Make: Online

Strobe-animated LED Phenakistoscope

In response to last week’s Codebox column on building 3D zoetropes, Lorelei Pepi posted a link to this most awesome strobe-animated phenakistoscope she built. Thanks, Lorelei!

LED Strobe Animation Device

Build a Phenakistoscope (Make: Projects)

From MAKE magazine:

Want to know how to build an auto-phenakistoscope? How about a laser light show in a lunchbox? Or a simple remote-controlled videocam car? Or maybe you want to go old-school and build a wooden mini sailboat or toy car launcher? All this and tons more, plus revealing photos of Adam Savage’s maker childhood, can all be found in MAKE, Volume 20, “For Kids of All Ages.” Get your individual copy in the Maker Shed, or subscribe now.


Barter for Instruction at Trade School

Tucked away in a back room on the 3rd floor of a nondescript church in NYC’s NoLita neighborhood is Trade School. An initiative of Our Goods, Trade School encourages students to “barter for instruction.” Basically you take a free class, and in exchange, you teach the teacher something they want to learn about! Classes range from making balloon animals to making soup, from learning dance forms to public advocacy, and even a How to Teach A Class class.

This past weekend I took a 1.5 hour class with Brooklyn’s locavore and foraging specialist Leda Meredith. The class was Food Preservation for cans and jars, and was attended by a dozen students. In exchange, sometime in the future, I’ll teach Leda on how to use File Transfer Protocal (FTP) to connect to her own websites and servers! A real deal for me, because whereas I make my own kombucha, kim chi, and sauerkraut, I was unaware of the simple science behind hermetically sealing jars for pickling food — whereas I can teach about FTP while I sleep!

Classes run until April 17th so if you’re looking to learn or even to teach, get in touch with Trade School.


“Skeletonics” Exoskeleton Is Kinda Like Stilts For Your Whole Body

All the primary source material here appears to be in Japanese, in which I am sadly illiterate, but word on the street is that this is a college-level student engineering project. It’s called Skeletonics, and I want to describe the technology as a “passive exoskeleton,” because it does not have any servomechanisms and just amplifies the speed and reach of the wearer’s natural movements. That would be opposed to an “active exoskeleton,” which, you know, would be one that actually adds power to a movement. I dunno what good it may be, but it sure looks like fun. If nothing else, you could build one and sell rides in it at the county fair. [via Hack a Day]



NASA Make: Challenge Submission Guidelines

We’ve published the rules and guidelines for the 2011 NASA Make: Challenge, which invites makers to propose kits that high school students can build in their classrooms to explore a scientific, technical, or math concept by flying the kits on a suborbital rocket flight.

Proposals for the NASA Make: Challenge should be submitted electronically to by midnight (Pacific Daylight Savings Time) April 30, 2011. To develop a successful proposal, please consult the rules and guidelines found at:

A submission to the NASA Make: Challenge will consist of two parts: (1) a written proposal describing the kit and (2) the project documentation described online at Make: Projects.

NOTE: The NASA Make: Challenge is open to all U.S. citizens. Proposers under the age of 18 must include the permission of a parent or guardian to participate.

Prize: The winner of the NASA Make: Challenge will win a trip to the Bay Area Maker Faire on May 21 & 22 where the winning project will be featured and the maker honored. The winning project will also be published in MAKE Magazine.

We are planning a webcast for the week of March 28. The webcast will be an opportunity to learn from experts about developing experiments that can fly in space. They will be available for questions as well.

For more information and to sign up for the mailing list, visit: 2011 NASA Make: Challenge.


Math Monday: Spherical Weaving with Pipe Cleaners

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Pipe cleaners are easily woven into flat lattice patterns, but spherical weaves are more challenging. Here is a good exercise in spherical thinking that is much harder than it looks. The thirty pipe cleaners each have the same shape and the same relationship to their neighbors.

The pattern is indicated in the diagram below, where the black triangles correspond to the faces of an unfolded icosahedron and the red curves are the paths of the pipe cleaners. If you cut out twenty of these triangles and tape them together to make an icosahedron, you’ll have a template for the weave.

Detailed instructions for making your own spherical patterns are online here.

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns


DIY Geiger Counters in Japan

In the wake of the Japanese disaster trifecta, I contacted our pal Francesco Fondi, of Wired Italy’s Otaku News and Hobby Media, to make sure he was OK (in Tokyo). He’s fine. He also sent us a link to a piece he’d done on about DIY Geiger counters. It looked interesting, so I asked him to translate:

To follow the level of radioactivity in the Japanese capital, local makers are building DIY Geiger counters. A popular one seems to be the USB Geiger counter kit sold by Strawberry Linux. It’s a Geiger counter based on Geiger–Müller tube (or GM tube) that can be connected to a PC.

A couple of users also started live video streaming of their Geiger counter readings on Ustream (here and here).

For a better picture of the situation, a good source is the Google Map that points out many Geiger counters in Japan (both official and DIY).

DIY Geiger Counters in Japan (Link to Fra original post on Wired Italy)

Where Have All the Robots Gone?


Kinect + Fancy Spherical Display = Giant Movement-Tracking Eyeball

From UK web design firm The Technology Studio. The spherical display is a (reportedly very expensive) commercial device called a PufferSphere. That it’s the Eye of Sauron is a nice touch. There’s also a video with a more, ah, “normal” looking giant eyeball here. [via Hack a Day]


Maker Shed’s Follow, Tweet, & (Maybe) Win an iPad Contest

The Maker Shed is giving away an iPad loaded with Make: The Complete Collection (PDF). It’s super-easy to enter, and no purchase is necessary. Read all the details about how to enter on the Maker Shed’s contest page.


Rust Removal Using Soda

I posed the question recently about how to remove rust from this toolbox full of neglected tools. I got lots of suggestions in the comments recommending different methods. I’ve decided to try out as many of them as possible. First up: soda.

Owing to its phosphoric acid content, Coca Cola has a pretty good reputation as a remover of iron oxide. I chose a bottle of Mexican Pepsi, since it’s made with cane sugar and I’m pretty sure high fructose corn syrup is bad for tools (kidding).

I placed this lovely wrench in a small container, poured in the Pepsi, and let it sit for four days. When I pulled it out I was half-expecting a gleaming, new tool to emerge. Instead, it had removed some of the surface rust, but none of the more serious crud.

I’ve decided to put it back in with a fresh bottle of soda (this time a Mexican Coke) for another week, and then see if there’s much change. As usual, if anyone has advice on this technique, please let us know about it in the comments.


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