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Reminder: Get your Make It Last build in soon!



Just a reminder: We've entered the final stages of the first build in the Make It Last build series, which is the datalogger. The posts are up, newsletters are out, and forums are buzzing- have you finished your build yet? The contest ends on Friday, however we're giving out a prize pack to first fifteen people to enter, so submit yours soon!

For news about the contest, including official rules, check out the project landing page.

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BBB #1: The Santa-pede challenge @ Hack a Day - MAKE is a sponsor and a judge!

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BBB #1: The Santa-pede challenge @ Hack a Day - MAKE is a sponsor!...

Welcome to the first Buy Break Build at hackaday,  sponsored by Adafruit Industries and Make. This challenge will be focusing on dancing Santas, or what is inside them. We’ve seen them everywhere, and may even have one or two in an attic somewhere. These annoying little guys should have enough bits and pieces inside to build some pretty interesting stuff. This time, we want to see a multi-legged walking device. We don’t care if it has 2 legs, 7 legs, or 32 legs, as long as it “walks” using its legs.
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Gaming for a Cure, Part II

Last month, the Myelin Repair Foundation launched a public game for good: Breakthroughs to Cures, a crowdsourced health initiative created by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal.

During Part I, an interesting DIY theme arose... players thought that DIYbio and other citizen science groups could create a new class of researchers that would combat future, humanity-threatening diseases. See more - including what problems face CitSci and novel player solutions - here

For those who missed Part I, you still have a chance to get in on the game. Part II starts at 9am Tuesday November 9th and will run for the next 24 hours. Register here.

What to expect
In Breakthroughs, you are launched into the future and asked how you would prevent major health catastrophes if you had unlimited resources and support from the President of the good ol' U.S. of A. Players are asked to not only come up with solutions to big problems, but also to challenge other players suggestions and defend their own ideas.

If you've ever had an idea for how individuals can get more involved in global health - and really make a difference - let your voice be heard in Part II. Join the Myelin Repair Foundation, Institute for the Future, and BioCurious' own Eri Gentry (who who will be on the site as a Game Guide from 5-7pm PT) on the quest for a cure November 9th. Eri will be blogging standout ideas throughout, so put on your thinking caps!

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Christmas tree lights for camping


I love this idea, from Cool Tools. I'm a big fan of Christmas lights anyway (we keep a set up in our living room all year round and fire 'em up whenever we're feeling particularly festive). Here's an idea for taking them camping, as an alternative light source.

I have discovered that these battery-powered LED Christmas tree lights are really great for camping. They are not really bright, lack the noise from a gas lantern, they are non flammable, use rechargeable batteries, seem pretty durable (I have had them in the back of my truck for a while now) are ridiculously cheap, and they don't seem to attract bugs like all other lights that i have used.

I have slowed the use of my headlamp. No more blinding people when you look at them while camping. I also like not having to use the loud mantle lanterns or the hurricane type lanterns that leak oil and spill.

I string them up around the awning attached to my truck and then to the inside of the shell when I sleep or camp in there.

I got mine for around 5 dollars including shipping. Outside of using them for camping they are also really fun to swing around at night while taking long exposure photos.

— Thomas O'Brien

Battery Powered LED Christmas Lights
30 white LEDs, 3 meter string, $5
Available from and manufactured by DealExtreme

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Tokyo hackerspace fundraiser party is this Saturday


This Friday, the Tokyo Hackerspace is hosting a huge workshop/auction/dinner/party. There will be fun stuff happening all day, so if you have meaning to check out the space, this will be a great opportunity!

We're thrilled that our super-catalyst, Mitch Altman, will bring Hackers on a Plane to Japan in November and hold an unusual event and auction fundraiser for TokyoHackerSpace.

You'll meet tinkerers, programmers, crafters, sewingfolk, urban gardeners, database engineers, builders, breakers, writers, teachers, scientists, and many more...But you'll take home more than a great experience. You'll take your very own environmental management device: Make Your Own TV-B-Gone: the environmental management device!

We at TokyoHackerSpace are thrilled that the maker of TV-B-Gone, Mitch Altman, will be coming to Tokyo along with some amazing hackers from around the world!

I'll be there helping out, so be sure to say hi if you see me!

Tokyo Hackerspace fundraiser party
Saturday, November 13, 2010, 1:30pm - 9:30pm
5丁目11白金台, Minato Ward, Tōkyō Metropolis, Japan
Cost: ¥4500 members/¥5500 non-members

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Garage status monitor


Jody Farr's garage status monitor, his very first 'real' project, was borne out of necessity:

In the middle of July, I was wondering why the air conditioner in the house wasn't keeping up. I must have spent hours looking things over, making sure the compressor was working, replacing filters, blah blah blah. After a while, I found myself standing downstairs in the middle of my garage and it hit me.

The garage door had been open all day. This was the reason why the ductwork was sweating and the cement floor looked damp, and probably a big contributor to the air conditioning problem. From the main floor of the house, it's impossible to tell if the garage door is open, and with a 5-year-old always going out to ride her bike, you can bet it's open more often than not.

And that's when I decided it was time to find a way to build a gadget to let me know.

A TMP36 temperature sensor, XBee, and roller contact switch later, Jody had a system that sent the garage status to his computer. Nice going!

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How-To: Make your own model rocket igniters


Over on our Make: Projects platform, our old pal Stefan Jones shows you how simple it is to create your own nichrome igniters for model rocket motors, using little more than nichrome wire, masking tape, and some lacquer paint, hobby dope, or nail polish.

How-To: Make your own model rocket igniters

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What I've Learned About Wind Carts

By Mark Frauenfelder

Rick Cavallaro demonstrates his treadmill wind cart.

In February 2007, MAKE's project editor, Paul Spinrad, emailed me a link to a YouTube video shot by a man named Jack Goodman. The video opens with a woman in a pink shirt and blue shorts standing in the middle of an asphalt road somewhere in Florida. She's holding onto a 2-foot-high, three-wheeled, unmanned cart with a large propeller mounted on the back. There's no motor on the cart, but the propeller is connected to the back wheels with pulleys and a belt.

A man's voice offscreen says, "OK, April 13. Wind light and variable, about 5 or 6 knots." A small mast with a windsock attached to the cart shows that the wind is blowing from the back to the front of the cart — in other words, the cart is pointed downwind. The man instructs the woman to "give it a shove," and she pushes it lightly down the road. It rolls for several feet, making a clicking sound, then slows down and comes to a rest.

"Oh," says the unseen man. "I had the brake on again. Give it a push." The woman pushes it again and the cart takes off down the road, this time picking up considerable speed.

The video camera continues to tape the cart as it rolls down the road. The camera operator is on a bicycle, shooting the video while pedaling along the rural road. After a moment, the windsock stops pointing downwind and changes direction. It's now pointing toward the back of the cart. This means the cart is traveling downwind faster than the wind.

For the next three minutes, the cart rolls down the road. The man says, "I'm going 10 miles an hour, the wind is about 6 knots." The cart races ahead, and the man says, "Up to 13 miles an hour." A minute or so later he says, "Brake on." The vehicle stops and the video abruptly ends.

Jack Goodman's three-minute video has been the subject of an intense, hotly-contested speculation ever since it was uploaded to YouTube on November 30, 2006. In an article for Catalyst: Journal of the Amateur Yacht Research Society, Goodman explained that he built his curious cart to settle an ancient debate among sailing enthusiasts: Is it possible to for a wind-powered vehicle to travel directly downwind faster than the wind? Read the Full Story » | More on MAKE » | Comments » | Read more articles in Science | Digg this!

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Make: Projects - Ball-chain plant hangers


Really the "plant hanger" thing is just an easy example. The cool bit here is the trick for making fixed three- and four-way joints in ball chain using the commonly-known "straight" couplings, plus one you may not already know about. You can use it to make snap-together ball-chain nets or meshes of any size or shape, for any reason you might want to.


RC flying shark


The RC flying shark appears to be a commercial product, but I love the idea of animal-shaped flying creatures. Any makers out there building your own? [via Neatorama]

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Math Monday: Wearable geometry

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


If you love geometry, you can let everyone know by wearing dodecahedra with elegance and style!


These dresses with sewn-on paper polyhedra embellishments were designed by Amila Hrustic.


I'm not sure how one sits in a dress textured with tetrahedra, but it certainly gets points for fashion.


Octahedral epaulettes suggest a high rank in the polyhedral hierarchy.


And what could be more classic than being clad in cubes?

[Photography: Irfan Redzovic. Model: Lana Pasic.]

See all of George Hart's Math Monday columns

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Dachshund wheelchair



That's one lucky pup! Dachshunds are prone to back injuries, what with their adorably long backs and all. Joelsprayberry on Instructables made this dachshund wheelchair for after his injury, for use until he can walk again.

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Lego interlocking solid puzzles


MZ_MakerHobbies-Badge.gifApart from the fact that the bricks and plates are open at their bottoms, and so the pieces always have one side that can't be "smooth," Lego is a pretty handy way to prototype interlocking solid puzzles. Many of these are based on cubic units, and can be built in Lego at a scale of 1 cube = 2 studs x 2 studs x 5 plates.

Eric Harshbarger, whose Lego hijinks we've featured a couple times before, has produced some lovely models based on this principle. Shown above are his 6-piece burr, checkered solid pentominoes, Soma cube, and deluxe polycube set. The awesomeness continues at Eric's site.


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Slider cell phone costume


From the MAKE Flickr pool: Flickr user jpotisch created this neat Halloween costume for his daughter.

The finished product! I was running late and neglected to take pictures of the foam harness but basically it attaches front and back with a LOT of glue, since it has to hold the entire weight of the costume. A hole for her head rests the whole thing on her shoulders, and a large foam "lap belt" across the back, also held in place with a ton of hot glue, keeps the whole thing from tipping forward.

It was not the most maneuverable costume, but it was stable, light, and comfortable enough to get around and trick-or-treat, which is all my daughter cares about.

Nicely done, but I wish I could see it on the kid, I'm having a hard time visualizing how it's supposed to fit!

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Your Comments


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

nathan_embossed_box.jpg After reading the embossed metal box from beverage can how-to, nathan.f77 made this awesome box:

Heres my attempt at one. I really enjoyed making it, thanks for the great instructions!

Kerowhack requested a moment of silence for the non-geek significant others who put up with projects like the game racing cockpit in an ottoman:

Maybe we should all take a few minutes to think about the Maker widows who put up with the long hours spent in the garage, the side trips to odd places like junkyards or electronic supply houses on vacation, the clutter of a work space in progress, the "only a little one" fires and other accidents, the sometimes trying experiments that interfere with daily life, the "5 more minutes" an hour agos, and the amount of money spent on what some would consider to be useless junk. Anyone who can put up with us, let alone support or even collaborate in our efforts, is a very special person indeed, and the sort of consideration shown here would be the perfect way to say "thank you" to our SOs.

Volkemon is excited (and so are we) about the prospect of a new commenting system:

WOW! Nice to hear it. I LOVE (LOVE) the comments, and will read many posts just because there are comments there. Even if the subject matter would not ordinarily attract me. I would be nicer having an (hold breath momentarily, then in a sotto voice:) Edit function....... *sigh* ;) Thanks!

Dbcooper answered our question about the balancing boat:

"I wonder what it would look like if it actually sunk?" Wet.

KurtRoedeger is thrilled about the Lehigh Valley makers meeting:

This is like an awesome-burger topped with awesome-cheese and awesome-sauce! I do hope I can find some time for attending.

kongorilla was a bit discouraged by the shadow machine project:

I made something like this last year (but using a simple, cheap 10 LED chaser circuit, easily found online) and have been meaning to write it up for a possible Make article. I snooze, I lose. Again. My headline was "a film projector with no moving parts". Just because my thunder has been stolen doesn't mean I can't still write it up, but...y'know. The novelty is gone.

however, we would like to point out that it would be totally awesome if they go through with their build:

No, no, write it up, document it, take photos, put it on Make Projects, and I'll make one! They aren't the first to come up with this idea, either...

The post about traveling downwind faster than the wind has generated a lot of debate and discussion. Jennifer Elaan presented a good explanation:

I have to admit that I was skeptical at first. Then I ran the vector analysis. Surprisingly simple math, and when I ran it, it clearly said that this should work. There are a few key things to remember. First, motion itself doesn't require energy - an object in motion will remain in motion, neglecting friction. Acceleration requires energy, but if you can extract any energy, you can accelerate. The second, and in my opinion, most important is that this isn't an aircraft. The relative difference in speed between the ground and the wind is the same no matter how fast the craft is traveling. And this difference - not the windspeed itself, but the speed relative to the ground - provides energy that can be extracted, no matter how fast the craft is moving. At t0, the propeller is stopped and acts as a sail, moving the vehicle forward. If the propeller was fixed in place (acting as a sail), the vehicle would reach the same velocity as the wind (neglecting losses). At this point, the wheels are rolling under the vehicle, and power can be extracted from them. Doing so will add drag to the craft, of course, making it travel somewhat slower than the wind speed, and causing wind to be slowed by the fixed propeller. Now when the propeller is spun by power extracted from the wheels, it provides thrust which further accelerates the craft. This thrust isn't free, and it doesn't contribute to the power being extracted from the wheels: the ground speed is increased, but the effective wind speed is also increased, which means that the difference in speed between the ground and the wind remains the same. And again, it is this difference - not the absolute wind speed, or the absolute ground speed - that the craft extracts energy from.

and Morten Nisker was understanding about the word from our Director of Technology:

Making is all about failing :)

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

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Roman multi-tool from 3rd century CE

And now, another word from our Director of Technology

You know that whole thing about switching the site over this AM and the fragility of meatbots? Funny story... — Gareth

Hello everyone,

I've been dragged out from beneath my desk to write this letter to you all, and then, I will crawl back there and not come out until I see my shadow, or don't see my shadow, whichever comes last.

In my mind, I had imagined clouds — specifically, an AWS cloud whose virtual instances scaled easily and quickly under any traffic surges that came through from you, dear readers. I imagined myself a hero amongst you, lifted on a golden palanquin, paraded around the office. I'd never have to worry about the stability of our blogs again, and I'd be awash in good cheer and huzzahs from every corner.

Instead, my dreams, and the servers, were crushed under the relatively feather-weight traffic of our user base at 12am-3a; they spewed rude errors at me, and repeatedly died. I wish I had a video camera for these moments — the log files reflected in my eyes, wide with horror, witnessing the servers gasp their last and fall silent. I felt like I was watching Rome burn.

So, we have rolled the changes back — you might have noticed some interruption in service for an hour or two. And as tempted as I was to flee the country for some sun-filled paradise, I instead took a deep breath, sharpened my proverbial pencil, and have skulked back to the drawing board.

If you wish to offer me a kind word (unlikely) or stick pins (more likely), you can, as always, reach me at We'll try this exercise again real soon, hopefully with happier results.


Stefan Antonowicz

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Comments are off temporaily

As we mentioned on Friday, we're moving the MAKE and CRAFT sites this weekend and switching to different blogging and commenting software. Comments are now turned off until the change-over is complete, sometime early Monday morning. Our service droids are working tirelessly around the clock — oh, wait, service droids won't be available for another few decades, so in the meantime, we have several very tired (but bright, sincere, and supremely devoted) meatbots working around the clock. There are limited replacement parts available, but they're expensive and we can't afford the recovery/downtime, so we're trying to keep their duty cycles within bio-tolerable limits. I know... "puny humans" and all that, but what are ya gonna do? So, we appreciate your patience.

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