Using a Washer as a Soldering Aid

Very clever trick from next month’s issue of The Family Handyman, submitted by reader Joseph Johnson.

If you have “helping hands,” clamping wire leads against a washer, as shown, stabilizes the whole setup dramatically by connecting the two arms with a rigid member, so you can bear down a bit more with the iron without pushing things out of alignment. But the hole in the middle of the washer still allows all-round access to the junction.

If you don’t have helping hands, you can just use a washer, as shown, with a pair of alligator clips (or even small binder clips) as a pretty effective improvised workholding jig for this kind of soldering.



“Officine Arduino” Torino – Arduino’s Incubator


Welcome Officine Arduino Torino.

Last friday in Torino, Italy a new kind of company opened its doors.

Officine Arduino Torino is a combination of Makerspace, Fablab and an Arduino “office” dedicated to further the development of the platform and open source hardware.

Officine Arduino is born out of the experience of creating the first FabLab in Italy during an exhibition that lasted throughout 2011. We experienced the positive energy that came out of the encounter between the local community of makers, students, designers and our team based in Torino.

After the exhibition shut down we though that Arduino could act as an “incubator” to empower the people we work with to setup a company that would share our resources and equipment with the local community. Luckily we found the amazing people at Toolbox co-working  ( who provided us with free space within an old FIAT factory.

Officina means “workshop” and in Italian it has the vintage sound of the name given to those small companies that made amazing products with limited resources and a lot of ingenuity.

We wanted to see what comes out when you connect open source hardware and software, digital fabrication, maker culture, hands-on learning, open design, alternative business models, co-working and a great community.

Torino is the “template” for more Officine Arduino we would like to open around the world so that more people can hang out with us and build amazing stuff.

If you have the chance go to Torino and have fun at the officine.

PS: We’re looking for some people to help us in Torino:
PHP DeveloperGuest BloggerInterns // Electronics Engineer

I visited the Arduino factory a month ago and Massimo from the Arduino team explained this vision, congrats – this is very cool, Arduino as an incubator.


First Cedar Rapids Mini Maker Faire This Saturday!

Over 45 makers from Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri are converging on the Lindale Mall tomorrow, Saturday, February 25th, for the inaugural Cedar Rapids Mini Maker Faire.

The fair is being organized by Jim Jacobmeyer and other members of Epicenter (a Cedar Rapids makerspace), and the Cedar Rapids Habitat for Humanity Restore.  Epicenter was founded in 2011 as a resource for area do-it-yourselfers, creatives, entrepreneurs, inventors, and free-thinkers.

The Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a store for recycled, re-used, and re-purposed materials.  These two organizations share classroom space and tools, and have naturally become a gathering spot for makers in the larger Cedar Rapids area.

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, get on out tomorrow to Lindale Mall between 10am and 4pm!

Also—Mini Maker Faire season has just begun!  Keep track of upcoming events at our Find a Faire page. If you don’t find a Mini Maker Faire near you, consider organizing your own.


Hackerspace Happenings: Weekend Edition

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).

Discotech + openFrameworks at OmniCorpDetroit

OmniCorpDetroit is happy to announce the following two events for February! We’ve been collaborating with organizations like Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, ArtServe Michigan, Emergence Media, Work Department and the international openFrameworks community to organize a blended Discotech/openFrameworks workshop and open conversation / lecture event.

The event will be held Saturday, February 25th and Sunday the 26th. See the event page for more information.

DIY Solar Power Presentation at HackPittsburgh

Join us on Friday (Feb 24th) when member Mark will present DIY Solar Power. Mark Barlow, an electrical engineer and solar photovoltaic (PV) consultant, will introduce solar technology that is ready for the Do-It-Yourself community. The talk will include information on solar cell testing, electrical hardware, mechanical hardware, safety code, and the new all-in-one rooftop solar PV kits by Westinghouse Solar. The combination of affordable pricing, along with the ease of installation makes Westinghouse Solar Kits an attractive solution for contractors and do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners.

Free and Open to the Public.
Doors open at 7pm and the event will start shortly after that.
We’re at 1936 Fifth Avenue, in the garage around back on Watson.
Look for our flag over the door.

Eugene Maker Space Grand Opening

Congrats to the Eugene (OR) Makerspace on a successful event. Looks like a nice crowd!

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to our grand opening event to support us! We had a fantastic time and we hope you will come again. Remember, we have open house nights every Friday night from 6:00PM to 8:00PM so feel free to drop by and see what we are up too. Or, bring a project and get some work done. We will be uploading photos from the event soon, but for now, we hope you enjoy this time lapse video of the grand opening event.

Cairo Hackerspace Re-Opening

Create, Innovate, Be a maker be a hacker. Join Cairo Hackerspace re-opening. Our new space is ready for hacking. New tools and cool stuff ;) . Get ready for a big exciting day from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM on the 24th of Feb.

Soldering Workshop at Bloomington, IN’s Bloominglabs

February 28th marks the second session of Bloominglabs’ soldering class — this one focuses on soldering surface mount components.

  • Second week is surface mount soldering and also finish-up of the first week’s kit if needed

  • Both classes include a kit to solder, additional electronics kits available at additional cost
  • Everything you need will be provided for you, but if you wish you may bring your own soldering iron and hand-tools
  • Send an email to rsvp ]at[ bloominglabs ]dot[ org to sign up! RSVP early while seats are still available!

The class costs $20 for just the second session.

Ephemerisle Planning Session at LA’s Crash Space

Ephemerisle is a self-organizing gathering on the water. A temporary zone of boats, platforms, and floating art. It lasts for four days, filled with parties, futurist and special interest talks, and pickup collaboration between the very interesting mix of people who find themselves on the water.

For all those in the LA area going or interested in going to Ephemerisle, we’re hosting an intro and planning session at Crashspace.

Come and get an explanation of what Ephemerisle is, or plot with those already planning to go. Expect discussion of platform design, finding a bunk, the groups to meet up with, and kickstarters for community services.

The meetup is March 7th at 8pm.

Burlington, VT’s Laboratory B Opens

Congrats to the gang at the recently-opened Laboratory B hackerspace.

Laboratory B started organically growing out of DC802 meetings and the Burlington 2600 crowd. The idea of getting a space was tossed around at a number of meetings and emails started flying on the DC802 mailing list.

In December 20101 Lab-b acquired a small office in the Old North End. After a laborious process of drinking and debating we finally settled on the name Laboratory B. Turns out there was even a pretty cool historical connection with a Russian Nuclear Research facility by the same name.

Laboratory B had an initial roster of about 10 paying members and is still growing. We are looking for new people, new projects and new donated gear!

Our members include a variety of highly talented people with very strong cross disciplinary knowledge and we all have high hopes for what may come from this space.

Art Hackathon at Philly’s Hive76

For the second weekend in March, Hive76 is hosting a day of smashing, cutting, gluing, taping, painting, and general making and frivolity. We’re calling it “Art Hackathon“. Inspired by the Bravo TV Series Work of Art, and following closely in the footsteps of Art Hack Day, the event will focus on the rapid creation of meaningful works of art out of a provided supply of recycled materials.

Hive76 will provide massive piles of cardboard, tubs of glue, masking tape, tubs of spackle, box cutter blades, and a few cans of various colors of spray paint, to let every participating individual or team create a work of their choosing. The works will be based on a single theme, to be announced at the beginning of the event.

The event is split across two, four-hour days. While participants are free to use the time as they wish, the time is designed to provide time for planning on and a moderate amount of building on the first day, with some drying and curing time overnight before finishing up the next day.

A fee of $25 per person will be charged at the door, to cover the cost of materials and food that will be provided during the event for both days. Please RSVP for the event before March 6th by emailing

The hackathon will be held March 10th and 11th, from 3-7pm.

Open Hack at RaumZeitLabor in Mannheim, Germany

Severin of RZL mailed in details of their open nights:

We’re having an open night at our space every Tuesday, starting at 7pm. There’s usually 2-3 short talks, some cooking, and a lot of hacking and fun stuff going on. It’s a great mixture of members and new people, so the perfect night to check out our space. We put the details about talks and projects up on our calendar and out log the night before.

Tokyo Hackerspace Fundraiser

Tokyo Hackerspace is moving in July, and needs your help.

THS will need to move house in July!

We need to save up about 500000 yen (thats a bit over 4 grand, USD).

Why so expensive?

Typically in Japan, you need to pay equivalent to 3 months rent in deposits, guarantor fees, leasing agent fees etc. In addition, we need a bit of cash to pay for trucks, gas, and starting utilities.

If you would like to help us out, you can make donations in 500 yen increments. Its a bit under 5 dollars. Just add as many to the cart as you like!


Ziwon Wang’s Cybernetic Kinetic Sculptures

Ziwon Wang’s work explores the relationship between human and machine. His works are eerily familiar (uncanny valley, anyone?) and mechanized, with moving apparatuses exposed.

This work, Baby Z, is held delicately by metal spars attached to a motor and gear box. The gentle image of a baby coinciding with extra mechanistic appendages is a bit disturbing, but thought-provoking.

[via The Creators Project]


Making Money With Drone-Based Businesses

The emerging story of entrepreneurs using drones to provide marketable services is fascinating to me. Small businesses have been making money by making drones themselves for quite awhile, now, but I’m just now starting to see start-ups using drones to sell services.

Aerial photography is maybe the most obvious opportunity—surveying real estate, covering sporting or other events, stalking celebrities, assessing damage after fires or other catastrophes—but there are also all kinds of potentially lucrative (and annoying) advertising and/or promotional possibilities. And that’s just scratching the surface of the possibilities of airborne drone-based services, never mind those of land-, water-, and underwater-going

An interesting case in point is Australian Simon Jardine, whose bouncing baby drone business is called Eye in the Sky. Australia is prime country for private aerial imaging services, with its relatively low population density, ongoing development, and vast, open spaces. Jardine’s photography was recently featured in a (surprisingly upbeat) Atlantic article about drones and privacy issues, and he’s got a Flickr stream full of great drone photography. [via Boing Boing]

Eye in the Sky Aerial Imaging


Peggy 2 + Ribbon Cables + LEDs = Fun Ceilings!

I spotted this fancy ceiling illumination in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh while there for the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire. The LEDs are connected to ribbon cables that attach to an EMSL Peggy 2 board similar to the one we sell in the Maker Shed (we sell the smaller Peggy2 LE version.)

The Peggy 2 is capable of individually addressing 625 LEDs arranged in a 25 x 25 grid. That means there should be 25 – 50 conductor ribbon cables attached to this one. I don’t know who soldered this, how long it took, or how they kept their wires straight but I’m truly impressed. Great work whoever you are!


New on Make: Projects

Here are a few neat projects that were recently added to our collaborative wiki, Make: Projects. If you’ve made something awesome that the world should know about, please share your build process with the MAKE community, via Make: Projects.

Over-the-Air TV Antenna

Rich Reynolds explains how to get over-the-air television with a homemade TV antenna. He made it so that his wife can watch the summer Olympics. Sounds like over-the-air TV is making something of a comeback – the Wall Street Journal just published an article on the trend of supplementing online-video programming with over-the-air TV signals, as an alternative to a costly cable subscription.

My sister and I could have used this when we threw a Kentucky Derby party a couple years ago, to watch the horse race! We weren’t paying for cable at the time, so we ended up borrowing our neighbor’s, via a really long coax cable.

Instant Nature: Quick & Peaceful

Tired of the constant whir of your computer’s fan? Generate some aural relief in the form of gentle bird chirping sounds, using an Arduino and a Wave Shield. Tutorial shared by RobotGrrl.

HAB APRS Tracker

South Carolina high school teacher Todd Stowe says, “The first step in a high-altitude balloon (HAB) project is creating a device that will let you track and recover your payload. To do this, build an automatic packet reporting system (APRS) tracker. It’s not the only way, but it works and it is reliable.”

He really made that Make Project Tin look handsome!

Painting a One-Off QR Code on a Large Surface

Eric Hansen shares a technique for painting QR codes on large surfaces.

If you want to share something with the technological elite, there’s no better way than the QR code. Very dense and durable, it’s also “platform agnostic.” There exist several methods to make a code stencil, but they either require time or a laser CNC table.


Cricket-Driven Art Bot

Harvey Moon wrote in with an update to his Drawing Machine art bot:

It is titled “Bugs Draw For Me” and it combines my Drawing Machine with some code I wrote that tracks a bug’s movement. Using two custom Processing programs, an Arduino, a camera and a cricket, I was able to make unique artworks completely directed by a cricket in a box.

I’m sure all puns about bugs in the code have been thoroughly explored, alas.



The World’s First Helicopters

This is a wonderful collection of black-and-white newsreel footage, assembled by the company that invented the newsreel, showing a montage of early helicopter prototypes in all their wacky and frequently-terrifying glory. It’s a highlight reel, about two minutes long, and the various clips that went into it are indexed, annotated, and available for watching in their entirety at the link below, which is a level of background detail we don’t often see in online video. [Thanks, Laura!]

The History of the Helicopter: Early Helicopter Footage

Centuries of cranks vindicated by human-powered ornithopter flight


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