Make: Online

Full NewsHour Piece on Maker Movement

Here’s the full Miles O’Brien piece that aired tonight on PBS NewsHour. Really well-done, neat little package exploring the DIY/maker movement in general, Maker Faires, the critical state of STEM education and making as a potential answer, and more. Among other things, the piece follows the DeRose family, high schoolers from the LIghthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, and a group of Oakland middle school girls, the Young Sparks, as they build projects for the Faire and then present them there. The DeRose family, LIghthouse Community Charter School, and the Young Sparks are all associated with our Young Makers program. You can learn more about that here.

Full NewsHour Piece on Maker Movement

Adam Savage on NewsHour, Discussing Maker Movement


Moral Suasion

Cory Doctorow Make Free Volume 25
Cory Doctorow Make Free

The life of a modern-day maker is greatly eased by the abundance of free or cheap services for hosting communities, files, communications, and computation. But for all the promise of cloud computing, there’s plenty of peril, too, especially for anyone doing anything disruptive. Will your “cloud” evaporate the second your project starts attracting legal threats? Does a service provider with a million customers care about your customs enough to keep you online even if it means risking a police raid, subpoena, or denial-of-service attack?

The ongoing WikiLeaks fight is a wake-up call for anyone who’s been blithely relying on the cloud. It only took a few days for WikiLeaks to become a digital refugee, slogging from one service provider to the next, trying to find someone with enough backbone to keep it online in the face of legal threats, political intervention, and mysterious traffic-floods from persons or governments unknown. But WikiLeaks wasn’t without its defenders. “Hacktivists” operating under the Anonymous banner organized mass denial-of-service attacks on Amazon, PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and other firms that kicked WikiLeaks out or refused to process their payments.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are a strange beast, unique to the online world. Some DDoSes are the work of millions of users acting in concert to flood a server with so much traffic that it falls over. More commonly, DDoS attacks are the work of vandals or crooks who use clouds of hacked PCs to attack their targets. Some hacktivists argue that their DDoS attacks are comparable to the civil-rights-era sit-ins — after all, a wall of activists blockading the doors to a “whites-only” lunch counter is a kind of denial-of-service attack.

I think they’re wrong. I grew up in the antiwar movement and participated in my first sit-in when I was 12. Sit-ins are a sort of denial of service, but that’s not why they work. What they do is convey the message: “I am willing to put myself in harm’s way for my beliefs. I am willing to risk arrest and jail. This matters.” This may not be convincing for people who strongly disagree with you, but it makes an impression on people who haven’t been paying attention. Discovering that your neighbors are willing to be harmed, arrested, imprisoned, or even killed for their beliefs is a striking thing.

And that’s a crucial difference between a DDoS and a sit-in: participants in a sit-in expect to get arrested. Participants in a DDoS do everything they can to avoid getting caught. If you want to draw a metaphor, DDoSers are like the animal rights activists who fill a lab’s locks with super glue. This is effective at shutting down your opponent for a good while, but it’s a lot less likely to draw sympathy from the public, who can dismiss it as vandalism.

One thing is clear: those of us who don’t supply our own digital infrastructure depend on intermediaries who are increasingly willing to roll over at the slightest pressure. It’s time to start devoting some of our creative attention to ways of clearing away the choke-points and leaning back on those companies that are getting leaned upon by powerful, established forces.

Cory Doctorow’s latest novel is Makers (Tor Books U.S., HarperVoyager U.K.). He lives in London and co-edits the website Boing Boing.

This column first appeared in MAKE Volume 26 (April 2011), page 31.


From the Pages of MAKE:
MAKE Volume 26: Karts & Wheels
Garage go-kart building is a time-honored tradition for DIYers, In this issue of MAKE, we’ll show you how to build wheeled wonders that’ll have you and the kids racing around the neighborhood in epic DIY style. Build a longboard skateboard by bending plywood and build a crazy go-kart driven by a pair of battery-powered drills. Put a mini gasoline engine on a bicycle. And construct an amazing wind-powered cart that can outrun a tailwind. Plus you’ll learn how to build the winning vehicle from our online Karts and Wheels contest! In addition to karts, you’ll find plenty of other projects that only MAKE can offer!



Adam Savage on NewsHour, Discussing Maker Movement

Here’s a wonderful Maker Faire interview with Adam Savage, conducted by Miles O’Brien, which aired tonight on PBS NewsHour. Adam discusses Maker Faire and MAKE, the maker movement, the sad death of shop classes in schools, our current historical sweet-spot for hacking the tech in our lives, and the need to embrace a certain degree of danger/risk in the learning process. A really nice piece.

Mythbusters’ Adam Savage on Finding the Fun and the ‘Danger’ in Science


Daughter Board – Making Father/Daughter Longboards from MAKE Volume 26

Micheal Dittman and his daughter Paige built longboards together, based on the article in MAKE Volume 26. Besides this being epically cool and sweet in its own right, they started the project over Spring Break, but when Paige had to go back to school, they continued to collaborate, finish their respective projects, via Skype and email. Kudos to Michael and Paige. Great job!

Read all of Michael’s article on his blog:

Project: Building Father/Daughter Longboards

Build your own longboard. Here are the instructions on Make: Projects:

Simple Longboard


News From The Future: States Pass Laws Allowing Driverless Cars


News From The Future: States Pass Laws Allowing Driverless Cars… via CiS.

For the purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed not to be operating a motor vehicle if the motor vehicle is driven autonomously through the use of artificial-intelligence software and the autonomous operation of the motor vehicle is authorized by law.

..Section 8 of this bill requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt 21 regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within 22 the State of Nevada. Section 8 defines an “autonomous vehicle” to mean a motor 23 vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system
- *AB511_R3*24 coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator. 25 Section 2 of this bill requires the Department, by regulation, to establish a driver’s 26 license endorsement for the operation of an autonomous vehicle on the highways of 27 this State.

Full PDF here. I’m pretty sure you “could” use a driverless car in any state since there aren’t any laws specifically against it, but that’s not usually how the US legal system really works.

Artificial-intelligence and autonomous cars may ultimately be more “accepted” than Segways Human Transporters. When a artificial-intelligence, autonomous car eventually harms someone it will be interesting to see how the case goes, if the source code is opened to inspect, will the programmers get sued, the owner of the car?

Post up in the comments… check back in 5 years to see if your predictions were correct.


Hackerspace Happenings: Power Racing Series at the KC Maker Faire

Power Racing Series at the Kansas City Maker Faire

I have just become aware of the awesomeness that is the Power Racing Series, where groups (cough, hackerspaces) are encouraged to build and race souped-up versions of Power Wheels and other ride-on drivable toys. In this video, taken a couple days ago at the Kansas City Maker Faire, shows Royce of Milwaukee Makerspace colliding with a wall and dumping his sweet ride, the Grave Digger.

Hackerbus Request for Participation

Hi. My name is Moritz. I plan to tour across Europe in spring and summer 2012 (approx 6 months, maybe longer), visit hackerspaces, meet awesome people and learn about their projects. I will write about it, do interviews, and if everything works out well do a documentary film about the trip in a “Gernstls Reisen” style. While I’m at it, I will promote Free Culture and Creative Commons, exchange stickers, trade open data, hold talks, etc.

I want to do this for many reasons, but here’s the most important two: For one, the hacker culture of today definitely lacks documentation. Especially the people behind it are rarely looked at. Secondly, potentially, I want to open a hackerspace some time after the trip, the first (?) hackerspace with a full-time janitor, cook, clean-up lady and manager (yeah, all me). I want to find out how to do it properly.

If you’re interested in helping out, Moritz has a Request for Participation page up. Do it!

Flame Effects for the Artist

July 9th and 10th, San Francisco CA.

Attention all artists who wish to incorporate fire aspects into their art! This class is for you…

Flaming Lotus Girls and The Box Shop team up to present this great 2-day workshop in flame effects in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The workshop will be teaching basic practices and principles for incorporating fuel based flame effects into your work. This class is great for the beginning fire artist and always has something new for the “expert”. Each one of these classes has drawn participants who have had all levels of experience. This has made for some great questions and projects that have been both fun and challenging.

We will also examine the physical properties of LP gasses and get some hands on time with fittings and parts. Of course, we closely examine the wonders of LP gas with the amazing clear propane cylinder. We will then finish off by taking a look at some typical designs for Flame Effects including accumulators, free burning effects, fuel mortars, pilot lights, hot surface igniters and much more. We will have plenty of demonstrations and hands on materials.

The second day will be a shop day where we will put what we have learned into action and create a one of a kind flame effect from the materials on hand. The best part of the class is the assembly of the effect so please let us know if you have materials or elements you may like to see incorporated. This class will be fun for the artist who is thinking of incorporating a small flame element into their work, as well as the more experienced fire artist wanting to take their work to the next level.

The cost of this 2-Day class will be $120.

Both days’ classes will be from 10am – 5pm.

Printed materials and a crappy but filling lunch of whatever cheap food we can get will be provided each day.

Come and join us for this weekend to hang out with other fire artists and have a blast, no pun intended. We have room for 40 and will be taking walk up registration the day of the event, space permitting. Email your name to to reserve your spot.

International Hackerspace Conference

Lima, Peru hackerspace Yachachiq is organizing a International Hackerspace Conference (IndieGoGo link) to be held 8/22-26 in Lima and Cusco. Conveniently, the conference immediately follows the International FabLab Conference, also in Peru.

OHM Space is Looking for Founding Members

New Oklahoma hackerspace OHM Space is looking for a few more members:

We’ve been busy at OHM Space. We’ve incorporated, taken out insurance, opened a bank account, established bylaws and signed a lease on our first space! It’s at 1700 W. Main St Oklahoma City, OK 73106. We’re calling it “Beta Space”. We have 5,000 sq. ft. at the moment and should have another 5,000 sq. ft. soon, for a grand total of 10,000 sq. ft. of pure potential!

The space isn’t perfect, but, it should be more than enough to get us started. Some basic renovations are underway, we’re setting up an RFID card reader on the door lock and we’re putting together a Kickstarter page to raise funds for all the cool equipment we’ve been talking about, including laser cutters, CNC mills, 3D scanners and 3D printers.

We’d like to give you a chance to become a cofounder. By paying for a full year of membership now, you’ll be guaranteed to have 24/7 access to an amazing community, voting rights, a neat certificate, access to a free parts wall and the honor of being an “OHM Space Founding Member”.

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 July 5th.


The Kukri Knife of Nepal

I’m a sucker for things on the Interwebs that are either interestingly made or good for making other things. I’m really jazzed about my new Nepalese kukri which qualifies mighty well on both counts.

A kukri is the incredibly large and heavy knife carried by Gurkha soldiers. Real kukri knives are handmade by knife smiths in primitive village forges in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. I ordered mine from a knife maker in Kathmandu. Even with shipping, for a handmade item such as this, the cost was surprisingly reasonable (well under $100). It’s made from recycled materials as well.

“Now THAT’S a knife!” – Michael J “Crocodile” Dundee

From the website

“The kukri typically comes in either a dew rated wooden scabbard or leather wrapped scabbard. The scabbard usually houses a karda (knife) as well as chak mak (flint striker). It is claimed that a kukri has never been broken in battle. This is not as surprising as it sounds. Modern kukri is most often made from leaf spring collected from recycled trucks suspension. It is a full quarter inch in thickness and is hard hammered to shape over a forge and carefully hardened along the edge. The high carbon content of the spring steel when selectively hardened, produces a quality of hardness in the steel , where by the blade can be flexed without breaking, yet it will take and hold and edge. Making a kukri is a task that takes four men an entire day. There is no machinery used and no two kukri are alike.”

There’s a lot of tradition among Gurkha soldiers (Gurkhas are Nepalese mercenaries famous for their toughness under fire) concerning care and feeding of the kukri. The most well-known is that once removed from its sheath, it may not be replaced until it’s been “blooded.” Once it’s out, the fight is on, so to speak. If the enemy runs away, the Gurkha will lightly cut himself before putting it back.


Zen Button

Pete Prodoehl needed a button. A button with a USB connection that would emulate a single keypress. He’s built two now. They’re dead simple: a Teensy USB development board, a cable, a button, and a lovely die-cast aluminum enclosure from Mammoth Electronics. I have no particular need for such a button, but this photo is making me itch to build one of my own.



Time Lapse Lunar Eclipse over the Acropolis

Time lapse video by Elias Politis, uppermost, and single image composite of same, immediately above. It’s NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for June 25. Not sure I can get 100% behind “Acropoclipse,” but otherwise: Magnificent. [via adafruit]

24-hour Sky Panorama


New in the Maker Shed: Panavise Jr.

Panavise Jr.
The Panavise Jr, now in the Maker Shed, is the perfect workbench companion. The grooved jaws allow it to easily hold circuit boards, jewelry, models, rotary tools, pencil torches, soldering irons, or anything else you can think of. The single turn adjustment knob allows you to easily position the Panavise head anywhere you need it. Check out the Shed for other Panavise models as well.


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