In today's edition of Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales, our pal Gareth Branwyn reminds us of The Practical Engineer's classic "Hands-Free Oreo Dispenser" project. My chin would be sore from overuse. From the project description:
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The idea started as a joke where I thought it would be funny if you could eat Oreos while working with dirty hands.
I started sketching and tried a couple of different ways and figured that it would be the nicest result if you could use your chin to dispense the Oreos. The shape of the oreo, actually most round cookies, makes it quite easy to stack them and push one out at a time.
The creator of the CodeParade video channel made an interactive pushbutton busyboard for his toddler. He bought a bunch of knobs and switches, wired them to an Arduino, LEDs and beepers, and put them in a craft box. It has a simple mode, in which pushing a button triggers a sound or light, and an advanced mode, which includes a Simon game. It looks like something people of all ages would enjoy playing with. Read the rest
Master maker Tim Jacobs created a fantastic business card that's actually a Stylophone synthesizer complete with MIDI capabilities. It's based on the original 1967 Dübreq Stylophone, a small synthesizer played by touching a built-in stylus to the metal keyboard. The Stylophone was famously used on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator."
From Jacobs' project page about his StyloCard that ended up costing a bit more than $3 each:
Printed Circuit Boards as a business card are a great gimmick. I'd seen ones with USB ports etched into them, which enumerate as a keyboard and then type a person's name or load up their website. It's just about possible to build them cheap enough to hand out as a business card, at least if you're picky about who you give them to.
A couple of years ago I took a stab at making one for myself, but I didn't want it to be pointless. I wanted it to do something useful! Or at least entertain someone for longer than a few seconds. I can't remember quite how I got the idea of making a MIDI-stylophone, but the idea was perfect. A working midi controller, that's unique enough in its playing characteristic to potentially give some value, while at the same time costing no more than the card would have done otherwise, since the keyboard is just a plated area on the PCB, as is true on the original stylophone.
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My daughter erupted in smiles when I told her I'd gotten her a few latch hook kits for our upcoming roadtrip.
While I'm sure a Smartphone isn't enough to help my kid stay sane for hours, I'd have given my brother for one. While Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies won't be enough to entertain her, latch hook surprisingly will!
Buy your own hook! Frequently the kits don't come with them!
I am looking forward to having this 70s style shag heart for our VW Camper, as we go visit some National Parks. WORK FASTER CHILD!
Wonderart Shaggy From The Heart Latch Hook Kit, 12" X 12" via Amazon
6.5in. Wooden Latch Hook Tool via Amazon Read the rest
Make: recently posted a series of fun projects to their website that are also featured in Volume 52 of the magazine, their forthcoming DIY Virtual Reality issue. I really love some of these and wanted to share a few of my favorites here. Read the rest
Ordinarily, the folks over at Family Handyman Magazine are a straight-laced bunch, but their slideshow 20 Secret Hiding Places shows that their practical creativity might be hiding something, such as fat stacks of cash. Read the rest
First, Kenji Yoshino, a post-baccalaureate fellow at Grinnell College, came up with a way to build a microscope out of an old smartphone using just $10 worth of extra parts. Which is pretty awesome, in and of itself. But, then, scientist and blogger Bethany Brookshire tried to follow Yoshino's instructions. She sort-of succeeded — after a lot of small failures. But it's that story — about the messy, imperfect process of real-world DIY — that really rocks. Read it, and you'll learn a lot about the process of making, and what it's like to make somebody else's project your own. In the real world, building the microscope is as much a learning experience as using the thing. Read the rest
This is a picture of a wave crashing on the New Jersey shore. It glows because of dinoflagellates — little, single-celled plants, animals, and bacteria that float around on the water, moving about with the help of long, moveable protein strands called flagella. Some dinoflagellates are bioluminescent; that is, chemical reactions inside their bodies produce light. The result is glowing oceans. Or, as maker Caleb Kraft recently discovered, the dinoflagellates also make for a soft blue nightlight with really nifty special effects.
You can watch Kraft's nightlight project at YouTube. It's pretty simple to do at home. At it's most basic, all you need to do is purchase some bioluminescent dinoflagellates online, keep them alive in your home, and give them a good shaking occasionally to trigger the chemical reaction.
A couple more helpful links:
• Where Kraft bought his dinoflagellates
• A guide to other dinoflagellate dealers, and to the care and feeding of unicellular organisms
• Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who are studying dinoflagellate bioluminescence to better understand how it works and what role it plays in the ecosystem
• A detailed explanation of what dinoflagellates are and why they glow
Image: Red Tide Luminescense, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from piratelife's photostream
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When one of Caroline Paul's cats disappeared for 5.5 weeks, it inspired her to find out what Tibula (the cat) was really up to when he left home. The process of this is pretty fascinating. The outcome is, well, kind of cat like. What was Tibula doing when he wasn't at home? Avoiding the house and staring at himself in windows, apparently. Read the rest
You can build your own cicada detector and help Radiolab track the movements of a once-every-17-year cicada swarm expected to invade the US East Coast this summer. Read the rest
It may be a little late for folks on the East Coast to round up the necessary parts before the blizzard really hits, but this would be a fun trapped-in-the-house project. It's not cheap, but it does give you the opportunity to see how subatomic particles interact with one another in the privacy of your own home. In a post at Scientific American George Musser explains how he put his experiment together. A follow-up promises to show you how to use it, and what he found when he did. Read the rest
A cool opportunity to set science to sound.
Hurricane Hackers is a hashtag on Twitter (i.e., #hurricanehackers) and a crowdsource hub to create tech and social projects related to Hurricane Sandy. Proposed projects include an ad-hoc food and water delivery system for after the storm and live maps that show which businesses in a given area are actually open. You can propose projects or start working on projects other people have proposed. Check out the official Google Doc, or the IRC channel. (Via Shasha Costanza-Chock) Read the rest
This is seriously awesome. Researchers with the Mastadon Matrix Project need help sifting through "matrix" — the dirt that a fossil is embedded in. Join the Project, and you'll be sent a kilogram of matrix from a mastadon dig in New York State. You can do the analysis with inexpensive, easy-to-find equipment, and then send your discoveries back to the scientists. It's a great chance to do real, valuable scientific research in your school or home. Check it out! (Via Karen Traphagen) Read the rest