Workshop Weekend Registration

Our friends at Workshop Weekend have whipped up the little flyer below (PDF here) and a discount code for MAKE readers registering for their 2-day workshop event in Oakland, CA (Dec 10 and 11, 2011). To get 10% off tuition, enter code MAKEZINE2011 when you register. And you can get more details on the events and the workshop available on their website.


Ladies’ Build Night at Vancouver Hackspace

Thursday, December 8th marks the first-ever ladies’ build night at VHS. Come by, learn to solder, and make a super cool Fuzz Pedal that you can show off to your friends. The workshop’s for beginners, so if you’re new to soldering or don’t even know what a fuzzbox is, don’t be shy, there will be friendly people around to help you out.


Makers Make The Economist

Image by Andrew Kelly

The latest print edition of The Economist has an article on makers, MAKE, Maker Faire, and the burgeoning maker movement. It’s so inspiring to see a head/subhead like this in any mainstream magazine, let alone one with such business world gravitas:

More than just digital quilting — Technology and society: The “maker” movement could change how science is taught and boost innovation. It may even herald a new industrial revolution.

The article, which has no byline on the online version, is very clear and lucidly written, a great introduction to maker culture and concerns for a wider audience.

The maker movement is both a response to and an outgrowth of digital culture, made possible by the convergence of several trends. New tools and electronic components let people integrate the physical and digital worlds simply and cheaply. Online services and design software make it easy to develop and share digital blueprints. And many people who spend all day manipulating bits on computer screens are rediscovering the pleasure of making physical objects and interacting with other enthusiasts in person, rather than online. Currently the preserve of hobbyists, the maker movement’s impact may be felt much farther afield.

More Than Just Digital Quilting



Build Your Own RFID Teddy Bear

Charlie's RFID Teddy Bear from MAKE Volume 28

Science communication designer David Harris wanted to make a unique toy for his nephew Charlie, who was born with cerebral palsy. Charlie’s vision is poor but he’s very tactile and auditory, so David designed a location-aware teddy bear that reads RFID tags and plays different customizable sounds depending on where it is or what object it’s near. An Arduino embedded in the bear uses an RFID reader to recognize nearby RFID tags, then uses an audio shield attachment to play corresponding audio files stored on an SD memory card.

David shared his build instructions with us on the pages of MAKE Volume 28, the Toys and Games issue, and we’ve shared the full build with you on Make: Projects. To make gathering supplies for the build a breeze, the Maker Shed has put together the RFID Teddy Bear Project Bundle, which includes all the materials you need except for the bear, the velcro, and sewing thread. Time to play!

From the Pages of MAKE

MAKE 28MAKE Volume 28: Toys and Games!
MAKE Volume 28 hits makers’ passion for play head-on with a 28-page special section devoted to Toys and Games, including a toy “pop-pop” steamboat made from a mint tin, an R/C helicopter eye-in-the-sky, and a classic video game console. You’ll also build a gravity-powered catapult, a plush toy that interacts with objects around it, and a machine that blows giant soap bubbles. Play time is a hallmark of more intelligent species — so go have some fun!

On newsstands now! Buy or Subscribe


DIY Smart Autofocus Assist Lamp

Simple, handy hack from Flickr user Malowz to overcome the common autofocus problem many cameras have when shooting dark subjects. The lamp mounts on his camera’s hot shoe, and spotlights the subject when the shutter button is half-pressed, giving the autofocus plenty of light to work with, and then turns the lamp off, on the full press, for the duration of the exposure.

A common model wireless flash/shutter remote is used to relay the condition of the shutter button. The rest is surplus LED flashlight bits—a high-brightness LED, a small ready-made driver PCB, and a reflector. [Thanks, Udi!]


Secret Santa: Collin Cunningham – Static Dissipative Footwear

When I selected Collin Cunningham as my Secret Santa recipient, I thought, “Oh, this will be a challenge!” What do you get someone who already has it all? Good looks (especially with that magnifying visor on), cutting-edge video editing equipment, and a sweet range of electronic tools for his lab. Then it dawned on me that while he always looks stylish in his Collin’s Lab videos, I never get a good look at his footwear. He works with a lot of electrostatic-sensitive devices, and while he’s not exactly running around the lab floor, it’s only natural that some static electricity builds up around him. I wouldn’t want him damaging his ICs, blue LEDs (more sensitive than other colors), or his favorite resistor, so I want to make sure he stays ESD-free.

So the first thing I would do for Collin is pour him a nice new concrete substrate and cover his lab’s floor with static dissipative tiles. Then I would get him a pair of these static dissipative Chuck Taylors — stylish and functional! They are 100% non-metallic, slip- and oil-resistant, and conform to ASTM standards. Now whether he’s running away from avalanching wire spools or working with tiny Surface Mount Devices, he can rest assured that his sparky personality won’t damage any equipment!


Lower East Side Girls Club Gets Airstream Trailer on the Second Floor

Early on a recent Friday morning, a crane hoisted an old Airstream trailer onto the second floor of a building under construction in the Alphabet City section of Manhattan. The shiny aluminum trailer (circa 1958) is destined to become a recording studio inside of the Lower East Side Girls Club, currently just a concrete shell on Avenue D between 7th and 8th Streets. There was not much clearance to slip the 23-foot long trailer onto the second floor –only 20 inches– so the chilly autumn air was fraught with anxiety as the 2,000 lb. trailer rose off a flatbed truck.

“I’ve been obsessing about this for quite some time,” said Dave Pentecost, a 20-year veteran of network television who serves as the Girls Club’s technology director. “It’s like tucking a Twinkie into a mail slot.”

The Airstream’s axle and tires had been taken off and replaced with huge casters that will enable one person to push the one ton trailer around while construction proceeds. A couple of nylon straps resembling fire hoses and rated to support six tons each, ran from a steel spreader bar that hung from the crane to a rectangular steel frame welded to the bottom of the trailer. It took a team of crane operators, mostly using hand signals, and a handful of construction workers wearing harnesses secured to the ceiling about 20 minutes to hoist the trailer up and in to its new home.

“That’s a relief,” Pentecost declared when the trailer was safely inside.

Photo credit: Aaron Fineman

“It’s not every day you put an Airstream inside of a building,” noted Bob Barry, construction manager for the building, which will include more than 70 apartments in addition to the 35,000 square feet Girls Club.

The new facility is expected to be completed some time next year. It will include a bakery, art studios, classrooms, and recreation center spread out over three floors. The Airstream trailer will be used for “Girls Out Loud,” an Internet Radio Station slated for the site.

The Girls Club has participated in both New York Maker Faires (This year they made Dogzilla, which moved on a motorized base, barked, and was charged in a solar dog house. Last year they made Girlzilla, an 18-foot girl sculpture with a glowing translucent eye and recycled wire for hair.) A DIY/maker focus will be a big part of the new building, including its planetarium, which will span two floors and be used by local public school kids as well as participants in an after school program. Lower East Side Girls will do 3D production and storytelling using the Unity 3D game engine. The girls are already having lessons with something called the Mini Dome Authoring System, which Pentecost describes as “the geekiest workstation ever. You sit with your laptop under a four and a half foot bowl (a re-purposed RV skylight) and you can preview what things are going to look like inside the planetarium’s 30-foot dome.”

The Lower East Side Girls Club was founded by Pentecost’s wife Lyn and a group of Lower East Side women in 1996 to deal with what they saw as a lack of services for girls and young women in the neighborhood. They were displeased that The Boys Club of New York opted out of the national merger of boys and girls clubs into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. (The Lower East Side became the last neighborhood in the United States with a “boys-only” Club.) The mission of the club is to develop environmental, entrepreneurial and ethical leadership.

The new building has been a long time in coming but things started to progress in 2002 after Michael Bloomberg became mayor. The city agreed to provide six lots for the building and the Girls Club eventually put a deal together with a private developer to build apartments on top of the Girls Club space. The group’s director of development told the Wall Street Journal that it has raised some $18 million so far and needs another $2 million for furniture, fixtures, and equipment.


Handy Lens Cap Clip

We’ve covered a couple of clever len-cap-retaining tricks before. My favorite is probably the “lens cap buckle” strap attachment Adam covered back in June, which I like because it requires no modification of the lens cap itself. But this recently crowd-funded stick-on Nice Clip product has a lot going for it, too: It’s cheaper, for one, and with it you can clip the cap onto whatever is handy, which is useful it you don’t use a strap, or don’t have yours on-hand for whatever reason. If you’re not too picky about looks, it’s also easy to DIY this idea with a lapel clip and a bit of double-stick tape. [Thanks, Udi!]

Take control of your lens cap!


Just Arrived in the Maker Shed: The New Arduino UNO Revision 3

The New Arduino UNO Revision 3 has just arrived in the Maker Shed! This is a refresh of the wildly popular Arduino UNO that has been updated to allow for for additional functionality and future shield flexibility. Here are the main differences:

  • The USB controller chip has been upgraded from an ATmega8u (8k of flash memory) to an ATmega16u (16k of flash memory.) This new chip should make it easier to emulate input devices like joysticks, mice, MIDI interfaces, and keyboards (this has not yet been tested and there is no code yet.)
  • Analog pins 4 and 5 have been broken out next to the AREF pin to allow for I2C communication. This makes it easier for future shields to be compatible with both UNO’s and MEGA’s. Also, the power pin has been duplicated next to the RESET pin to let shields know what voltage they are running (in the case of the UNO it’s 5 volts.)
  • The reset button has moved next to the USB input for easier accessibility while a shield is in place.

There are a couple other subtle changes (like the FCC certification logo on the back) but the main things, like the processor, number of pins, driver, board size, upload speed, etc, have not changed. The Arduino Revision 3 is compatible with all current shields and code.


  • Microcontroller – ATmega328
  • Operating Voltage -  5V
  • Input Voltage (recommended) – 7-12V
  • Input Voltage (limits) – 6-20V
  • Digital I/O Pins – 14 (of which 6 provide PWM output)
  • Analog Input Pins – 6
  • DC Current per I/O Pin – 40 mA
  • DC Current for 3.3V Pin – 50 mA
  • Flash Memory – 32 KB (ATmega328) of which 0.5 KB used by bootloader
  • SRAM – 2 KB (ATmega328)
  • EEPROM – 1 KB (ATmega328)
  • Clock Speed – 16 MHz

Maker Shed kits like the Ultimate Microcontroller Pack with Arduino and the Getting Started with Arduino Kit will be shipped with the new Arduino Revision 3 starting right now!


Sun Boxes, a Solar-Powered Sound Installation

I just love projects like this.

Sun Boxes are an environment to enter and exit at will. It’s comprised of twenty speakers operating independently, each powered by the sun via solar panels. There is a different loop set to play a guitar note in each box continuously. These guitar notes collectively make a Bb chord. Because the loops are different in length, once the piece begins they continually overlap and the piece slowly evolves over time.

The sounds of Sun Boxes have been described as both soothing and energizing. A unique combination of adjectives often used to describe yoga, or meditation. When experiencing the piece, Sun Boxes allows the participant to slow down, and notice the subtleties of the composition unfold. With the abundance of technology and hustle of this culture it is a much needed concept to not only be allowed, but also encouraged to slow down.


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