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DIY rudder pedals on the cheap


MAKE subscriber James Jamison writes in to share his DIY rudder pedals. Wanting to add a bit more realism to a flight simulator, but not willing to spend much on a set of pedals, he was able to whip up a workable solution using some hardware and an old joystick. Looks good to me!

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Experience the Kansas City Mini Maker Faire in video

Here's a delightful video of each of the presenters at the Kansas City Mini Maker Faire, by Roger Dodger Aviation. They write:

This was a first for Kansas City. Dozens of exhibitors displayed a wide variety of science, art, craft, DIY, and maker projects. We had stuff for kids like the paper rocket launch, mini-building blocks, soldering lessons, hacking happy meal toys, beginner robots and more. For big kids we had CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines, an electricity-spitting Tesla coil, a replica working submarine, 3D printers, big rockets, big robots, a cable-climbing space elevator, 3D scanners, a thermal electricity generator and more. The event was held on August 22, 2010 and we're hoping for an even bigger event next year. Thanks to all the sponsors, exhibitors, businesses and volunteers that made the KC Mini-Maker Faire a success!

In addition to producing the above video, they also assembled a list of each of the presenters at the Faire. If you're interested in any of the above projects, you can check them out here:

Make Magazine
Cowtown Computer Congress
Main Street Parkville Association
HMS Beagle Science Store
Clayco Electric
Kauffman Foundation
Greater KC Chamber of Commerce
KC Space Pirates
Argonaut Jr.
Metro Homeschool Robotics
Hack Art Lab
Kansas City Robotics Society
Roger Dodger Aviation
I, Bioloid
Drink Bot
STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) Society
Wii Labyrinth
Robotic Golf Table
Habitat for Humanity ReStore KC
KC Association of Rocketry
Orange Grapes
Glow Doodle
DIY Security Screwdrivers
Hallmark Christmas Ornaments
Remote Control Nerf Turret


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Fabbing mechanical parts


Fjr of Mobile, AL, wanted to build a trebuchet. He soon discovered that it was a huge hassle because the parts he could find weren't compatible with each other.

I was talking to my brother and as I talked I was frustrated at how hard it was to build things. The biggest problem in my opinion is, everytime I want to build something, it pretty much always involves some kind of shafts.

Shafts have several functions:
1. They hold components where they need to be. But they also need to be held in place on the shaft.
2. Shafts give various components a common rotational axis.
3. Shafts transmit motion from one component to another.

If you want to place a component on a shaft and have it perform reliably, it needs to be held in place on the shaft. If you want a component to spin smoothly, then you need a bearing placed on your shaft. The bearing needs to have the same inner diameter as the shaft's outer diameter, within a few thousandths, if not things will vibrate and wobble and all kinds of problems. Most shafts get stacked on with a different diameter for each component. Thats alot of custom machining.

I don't have the resources to machine custom shafts each time I have an idea, and I'm not alone in not having them.

What's needed is a standard, a system.

Fjr created a number of possible parts to his "Simplified Mechanical System," including the two above. What do you think, readers? Do we need a series of standard components for maker projects? Leave a comment.

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Ten Commandments of soldering

We tweeted a link to these on our Make_Tips channel, but I thought they were worth reposting here. Strung here are most of the pearls of wisdom needed to be successful in ye ol' art of soldering:

I. Thou shall not remove tip from soldering iron when power is "On." Causes heating element to rise in temperature to approximately 1300 F resulting in thermal shock and reduced heater life.

II. Thou shall maintain a damp (NOT drenched) iron sponge (preferably with de-ionized water). A drenched sponge will bring the temperature of the tip down too drastically, causing thermal shock and reduced tip life.

III. Thou shall not disconnect soldering iron from base unit when power is turned "On." Disconnecting or reconnecting the soldering tool from the base unit with power applied may cause a short between non-compatible pins resulting in damage to the base unit or pencil.

IV. Thou shall maintain a coating of solder on working area of soldering iron tip. Protects the tip from oxidation.

V. Thou shall never drop soldering iron while heated. Dropping the soldering tool while heated may cause thermal/mechanical shock to the heater, sensor, or tip (fractured plating).

Ten Commandments of soldering

All of our soldering coverage on MAKE

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Geeks Without Borders

Willow Brugh, of Seattle's Jigsaw Renaissance, sent us word of this new org, Geeks Without Borders. In the above video from Gnomedex, Johnny Diggz explains the origins of the idea. Right now, they're looking for folks to spread the word to other geeks who might be interested in being involved and they're traveling to hackerspaces to try and drum up support.

Geeks Without Borders ( is an international humanitarian organization of geeks and their technology-friendly friends, working together to assist people whose survival is threatened by lack of access to technology and communications due to violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

We want to have the bases of operation for GWOB be hacker and maker spaces across the world.

BTW: The official launch date for the organization is 10.10.10 at 10:10am PST (1:10pm EST)

Geeks Without Borders

Update: We got an email from Paul Luther, who's the director of another org called Geeks Without Borders, that's been around since 2002. Shame that there has to be a conflict/controversy over the naming of an altruistic group. Hope this can be amicably worked out:

One of our board members is an avid follower of and just noticed your article titled "Geeks Without Borders," which we are concerned about as it represents our long-established non-profit organization as a new endeavor by someone unaffiliated with us.

It would be nice if you post a correction to the article pointing out that Geeks Without Borders is not new, or related to Mr. Johnny Diggz, who is not affiliated with the official 501(c)3 organization Geeks Without Borders.

Although his mission sounds good, and we wish him the best of luck, using our name misrepresents his organization as ours, and that's not helpful to either organization.

Pat Luther
Director, Geeks Without Borders

Update to the Update: The parties involved are talking to each other, it sounds like. Hope it all works out.

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2000V washer launcher

Bob Davis, whom some of you may remember for his high-voltage can crusher, is back at it with this 2KV, 1600A, 1500 μF 10-capacitor discharge bank that can be used to crush cans and, most amusingly IMHO, launch washers high into the air with a sound that really has to be heard to be appreciated. Bob's video might benefit from a bit of editing; clicking the embedded player above should take you right to the money shot around 4:35. There's also a good can-crushing right around 5:50. [via Hacked Gadgets]

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Math Monday: Mathematical needlepoint

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Continuing our fiber arts theme of past weeks, today's Math Monday offers an excellent example of mathematical needlepoint. This piece illustrates a Hilbert curve, taken to the sixth approximation. The continuously changing color of the thread makes it easy for your eye not to lose its place as you follow the long path that starts at the top-left and ends at the top-right.


If you want to embroider your own Hilbert curve, you can work up to this level starting with any of the simpler patterns below. Each level consists of four copies of the next simpler approximation plus three connecting stitches, highlighted below in red. The nth version has 4n-1 visible stitches, so the sixth order approximation above shows 4095 stitches, and that doesn't include what's on the back. The maker, Gio, must be very patient.


You can see all of the "Math Monday" columns here.

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How-To: Liquid-Cooled Carseat


Instructables user kstruve writes:

I currently live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, which gets mighty hot in the summer. This summer, we've had several days around or above 110 degrees. I have twin baby boys, and despite cracking the windows, using reflective seat covers and running the A/C full blast when driving them around, their backs are just soaked with sweat when we reach our destination. The seats bake in the car in the sun for hours, then you put a baby in it and they never really cool off. So I devised this method for cooling their car seats with pump-recirculated cold water. The end product is a cooling pad to fit underneath the car seat cover behind their backs. This can be easily modified to fit adults too.

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DWex, an Arduino watch

Florin wanted a MakerBot watch but they were never in stock. So he made his own! He calls it the DWex, which stands for the 'Duino watch for experimenters.

This watch is built around a 3V-powered ATmega328P running at 8MHz. Time is shown using 2 circles of 12 LEDs, in a manner similar to an analog watch (with hands). Minutes are indicated on the exterior circle of green LEDs; hours are indicated on the interior circle of red LEDs.

To make the watch practical (that is, wearable), the battery life should be at least in the order of months. This can only be achieved by keeping the processor in sleep mode most of the time. At the push of a button the microcontroller becomes active and lights up the appropriate LEDs for 3-5 seconds; then it goes back to sleep.

Florin has the schematics and code are available on his site, or you can buy a kit from him.

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Free booklet on mechanisms for automata and other projects



Automata guru and MAKE pal Dug North says:

For a limited time, Cabaret Mechanical Theatre is offering a free download of an eighteen page booklet by famed automata-maker Paul Spooner. This is a great resource for the mechanically-curious and must have for automata-makers.

The PDF is free to download until September 30.

[Thanks, Dug!]

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Lawn Tongue


Sculptor (and former studio mate of mine) Nathan Lewis created this giant "Lawn Tongue," a carved foam form covered in resin and painted. More photos after the jump!

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Your Comments


And we're back with our thirteenth installment of Your Comments. Here are our favorites from the past week, from Make: Online, our Facebook page, and Twitter.

Over on Facebook, many people were pining for a kit version of the Elegant POV clock. Gregory Wild-Smith summed it up well:

I want... nay NEED a kit for this. Right now.

Also on Facebook, Lisa Roselinsky Weller had a good observation about the flamethrower trombone:

Ha. Another reason to have the trombones march in the front rank!

Namban liked the style of the antique clocks turned into speaker cases, but was concerned about their construction:

Those look like very old ormolu clocks. I really, really hope the movements were missing from those, or at the least, not working, and set aside.
This is one of those cases where I really hope he used modern cheap clocks that were made to look old- but those look original.
eyes in pain...

however db3ll, the creator of the project, set them straight:

I'm the guy who did this, and no clocks were harmed; yes, they are old spelter clocks, but they have damage to them that prevents them from being worth much. Clock cases like these are usually available on ebay, or antique clock repair places will sell them to you also. They're pretty common.
I have the movements (not in good shape); if I wanted to change them back to non-working clocks it'd be about a half hour job.

Eric Hunting enjoyed the playable mini drumset:

This video was more than awesome...
...It was the Bees Knees!

Oddity explains the concept of 'geek life' for the Geek Dad book giveaway:

I don't know that we have geek projects so much as "geek life". So far this summer we've caught a meteor shower and explored Yellowstone (both from a beauty and science perspective). I taught my oldest to use a compass then explained how the magnifying glass on the compass could be used to start a fire. I taught my wife to solder and explained how the switch works on the trimmer so that next time it breaks, she can fix it. I hacked my sump pump outlet to provide a "hose" near the house to water the yard/gardens, which amazed my youngest (4) and prompted a whole discussion on "hacking" things to make them better. He is getting ready to start the hydroponics setup with me again (fresh lettuce, and this time we're going to try tomatoes and peppers). I'm currently looking for a couple of battlebot kits for the family to put together for Christmas, though looking at Ken's demolition car with Lego video, that might be just as much fun. I suppose the only "project" I want to do with the kids is build a fly a sky lantern, as I remember doing this in school (but for some reason they won't let them launch them in the gym anymore :-D) I suppose if I paid more attention, wrote things down, actually had a "plan" sometimes these would be "projects". Really we're just having fun.

Wilson provides a good example of how to give constructive criticism about the Spray bike makeover project:

Carefully considering the "be nice" comment policy, I have to say the paint colors they chose are pretty.
But doesn't a bike that has sat outside gathering weeds deserves more TLC than a quick respray? It's pretty easy to strip a single-speed bike like that fully - the headset and bottom bracket are easy, and a chain breaker is relatively cheap. You could even repack the front hub easily, but the rear coaster-brake is trickier to pull apart and reassemble.

There was a good discussion about the One-Way Ticket article in the latest issue of MAKE. Commenter gtoal was able to get theirs working:

Success! Great project, was easy to build once I found the parts. I did google for tips on how to apply the cement, and I would add to your description that it's worth attaching the plunger end first, so you can lean heavily on the other end to help push it all the way on, without worrying about pushing too hard on the newly cemented valve :-/
By the way, 'insinkerator' is a brand of garbage disposal unit that you have in your kitchen sink - not a type of incinerator, which would be way too daring a project for a toilet add-on!
Actually I looked for them after suggesting that and in fact they do exist - there's a custom unit called a 'toilet macerator' that does the same job, though I suspect a kitchen one would be cheaper!
Thanks again for a cool project. Although I'm not looking forward all that much to the first live field test!

Like these comments? Be sure to sound off in the comments! You could be in next week's column.

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Make: Projects - Ball-in-cage alarm switch


I've been looking for an excuse to build one of these clever tamper-detecting switches for a long time. When a mystery critter recently started raiding the fresh catnip I grow outside as a treat for my indoors-only cat, I saw my opportunity. Sure, I could've bought or borrowed a commercial trail camera, or hacked a PIR motion detector circuit, or set up an IR webcam with software-level motion detection, but I've long been charmed by the simple low-tech design of the ball-in-cage switch. Here's how I did it.


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