Shawls Made from Silk of over One Million Spiders

Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley teamed up to create materials from the silk produced from Golden Orb Spiders in Madagascar. They collected 1.2 million of these spiders and extracted their silk over the course of 3 years to create 2 golden silk capes.

This shawl is the world’s largest piece of spider-silk cloth ever created, which is now on display at the V&A Museum in London. No spiders were harmed in the making of the materials, and once the spider’s silk had been extracted, the spider was released back in to the wild where they replenished their silk supplies in about a week. Each spider extracts ~30-50 m of thread each time the silk is extracted.

via Gizmodo


Build the Tiny Wanderer from MAKE Volume 29

Tiny Wanderer from MAKE Volume 29

Looking for a great starter robot project? Doug Paradis is an active member of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, and last year, they were looking for a way to help their beginner members strengthen their robot-building chops. Thus, the Tiny Wanderer was born.

We produced a series of lessons covering 5 topics needed to make a simple, programmable robot: making PCBs with the toner transfer method, programming ATtiny microprocessors, laying out circuit boards using KiCAD, using Inkscape to design robot parts, and programming state machines.

The Tiny Wanderer is the starter DIY robot model we designed to support the series. It uses the unintimidating ATtiny85 chip, which is less complex than larger chips, and the new kit version lets you easily swap in an Arduino. The chassis, inspired by the now-discontinued Oomlout SERB, has benefited from constant modification and tweaks by DPRG members. Its two IR LED/sensor proximity “feelers” were originally designed to let the bot wander around a tabletop without falling off, but they can be repurposed for obstacle avoidance and line-following.

Doug documented the step-by-step Tiny Wanderer build and shared it with us on the pages of the newest issue of MAKE, Volume 29 (on newsstands now). We took it a step further and shared the whole build with you on Make: Projects. And the Maker Shed has put together a complete Tiny Wanderer kit for folks who’d rather get to building than searching for components. And Make: Labs engineering intern Eric Chu shared details and video of their Tiny Wanderer build last week.

Plus, here are two videos from Doug showing Tiny Wanderer’s tabletop and line-following tests:

From the pages of MAKE Volume 29:

We have the technology (to quote The Six Million Dollar Man), but commercial tools for exploring, assisting, and augmenting our bodies really can approach a price tag of $6 million. Medical and assistive tech manufacturers must pay not just for R&D, but for expensive clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and liability — and doesn’t help with low pricing that these devices are typically paid for through insurance, rather than purchased directly. But many gadgets that restore people’s abilities or enable new “superpowers” are surprisingly easy to make, and for tiny fractions of the costs of off-the-shelf equivalents. MAKE Volume 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, explains how.



ShapeShift Electroactive Polymer Sheets

DIY methods for electroactive polymer actuators are hard to come by, and none of them are kitchen-counter simple. But compared to the wet chemical methods circulating in the academic research community, the purely mechanical process documented in this video from the Swiss ShapeShift project is relatively accessible. Click here to skip the how-to and go straight to the action shots. [via Hack a Day]


Shrewbot, a Robot With Whiskers

When the whiskers touch an object this causes them to vibrate and the vibration pattern is picked up by sensitive cells in the hair follicle at the base of the whisker. These patterns are turned into an electrical signal which is sent to the brain, enabling the mammal to make instant decisions about its environment to help it move around or catch prey. The whiskers have another advantage over some other forms of tactile touch. Whiskers themselves are easily replaceable since the sensory cells are at the base of the whisker, not the top, unlike our fingers for example, which are more easily damaged and hard to replace.

[Shrew whiskers inspire ground-breaking robot design via core77]


A Ballet of Mechanical Movements

In 1934, New York’s Museum of Modern Art opened their famous Machine Art exhibition, featuring industrial objects like gears, bearings, and propellers displayed solely for their aesthetic value. The embedded video is excerpted from avant-garde U.S. filmmaker Ralph Steiner’s Mechanical Principles, which was released only a year earlier, and is very much in the same spirit. If Machine Art was about appreciating machines as sculpture, Mechanical Principles was about appreciating their movements as dance. It’s hypnotic to watch, and quite lovely. [via The Automata / Automaton Blog]

Fascinating 1953 Navy Film Series on Mechanical Computers


In the Maker Shed: Arduino Ethernet Shield

Do you want to make a web-enabled on / off switch for that power hungry RAID array living in your closet? Or maybe you want to build your very own version of the Twittering Cat Toy? Then you should check out the Arduino Ethernet Shield from the Maker Shed! It’s the perfect solution for creating network enabled projects and it plugs right into your Arduino Uno, Mega, or compatible microcontroller. The on-board Wiznet W5100 Ethernet chip handles the heavy lifting and the completely open source Ethernet library makes it easy to write sketches that connect to the internet. This versatile shield even includes a micro-SD card reader that can be used to serve files over the network. Brilliant!


Printable Johnson Polyhedra

Thingiverse user and retired protein crystallographer(!!!) pmoews created these .STLs of polyhedra (AKA Johnson solids), based off of George Hart’s VRML files of the solids, converting them to .STLs with Fortran(!!!!)

(My favorite is the gyrate bidiminished rhombicosidodecahedron, just cuz of the name.)


Super Slow Motion Canon DSLR Shutter Action

Destin of Smarter Every Day took the lens off his Canon 60D, pointed a Phantom Flex high speed video camera at the shutter, and took a picture. The exposure cycle happens in four stages and lasts less than a tenth of a second in real time, but the Phantom Flex stretches that action out to almost a full minute of screen time at YouTube framerates. Udi Tirosh of breaks it down. [Thanks, Udi!]


Analog Video Mixer for iPhone

Conceived as a simple way to record both sides of a conversation in a single shot for a documentary about love filmed in Paris, The Love Box has a name more likely to elicit a stare rather than a split screen. It achieves its effect using a single mirror mounted on a slide and rotated 16º from the camera. [via Wired]


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