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Hubble Space Telescope control console on eBay


Hubbbbb 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 Ambassador Program 2013


NewImageScience 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.

Science Hack Day Ambassador Program

Science Hack Day is coming to your city!

(Top: "Syneseizure," the hack that won the "People's Choice" award at the 2011 Science Hack Day SF, photo by Matt Biddulph. Ariel photo by Matt Nuzzaco).

Thursday: White House/Tom Kalil Google Hangout about the maker movement

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.)

Video about man who makes ships in bottles

Ray Gascoigne is a former shipwright. Well, he's still a shipwright but now the ships he builds fit inside bottles.

DIY weaponry of Syria's rebels


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: wooden alphabet blocks inspired by our pixelated nostalgia

BB reader Readblood shares this photo in the Boing Boing Flickr pool and explains,

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 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.

Interview with Secret Knock Gumball Machine inventor Steve Hoefer

MAKE has a great interview with one of my favorite makers: Steve Hoefer.

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.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Things About Steve Hoefer

Casey Curran's hand-cranked mechano-natural sculptures

NewImageThis 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.

Forging the Game Of Thrones sword

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."

Bicycle made (in part) from recycled car parts

Creative agency LOLA Madrid designed and built a prototype bicycle constructed entirely out of with some components made of scrap auto parts, from a transmission belt used as the "chain" to a seat post clamp from a door handle. Bicycled (via Think Faest!)

Saul Griffiths' sun-tracking solar systems and intestine-inspired car gas tanks

Extreme maker and MacArthur "Genius" Saul Griffih, of inflatable robots and algorithmically-designed hoodie fame, writes:

(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.

* Safe, dense, high pressure, conformal energy storage for natural gas vehicles

* Low cost high precision heliostats for solar energy.

Insanely labor-intensive Gangnam Style flipbook animation video

An incredibly labor-intensive animated flipbook version of PSY's "Gangnam Style." Such a bummer that Etoilec1, the talented creator of this stunning video, was sound-blocked by YouTube's automated IP enforcement police. Etoilec1's original video is here (and below), in higher rez, but it's stripped of sound. Subscribe to his channel or follow him on Facebook, for more flipbook fun. Above, a lower-rez copycat upload on Vimeo. (Thanks, Joe Sabia!)

Read the rest

TMBG launches iOS app hand-stitched entirely from felt

Spotted in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool: Vancouver, Canada-based Artist Hiné Mizushima, right, stitched this lovely commissioned felt work for They Might Be Giants' new iOS song app.

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.

The app was created by TMBG with Drew Westphal, graphic designer Paul Sahre, and Ms. Mizushima's lovely felt work.

Parrot drives robotic bird buggy

University of Florida grad student Andrew Gray built the Bird Buggy for his parrot to drive around the house. "When it's time to put the bird away, Bird Buggy is able to dock itself to a base station utilizing a web camera," Gray says. (Thanks, Sean Ness!)

Beauty of overwrought repair


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!)

Ladder as horizontal bookshelf


Scott and Hannah turned an old ladder into a book shelf. Neat idea!

Gorgeous family tree photo necklace


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!)

Ball of Whacks magnetic creativity toy/tool

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

Solar system quilt from 1876


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"

Richard Clarkson's Cloud lamp: thunder, lightning, Arduino

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 Cloud

Transform Robot from Japan's Brave Robotics brings "Transformers" to life

Above, the 1/12 scale Transform Robot Version 7.2 from Brave Robotics of Japan. There's an article about this creation in Wired Japan by Francesco Fondi, who saw the invention in action at the recent Maker Faire Tokyo.

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.

Read the rest

Handmade Gravity Falls figurines


NewImageRebekka crafted these absolutely fantastic figurines of characters from my favorite "kids" show, Gravity Falls! "Gravity Falls figurines"

Real shell as iPhone loudspeaker

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design kindly brought me out to meet with grad students and attend the annual MCAD Art Sale where I was happily overwhelmed with a fantastic collection of student and recent graduates' work at affordable prices. Within minutes of walking in, I was drawn to two pieces at opposite ends of the building. The first was a painting created by a CNC milling machine outfitted with a pen. (That painting and its brethren in the series will be the subject of a later post here.) The second piece is what you can see above, the Shellphone Loudspeaker. Amazingly, it turned out that both the CNC painting and the Shellphone were created by the same young artist/designer/maker, Andrew Vomhof. The Shellphone Loudspeaker, made by Andrew with collaborator Karl Zinsmaster, is absolutely wonderful and I purchased one immediately. It's a real Whelk shell hand-carved to perfectly sit an iPhone (4 or 5). The shell acts as a natural amplifier for the iPhone's speakers.

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.

Shellphone Loudspeaker

Elaborate electromechanical clock built around a nutcracker

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.

John Hilgenberg’s Quarterdeck Striker

Halo 4: custom LEGO minifig


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.

Steampunk clockmaker Roger Wood among his creations

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!)

Real Myst "linking book"

Mike Ando created a replica Myst "linking book" with an embedded screen to play realMyst. "A 'real' Myst book"

Custom Star Wars bacta tank scene


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

Contest to build a human-powered helicopter

NewImage Since 1980, hundreds of young engineers have entered the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. Nobody has won the grand prize of $250,000 for demonstrating "a one minute hovering time, a momentary achievement of 3 meters altitude, and controlling the vehicle within a constrained box -- all in the same flight." But damn, they're sure trying. "Straight Up Difficult" (NPR)

Bastard chairs of China



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)