How-To: Build A Victorian Library

John Clarke Mills has been updating us on the progress of his creation of a Victorian style library for the 1890s San Francisco Victorian home he’s been renovating. The library is done and it looks great. I followed this project with keen interest because I have fantasies about doing a Victorian/steampunk number on my library one day. Love the library ladder. Gotta have one of those!

Victorian Library Complete


News From The Future: You Car Is An EEG

Pt 101530

Pt 101531

EEG potentials predict upcoming emergency braking during simulated driving

Emergency braking assistance has the potential to prevent a large number of car crashes. State-of-the-art systems operate in two stages. Basic safety measures are adopted once external sensors indicate a potential upcoming crash. If further activity at the brake pedal is detected, the system automatically performs emergency braking. Here, we present the results of a driving simulator study indicating that the driver’s intention to perform emergency braking can be detected based on muscle activation and cerebral activity prior to the behavioural response. Identical levels of predictive accuracy were attained using electroencephalography (EEG), which worked more quickly than electromyography (EMG), and using EMG, which worked more quickly than pedal dynamics.

A simulated assistance system using EEG and EMG was found to detect emergency brakings 130 ms earlier than a system relying only on pedal responses. At 100 km h−1 driving speed, this amounts to reducing the braking distance by 3.66 m. This result motivates a neuroergonomic approach to driving assistance. Our EEG analysis yielded a characteristic event-related potential signature that comprised components related to the sensory registration of a critical traffic situation, mental evaluation of the sensory percept and motor preparation. While all these components should occur often during normal driving, we conjecture that it is their characteristic spatio-temporal superposition in emergency braking situations that leads to the considerable prediction performance we observed.

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Our first Maker Press book: DIY Bookbinding

O’Reilly Senior Editor Brian Sawyer is the first author (of soon to be many) in our new series, Maker Press. His book, DIY Bookbinding, is now available in the Maker Shed. Based on an article that Brian wrote for MAKE Vol. 05, this ebook teaches you how to bind a book by first having you print it out, then showing you all the steps to bind it into a book:

Bookbinding may well be a dying art in this digital age, but you can still learn how to do it yourself with this easy-to-follow ebook. In fact, you can reverse the course of evolution and convert this particular digital specimen into a durable, hand-stitched book that will last for generations. When you’re finished, this ebook will truly be “hands-on.”

O’Reilly Senior Editor Brian Sawyer takes you through the process with step-by-step instructions and scores of instructive photographs. All you need to bring to the table are a few simple materials—including magazines you’d like to preserve. Discover how simple, unmessy, fun, and satisfying binding books by hand can be.

We’d love to hear from you if you give this a try. And we’ll give away a Maker’s Notebook to the first person to bind this and post a link to the images in the comments below.


Writing on the Window with Der Kritzler

Alex Weber of Hamburg created this cool drawbot (Der Kritzler means “the Scribbler”) that lays down ink directly on a window, allowing passers-by to groove on the robot’s work from outside.


Dr. Ruth Schulz Interview at FOO Camp

At FOO Camp 2011, Dr. Ruth Schulz from University of Queensland discusses Lingodroids, robots that can generate their own language which allows them to communicate with one another. From the Lingodroids site:

The Lingodroids are a pair of mobile robots that evolve a language for places and relationships between places (based on distance and direction). Each robot in these studies has its own understanding of the layout of the world, based on its unique experiences and exploration of the environment. Despite having different internal representations of the world, the robots are able to develop a common lexicon for places, and then use simple sentences to explain and understand relationships between places – even places that they could not physically experience, such as areas behind closed doors. By learning the language, the robots are able to develop representations for places that are inaccessible to them, and later, when the doors are opened, use those representations to perform goal-directed behavior.


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


What Do These Weekend Projects Have in Common?

Earlier this week I was glancing over all our existing Weekend Projects to take some notes, and found myself asking, “What do these projects have in common?” I then found myself juxtaposing images from each project to do a quick visual compare-and-contrast. Clockwise from the top-right, that’s Floating Glow Display, Electronic Whack-a-Mole Game, USB Webcam Microscope, and Add Volume, Jack.

I quickly realized what Add Volume, Jack was missing that the other projects had: LEDs! In Floating Glow Display, a single LED is the source of light for a low-light display sign. In Whack-a-Mole multiples LEDs replace their invertebrate counterpart, and you must “whack” a nearby touch-sensor to turn off the LED (it will pop up again later!). And for our USB Webcam hack, we replaced the battery-powered incandescent bulb in the scope with a USB-powered LED, like the Floating Glow Display the LED is our primary source of light to see what is happening.

However our intro to circuit bending project, Add Volume, Jack, lacked the LED love the other projects intrinsically need to function. So I’m issuing a challenge to all Weekend Project makers: to integrate a single or series of LEDs into your circuit bending toy! The LEDs could simply be aesthetic and decorative, or they could somehow relate to the function and interaction with the toy (I’m thinking they blink every time a certain key is pressed).

And wherever LEDs are involved, resistors should be, too. If you’re looking to brush up, or want a dedicated resistor calculator, and happen to have an iPad, you should consider the Circuit Sidekick app which we recently reported on.

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See all of the RadioShack Weekend Projects posts (to date)


This Potentially Annoying Sound Isn’t so Bad After All

Chris McMullen and Steve Withycombe’s Potentially Annoying Sound is a kinetic sound sculpture constructed from various mechanical elements and a set of discarded church organ pipes. At Maker Faire Bay Area 2011, attendees delightfully turned a large red wheel which was geared to pump air from a bellows into the pipes and play a chord. Interestingly, the name “Potentially Annoying Sound” was inspired by a question on the Maker Faire exhibitor application which asked what kind of noise it makes. After listening to it in the video above, I think you’ll agree that the sound is not annoying at all. In fact, it’s quite pleasant.

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.


How-To: “Vines” Knife Blade Filework

Fancy file-work along the spine of the blade, like that featured in this step-by from custom knifemaker Bruce Evans, is commonly applied after the steel has been heat-treated. Which means, I believe, that it can be applied just as well to a factory knife if, for instance, one wanted to customize it for oneself, or personalize it as a gift. The process produces impressive results with minimal tools; mostly what you need is patience, attention to detail, and a bit of practice to start.


New in the Maker Shed: ProtoSnap Pro Mini

Protosnap Pro Mini
The ProtoSnap, now available in the Maker Shed, is a unique Arduino compatible development platform for teaching the basics of Arduino programming. It requires no assembly, wiring, or soldering, so you can jump right into programming. Control LEDs, buzzers, light sensors, and more right from the board. There’s even a small prototyping space so you can add your own circuits. Once you have a firm grasp of the programming, you can snap off the individual components of the ProtoSnap for use in future projects. Very nice!


  • 1 x Arduino Pro Mini 5V/16MHz
  • 1 x FTDI Basic Breakout 5V
  • 1 x Buzzer
  • 1 x RGB LED
  • 1 x Light Sensor
  • 1 x Push Button
  • 1 x Protoboard

CNC Drawing Machine

Aaron Panone of Cambridge, MA, created a CNC art machine equipped with a cool Sharpie-holding jig that keeps the pen in contact with the paper.

The process of creating a “drawing” using a numerically controlled Sharpie is documented in a short video. Vector graphics are converted into a tool path and then a machine language which controls a 3-axis CNC machine retrofitted with a special fixture that holds a marker and mimics hand pressure during the act of drawing.

You can buy these images from MWM Graphics, and each drawing comes with the Sharpie used to draw it. [Via Core77]


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