Tokyo Maker Faire Photo Recap

Here’s a glimpse from last week’s Make: Tokyo Meeting #07 at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Held over the December 3rd weekend, this Tokyo Maker Faire featured 260 makers, and hosted 12,800 visitors over the two days.

A workshop in the Craft zone.

Throngs of people inside the main building.

Inokuma, the roaming robot.

TELESCOPE & Battery Girl on stage.

A nixie tube clock.

Ultrafactory, another ambulatory robot.

DIY Drones quad copter.

Steam locomotive ride.

If you went to the Make: Tokyo Meeting, please share your stories (and pics) with us in comments.

For more, Dangerous Prototypes has a roundup of their Make Tokyo Meeting 07 coverage:


iHacked the iNecklace

OK, so maybe it was more of a mod than a hack, but the end results were the same. My iNecklace was now pulsating a beautiful purple instead of the stock white. I’m not so sure purple would have been my first choice, but it’s my wife’s favorite color and she loves it.

I started out with every intention of desoldering the micro-sized LED in the necklace and replacing it with one from my unwieldy pile of SMD LEDs that always seem to get mixed together against my best intentions. My iron was hot, tweezers in hand, and all I had to do was open the back and get to desoldering that stock LED. Then it hit me, literally hit me. Well, it was more of a poke, but it grabbed my attention nonetheless.

My daughter, looking over my shoulder as I unscrewed the back of the necklace to gain access to all of its little bits, notices something, taps me, and says, “Can’t you just color that, Daddy?” She was pointing at the white plastic diffuser. She was onto something.

“Yes, yes you could, but that; that’s too…” And that’s when I turned off my soldering iron, and got out the Sharpies. Sometimes a second set of eyes, as young as they may be, can be a great asset when tackling a new project. In this case, it saved me a lot of time and the end results were nondestructive, which I preferred.

Now the necklace can be changed to almost any color in a matter of minutes. It, in fact, it was a far better solution. And that’s how my hack turned into a mod. If you’re interested in modding your iNecklace, I posted up a how-to in Make: Projects. Hope you like it.

iHacked the iNecklace


How Chicken Wire is Made

I can watch this How It’s Made style factory footage for hours. This beast is called a “gabion machine,” which seems to be a slight misnomer.  A “gabion” is a cage filled with sand or stone used in civil or military engineering, e.g. for erosion control. What this machine is actually making, of course, is wire mesh of the type used to make gabions, which a lot of people call “chicken wire.” Twisting all those strands at once requires a lot of power-check out the size of the crank. [via Boing Boing]



Xbox 360 Aquarium

Comparisons have been made to the Macquarium, though personally I don’t think the 360 is yet at the same stage of obsolescence as the original Mac when people started making them into aquariums. It was made from a broken console by Spencer Shepard at Blue World Aquariums, who admits, “my Xbox is still safe and sound by my TV.” The window in the side was cut on a waterjet. [via Hacked Gadgets]


Get Stuff Made: An Open Hardware Presentation

Via Dangerous Prototypes:

Here’s a video of our presentation about manufacturing open hardware at Make Tokyo Meeting. You can download the slides here.


Make: Live Holiday Giveaway 12/14/11 (video)

Make: Live’s holiday episode features some fun project ideas for this festive time of year! See a skirt light up when you dance, a brass rocking horse ornament, and connect your Christmas decorations to the internet. Above, Ben Light demonstrates his technique for these mini paper stars, which fit onto your Christmas lights to create a strand of festive glowing stars.

Subscribe to the Make: Live Podcast in iTunes, watch Make: Live episode 22 in its entirety (or download in m4v format). Also check out the chat room transcript!

Bona Kim – Dance Party Twinkle Skirt

This LED-enhanced skirt uses an accelerometer to light up brighter the more vigorously you dance– perfect for holiday parties.

Hack Pittsburgh – Cheer Lights

Learn about a global network of Christmas lights controlled via Twitter.

Johngineer – Brass Rocking Horse

John M. De Cristofaro checks in to show and tell with his brass rocking horse ornament, made last year for his mom from brass hobby stock in his garage.

Michael Colombo – Magnetotron

Our own Make: Live intern shows off the Magnetotron, a rotating instrument made from hacked tape players.

Matt Richardson – Lonely Christmas Tree

Matt debuts his latest tutorial video– it’s an internet-connected Christmas tree that lights up when you send it holiday emails. The tree picked up some holiday cheer from keywords in the Ustream chat during the show.

Other show notes:

Episode 22 Digi-Key prizes:

Want to show us your project? Upload a video or photos and send a link to

Next show:

Make: Live 23: Best of Make: Live 2011
Wednesday December 28th, 9pm ET/6pm PT
Watch at or on UStream


Kit-A-Day Giveaway – Reinventing Edison: Build Your Own Lightbulb Kit

We’re giving away amazing kits from our new Make: Ultimate Kit Guide EVERY DAY — thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, including MakerBots!

To celebrate the release of our latest publication, the Make: Ultimate Kit Guide 2012 (and its companion website), we’re giving away at least one of the cool kits reviewed in the issue each day during the holiday season.

Today’s giveaway is for a the Reinventing Edison: Build Your Own Lightbulb Kit (a $59.95 value.) Here is the review from the issue:

Thomas Edison purportedly said that he didn’t fail 700 times in trying to make the incandescent light, he succeeded in proving 700 ways not to do it. Now it can be your turn. This fun science kit is designed to excite and engage experimenters of all ages in re-creating the development of the first light bulb. Build your own working Edison bulb using the included safety vacuum chamber and a number of different filament materials, including carbon and tungsten.

To be eligible for today’s giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment below in this post. The entry period for today’s prize will be until 11:59pm PST tonight. We’ll choose one person at random, you’ll be notified by email, and you’ll have 48 hours to respond. The Winners List is kept on the Giveaway landing page. That’s it! No purchase necessary or anything else to do. Please leave only one comment per post. You can enter as many giveaways as you like until you win. This giveaway is for US residents only. You also must be 18 years old to enter (Kids: Ask your parents to enter). See the Kit-A-Day Giveaway landing page for full sweepstakes details and Official Rules.

Important Note: If you enter this drawing, when it’s over, please check the place where you registered to comment (eg. Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter) and make sure your profile is visible. Some people are winning these kits and then not responding when we send them a message using the available means of contacting them. We want to make sure you get your giveaway!


Electronics Tools Gift Guide

For this year’s Electronics Tools Gift Guide, we asked one of our new project contributors, Steve Hobley, to tell us about some of the more patina’d tools on his workbench. Here’s what he had to say. These aren’t the sexiest tools available, they’re the most honest. Bench-tested. Maker-to-maker. Feel free to share in the comments what your favorite electronics tools are, and even some of the newer, swankier tools you might have your eye on. – Gareth

Stahl Soldering Station – in the Maker Shed – $19.99
Every maker needs a good soldering iron, not the big ugly one your dad had in the garage, but a nice clean, narrow tipped, temperature-controlled beauty. The stand and cleaner pad are important, too. If you’re on a budget, the Stahl soldering station is definitely worth a look. It comes with a range of tip shapes, just like its more expensive counterparts, and it can run the iron from 150C all the way up to 450C. The different tips give you what you need to solder surface mount, all the way up to light gauge copper and brass.The only thing missing is a “ready” light, but after doing some checking with a Thermocouple, I can say that it takes 10 minutes to heat up from cold, and about five minutes once warmed up to change temperatures. This is the second year running that this solder station has made it onto the MAKE list, but it’s such a useful bit of kit, it’ll probably be here next year, too. And it’s only $20!

DSO Nano Oscilloscope – In the Maker Shed – $109.99
OK, next to a soldering iron, quite possibly the single most useful piece of gear that any maker/hacker can own is an oscilloscope. Go get one. Right now! To be able to see voltage changes occurring in circuits while the device is running is the absolute best way to learn electronics. These things used to cost an absolute fortune, but now prices have dropped down to levels where mere mortals like us can own them. What I really like about this one is not just the fact that it fits in your pocket, but that the it’s “open hardware,” so you can download the source code and make up your own functions. Truly awesome.

MAKE Circuit Breaker – in the Maker Shed – $36
MacGuyver wouldn’t leave home without it, and neither should you. After 20 years of stripping wires using my teeth, I’ve got to admit that tools like this do a much better job. (And so does my dentist). Small enough to attach to a keychain, this tiny Leatherman tool is dead easy to take with you everywhere. In addition, you get scissors, screwdrivers, knife blade, and file, but surprisingly, not “one-of-those-things-for-getting-stones-out-of-horses-hooves” [This is an old UK joke - the standard Swiss Army Knife always had that "mystery blade," so people began referring to it as such]

Joby GorillaPod Magnetic in the Maker Shed – $24.99
If you’re anything like me, you use YouTube. A lot. Not only to post public videos, but to keep a lot of unlisted/private stuff – project-documenting work, and the life and times of my 3-year-old daughter, Sarah Jane. The absolute worst thing you can ever do is upload wobbly movies/ It might have worked for Jason Bourne, but for the rest of us, shaky videos are unprofessional, and make things really difficult to see. One of the downsides of newer HD video cameras is that they seem to crank the “shake factor” up to “11.”

I own about two or three of the GorillaPod flexible stands — my favorite is the magnetic one. Not only can you wrap it around things, it can stick to metal too. I’ve been able to adhere my camera to the CNC mill head while cutting/ I’ve also found them really useful for holding LED lights when a scene is too dark (the larger ones can also hold strobes for still images). Best of all, the magnetic stand is small enough to fit in your pocket when you’re done. [Photograph from]

Rosin Flux Pen - various stores – $5-6
As far as geeky stocking stuffers go, you can’t go wrong with here. Flux pens are perhaps the greatest invention for getting solder to stick to tricky bits of metal (like brass and aluminum). You just paint on a bit of flux, get it nice and hot, and let the solder flow. Easy-peasy.

Tip Tinner and Cleaner – various stores – $5-$9
Little known fact: a new soldering iron tip is actually rather poor at soldering. It needs to be “broken in” before it will work really well. Quickest way to do this is to dunk it in a pot of “tip tinner.” This cleans the surface of the iron and gets everything flowing. Finally: Solder. You can never have enough, and it’s constantly dropping on the floor and rolling away (at least for me anyway). Get some fine solder, and some super-fine solder for surface-mount work.

NTE Desoldering Tool- various online stores – $20-$30

Three words for you: Harvesting. Old. Electronics. I do it all the time, from old TVs to hi-fi amps, to kettles [Are you sure about the last one? - Ed] The best bang for your buck is to take some old broken hardware and strip all of its lovely silicon-electrolytic goodness. To do this, you’re going to need something to precisely melt the solder and yank it away from the wires. You *can* spend a fortune on a dedicated de-soldering station, but I find that this squeezy-bulb approach is just as good. After a bit of practice, you’ll find you can operate it one-handed and harvest all of the gems from a circuit board in minutes. You also get a lovely “I’m recycling!” feeling while using it – at no extra charge. [Photograph from]

Harbor Freight Heat Gun – $19
Now, if you really want to strip a circuit board in seconds, this is the ultimate tool to use. I’ve personally been using this inexpensive Harbor Freight model, so that’s the one I’m recommending here. Just put the circuit board upside down over a bucket and heat the back of through-hole components and watch them drop right off. Perfect for removing surface mount, too. Just like the solder remover above, there are super-expensive versions of this tool, but this one gives you the best bang for the buck. [Photograph from]

Boxer Bit Assortment – available from Fry’s – $16.99
Don’t you hate it when you can’t open things up and have a look inside? ["That's right, Apple, we're looking at you..."] That’s where this toolkit comes in handy. Just about every possible type of “driver” head you could wish for, including “tri-wings” [Take that! Nintendo], Hex drivers, star drivers, hex-star drivers, weird twisty cross heads — I’ve never come across anything I couldn’t get the screws out of. [Photograph from]

Fume extractor kit – in the Maker Shed – $35
Let’s be honest, no one wants to die a horrible and painful death, and neither should you. Soldering is fun and cool and all, but the fumes are not fun – you should do everything you can not to inhale them. Over in the Maker Shed, they have a neat kit for a tiny solder fume filter/extractor fan, built in a mint tin, that you can attach to your vise or just put by your solder iron station to pull all that smoky nastiness away from you. For my main workbench, I’ve taken to using a small HEPA filter that pulls all the fumes within a 2′ sq away from me.

Mini Vice – available online – $32
Quick, count how many hands you have. It’s never enough is it? One of the greatest inventions ever for every makers cursed with only two hands is the PanaVise bench vise. This widget will hold your circuit boards in any orientation – perfect for component removal and addition. I’ve had mine for years, and I seriously wouldn’t want to do anything electronic without one. There’s a suction, clamp, or magnetic base option, but I’ve found that the weight of the base alone is more than enough to keep things steady. Couple it with a pair of helping hands and you really do have everything you need to keep circuits, components, wires exactly where you want them to be. With one hand left to drink your tea. [Editor's Note: Maker Shed does not carry the 209 model reviewed here, but it does carry the classic 201, now with the new speed handle, developed through a discussion here on MAKE and winner of a 2010 Makey Award!]


PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit – available from Microchip direct – $55
Multimedia Expander – $150
Are you ready to take your embedded applications to a new level? Let’s face it, there are only so many blinking LEDs or PWM controllers you can build before you’re ready for something a little bit cooler and more sophisticated. PICs have been around for a while, and sometimes people tend to pass them over for trendier microcontrollers. However, Microchip has really outdone themselves with a development environment that includes an LED touchscreen, joystick, temperature sensor, accelerometer, 24bit stereo audio, wifi AND hard-line Ethernet. Then, they coupled that with the PIC32 development environment – running at a whopping 80 MHz with 512K Flash, 128K RAM. (Phew) See all of Microchip’s dev tools currently on sale here.

Yes it’s a computer, but unlike certain computers I could mention, it doesn’t take 20 minutes to start up.


[Photograph from]

Check out all of our MAKE Holiday Guides and Programs


New in the Maker Shed: 1.8″ Color TFT Screen w/MicroSD

This 1.8″ Color TFT Screen, available in the Maker Shed, is the best way to add a small, colorful, and bright display to any project. It’s capable of displaying full 18-bit color (262,144 shades) on 128×160 pixels. Since the display uses 4-wire SPI to communicate, and has its own pixel-addressable frame buffer, it can be used with every kind of microcontroller. Even a very small one with low memory and few pins available! There’s also an on-board MicroSD card reader so you can easily load full color bitmaps right from a FAT16/FAT32 formatted MicroSD card.

  • 1.8″ diagonal LCD TFT display
  • 128×160 resolution, 18-bit (262,144) color
  • ST7735R controller with built in pixel-addressable video RAM buffer
  • 4 or 5 wire SPI digital interface
  • Built-in microSD slot – uses 2 more digital lines
  • 5V compatible! Use with 3.3V or 5V logic
  • Onboard 3.3V @ 150mA LDO regulator
  • 2 white LED backlight, transistor connected so you can PWM dim the backlight
  • 1×10 header for easy breadboarding
  • 4 x 0.9″/2mm mounting holes in corners
  • Overall dimensions: 1.35″ x 2.2″ x 0.25″ (34mm x 56mm x 6.5mm)

Hackerspace Happenings: TX/RX on the Move

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 runs weekly(ish) Tuesday(i)s(h).

Houston’s TX/RX Labs is Expanding

In less than nine months, with an all-volunteer staff, TX/RX Labs trained nearly 200 Houstonians in such topics as algebra, welding, laboratory techniques, soldering, computer programming, 3D design, and ceramics, to name a few. Over the same period, our membership has grown by roughly 100%.

We need your help to expand to a new space… Here’s how you can help.

We have identified a new space in the heart of the EaDo District and are currently finalizing negotiations with our future landlord. But for us to succeed in this ambitious plan, we must raise approximately $30,000.00 to renovate our new home. The result will be a clean, safe and fun environment where people of all ages can come to learn, make and teach.

See the space’s move page for more information.

Converting a Kawasaki Ninja to Electric at Mesa’s HeatSync Labs

We bumped into Barry Greig at the Phoenix Maker Faire this year and were wowed by his awesome electric conversion for his Kawasaki Ninja 250R. Come on down to the lab where Barry is going to roll the bike right into the lab! He’ll be talking about:

o Donor Bike Selection
o Motor Selection
o Jackshaft – Purpose and Fabrication
o Battery Pack Construction
o Battery Management System (BMS)
o Controller and Contactor
o Motor Mount Fabrication
o Instrumentation and Low Voltage Electronics

This will be happening TONIGHT, Thursday the 15th, at 7:00pm at HeatSync Labs.

Make an Ethernet Cable at Philly’s Hive76

I didn’t know how to use an RJ45 crimper at all, so after bugging my fellow members, I just grabbed the crimper and started destroying a patch cable. A few mistakes and pairs of plugs later, I had my own working ethernet cable.

That makes me confident enough to teach you! Come join us for a bit of cable making and Hive76 infrastructure upgrading.

The event will be held Saturday, 12/17 at 10am.

Hackathon at Winnipeg’s Skullspace

It’s been a year since SkullSpace started, and it’s time to have a special hackathon! We’ve lined up some great speakers and projects to keep you busy on a cold December day! If you’ve never been to SkullSpace before, or if you come every day, you’re welcome to join us!

Usually what goes on is something of a social event, with people talking about all kinds of things, trying out some lock picking, playing video games, sampling bake sale delicacies and generally just having a good time. The original intent was to get the amazing SkullSpace community together to work on projects and bounce ideas around, but it has evolved from that into something of a geek social with a focus on learning something new. There are still a handful of people that come out to work on their projects and everyone is welcome to bring anything they’re currently working on to show off or just hack on with others. Even if you know nothing about coding/hacking/etc don’t be afraid to stop by, our members are all types of creatives from architects and programmers to graphic designers and amateur radio enthusiasts.

The hackathon will be held at SkullSpace on Saturday, December 17, at 2pm.

Austin’s ATX Hackerspace’s 1st Annual Holiday Geek Bazaar and Open House

Join the ATX Hackerspace as we open our doors to the public and invite you to enjoy traditional home-baked goodies, holiday beverages and a variety of geek- and maker-created items for sale; a great opportunity to fill your holiday wish list with unique locally crafted items!

We will be giving tours upon request and there will be demonstrations on some of our more mesmerizing pieces of equipment, such as our laser cutter! There are rumors brewing of laser-etched gingerbread men.

The event is Sunday, December 18 from 1-5pm. More details on Facebook.

Thunder Talks in Stuttgart’s shack space

(Via Google translate)

Lightning-Talk-like short presentations will lecture on current, past and future. A lecture is between 5 to 15 minutes long and it will be given lectures on various topics.

The event is open and non-members are cordially invited to give lectures or just as a listener to be there.

Saturday, December 17th at 7:00pm at shack space.

6-Pack Chess at Mountain View’s Hacker Dojo

Bring a 6-pack. Donate it to a visible chess board which doesn’t have one (or mix up varieties of beer with one that does.)

If there’s at least 1 unopened beer near a player with a board and pieces but without an opponent, take your seat for a traditional challenge. Sit next to an active game to claim the next spot.

Consume at least 4oz of beer (whether it be o’douls or natty ice) if you–the new or presiding champion (or board starter)–wins, or, if you lose, relinquish thy throne and thus thy beer.

6-Pack Chess will be held on Monday, January 2nd at 7pm, at Hacker Dojo.

Molding and Casting Workshop at Toronto’s

Ever wanted to copy a three dimensional shape? Molding and casting allows you to copy nearly anything – from hands and fingers to toys and sculptures. This beginners workshop (led by relative novices too), will provide you with hands-on exposure to simple molding and casting.

The workshop will be held on January 9th at 7pm and you can register on Eventbrite.

Learn Programming at i3 Detroit

It’s not scary, it’s not difficult, and it doesn’t take years to learn. I think I can prove that to you though this crash course on computer programming. It’s not going to get you a job at Google, but it will let you figure out which words are used most frequently in the book “Alice in Wonderland”, or generate a list of anagrams for your friend’s names! Isn’t technology amazing?

The course consists of five sessions in January and the cost is $6 for non-members or free for members.

Soft Circuits Class at NYC Resistor

Learn to make soft, flexible and washable electronic circuits embedded right into common textiles! We’ll cover conductive thread, waterproof circuitry, embedded sensors and tactile feedback. Everyone leaves with enough basic knowlege to level-up any outfit, and a handful of the parts they need to make it happen. No previous sewing skills or electronics knowlege required.

The class will be held Sunday, January 22 at 2pm and you can register on Eventbrite.

Flame Effects Class at Toronto’s Site 3

Site 3 Fire Arts team presents: HOWTO Flame Effects, hands-on.
Over the course of the weekend, we will teach you basic propane handling, safety, and science. We will also teach you how to safely assemble your plumbing and test it for leaks, before letting ‘er rip.

Saturday schedule:
Propane safety and handling
Effect design
Igniter systems
Fuel supply systems
Afternoon effect build
Build test

Sunday schedule:
Control and interaction systems

The class will be held on February 25th and 26th at Site 3. Register on Eventbrite or learn more on the Facebook page.

Zip-Line Race at Tokyo Hackerspace

Tokyo Hackerspace will be holding a zip-line race in March:

Your task, should you choose to accept, is to design and build your own zip line racer from spare parts, scraps, and other bits.

The line will be a thin steel cable, stretched taught. The racer will start at one end, touching a starting place (depressing the start switch). When the racer leaves the plate, the timer will start.

Your racer must travel to the other end of the line, tag the switch plate on the other end, and then return to the start plate. Upon tagging the start plate, the timer will stop.

Sounds like the plans are fairly preliminary, but you’ll need a lot of time to build your racer!


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