This guy built a storage ottoman that looks like a giant 555 timer chip

The 555 timer integrated circuit was invented in 1971. Over a billion are made every year, because they are so versatile. Charles Platt wrote of the chip:

It has turned out to be the most successful chip in history, both in the number of units sold (tens of billions, and still counting) and the longevity of its design (fundamentally unchanged for almost forty years). Even now, about a billion 555s are manufactured each year.

In Make: Electronics, I decided to include the 555, because it remains so fundamental. It’s also a wonderful teaching tool, since it can be used in so many ways. If you want to build, say, a reaction timer, using a counter and a couple of logic chips, you’re going to run it with a 555 timer, and you may end up adding a couple more 555s to take care of functions such as delaying the start of the count and locking the display until a reset button is pressed. You can also run a 555 fast enough to generate audible tones, which can be incorporated into a burglar alarm, or you can use it in a combination lock. All three of these projects are included in the book.

Make magazine celebrated the 555 timer and its creator, Hans Camenzind, a few years ago when it featuring a 555 Week on its website.

555s are dirt cheap, too. Ebay sells 100 for $4.

Because the 555 is so fundamental electronics, people honor it by making giant size versions of it. Read the rest

These cool looking sculptures are actually interactive sound-making electronic circuits

Artist Eirik Brandal makes sculptural electronic circuits that generate music. Above, "composition #11"

Interactive sound sculpture, 2016

+12V, self-supplied

Two proximity sensors trigger and control the frequency of sine waves. The design is inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, hence the title, ‘Composition #11’. Exhibited in De Fabriek, Eindhoven, 2016.

He makes neat synths, too! Read the rest

Check out some of Donald Bell's favorite tools

Our guest this week on the Cool Tools Show is Donald Bell. Donald runs a great website called Maker Project Lab, and he also hosts a weekly YouTube show called Maker Update, which collects interesting projects, news, tips, tools, and other stuff for the Maker community. He was a Projects Editor at Make magazine, and he spent eight years as a Senior Editor at CNET.

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Show notes:

Hakko FX-901 ($32) "I've had inexpensive soldering irons for years now, but they've always been ones that plugged into a wall. I came across the Hakko when I was looking for a soldering iron I could buy multiples of to do a soldering workshop, and the idea of plugging in 30 soldering irons is like plugging in 30 hair dryers. It can become a nightmare if you really are trying to do it without tripping a breaker. …It’s become one of my new favorite things. It runs off of four AA batteries, and it heats up in about 30 seconds to a good soldering temperature for accomplishing just little PCB basic electronic projects, and it’s been great."

Manfrotto 143 Magic Arm Kit ($154) "This one actually I learned about from Becky Stern, Make alumni. But before I started working at Make, when I was doing how-to projects for CNET, I was trying to figure out the easiest way to take those great shots of your work, like an overhead view of your workbench, while you're working on a project. Read the rest

Make: hand-embroidered patches based on photos of your beloved cat

Becky Stern writes, "My elderly cat passed away earlier this month, so I spent some mourning time stitching up these embroidered cat patches based on photos of my kitty Beatrice. I made a tutorial walking through the process from Photoshop to embroidery hoop." Read the rest

Look how fast these tiny Japanese sumo robots move

These little remote control vehicles are designed to push each other out of a small circle. They dart so fast that it's hard to keep up.

[via] Read the rest

Is this the world's oldest, simplest chair design?

It's been called a Camping Chair, a Bog Chair, an X-Chair, a Stargazer Chair, a Viking Chair, an African Chair, but "no one can agree on where the design first came from or what it ought be called," says Rain Noe. In his article for Core 77 he looks at the many variations of this simple flat pack chair.

Steve Ramsey shows how to make one: Read the rest

Make: a gorgeous, dramatic Internet Kill Switch

Want to be really sure that your Internet of Things gadgets and laptops aren't being remotely controlled by malware? Read the rest

Make: an Aeropress/water bottle cold-brew dripper

The cheapest and easiest way I know of to make cold brew coffee is with an almond-milk bag and a water jug, but if you favor the drip method over the steeping method, you can spare yourself the expense of a fancy Kyoto dripper and just use a disposable 500ml water bottle with a pinprick in its lid, suspended over an Aeropress. Read the rest

The Commute Deck: a homebrew Unix terminal for tight places

Kerry Scharfglass designed his "Commute Deck" as a laptop alternative for his morning commute: it combines a mechanical keyboard (running the TMK open keyboard firmware), a 7", 720p display from Adafruit, a long-life USB battery, and a Raspberry Pi 2 with USB, wifi and Bluetooth dongles, and a little USB hub, all mounted on a laser-cut 1/4" plywood chassis. Read the rest

"Purposeful objects that solve their own problems"

Dan Grayber's Cavity Mechanism series of sculptures are a hymn to "purposeful objects that solve their own problems," in which gravity acts upon systems of pulleys and scaffolds and wires to suspend weighty rocks in motionless perfection under glass domes. Read the rest

Cool hand-cranked laser show made from 3D printed parts

Evan built this nifty mechanical laser show on his 3D printer. The gizmo has two rotating cams that tilt a laser pointer up and down and from side to side in such a way that it draws different 3D shapes. In this video he explains the math behind it. You can download the model at Thingiverse

. Read the rest

How astrophysicist and Queen musician Brian May made his own guitar

Brian May, the lead guitarist and composer for Queen, is a multitalented guy. A Guitar World readers poll ranked him as the 2nd greatest guitarist of all time. He also has a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London was on the science team for NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission. He also made his own guitar with his father in the 1960s, which he called The Red Special. Hackaday has the build notes.

Every part of the Red Special was a process of trial and error. This is the true hacker spirit behind the guitar. Most trials didn’t work the first time, but Brian and Harold iterated until they reached their goals. An example of this is the pickups. Brian’s experimentation with pickups started with his Egmond guitar. He bought some Eclipse Magnetics button magnets from the local hardware store. These formed the core of the pickup. Harold then helped him build a coil winding machine, which allowed Brian to manually wind thousands of turns of fine copper wire around the pickups. It even had a wind counter built from a bicycle odometer.

Brian didn’t have an amplifier yet, so he plugged into the family’s radio. The pickups worked! They were very bright sounding, but had one flaw. When bending notes, Brian found there would be an odd sound as the string moved across the pickup. He attributed it to the North-South alignment of the disk magnet poles. Cutting the magnets was beyond the tools he had, and custom magnets were out of the budget.

Read the rest

Using centrifuge tubes to organize hardware

I bought a 50-pack of plastic centrifuge tubes for $14 on Amazon a couple of years ago. I was planning to use them to do geocaching with my daughter but we both lost interest. I left the tubes in a bag in the garage.

A couple of weeks ago I needed a screw to fix something. I have a plastic bin filled with loose hardware - nuts, nails, screws, picture hangers, wire nuts, and so on. When I reached in, I poked my finger with a thumbtack. It wasn't the first time that a sharp thing in the box had poked me, so I decided to sort the stuff into separate containers. As I thought about what kind of containers I should use, I remembered the centrifuge tubes. I used those.

I could have just kept the tubes in the same plastic bin that I'd used to hold the loose hardware, but since I have a new Original Prusa I3 MK2S 3D printer (which is amazing), I went ahead and made a wall-mountable tube holder. I used Tinkercad to design it. Here's the model.

I used double sided foam tape to mount the tube holder on the wall. I'll need to print out 10 of these to hold all 50 tubes. Read the rest

This doorlock from 1680 has lots of cool security features

This brass-and-steel "detector" doorlock, on display at Holland's Rijksmuseum, was made in 1680 or so. It has lots of clever features. To open and close the latch, you have to fiddle with the man's hat. The keyhole is hidden under the man's leg. It has a dial counter that lets you know how many times it has been unlocked, so the owner can tell if someone else opened it. When the lock has been opened 100 times as indicated on the dial, the main bolt can be locked, but not released until a tiny button on the man's chest is pressed, which resets the counter.

The inscription on the lock reads: "If I had the gift of tongue I would declare and do no wrong who you are that come by stealth to impair my master's wealth."

I hope they share the Arduino code for this.

[via] Read the rest

My card trick book is on sale for 99 cents

I became interested in magic when I was a young teenager, then dropped out for one reason or another. About five years ago I started getting interested again, this time in card magic (as opposed to stage magic). I had fun making doctored cards to use in my tricks, so in 2015 I wrote and illustrated a self-published ebook called Trick Decks: How to Hack Playing Cards for Astounding Magic. The sales exceeded my expectations, and it was at the top of the "magic" chart in Amazon for a quite a while.

Occasionally I reduce to price of the book. For the next few days, I've dropped the price of the ebook from $2.99 to 99 cents. It will go to $1.99, then back to $2.99.

Trick Decks will show you how to easily make different kinds of trick card decks to perform stunning magic tricks. You can make the decks from ordinary playing cards and easy-to-find tools and materials. No special skills are required and these cards are fun to make.

In this ebook you will learn The best way to mark cards How to make a stripper deck that lets you pull selected cards from the middle of the deck Two ways to make one of the greatest trick decks of all time: The Invisible Deck How to make the Brainwave Deck: A spectator’s thought-of card is the only one face up in the deck and with a different colored back than the other cards Nightmare Card: A card chosen by the spectator vanishes and reappears in your pocket Find out more about the ebook at Trick Decks website. Read the rest

Circuit Playground: explaining LEDs with cool puppets

Nick from Adafruit writes, "The latest installment of Circuit Playground is here: the letter L. Learn about how an LED works with Adabot and the Circuit Playground components." Read the rest

How to make a coin-operated gumball machine out of cardboard

Using cardboard, hot-glue, popsicle sticks, a pencil, and rubber bands, this guy makes a working coin-operated gumball machine. Good work!

[via] Read the rest

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