Hacking a $2 voice recorder

I'm really enjoying Donald Bell's Maker Project Lab videos on YouTube. They are short reports on cool things happening in the world of making. This week, Donald talks about a circuit-bent voice recording intercom, a $500 laser engraver, a Raspberry Pi robot arm, Flick Face electronics project, Pi Cams compared, and a PocketCHIP review. Read the rest

How an old camera flash became the first Star Wars lightsaber

The legendary lightsaber that Obi Wan passed on to Luke in Star Wars: A New Hope was actually a modified battery tube from a 1940s Graflex camera flash. Once that was known, prop recreators drove up the price of the flashes, frustrating vintage camera geeks who appreciate the elegant gear for a more civilized age.

Read the rest

Bake: a Queen of Hearts cherry pie for V-day

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) (previously) writes, "Happy Valentines Day! If your readers are looking for a last-minute gift idea for their significant others, they may want to check out my new pie tutorial. It's a Queen of Hearts cherry pie baked in a heart shaped cake pan." Read the rest

Make: a $5 ACLU-donation Dash button you can press every time Trump makes you angry

Nathan writes, "Wanting a more immediate and responsive way to do something about the outrage a friend and I felt every time we read about the latest assaults on civil liberties, I built an Amazon Dash button that sends $5 to the ACLU every time I press it. Repurposing the technology to do good, not just buy goods." Read the rest

The Bathgate Artifact Spinner: a beautiful, hand-machined fidget toy

Machinist/sculptor Chris Bathgate (previously) continues his foray into collaborations to make gorgeous, hand-machined fidget today (see: the slider; spinning tops, slider mark II): his latest is a "spinner," made in collaboration with Mike Hogarty and Callye Keen from Revolvemakers. Read the rest

Make: a wifi internet Valentine

Becky Stern writes, "Send your valentine a note through the net! This DIY electronics project uses a small vibrating motor to gently wave a tissue paper heart and flash an LED when it receives instructions over the internet from another device. I built two versions of the ESP8266 wifi circuit, also equipped with two buttons for triggering the two commands. The devices talk over the Adafruit IO cloud data service to communicate with each other from anywhere with wifi, and I'll show you how to activate your valentine with the API gateway service IFTTT as well, in case you only want to build one valentine circuit." Read the rest

Punk tech versus consumer tech

The interview I recently did for the Working Together Podcast is live.

Here's a link to the episode with lots of detailed shownotes on Stefan's Working Together blog.

We talked about my upbringing, the Maker Movement, "punk tech" versus "consumer tech", the blockchain, and some of the books and mentors who have inspired me over the years.

If you like what you hear, you can subscribe to his show through the usual directories: iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherTuneIn and so on.

The host of the show, Stefan, also encouraged anyone using iTunes to rate and review the podcast as he welcomes your feedback and support, and it helps the show get discovered by more listeners! Read the rest

Dial-a-Grue: play Zork with nothing but an old phone

The first iteration of Dial-a-Grue, in 2011, was to kit out an old rotary dial phone with an embedded computer and text-to-speech engine so that you could play Zork with nothing but the handset. The new, 2.0 version of the project, is "to port Zork I (via a z-code interpreter) to an embedded platform, and enclose that and an old modem inside a telephone, so that the game can be played from a teletype, TDD, or old computer with an acoustically coupled modem." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Crazy "Slip N Slide"-esque contraption made from clothesline and electric motor

Daniel Jacob and friends "built a spinning water slide ride for Australia Day down at the river in Canberra."

Below, a 1980s TV commercial for the original Slip N Slide. Which one looks more fun?

Read the rest

Make: an Arduino-based soda vending machine that fits in your school locker

Mistablik is an American high-school student who put his mind to finding alternate uses for the lockers that lined his school's hallways -- lockers that sit empty as students switch over to electronic textbooks -- and decided to build a tiny, secure, Arduino-based vending machine that would sell soda to his fellow students. Read the rest

Three states considering "right to repair" laws that would decriminalize fixing your stuff

Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it both a crime and a civil offense to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works -- more commonly known as "Digital Rights Management" or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products have figured out that they can force their customers to use their own property in ways that benefit the company's shareholders, not the products' owners -- all they have to do is design those products so that using them in other ways requires breaking some DRM. Read the rest

Bake: a pixel-art Mario pie for National Pie Day

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) writes, "It is National Pie Day in America tomorrow (not to be confused with "International Pi Day" - the cooler big cousin of pie holidays on March 14th...) In honour of this occasion I've posted a new tutorial video that is very attainable for any novice pie-geeks out there thinking about whipping something up nifty. It features our favourite 8 bit plumber hero, with a special guest appearance at the end." Read the rest

Portal for the Apple ][+, //e and related systems

Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal -- "the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007" -- to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit -- inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has "the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors." He's released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, as well as sourcecode. Read the rest

A book about London's gorgeous, brutalist architecture includes dainty DIY papercraft models to make yourself

Brutal London: Construct Your Own Concrete Capital tells the stories of nine of London's greatest brutalist structures (with an intro by Norman Foster!), including the Barbican Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, Balfron Tower and the National Theatre -- and includes pull-out papercraft models of these buildings for you to assemble and display. Read the rest

Here be dragons: Thrifted Ikea dresser remade with graphite paper and woodburning kit

Lorraine Andrusiak couldn't get a new Ikea Moppe dresser in Canada, but she found this one in a thrift store, marred by a thick, ugly coat of paint; so she stripped the paint, transferred vintage sea-monster art with graphite paper, and burned the decorations into the wood -- the result is gorgeous. Read the rest

Artisans revive the polissoir, a nearly-forgotten woodworking tool

André Roubo's series on carpentry called L'Art du Menuisier mentions a polissior, a small device made of broom straw for polishing wood. In the two centuries since Roubo's book, the device had faded from memory until a couple of years ago, when Don Williams recreated one from an illustration in Roubo's book. It turned out to work amazingly well. Read the rest

Cool hand carved "hobo nickels" up for auction

Exciting news from Heritage Auctions: it's selling the largest number of hobo nickels ever offered in one lot.

A lot of 23 Buffalo Nickels from assorted years  – the largest such lot ever offered in Heritage Auctions’ history – is featured in the firm’s Jan. 4-9 FUN U.S. Coins Auction in Fort Lauderdale.

The coins, known as “hobo nickels,” are modified coinage – commonly nickels – as the Native American chief on the obverse is transformed into tramps, a variety of tribal figures and a myriad of other designs. These carvings often resulted in bas reliefs in the coin, although the contours of the coin still can be felt.

Some buffalo nickel carvers developed a following. The entire collection of 23 coins being offered by Heritage Auctions is attributed to artist John Dorusa, who was a Pennsylvania coal miner.

Dorusa garnered fame for his mimicry of classical hobo nickels created well before he picked up a file for the first time. Dorusa claimed he was trained by Bert Wiegand and George Washington “Bo” Hughes, who are widely considered the forefathers of hobo nickel carving.

Dorusa produced hobo nickels from the 1980s until his death in 1994 and is considered an early modern hobo nickel artist.

For great examples of contemporary hobo nickels, visit the Hobo Nickel Society's Twitter account. Read the rest

More posts