MAKE friend Kyle Wiens (iFixit) takes a trip to the only rare earth metals mine in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Kyle tells about the history of the plant, why production ceased in 2002, and how it kicked back up in 2009. Click through to read more. [Via A Visit to the Only American Mine for Rare Earth Metals - Fixers - Technology - The Atlantic.]
When 18-year-old Honduran maker Luis Cruz met a quadriplegic high school classmate and learned about the challenges he and other folks with disabilities face in the light of expensive assistive communication technologies, he was inspired to devise a solution. What Luis came up with is the Eyeboard: an inexpensive yet reliable human-computer interface that detects eye movements using electrooculography (EOG), a biomedical technique based on picking up signals from electrodes placed around the eyes, which in this case enables users who can’t manipulate a mouse or trackpad to move a cursor on a screen. Luis wrote about his project in an eye tracking feature on the pages of MAKE Volume 29, alongside Zach Lieberman’s EyeWriter project. Here is Luis’ article on the Eyeboard design and development:
Here’s the Reuters coverage of Luis’ project from December 2011:
Build your own Eyeboard by following the instructions Luis shared on Make: Projects.
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.
As reported here on MAKE last year by Jon Kalish, Marina 59′s “Boatel” in Far Rockaways, Queens, NYC is expanding their programming this summer with a six-week boat-maker residency. They’ve just launched an Open Call for artists & makers to submit your ideas; deadline is March 9, and small stipends are available. The best part is they have abandoned boats they are looking to salvage/renovate, so the difficult part of actually building a boat is already taken care of! Managed in part by some of the Swimming Cities crew, the residency seeks to address access to NYC’s water, boat maker and building skills, and build community in the Far Rockaways, an often overlooked area of the boroughs. So whether you’re looking to refurbish a watercraft, meet some new boat enthusiasts, or simply work all day and enjoy the tranquility of the marina at night, details are online here.
Here is a process that would not have occurred to me. Make: Projects user Kiers knew enough about the machines used by eyeglass lens makers to know that they use a “dummy lens” template as a pattern to cut the outer profile of a lens. He found an accommodating online optician willing to use a customer-provided pattern to make frameless glasses, which allowed him to design a lens shape to complement his own face in software and laser-cut a custom pattern.
[Click on the headline above to see the entire photo gallery]
Last night I enjoyed the monthly Pecha Kucha event in San Francisco (pronounced pe-CHA-k’cha, quickly). It’s like Dorkbot for designers, but with a format similar to Ignite events. Each presenter has 20 slides that show for 20 seconds each, and advance automatically. The event took place at the Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly, Zeum), and the theme was “Creating outside the lines.”
Here Are Some Highlights:
Fun! Pecha Kucha events take place in dozens of cities, and are expanding to more locations with support from Autodesk.
As with most things worth doing, there are risks.
See the material list, full process, and trial and error on Jordan’s post.
Ezer Lichtenstein of ITP made an autonomous blimp called the Robot Tourist that can sense its surroundings and take photos of the landscape it flies over. This was accomplished using a Link Sprite camera, a microSD Arduino shield, and an Arduino Uno.
From Ezer’s site:
My initial intention in creating this was to make something that you could set forth in the world and pretty much forget about, and then after some period of time (hours, days, weeks) this thing would come back to you or you’d search it out and you would be able to see all it’s little adventures. Maybe if you built enough of these, you could ‘crowd’ source any sort of large scale data collection job. For instance if you wanted to catalogue the beds of large lakes or the inside of caves or cloud formations. You could also have it just catalogue wildlife in remote areas. Or take one more step toward singularity.
The blimp made its tethered maiden voyage in Brooklyn and snapped a few shots of the landscape below. The blimp is equipped with solar panels, but it will take further testing to determine whether these can be a sustainable power source.
A quick eBay search reveals that, in fact, used fire hoses are quite readily available, and not very expensive. The bentwood seat would be a little more challenging, but as woodbending projects go, that shape wouldn’t make for a very difficult one. Or you could just use an unbent seat. It’s the work of designer Michael Hensel. [via Recyclart]
Our maker this week is William Gurstelle. He’s a contributing editor to MAKE and his books include Backyard Ballistics, Adventures from the Technology Underground, and Absinthe and Flamethrowers. In addition, Bill writes frequently on culture and technology for national magazines and blogs including The Atlantic, Wired, and Popular Science.
Here’s are some projects William has done for MAKE:
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