Make: Online

Collin’s Lab: Homebrew Piezo

Piezoelectric materials are about as close to magic as you can get. They turn physical pressure into electricity and can even turn electricity into physical pressure – an amazing sort of bidirectional converter for mechanical and electrical energies. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that you can easily ‘grow’ your own piezoelectric crystals overnight using just a couple of common ingredients – awesome.

Ever since I made my first contact microphone, I’ve been amazed by piezos and their unique abilities. I was more than psyched to learn I could make my own piezoelectric crystals after finding recipes online. Now I just need to figure out how I’ll put these little guys to good use … feel free to leave any ideas/suggestions in the comments below!


Maker Faire Bay Area — 2011: A Maker Space Odyssey

We’re thrilled by how things are shaping up for this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area. This year’s theme will be:

2011: A Maker Space Odyssey — From Maker Space to Outer Space

Some highlights for 2011, so far, include:

Returning Favorites:
- MakerBot 3D printing area
- MakerShed Learn to Solder Area
- Arc Attack – Musical Tesla Coils
- Flaming Lotus Girls with Three Mutopia Pods
- Lil Ju Ju Pinball Museum
- FIRST Tech Challenge & FIRST Lego League
- R2 D2 Astromech Droids
- Land Sharks – RC controlled neon creatures
- Twin Towers 19′ Tesla Coils
- Young Maker Projects
- Make and Launch Compressed Air Rockets
- Interactive Sculpture Garden by Posables
- Makerspace and Hackerspace

Flaming Lotus Girls, Maker Fair Bay Area, 2010. Image by twelves.

New Makers and Activities:
- Chariot Races (organized by Madagascar Institute)
- DIY Kit makers, including:
       NASA/Make: Space challenge
       Open hardware electronic kits
       DIY Kits for kids, by kids
       Algae kits to grow your our spirulina superfood
       Cheese-making kits
- “Race and Shoot” games from SF Model Yacht club
- Stanford Solar Car Project
- Bug in a book workshop – From MAKE Volume 16, the Spy Tech issue
- Fresh-pressed Sunflower Oil

Want to learn more about Maker Faire? Meet the Maker Faire team and fellow makers? Learn about our volunteer program? Tour the new TechShop San Francisco? We are holding a Maker Faire Town Hall on Tuesday, 3/15 at 7pm at the new TechShop San Francisco location. This is a perfect chance to get your questions answered and prepare for Maker Faire Bay Area 2011. To register to attend, and get more information, check out our EventBrite announcement.

Applications are available at: Call For Makers (Extended to March 21st!)

We can’t wait for this always-inspiring event and we hope we’ll see you there!


Makers featured in GO, GO GADGETS – THEDAILY

GO, GO GADGETS @ THEDAILY. This is that new iPad magazine, and it’s also online. Our own Becky Stern makes an appearance!

Meet the real-life MacGyvers. Engineers and garage tinkerers across the country are building their own MP3 players, 3D printers and, yes, even light guns. And they say you can too. The Daily talked to some of the leaders of this gadget revolution and found that you don’t have to be a genius to make something. You just have to be curious.


Skill Set: Win a Copy of Making Things Move!

As part of our Mechanics theme this month, we’re giving away three signed copies of Dustyn Roberts’ awesome Making Things Move. This book is the perfect introduction to understanding basic machines and mechanisms and how to more intelligently incorporate them into your projects.

We’ve been having such a great response to using these giveaways as a way of building a crowdsourced Q&A on a given theme. So, to be eligible for the book drawing, tell us what some of your most pressing mechanics questions. Have trouble figuring out gear ratios? Need to know when to screw it and when to glue it? Need to understand the relationship between force and torque? Whatever your question, ask below. And, as always, if you answer questions from your fellow makers, you will also be eligible for the drawing. Deadline for the drawing is next Tuesday (3/15), 11:59pm PST. Winners will be announced on Wednesday.

Skill Set: Intro to Machines and Mechanisms (with an excerpt from Dustyn’s book)


Fascinating 1953 Navy Film Series on Mechanical Computers

Before there were electronic computers, there were mechanical computers, and one of the most important uses of these was in directing gunfire on surface warships. Mechanical fire control computers took inputs from manned instruments that visually tracked enemy ships, and also considered variables such as wind speed and direction, the firing ship’s heading and velocity, etc. That information—completely in the form of physical displacements of mechanical movements—was cranked through a complex train of shafts, gears, cams, and differentials that computed the optimal firing solution, and automatically aimed the guns accordingly.

This film series, produced by the US Navy in black-and-white sprocket-clatter 1950s glory, explains the general principles of mechanical computation, as applied to fire control systems, in clear and engaging language with nice animated diagrams. It’s been ported to YouTube in seven parts by user navyreviewer. Totally engrossing. [via Boing Boing]


Print Your Own CNC Etch-A-Sketch Gears

Thingiverse user BenJackson designed a bracket and two gears that allow you to add numeric ontrol capability to your Etch-A-Sketch.

What can I say? I’ve never been able to draw anything with an Etch-a-Sketch. I won this one in a Christmas gift exchange some years ago and hung onto it with the idea that someday I’d CNC it.

The stepper motors are 7.5 degree Airpax steppers I got surplus many years ago. It turns out those mounting ears are actually NEMA 23 compatible so this should work unmodified with “square” steppers as well.


Real Life “Up” House Lifted by Balloons

It took this crew the short span of two weeks to “fly the house” in this National Geographic project to create a real life version of the house in Pixar’s Up– lifted into the sky by balloons. “The real Up! Scientists recreate floating house from Pixar movie… and prove it really CAN fly” at dailymail:

The team from National Geographic have built a house inspired by the Pixar movie Up! that can really fly.

Using 300 helium-filled weather balloons, a team of scientists, engineers, two balloon pilots and dozens of volunteers, they managed to get the small house 10,000 feet into the air.

Of course it was not a real house, but a custom-built light weight one.

Executive producer Ben Bowie said: ‘We found that it is actually close to impossible to fly a real house.’

Producer Ian White added: ‘But what we can do is kind of fly a light-weight house and fly it safely with people on board.’

[via designboom]


Working Handheld Homemade Pulse Laser Weapon

Like, not a toy one. Like, will punch a hole in a piece of thin metal with one shot. Like, kids, don’t try this at home.

This quote from maker Patrick Priebe is via Alan Parekh’s Hacked Gadgets:

It holds a small pulse laser head, capable of generating aMW-pulse [sic] of coherent infra-red light. One shot can punch through a razorblade, plastic, 5mm styrofoam when focussed [sic]. Effective range on 3m (dark surfaces)…you will see a stinging flame and a 5mm stain will remain on target. The goal was, to create handheld device…AS COMPACT as possible. Its 320mm long and weights about 2 pounds.

Materials used: Plexi for the center-plate, and brass / aluminum for the casing. Each and every part, handmade…took about 70 hours of work.

The claim of penetrating a razor-blade impresses me, although I note the only metal penetration in the video is thin aluminum, which has been painted, possibly so that it will absorb more light energy. There’s also some cool shots capturing the pulse’s plasma ball in midair.


In the Maker Shed: Prototino ATMega328 Kit

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The Prototino ATMega328 kit is designed to make a permanent version of your Arduino project once you have perfected it on a breadboard but without the expense of embedding your original project. The Prototino also makes your project more reliable and robust. With the prototyping area integrated with the microprocessor, your project will have fewer boards and fewer wires.

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