Three years ago, Ian Davis was diagnosed with a cancer that weakens the bones. Shortly after, the engineer had an accident in his machine shop that resulted in physicians amputating four fingers on his dominant hand.
“When I was still in the hospital I started designing a prosthetic hand," Davis told KOBI News last year. "It was kind of my day job. That’s what I used to maintain my sanity.”
Davis's work-in-progress is an elegant feat of engineering. Coincidentally though, this isn't new maker territory for him. Long before he lost his fingers; he built a prosthetic arm as a high school science project.
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After many weeks of designing and prototyping, I finally have the splay feature pretty well dialed! There were points during this process that I was getting concerned I was chasing a frivolous function, but after using it for half a day so far, I have no doubt that it was completely worth the time and effort.
In the late 1950s, a truck carrying a cement mixer crashed on E300 Road between Talala and Winganon, Oklahoma. Apparently too heavy for anyone to deal with, the mixer sat for decades where it was occasionally graffitied or whimsically decorated. In 2011, artists Heather and Barry Thomas celebrated their wedding anniversary by transforming the drum mixer into a space capsule. It's now a popular roadside attraction for curious travelers, terrestrial or otherwise.
My sister texted me and told me to watch the YouTube series called The Reassembler. I was 7 minutes into an episode when I texted her back: “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on YouTube.” I don’t even think I was exaggerating. Each episode starts off with host James May in a workshop, standing over components of something that has been taken apart (like a lawnmower, an electric guitar, or a model train set). He then puts it back together, narrating as he does so. As he says in the introduction, “it is only when these objects are laid out in hundreds of bits and then slowly reassembled that you can truly understand and appreciate how they work and just how ingenious they are.”
This was something I wrote for my weekly Recomendo newsletter.
In this fun episode of Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools podcast, they talk with Lux Sparks-Pescovitz, 14, about his passion for GameBoys, cassettes, DIY sushi, and his new iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit. He's quite an interesting young man; I'd like to meet his parents someday. Listen here:
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I’d been working on a BBC children’s drama for a few weeks (I’m a freelance Production Designer, gawd help me) and as lockdown was approaching, production stopped so I went from super busy to completely idle pretty much overnight.
I’d made some marionettes for a video a few years earlier and since then had been toying with the idea of making one of Link Wray but never seemed to have the time, so lockdown seemed the ideal opportunity. I liked the notion of spending time making something that had no ultimate purpose other than self amusement and no deadline for completion. With his outfit made by my partner Ursula, Link turned out pretty satisfactorily but after a few days I got the itch again, so I got to work on Bo Diddley, another guitar favorite of mine. Bo gave me a bit of trouble and the first attempt went in the bin. Realizing I’d tried to rush it, I reverted to lockdown pace, which I’ve employed ever since[...]
When the “cast” of puppets grows to 20 or so, I’m planning on making a video showcasing their individual musical styles plus a series of short clips based on the photographs of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran passing time in the dressing room of the Glasgow Empire theater.
Remember engineer Shane Wighton of Stuff Made Here who impressed the Internet with his robotic basketball backboard that helps the ball into the hoop? Now he's built a robot that cuts his hair. Using a combination of physical sensors and computer vision, it gave him a pretty great looking mullet! I also appreciate its Flowbee-like vacuum attachment that lifts the hair up for cutting while also keeping the process nice and tidy. Read the rest
Chris Notap shows how to make a power drill attachment that lets you chill can of soda or beer in 90 seconds. It would take 20 minutes to cool a similar can simply by putting it in an ice bath. Read the rest
Michael Gardi, who makes reproductions of vintage computers and computer-like games, went all out and built a DEC H-500 Computer Lab. He even posted a step-by-step Instructable on how to make your own H-500 reproduction.
Most people reading this will be familiar with the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) lines of PDP machines. I would guess though that far fewer have encountered the H-500 Computer Lab. Launched in the late 60s the H-500 was part of a COMPUTER LAB curriculum to introduce students and engineers to digital electronics. It's not surprising that DEC would undertake this since more than half of its PDP machines at the time were installed in educational institutions.
The machine itself shipped with a wonderful workbook that contained a complete course in digital electronics. Together the COMPUTER LAB package was intended to accompany courses in binary arithmetic, Boolean algebra, digital logic or computer technology. While not a true computer, the H-500 could be "wired" to perform many of the underlying operations of a true computer using a point-to-point patch cord mechanism.
Michael's builds have been previously featured on Boing Boing:
At the 23:15 mark, John Edgar Park shows you how to add a coil to USB cables so they look like the cables between the handset and base station of old-fashioned landline phones.The process involves winding the cable around dowel and then heating it with a heat gun. The end result looks terrific. Read the rest
What is Arduino? It's a credit card size electronics prototyping platform that lets artists, designers, and others add interactivity to their projects. (My book Maker Dad, has a useful Arduino tutorial.)
This Arduino UNO clone starter kit is very inexpensive and has the following components:
The latest issue of The MagPi is out, and you can get a free PDF. The projects in this issue look like fun!Build a Raspberry Pi 4 games console. We’ve got the best cases, awesome controllers, and easy to use kit. Also a step-by-step guide to setting up RetroPie OS with Raspberry Pi 4, so you can run classic games. Plus! How to get games legally. Learn Computing & ICT at home. It’s a lot of fun telling computers what to do, but getting started can be intimidating. Here’s a gentle introduction to getting serious with computing. Build a DOS emulation system. Use the powerful DOSBox-X emulator to boot Raspberry Pi to DOS and run anything from Windows 3.11 to classic games Upcycle a vintage radio. Fed up with boring black-box Bluetooth speakers? Hack Raspberry Pi into a vintage radio and give it a new lease of life. Share your keyboard and mouse. Use Barrier to move your mouse seamlessly from Raspberry Pi to the screen of another computer, and control both machines at once. Use an Inky wHAT display with Raspberry Pi. Make a great impression with a fancy e-ink name badge or custom display that subtly shows off your tech skills. Piano-Playing Robot. Discover a robot that can play scales, chords, arpeggios, or totally new musical scores. Singing Toilet. A trip to the washroom need no longer be boring. This musical instrument is played by pulling toilet paper from the roll. Migration Museum. How one museum comes to life when visitors linger near its artefacts. Read the rest
Seattle maker Brennen Johnston wanted his friends to play Animal Crossing with him but they couldn't get their hands on a Nintendo Switch, a scarce commodity amid COVID-19 lockdowns. Enraged by the prices scalpers were charging for a Switch, Brennen set out to build one himself from individual components. The Internet fell in love with the build notes he posted to Imgur and now he's released the above video documenting the project! Brennen writes:
The support I received from my original Imgur post has been overwhelming. I never imagined so many people were interested in my project or had thought of doing something similar. I with I was able to answer everyone's questions but I just couldn't keep up with all the requests.
Most of the private messages asked me to do a version for the Joy-cons so I went ahead and made you that you can find here:
Charles Platt's growing series of electronics books are the best I've come across. He explains concepts very clearly, and his illustrations are excellent. His latest book in the series is called Easy Electronics. It covers voltage, resistance, capacitors, transistors, integrated circuits, and more. No tools are needed to complete the projects in this book.