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Jar lamp makes for a nice present

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Spotted in the MAKE Flickr pool:

Ben Light made these jar lamps as presents for his family's DIY holiday gift exchange. To keep the project simple, most of the pieces are readymade, except for the hand-turned wooden base. I want one!

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Why do Christmas lights all go out when one bulb blows?

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John Graham-Cumming, of Geek Atlas fame, has posted a piece to answer the perennial question "Why do Christmas lights all go out when one bulb blows?" (the old-school in-series non-LED variety). And he shows ye ol' "binary chop" technique for quickly rooting out the dead bulb.

Why do Christmas lights all go out when one bulb blows? (and how to find the broken one)

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German university has awesome slides of maximum efficiency

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These giant parabolic slides, or Parabelrutsche are located in the Mathematik/Informatik building of the Technical University of Munich, Garching campus. The preferred method for riding them appears to be on boring carpet squares, however a quick search shows that more daring methods have also been tried. [thanks, Grace!]

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Aquaponics project at New York middle school

Joseph Karb, a teacher at Springville Middle School, wrote to me about an aquaponics enrichment project he is working on with his students.

tilipia-scool.jpgFor the past two months, middle school students have been managing an Aquaponics Fish Farm with over 400 tilapia. Aquaponics is a system where fish and plants work together in a mutually beneficial environment. Waste water from the fish tank is filtered out by plants as vital nutrients. The plants can then be eaten or fed to the fish. Composting is also an important part of the system with scraps from the cafeteria consumed by red worms, converted to compost, and used later in the plant filter. Tilapia are native to the Nile River and are common in Aquaponics because of their of their large size, rapid growth, and palatability.

Throughout the year over 90 students from Mr. Wojcik's, Mr. Stefan's and my enrichment class will participate in the project. The tilapia will be raised all school year with students responsible for the health of the fish, growing food, and maintaining the environment. By June the tilapia should be plate size (12 inches) and students plan to have a dinner to support a local charity.

Springville Middle School Tilapia Project

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And now, a holiday greeting from our quadrocopter overlords

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This impressive demonstration is by researchers at the Flying Machine Arena, part of the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zürich. They're also involved in more serious flying robotic research, such as in the demonstration by Angela Schöllig:

[via Engadget]

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Maker Pioneers: Kurt Fleischer

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Here is the latest in our Make: Shorts video series, covering "Maker Pioneers," inventors, entrepreneurs, makers, who are dreaming up clever solutions to today's energy and environmental problems. In this episode, we meet Kurt Fleischer. Kurt is a senior research scientist at Pixar, where he worked on building filmmaking software and directly on such films as Cars and WALL-E, before becoming a member of their research team. On his off time, he likes to apply his engineering skills to work on projects with his daughter, Lena, such as the Water Totter seen in this video. He used this project, which turns an old-style seesaw into a water pump, as an opportunity to teach Lena about concepts in engineering, conservation, energy generation, and a few life lessons.

Have you checked out our Green Projects Contest site yet? Lots of clever, fun projects and ideas have been submitted. Vote for the ones you like. Put up your own projects, grab your "tag," and spread it across the interwebs. Get your social network to vote for your projects. Tag Your Green!

MAKE Green Project Contest

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Nexus S soft-touch mod

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Are you sick of slick black plastic enclosures that collect fingerprints and smudge marks? Sure, you could go out and buy a case for your mobile, but that just adds more bulk to something you're ultimately going to stuff into a pocket. This DIY case mod from xda-developers member mhaedo remedies the fingerprint collector issue with a couple of coats of Plasti Dip. Adding only a thin layer of gripy material to the surface of the battery cover eliminates the smudges and enhances the overall look and feel of the device. [via theGadgets]

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21st century Christmas gift making

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My son Blake and I always try to make something to give our family for Christmas. In the late '90s, we were quite proud of the packing/box art (inset) we made for some handmade (not by us) ornaments we gave out. We found one of these boxes in the attic this year and it looks rather shabby next to this year's presents: the two plastic 3D-printed figures, one freestanding and one tree ornament, that Blake rendered in 3D and then had printed at Shapeways. The character is named Vido and he's a little wizard dude that appeared to Blake in a dream about five years ago. Vido has already been in CRAFT Volume 02, in an article that I did on making your own stamps out of art gum erasers. I still use the stamp. Vido has also appeared in Christmas cards of ours over the years, so we're both tickled to see him come to life in three-dimensions. It's really easy to upload the 3D (STL) files to Shapeways and it's not terribly expensive, either. They cost about $20 each. You can see Blake's Shapeway's page on the link below.

SlyDevil Studios at Shapeways


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