Make: Online

Clock Built for Extraterrestrial Travelers

Mars Clock
For those of you currently planning extraterrestrial trips, check out Alexander Avtanski‘s well-documented Mars Clock project. Built with a modem enclosure and other spare parts, the clock can tell time on any number of planets based on their rotation period. And if you’re organizing a Mars-based marathon, Alexander has you covered: the clock is capable of keeping 16 independent timers. To use his own words, it’s “high on the geekness scale,” which I, for one, always appreciate. [via Dangerous Prototypes]


Super Awesome Sylvia builds the MiniPOV

In the latest episode of Sylvia’s Mini Maker Show, she’s at it again with this classic MiniPOV build and persistence of vision demonstration.

Today we’ll be building the awesome MiniPOV kit by Adafruit, available in the Maker Shed. It’s your own little persistence of vision display in the palm of your hand. Lets go!

For this build we’ll need:

  • Mini POV kit
  • Soldering iron
  • Rosin core solder
  • A multimeter (good for checking continuity)
  • A USB to serial adapter (if you don’t have a serial port on your computer)
  • A vice or helper hands (not required, but really handy!)
  • Flush wire cutters

The MiniPOV is a great build for beginners because of the low part count and simple assembly. It comes complete build instructions and lots more!

First things first, get yourself a clear workspace with plenty of light, and start soldering in the parts according to the build instructions. Make sure to bend the leads a little after putting it in so that it won’t slide out when you flip the board over, and once each component is soldered in, be sure to wear some eye protection and clip those leads as flush as possible.

When it’s time to do the serial connector, make sure to put lots of solder on its leads, as the connector sticks out like a handle and these connections are the only thing holding it to the board! Also try to make sure and only connect the serial cable by holding the metal of the connector, not the board itself!

For your little ATTiny chip, its legs are bowed out a bit, so there’s a trick to getting it into the socket: first make sure you’re free of static charge (touch some grounded metal, computer case, door handle or maybe your little brother or sister) then on a nice flat surface, carefully bend all the pins in a little till they look about parallel. Then match up the notch on the chip to the notch on the socket, and push it in.

For the battery wires, I highly recommend putting a blob of hot glue where they meet the board so they don’t break off from moving it around. (This happened to us twice!) Once your wires are in and your batteries are loaded, flip the switch and you should see blinkies!

Now setup the AVR loader software for your operating system according to the guide. Once you’ve got it up and running, it’s time to make something new for the POV to display.

My dad hacked together a cool little web app for making messages or graphics that outputs a binary array you can paste directly into the code. Once you’ve hacked your 1s and 0s, it’s time to compile and upload! This can all be a bit tricky to get right, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be AVR programming like a pro.

When the upload finishes, you can start experimenting! Try attaching your MiniPOV to a bicycle wheel and give it a spin. Maybe try some long exposure photos, moving it around in different fun shapes or patterns while the shutter is open, or attach it to a spinning toy you can twirl around and amaze your friends with!

So, how does this all work anyways? It’s easy!

Imagine a single slice of your list of 1s and 0s, made into holes and dots respectively on a strip of paper (which by the way, used to be how binary information was stored!) If you shine a light through it, you can see that the 1s allow the light through, while the 0s remain dark. By then quickly switching to the next slice of the picture over time, we’re only missing one last piece of the puzzle. To get the whole picture, all we have to do is move the slice to the next position in space at the right time sequentially, and our brains do the rest of the work by piecing the whole picture together from the afterimages! That’s persistence of vision! Aren’t brains great?! No wonder zombies are after them!

There’s lots more you can do with it as well, like change out the red LEDs for another color like blue, green or red, attach a sensor to switch the scroll direction, or change the firmware and make it into a strobe or anything else you can dream up. because it’s a micro controller you can make it do almost anything!

That’s it for this episode, remember to experiment with your own designs, respect your soldering iron and get out there and MAKE something!


In the Maker Shed:
Makezinepov Crop
MiniPOV kit


Make: Live Episode 03: Science Fair Projects (preview video)

Join us Wednesday evening for the third episode of Make: Live, our streaming show and tell!

Make: Live 03 – Science Fair Projects
Wednesday February 23rd, 9pm ET/6pm PT
Watch at or on UStream

We also give away a fabulous prize from Digi-Key to one chat member who can solve our photo challenge. We can’t wait to share some of the joy of making with you, live 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, on Make: Live.

Sean Ragan – Laser Projection Microscope

Contributing MAKE writer and blog MVP Sean Ragan joins us via Skype to demonstrate his laser projection microscope. The simple apparatus dangles a drop of pond water in front of a high power laser to turn a dark room into a microbial movie theater.

Demonstration from the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments

Becky dons her lab coat to demonstrate the production of hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of water (with the help of a 9V battery). You can tell the difference between the two gases by the way they burn.


In the Maker Shed: RFID Card Reader

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Designed in cooperation with Grand Idea Studio, the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader Module is the first low-cost solution to read passive RFID transponder tags. The RFID Reader Module can be used in a wide variety of hobbyist and commercial applications, including access control, automatic identification, robotics, navigation, inventory tracking, payment systems, and car immobilization. Note: No tags are included with the RFID Reader Module. This device can be connected to a PC serial port using a MAX232 line driver. Don’t forget to get a RFID tag too!

Hint, Hint – Follow the Maker Shed on Twitter, or Subscribe to our Deal of The Day RSS feed to keep up to date on the latest deal!


Minneapolis Mini Maker Faire — Call for Makers

Last year’s “Minne Faire” was a hit, and the folks at the Hack Factory are gearing up for the sequel.

I would like to announce that we have selected Sat. April 9th to be the date for this year’s Mini Maker Faire. The Faire will take place from noon until 5pm and there will likely be some sort of after party. Mark your calendars!

This is also a Call for Makers. We need you to fill tables at our event. If you’d like to request a table please e-mail with a description, link, and/or photos of what you’d be presenting. Also include your table size and power requirements. Since the Hack Factory has filled up quite a bit since last year, space is at a premium. We are working with our landlord to free up some extra space for the weekend, but tables will be limited. If needed, table selections may be a juried process.

If you haven’t been to the Hack Factory since last years faire, I recommend you stop by. Our membership has increased substantially over the past year, and the difference you’ll immediately notice is the presence of tools!


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