MAKE Magazine

Computer Mods of the Year 2010


Mod of the Year 2010 @

It's been another epic year for modding on bit-tech. Our regular Mod of the Month articles have been jam-packed with dozens of fantastic projects, all of which showed huge potential. Some have been completed, others haven't, and we've also found other projects lurking in our forums which we've featured on bit-tech, and in Custom PC magazine too.

We've got Mod of the Year regulars such as last year's winner, Attila (formerly known as oldnewby), not to mention thechoozen, slippery_skip and Sleepstreamer among others. However, we've got some new faces too - oliverw92, GinoTheCop and paultan have all made some spectacular projects this year, and are worthy nominees for the Mod of the Year too.

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Hackerspace cupcake challenge


Lish posted the following on CRAFT:

Who says cupcakes are just for crafters?! There's a hackerspace challenge right now to send a cupcake in pristine condition to another hackerspace across the country. I'm wondering — have any of you tried to mail cupcakes or cakes before? Any tips and/or tricks? Those are my sprinkle cupcakes above. I wonder how they'd do in the mail...

Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge

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Kinect 'x-ray' overlays you with CT-scan imagery

The Kinect allows tracking of users without additional markers. We develop a magic mirror that generated an overlay of a video image with volume visualization from a CT volume. Such a system could be used for education of anatomy.

[Via Beyond the Beyond]

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Solar Vox on Kickstarter


We covered the work of Eric Strebel in the lead-up to Maker Faire Detroit. He contributed to our "Making Detroit" series. Now he and partner Jim Nogarian have brought their design for the Solar Vox personal USB solar charger to Kickstarter. They're looking for $35,000 in funding to bring their product to market.

Solar Vox is small, rugged and optimally designed to recharge all your USB supported handheld devices. The unit's design enables four optimum solar angles of 0°, 30°, 70° and 90 degrees, making it versatile any time of the day anywhere on globe. It uses standard rechargeable "AA" batteries found in stores through out the world. The Solar Vox is USB enabled and compliant.

Solar Vox personal USB solar charger

Designs on a greener planet by Eric Strebel

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Announcing Maker Faire: North Carolina , June 18, 2011


We got an email this morning from the fine folks who are organizing this year's Maker Faire: North Carolina. Here's a brief description of the event:

Maker Faire: North Carolina celebrates things people create themselves -- from James Bond-worthy electronic gizmos to Martha Stewart-quality "slow made" foods and homemade clothes. Inspiration is ubiquitous at the festival and there are surprises around every corner for people of all ages.

Maker Faire: NC is a fully sanctioned event but is planned and coordinated by Raleigh/Durham locals. Our goal is to bring together Makers, Crafters, Inventors, Evil Geniuses, Scientists, Artists, and everyone else for a day of fun and inspiration.

The also have put out the Call of Exhibitors.

After the jump is a letter from Faire-organizer Jon Danforth with further details on the event.

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Calculator seating


Stools upholstered, printed, and arranged to suggest a giant numeric keypad. Totally useless, and completely delightful. Also somewhat enigmatic, at least to your shamefully monolingual correspondent. The photo appears to originate from this Japanese site called Pantograph, which, sadly, I cannot read. [Thanks, Billy Baque!]

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Your Comments


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

Pete Prodoehl wrote in to share his version of the DIY iPad Stylus:

Great video... I made my own, with just a few modifications... build info is here

Desiring to make a Super Mario level cake, Math Campbell put out a call for open source recipes:

It'd be really good if a lot of these cakes we see were more "open source", detailing which of the many thousands of icing (frosting in Yank) they used, and what sort of cake mix it is, what fondant they're using, whether the colourings are powder or alcohol etc. Then I'd actually have more success making these things... Fantastic cake art though, don't get me wrong. Just makes me itch to know how it was made. And to eat it, of course...

Colecoman1982 speculated about how Jeri's secret to learning electronics might apply to computers as well:

I've always felt that this is a big part of why some people can't ever seem to learn how to use computer competently (especially in the middle-aged and older groups). They are so afraid that they're going to break/delete something that they never allow themselves to relax and get the experience they need from just messing around a lot.

After seeing a ShopBot sing Joy to the World, Shadyman speculates:

I wonder if you could get a 3-part harmony going between the head's stepper and the two table steppers...
[editors note: Yes, yes you can!]

3leftturns has this to say about the Technical University of Munich's rapid transportation system:

I wonder if these math slides have "slide rules" that you have to follow to ride them...

akathewb appreciated the magic wand Codebox project:

Got this working quick, after downloading the video digitizer component for QuickTime for Windows. I just finished the Getting started with processing book and these more advanced programs you have on your blog here are very helpful for learning more about programming and processing. Thanks!

StefanJ shares some insight about Krampus:

Those are very scary costumes! I don't think they'd go over well with kids. Krampus should be scary but not terrifying. There are other Krampus-like characters. Black Peter, a dwarf who accompanies Santa (or St. Nick) in some countries. The Amish have a nasty Santa too; his name escapes me at the moment, but in Pennsylvania some towns have events similar to Santa's Village in malls. The guy has snide fun with kids. Boing Boing has some articles pointing to collections of Krampus postcards from Europe. There's a great one shown him on a sled full of kids tucked into barrels, on their way to bondage in a coal mine.

Over on Facebook, Judd Dulick is, er, impressed by the Self-Portrait Ski Mask:

The Venn Diagram of brilliant and creepy intersects right. About. Here. Well done, but now I'm going to have nightmares.

Also on Facebook, Dan Chamberlain appreciated Johnengineer's photo of his Brass rocking horse:

Not only is the horse outstanding, but the way the photo is staged is very, very cool!

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

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Micachu and The Shapes

Gregory Mitnick at Cool Hunting writes:

Following British musician Micachu through the aisles of a hardware store and along the streets of NYC, our video on the 23-year-old documents how she builds her experimental instruments. We also learn how her classical training compares to songwriting and get an impromptu performance with a member of her band the Shapes.

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Math Monday: Temari balls

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Temari balls are a traditional Japanese craft in which colored thread is applied to a sphere in a geometric pattern. This is a modern example, given to me by the Japanese master Kiyoko Urata.


There has been a repopularization of temari recently by people such as Carolyn Yackel at Mercer University, who teaches and writes about their underlying mathematics. Below is an example of her work with thirty rectangles centered on the two-fold rotation points of the icosahedral symmetry group.


See all of George Hart's Math Monday columns

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Skate-wheel smartphone dolly


Found in the MAKE Flickr pool:

This clever dolly by Flickr user eok.gnah is made out of skate wheels, but also packs a GorillaPod tripod, giving all sorts of options for shooting video, as evidenced by the sample video.

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Modernist fish-condo

Fish Condo.jpg

I agree with longtime MAKE pal Alan Dove that this modernist fish tank is just "crying out for a re-make."

Also, anyone curious about building their own fish tanks should check out this tutorial over at [Thanks, Alan!]


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In the Maker Shed: Voice Shield kit

The Voice Shield from the Maker Shed is an analog audio shield for the Arduino. It allows you to easily add audio to your next project. The Voice Shield uses a unique and very user friendly way to access different sound bytes making it easy to build "talking" devices. It can work with words, complete sentences, or use it to add sound effects.

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How-To: Snow hand


Read through PenfoldPlant's guide to building a large snow sculpture, namely this snow hand, so you're prepared to get out there and be creative when the next blizzard hits!

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Make: Projects - Kinect privacy shield from Kinect packing foam

kinect-privacy-guard (Medium).jpg

My new Kinect is a very cool toy, but it was not lost on me, as I was plugging it in, that I'd given the Microsoft hive-mind a pretty sophisticated set of eyes and ears onto my living room. Sure, I suppose I could only plug it in when I'm using it, but I'm kind of a neat freak about my entertainment center wiring and I don't want to be digging the Xbox out every time I decide I want certain privacy. Some kind of lens-cap arrangement seemed the easiest solution, and making it out of the foam that the Kinect came packed in avoids the danger of picking some material that might scratch the device or otherwise be incompatible with it over the long term. Plus, it makes it easy for anyone who owns a Kinect (and still has the box) to go and do likewise, should they be so inclined.


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Digital message in a bottle


In this interactive narrative piece by a group of ITP students, Message in a Bottle uses a creative method of engaging the viewer:

The viewer is presented with a simple glass bottle and a plank of wood. Five distinct quotes surround five separate areas of the wooden platform. Upon being picked up and moved across the plank, the bottle triggers different sounds. The five auditory signals serve as another form of guidance, each relating to a certain quote. When the container is placed on one of five specific points, an image or animation is projected into it. Each one of the five locations has its own set of imagery evoking a different character's life. Every time the bottle is placed on a point, a new aspect of that person's story is revealed.

One of the team members also posted a video documenting the process of making Message in a Bottle:


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Google Cr-48 Hackintosh

If you're one of the lucky folks to have received a Google Cr-48 notebook computer running Chrome OS, you might find it interesting that the same hardware can also run Mac OS X. Though it doesn't have hardware accelerated graphics and the track pad is a little glitchy, it does seem like it could be a fun rainy day project. [via Gizmodo]

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