Counting Box

Nathan Pryor of Vancouver, WA, built this counting box for his son.

My 4-year-old son loves counting and numbers, so I built him a dedicated counting box. Select a value from 1-10 with the rotary switch in the middle, then push the big green arcade button to add that to the total shown on the LED display, or push the red button to subtract it. It’s driven by an ATMega, and the box itself is made from laser-cut bamboo and acrylic. A viewing window on the back lets him peek at the circuit inside.
The site has a write-up of the building process.

I have to also give props to Nathan for his awesome enclosure, he has an interesting part of his post where he talks about designing it and sending it out for layering.


Skill Builder: Back to Shop Class: Metal Working

I have a bunch of those Reader’s Digest and Time-Life build, repair, and maintain handyman books. Way before MAKE and before the internet became an on-demand learning source for just about anything (back when the USENET FAQ was the best resource out there), these sorts of books were a godsend if you wanted to learn the basics on building a deck, tiling a bathroom, fixing your own appliances.

Back to Shop Class: Metal Working ($19.95. Fox Chapel) reminds me a lot of those books. It has similar handsome, well-designed graphics and it holds your hand tightly through the process of learning basic metalworking skills. These skills include basic tool use and metal shop set up, safety practices, soldering, welding, forging, shaping, and cutting. The book is well-written, and reading it, I learned a lot (I knew basically nothing about metalworking beforehand). But this book suffers from the same problem those handyman books did. You end up with way more questions than satisfying answers and you don’t really learn any one thing adequately enough to be able to do much that’s useful. If you try to do any metalworking projects based on the instructions here — well, there just isn’t enough material — all of the above listed skills, and more, are covered in 135 pages.

What books like this are good at is giving you an overview of a discipline; in informing you of what you need to learn (learning to learn). You’re familiarized with all of the tools, the techniques, the nomenclature, and armed with that, you can determine what you’re interested in and where you need to delve deeper. Now with the web, there are tons of resources on each of these subjects. In fact, you don’t really need a book like this at all. But for those of use who still appreciate dead tree editions, this is a decent introduction to this skill set. I, for one, am happy to have it on my shelf alongside my other handyman guides.


DON’T MISS IT! Make: Live Episode 15: Make Labs

Broadcasting shortly! Make: Live travels to our mothership, the MAKE headquarters in Sebastopol, CA. Intern Dan Spangler shows off his combustion cannon and launches a soda can and tennis ball across the back yard, and Max Heald shows us his in-progress electric wheelchair robot. Brookelynn Morris shows us her LED hula hoop and puts the staff to the hula challenge. Get a tour of the lab from Nick Raymond and meet more folks who make the magazine and projects you love.

Make: Live 15 – Make Labs
Wednesday August 24th, 9pm ET/6pm PT
Watch at or on UStream
Please join us in the UStream chat or mark tweets with #makelive to interact live with the show.

We also give away a fabulous prize from Digi-Key to one chat member who can solve our photo challenge. This episode:


Build Tristan Shone’s Headgear MIDI Controller

Tristan Shone's Headgear MIDI Controller

Back in MAKE Volume 22, I had the chance to interview musician, engineer, and fabricator Tristan Shone, the one-man industrial doom and drone metal band Author & Punisher. Tristan custom fabricates his Drone/Dub Machines from raw materials and uses open source circuitry. His machines are essentially beautiful MIDI controllers, drawing from the clean, polished lines and movements of industrial tools. In Volume 22, Tristan also shared a step-by-step tutorial for making his Headgear controller, an octo-microphone USB/MIDI controller. From the intro:

I have created an 8-microphone input device that allows me to trigger or control 8 simultaneous sounds from music sequencing software (Ableton Live) as well as output 8 different mic/audio channels of my voice for input into the computer or mixer. The 2 rows of 4 electret condenser microphones are unidirectional and compartmentalized, so there’s little cross-contamination of the audio inputs or vocals. Each microphone’s distance from your mouth is adjustable through a custom spring-loaded mechanism, and they’re close enough together that simply by turning your head or twitching a bit (much like a cat following a fly) you can easily place your mouth over any of them. The brain of the Headgear is the Arduino Duemilanove microcontroller. The entire device (microcontroller and mics) is USB powered and has 8 mono microphone outputs.

Wanna build your own? We’ve shared the full build on Make: Projects. Wanna see it in action? Check out this video clip of Tristan practicing in the studio:

Tristan is about to embark on a mini tour in the Netherlands after a few upcoming shows in the States. Check out his site for audio and video clips, and head to our Digital Edition to read the MAKE interview.


End Of An Era For Apple…

Steve, the OG-TV-B-G…

“When I was in high school Steve Wozniak and I, mostly Steve, made this little device called a “TV JAMMER” it was this little oscillator that put out frequencies that would screw up the TV. Woz would have it in his pocket and we’d go in to like the dorm at Berkeley where he was going to school and a bunch of folks would be watching like Star Trek and he’d screw up the TV, somebody would go up to fix it and just as they had their foot off the ground he’d turn it back on! If they put their foot back down on the ground he’d screw up the TV again, within 5 minutes have someone like this [Steve Jobs posing all pretzel looking] for the rest of the Star Trek episode.” – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs resigns from Apple, Cook becomes CEO

Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs on Wednesday resigned as chief executive of Apple Inc in a stunning move that ended his 14-year reign at the technology giant he co-founded in a garage.

End of an era, sad news – full letter here.


Open Hardware Summit Schedule, Breakout sessions and Tickets!


Open Hardware Summit Schedule, Breakout sessions and Tickets!! The Arduino team is doing keynote as well “Arduino Confidential”!

We are so happy you will be joining us at the Open Hardware Summit on September 15th at the New York Hall of Science!

We have two types of tickets, all tickets include: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Post-conference Drinks. (Ticket types are not enforced, so please exercise your judgment).

  • Starving Artist Pass: ($50) For artists, students and non-profits
  • Summit Pass: ($95) Everybody else

Breakouts: This year we have breakout sessions in the afternoon. You will be asked to select which one you want to attend before completing your ticket purchase. Your selection will be used to assign rooms at the venue and plan the session, so please consider it final. Descriptions and details about each breakout session can be found at

Important Note: The Open Hardware Summit is a non-profit event. Extra funds from sponsorship will be put toward a scholarship for creating open hardware.

Thanks you to HTINK, our fiscal sponsor for handling out ticketing finances.

For more information please visit


Breakout Sessions
By popular demand, this year at the Open Hardware Summit, we are devoting the last section in the day to breakout sessions. Breakout sessions can be facilitator-run panels, discussions or workshops. When buying your ticket, please select the Breakout Session of your choice, descriptions are below. For the full schedule of the day, please click here.
Note: Your selection will be used to assign rooms at the venue and plan the session, so please consider it final.



Netduino Plus book from MAKE: Getting Started with the Internet of Things

Cuno Pfister’s Getting Started with the Internet of Things is now available in the Maker SHED. This new book from MAKE and O’Reilly (and illustrated by MAKE’s own Marc de Vinck) shows you how to create cloud-enabled sensor networking projects with the Netduino Plus:

What is the Internet of Things? It’s countless embedded computers, sensors, and actuators all connected online. If you have basic programming skills, you can use these powerful little devices to create a variety of useful systems—such as devices that react to real-world events and take action. This hands-on guide shows you how to start building your own fun and fascinating projects.

Learn to program embedded devices using the .NET Micro Framework and the Netduino Plus board. Then connect your devices to the Internet with Pachube, a cloud platform for sharing real-time sensor data. All you need is a Netduino Plus, a USB cable, a couple of sensors, an Ethernet connection to the Internet—and your imagination.

Although Netduino programming is usually done with Visual Studio, I’ve tested all of Cuno’s examples on a Mac using Mono, an open source implementation of .NET. You can find notes from Chris Walker (creator of Netduino) and me about this in the Mono forum at the Netduino site.


Wooden FN P90 Rubber Band Gun

Not as useful against Replicators as the real thing, but still way better than Asgard weapons.

Although I believe this impressive, apparently working wooden rubber band gun and the page that presents it originate in Japan, I’m not having any luck with machine translation of the accompanying text. So unfortunately I have no other information. If you can identify the maker or other details, and can spare the time, I’d appreciate your comment, below. [Thanks, benj!]


Russell the Electric Giraffe (video)

During Maker Faire Bay Area 2011, we caught up with Lindsy Lawlor, creator of one of the most popular attractions at the Faire– Russell the electric giraffe. With the help of his English programmer, also named Russell, the rolling, walking, talking giraffe bot gets better every year with new sounds, touch sensors, and lights.

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.

Check out more videos from Maker Faire Bay Area 2011.



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