Watch an artist make remarkably lifelike cat portraits from felted wool

Wakuneco uses wool felt to make amazingly detailed custom-ordered cat portraits that look uncannily like the subjects. Here are how the finishing touches like whiskers get done. Read the rest

Watch Skippa the rock-skipping robot get optimized

Skipping stones takes a little practice and finesse, so Mark Rober enlisted his extended family to help build the perfect rock-skipping robot. Their creation, named Skippa, ended up helping humans learn, too. Read the rest

How to make a bike rack for a motorcycle or scooter

Bicyclists who also own motorcycles and motorscooters have come up with some clever ways to mount their human-powered two-wheeler on their motor-powered vehicles. Read the rest

Here's an easy way to etch something on steel

M.N. Projects got a lot of questions about how he etches his initials onto his metalworking projects, so he did a quick HOWTO for those who want to try it themselves. Read the rest

Watch this new and improved LEGO prosthetic arm in action

David Aguilar Amphoux (aka Hand Solo) just built an upgrade to his original LEGO prosthetic arm. Very ingenious! Read the rest

Spectacular "Ambient Walkman Symphony" and other tape-loop, circuit bent performances

Portland-based musician Randall Taylor, aka Amulets, creates gorgeous experimental music performances from modded Walkmans and old multitrack cassette decks playing handcrafted tape loops, live guitar loops processed through circuit-bent pedals, field recordings and other sound sources. He calls his portable setup, featured in the video below, the Suitcase of Drone. Absolutely stunning work.

From Austin's Dimension Gallery where Amulets created a sound installation that runs until August 14:

(Taylor's) current body of work under the moniker Amulets expresses his interest in the intersection between visual art and music. His physical cassette tape loops are like mini musical canvases. They create sonic tapestries in his mechanically performative installations. Using recycled tapes and players, he simultaneously fuses music, recycling, art, and nostalgia.

Amulets (Thanks, John Park!)

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Watch how to 3D print freaky, wobbly sphericons

After seeing a successful Kickstarter project, Angus from Makers Muse has been experimenting with sphericons, unusual shapes that meander when they roll. Read the rest

Watch this gnarly tree burl get turned into a gorgeous dragon's egg

Andy Phillip found a tree burl out in the world, then decided to turn it on a lathe and make it into a sapphire dragon's egg. Read the rest

Watch how this gorgeous handmade cricket lure got made

From first sketches to first bass caught, watch Nate Marling create a fishing lure that looks and moves like a cricket. Read the rest

Watch these guys make an RC plane from an old pizza box

The folks at FliteTest like to see of they can make all sorts of things airworthy, and they succeed in turning a Little Caesar's box into a working airplane. Read the rest

Watch this short film on the art of making neon signs

This short documentary visits Lite Brite Neon in New York to see how neon lights come to life, with a piece being made from start to finish. Read the rest

Nostalgic tour of an endangered institution: the model shop

Lindybeige takes viewers on a wistful tour of a Helsinki model shop while remembering the now-closed shop of his youth. Read the rest

Watch this machinist create five extremely tiny nested cubes

A turner's cube is a traditional machinist's exercise to test consistency and tolerances when milling metal. But this two-millimeter cube in a cube in a cube in a cube in a cube is next-level skill. Read the rest

See how this 3D-printed gear turns clockwise no matter how it's cranked

Differential gears can be used for all sorts of interesting things, as YouTuber Maker's Muse demonstrates with this 3D-printed hand crank that only turns clockwise. Read the rest

A large bowl and some peanut oil make a perfect live mousetrap

Shawn Woods was able to catch seven mice in one night with a large bowl and some food-grade oil. Read the rest

Watch a CNC lathe make a hollow spiral candlestick

Legacy Woodworking Machinery has a great series of videos on how they program CNC machines to cut a hollow spiral candlestick. Read the rest

Secret history of classic TV's laugh tracks

When I watched the Brady Bunch as a youngster, there was one particular deep guffaw that always caught my attention. I knew the laughs were pre-recorded but always assumed that there was just a laugh track tape and they'd press play at the appropriate times. I liked (and still like) the faux communal experience that laugh tracks provide when watching the Bradys, Bewitched, the Beverly Hillbillies, and other great vintage sitcoms from the 1960s an early 1970s.

Turns out, that the rise of the laugh track was due to Charles Douglass (1910-2003), a Navy-trained electronics engineer/maker who went on to build a custom "Laff Box" of several dozen tape loops triggered by keys and dials. After its initial use on the Jack Benny Program, the machine, officially called the "Audience Reaction Duplicator," took the TV industry by storm. Douglass "played" the Laff Box like a proto-sampler and for years had the monopoly on TV laugh tracks. It was a process that the TV show producers and Douglass himself liked to keep secret.

It wasn't until 1992 that Douglass and his pioneering work at the intersection of media, psychology, and technology was recognized with a lifetime Emmy award for technical achievement.

For the whole story on Douglass and the Laff Box, don't miss this episode of the Decoder Ring podcast.

And here is an Antiques Roadshow segment appraising a Laff Box.

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