Make: Online

Hackerspace Happenings: Road Show & Two Hands Project News

Make: Live — Hackerspace Roadshow

Make: Live featured four spaces in its last show, including the Hack Factory, i3detroit, Milwaukee Makerspace, as well as Noisebridge. Love seeing all those projects — and very impressive spaces, guys!

Two Hands Project Footage on

Footage from the Two Hands Project, a hackerspace documentary, has been put on by the editor, Jason Scott.

Call For Makers: Brighton Mini Maker Faire

BuildBrighton hackspace (who’ve just got back from Bay Area Maker Faire, having been finalists in the global hackerspace challenge) are organising their very own Mini Makerfaire in Brighton, UK. We’re looking for hackers, designers, builders, crafters, artists — all makers — to join us on 3rd September at the Dome Foyer for the first Brighton Mini Maker Faire. If you’re interested please go to and fill in our makers form. Applications close June 30th!

LVL1 is Building a Mini Flamethrower

Louisville’s LVL1 is practically afire with excitement… uhhhhhhhh, be safe, guys.

Are you a hackerspace member with an event you’d like to publicize? Send it to or tweet me at @johnbaichtal and I’ll post it. Also feel free to subscribe to my hackerspaces Twitter list. Hackerspace Happenings will run weekly Tuesdays, and the next one will come out June 21st.


Toolbox Review: iMSO-104 Oscilloscope for iPad & iPhone


Oscium’s iMSO-104 hardware offers to turn your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into a 12MSPS digital oscilloscope with an analog bandwidth of 5MHz. For folks like me with limited desk space & shifting work environments, that’s an interesting offer indeed. Oscium sent over a test model to take for a spin, so onto the spinning!


Included tangibles are as follows:

  • iMSO-104 Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Hardware
  • 1x/10 Analog Probe
  • Logic Harness (4 Digital + 1 Ground)
  • SMD Grabbers (4 Digital + 1 Ground)
  • Screwdriver for Analog Waveform Compensation Adjustment
  • Analog tip covers (2 pieces)

The core hardware, based on the Cypress PSoC 3 chip, is housed in a slim enclosure with requisite Apple dock connector, SMB jack for the analog probe, and 5-pin male header to accommodate 4 digital channels + ground. The included set of probes appear well-built, and I estimate they’d withstand the level abuse my other test equipment is subject to. The unit also includes a small blue LED power indicator which turns off whenever the device’s related software becomes inactive.


iMSO - iPhone

The iMSO’s software portion is available for free as a Universal app and includes an interactive demo mode to give you an idea of how the unit handles analog signals. The app implements standard digital scope functionality (zoom, trigger, cursor/measurement) with thankfully little UI clutter. In addition to standard menu controls, users can employ familiar pinch-to-zoom gestures as well as control voltage trigger level via onscreen sliders, and double-tap to toggle display infos.


Right off the bat, I was intrigued at the thought of using the iPad’s 9.7″ display and touch input for highly portable ‘scoping. And yes, viewing a sinewave in such a manner does feel satisfyingly slick and moreover, imbues Apple’s hardware with an air of technical sophistication rarely achieved while editing a Pages document or playing Angry Birds. The iMSO software was easily controllable via my iPhone, but I really can’t imagine using it much on that platform when given the option of a much larger display.

While it won’t replace my big ol’ 50MHz CRT benchtop dinosaur, the iMSO’s comparatively humble 5MHz analog bandwidth works well for inspecting audio signals (which I do quite often). Additionally, max voltage limits on the devices inputs (±40V analog 10x, -0.5V/+13V digital) mean I’m likely to reserve use exclusively for low-power audio work. On the digital side, the unit did prove capable when I attempted peeking in on some serial communications between an Arduino board and MCP4921 DAC chip.

The fact that iOS devices use a single port for both power & data, means you’ll have to rely on battery power while using the iMSO. Thankfully, the device + software went easy on my iPad 2′s battery – so power is likely only a concern for those who plan on marathon testing/debugging sessions.

The ~$300 pricetag and bandwidth limitations will likely limit the iMSO’s initial audience – but if those points don’t pose a problem for you, well, this thing is pretty dang sweet. As the IMSO-104 is the first in its category, It will be interesting to see what future developments hold for iOS test equipment – see, we shall.


Interview with Food Sculptor Ray Villafane

Before we completely close out our Food theme, we wanted to highlight the amazing food art of Ray Villafane. We posted about Ray’s “art pumpkins” last year and it’s become one of our most popular pieces.

Starting off his career as a grade school art teacher, Ray eventually entered the world of professional sculpting. He has cultivated his sculpting chops in a truly unique way, carving pumpkins. Check out the tips he shares here with us for creating your own cut-above pumpkin sculptures. In the fall, look for Ray’s in-depth instructional DVDs. For more information check, out Villafane Studios. We’ll post something when the DVDs are released and maybe even give away some copies.

How did you first get into pumpkin carving?
Prior to becoming a professional sculptor for the toy and collectible industry, I was a kindergarten-12 art teacher in a small school district. While teaching, a student brought in a pumpkin for me to try and carve. It didn’t look ANYTHING like they do today, but it looked good enough for the kids to bring in more pumpkins for me to carve. This gave me plenty of practice. Over the years, the carvings haven gotten better, and when I eventually started sculpting them for a living, they got quite a bit better.

How do you know which vegetables will be good for carving?
I haven’t strayed too far beyond pumpkins when it comes to creating art out of produce, but I have experimented a little and plan on trying other veggies. Basically, you want something with a fairly consistent texture, such as a potato. You also want something that has a deep wall to carve, such as the upper portion of butternut squash. Density is also a factor. You don’t want something that is so hard that you need a Dremel tool to cut into it, but you also don’t want something so soft (like a tomato) that structurally doesn’t hold its own. The most important thing is to experiment and to have fun. And if it turns out bad, you can always eat it!

Your pieces have very intricate features. How do you plan out what the carving will look like? Do you sketch them out beforehand?
I’ve been sculpting long enough that I don’t usually need to draw plans. That is not to say that I don’t often find myself wishing that I would have left in some portion of pumpkin meat so that I could have incorporated this or that. Occasionally, if I’m bored and have sketching material available, I might try and design a pumpkin on paper, but that’s pretty rare. I generally just use the dry erase board in my head.

What are some carving tips makers can use in carving their own vegetables?
Here are a few tips:

  • Start off simple. If you’re a beginner, do not attempt a really intricate carving, as it might become frustrating and discouraging.
  • Work your way towards were you want to be. This will allow you to learn various techniques along the way.
  • Having reference is also important to any carver, beginners or seasoned vets. When carving crazy animated faces, for instance, nothing beats a mirror! Reference photos can also be very helpful.
  • Push the limits and use ALL of the pumpkin depth that you have available without breaking through. It is easier said than done, but with some experience, you’ll know when you’re about to break through.
  • You really need to utilize the entire depth of the pumpkin in order to create a truly 3D-looking pumpkin. When carving faces, it’s usually the eye area and just below the nose that should be carved deepest. Go deep in those areas, but don’t break through! The very tip of the nose should remain untouched, with the exception of removing the rind.

Your work is very diverse, ranging from monsters to  presidential portraits, what is your inspiration for creating these pieces?
In my opinion, it’s probably not diverse enough. I am guilty of sticking with faces, whether it be monsters or regular people. I tend to play around in this genre because, in my opinion, it brings life to the pumpkin. However, I plan doing more diverse subjects such as animals and other things in the coming year.

What is the best pumpkin size and shape to create the best carving?
The right size and shape of a pumpkin really depends on what exactly you’re carving. For the most part, size doesn’t matter. I guess if the pumpkin is too small it might be difficult to put in intricate detail, but for the most part, a decent face can be carved into a 6-8 inch tall pumpkin. For faces, I prefer an oval shaped pumpkin that is taller than wider. I also look for pumpkins that are compressed and tend to carve the face along any protruding ridge that might run top to bottom. I rarely carve on the flat, round side of the pumpkin. Above all, the most important factor for picking out the perfect pumpkin is to find a pumpkin with a thick inner wall. The only way to find out this info without cutting it open is to actually pick up the pumpkins and compare the weight of one pumpkin to others of a similar size.

What tools do you need to create these magnificent pieces?
99% of the carvings I do are done with various-sized ribbon loop tools. These are standard tools for clay potters and sculptors. The great thing about these tools is that they are not sharp at all, keeping it safe for kids. I use a paring knife to sharpen up the details in the end, but you would be surprised how far you can get without ever using a knife!

Typical ribbon loop tools

How long does it take to carve one pumpkin?
If need be, I could probably carve a pretty decent pumpkin in 15-20 minutes. The more I carve, the more I push the limits. Some recent pumpkins have taken me the entire day to complete!

Is there a specific technique you follow to achieve the best results?
Never approach it like,”ahhh…it’s just a pumpkin!” For the best results, you need to give it your all. Forget that it’s going to rot in a few days. Pour your heart and soul into it, and cross your fingers it comes out well. Failure does happen, even with mine. I just don’t post the junky ones :)

Slideshow of additional Villafane art pumpkins below…


Flat Pack Spider Milled from Aluminum Plate

Executed by vrogy, from Thingiverse user dino-girl’s “spiderasaur” plans. We have featured vrogy’s work many times beofre; check the links below for some of my personal faves.



Digi-Comp II by EMSL (video)

Wow, check out the video tour of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories’ functional recreation of the classic educational binary computer Digi-Comp II.

Several weeks ago, we talked about bringing our giant Digi-Comp II to Maker Faire. But now we’re back, and we wanted to show everyone how it works– not just the many folks who came by to see it at Maker Faire. For those of you just joining us: The Digi-Comp II is a classic 1960′s educational computer kit– an automatic binary digital mechanical computer, capable of conducting basic operations like adding, multiplying, subtracting, dividing, counting, and so forth. These operations are all conducted by the action of marbles rolling down a slope, directed by mechanical switches and flip flops that act as logic gates. Our version is a modern, larger-than life remake. A functional clone, but sized up to use billiard balls instead of small marbles.



In the Maker Shed: ProdMod LED Video Light Kit

ProdMod LED Video Light Kit

Have you tried taking video using your digital camera but never seem to have enough light? Solve that problem by making your own LED video light using the ProdMod Kit from the Maker Shed. With this second-generation kit you’ll transform a simple battery holder into a fully functional LED video light that you can attach to your digital, film or video camera. Also works great as a wide angle flashlight.


Dog-Mounted Persistence of Vision Display

Michael Zoellner of Elangen, Germany, wrote in with a fun POV he created:

Mounting 5 LEDs on a moving object creates one of the cheapest and largest displays: Persistence of Vision. It’s been done on bicycle wheels, fans and other rotating objects.

In this project i am sewing a Lilypad wearable Arduino board and five LEDs with conductive thread on my dog’s shirt. She (Ianto) is a Miniature Pinscher running very fast for fun. In curves fast enough for Persitence of Vision. And she likes running in large circles in the park! Light writing.

Michael’s POV displays text from Cory Doctorow’s “Makers” –

I chose Makers because i think it’s very influential to me and a whole makers generation. And of course because it’s under creative commons.


Engineer Guy on Cell Phone Design

Bill Hammack’s video this week explains the constraints that govern the engineering of cell phones, and how and why the development of key technologies has changed the way cell phones look and function. He also shows off the 8pen gestural keyboard app installed on his Android, which I immediately had to download and try for myself. Thanks, Bill, as always!


Hands-on Learning with The SenseBoard Ubiquitous Computing Device

The UK’s Open University is starting a new course called TU100 My Digital Life based around the SenseBoard ubiquitous computing device and Sense programming environment, a derivative of the Scratch programming language developed at MIT Media Lab. [via /.]


Making a Blade Out of Homemade Steel

This six part epic follows knife maker Jesus Hernandez as he builds a pair of Japanese tanto knives from homemade steel. He begins with building a smelter to produce steel from ore and progresses through to the process of folding and forming the blades into an elegant pair of traditional weapons. Each step is documented in detail with plenty of photographs. [via YC]


Click here to safely unsubscribe from "Make: Online." Click here to view mailing archives, here to change your preferences, or here to subscribe

Your requested content delivery powered by FeedBlitz, LLC, 9 Thoreau Way, Sudbury, MA 01776, USA. +1.978.776.9498