March 2.
Master blacksmith Tony Swatton of Sword & Stone is Hollywood's favorite weapons maker. Here he is forging Jaime Lannister's sword for "Games of Thrones."
(My independent research lab) Otherlab has recently received ARPA-e awards for two great projects in clean energy. ARPA-e is having a vote to have the best projects present at the ARPA-e showcase in a few weeks in Washington DC to get national exposure. We'd like to see both of these projects receive the attention they deserve to enable them to succeed as fast as possible.
You can vote for one, and in fact both, at the links below. Make sure to watch the intestine video beautifully drawn by Nick Dragotta and narrated by Tucker Gilman.
The app is available now, as a free download.
Like TMBGs original Dial-A-Song, the app has a different song every day. The app holds five of the freshest posted tracks at all times, and all are directly linked to iTunes. It also connects you directly to TMBGs social media and free MP3 club. From Don't Let's Start to Nanobots the app even includes brand new tracks, GRAMMY-winning kids music and TMBGs beloved television themes.
Industrial design student Paulo Goldstein's "Repair is Beautiful" project is about fixing boring broken products like lamps, headphones, and chairs with unusual bits of detritus such as string, metal odds-and-sodds, and even bone. The results are provocative, beautiful, and gloriously overwrought. "Repair is Beautiful" (Thanks, Jason Tester!)
Ashley Gilreath created this remarkable necklace from tiny photos of her ancestors. "I casted dollhouse frames from sterling silver and bronze, and printed my family directly onto the glass," she says. "I Am Who They Were." (Thanks, Lindsay Winterhalter!)
I gave "Ball of Whacks" to my 6-year-old son as a Hanukkah gift and I wish I'd have given it to myself. It reminds me a bit of Rubik's Snake but it's much more free-form and fun as the individual blocks aren't permanently connected but rather held together by 180 rare earth magnets. The blocks fit together in a 30-sided rhombic triacontahedron and can be recombined into animals, stars, and other geometric wonders. The Ball of Whacks comes with a guidebook suggesting lots of neat configurations, creativity exercises, and tips but we haven't bothered with that yet. It's addictive without any instruction. Ball of Whacks is available in red, blue, black, and multi-color which is what I, er, my son, was given. Maybe next we'll go for Von Oech's X-Ball, Y-Ball, or Star Ball magnet toys! Ball of Whacks
Amateur astronomer Ellen Harding Baker of Cedar County, Iowa made this stunning solar system quilt in 1876. The quilt is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. From the Smithsoian's History Explorer:
Ellen used the quilt as a visual aid for lectures she gave on astronomy in the towns of West Branch, Moscow, and Lone Tree, Iowa. Astronomy was an acceptable interest for women in the nineteenth century and was sometimes even fostered in their education."Ellen Harding Baker's "Solar System" Quilt"
Allan Chochinov of the new MFA Products of Design, alerted me to the work of one of his students, Richard Clarkson. It's called The Cloud.
The project is an Arduino-controlled “cloud” that mimics thunder and lighting, and doubles as a dynamic audio visualizer. I think the work is both poetic and remarkable, and can be interpreted along a broad spectrum of “products of design.” Richard sees the piece as an exploration of different design platforms—from a DIY kit (he shares the Arduino code on the link) to a production lamp to a speculative object to a piece of rarefied design art. He looked at several analogous price points -- from free to exclusive -- all the while offering up the plans for others to grow the project with. I’m impressed that Richard was able to hit all these notes with a single piece of work.
The wirelessly remote-controlled Transform Robot took some ten years to develop, and includes wireless internet connected cameras for remote monitoring, and the ability to steer its arms and shoot little plastic darts from them.
Rebekka crafted these absolutely fantastic figurines of characters from my favorite "kids" show, Gravity Falls! "Gravity Falls figurines"
Now, this thing doesn't come close to the output of powered speakers. Duh. But it does increase the volume quite a bit and layers the sound with a subtly echoey and organic vibe. But that isn't really the point. It's a wonderful curiosity at the intersection of nature, art, and technology. And it's beautiful to boot. Vomhof and Zinsmaster have launched a Kickstarter to bring their prototype design into full production. Pledge $60 and, if they hit their goal of $10,000, you'll receive your own Shellphone Loudspeaker early next year.
When John Hilgenberg got a nutcracker for Christmas, he decided to make it the centerpiece of a huge, delightful rubegoldbergian clock that strikes every four hours, using a combination of eight bells and a complex arrangement to motors and gears.
In celebration of the Halo 4 release today, my nephew Andy Pescovitz completed his Spartan Warrior-4 custom LEGO minifig. See more of Andy's insanely-intricate custom LEGO characters from Gears of War, Modern Warfare 2, Max Payne, and other videogames at his pescovam Flickr stream.
Stephen sez, "Masterful gadget-maker Roger Wood poses alongside some of his whimsical clock creations at his Hamilton-based workshop and steampunk emporium, Klockwerks. When he came out in his goggles and steampunk kit, I told him, 'You look so much like an inventor.' He answered, 'I AM an inventor.'"
Roger was my neighbour for a decade, and his workshop was always a wonderland. I haven't been to his new place in Hamilton, but if this picture is any indication, it's every bit as wonderful.
Steampunk Thing-Maker Roger Wood and Assorted Klockwerks (Thanks, Stephen!)
Mike Ando created a replica Myst "linking book" with an embedded screen to play realMyst. "A 'real' Myst book"
Mick Minogue mood this fantastic carved-wood bacta tank scene from The Empire Strikes Back. Una Mullaly commissioned it for her partner, Sarah, who had suffered a running injury. "Sarah loves peanut butter so I made the tank from an old peanut butter jar and the rest from what was at hand In the studio," Minogue writes. "There's a switch on the bottom to make the whole thing light up with 3 different settings so makes a funky night light." Sarah Strikes Back
Years ago, photographer Michael Wolf became fascinated with improvised, DIY, and haphazardly-repaired chairs that he encountered in China. He called them "bastard chairs" and compiled them into a 2002 book titled Sitting In China. You can see a selection of those chairs at his Web site. "Michael Wolf: Bastard Chairs" (via Accidental Mysteries)