Lobbying for Crowdfunding So Makers Can “Go Pro”

Here is an article from the techie politics site TechPresident about my and others’ grassroots lobbying efforts in favor of a regulatory exemption for crowdfunded investments.

Makers rule crowdfunding, and if this legislation passes, it will enable many of us to “go Pro,” fostering innovation and achieving other good things. But this campaign still needs your support!

Bipartisan Bill for Crowdfunded Investments In Senate


Make: Beta Team — Join Us!

Want to meet new people and make new things?

At MAKE, our engineering interns (and occasionally others) test-build almost all of the projects that we publish in the magazine. This adds a lot to the articles– we verify that they work (or don’t), learn how to explain them better, nail down good sources and specs for the materials, and shoot more photos and video. It also gives us ready-built projects for demonstration, experimentation, and random fun.

So far, so good. But by reading this post, you are witnessing the launch of the next phase in our unceasing efforts to increase the proportion of Quality in the universe: the MAKE Beta Team.

Beta Team members are makers at-large who do pre-publication test-builds of our projects at the same time that we do them internally at the world-renowned Make: Labs. The idea is, we can make our projects even better by listening to and working with test-builders both inside and outside of MAKE.

We also hook up Beta Team members with new kits, tools, and other stuff that companies want us to test and review (sometimes before these things come on the market). If you’re interested in something, you get it free and just have to write a short, hands-on review– 1-2 paragraphs, or more if you feel inspired.

As a Beta Team member, your mission (should you choose to accept it) will be to:

  • Build a project, from instructions that already look complete, using materials that we will send to you — we will send you everything, except for tools that you already have
  • Let us know if anything doesn’t work or isn’t explained clearly
  • Share any other ideas you have related the project
  • Show off to friends, family, neighbors, and strangers, and see what they think (extra credit)

During the process, you’ll correspond with a great group of people including (but not limited to) MAKE authors, engineering interns, editors, and designers. Meanwhile, the projects you build will be yours to have, hold, and hack forever. Also, we’ll throw in:

  • A year’s subscription to MAKE magazine
  • Weekend-pass tickets to the Maker Faire of your choice
  • The coveted MAKE Beta Team t-shirt

What a deal!

If this sounds like something you might enjoy, please fill out an application here.


MAKE Confetti Party with Kinect/Box2D Mashup

For the upcoming Vancouver Mini Maker Faire fundraiser party tonight, Vincent van Haaff made a fun confetti party with openFrameworks.

Kinect/Box2D Mashup, Now With Penciled Outlines! from Vincent van Haaff on Vimeo.

Here are a few words from Vincent on how it works:

Because the Kinect can capture depth, you can isolate a shape based on distance, which is awesome, just as people use color (green screens, etc). Once you isolate that shape, I then filled the shape with triangles to generate an edge that could then be used in a Box2D simulation (the 2d physics engine that runs Angry Birds). Then you play with it a lot. \o/


How-To: Grow a Portrait Gourd

This Instructable written by MAKE’s Tim Anderson, documenting the process of lifetime Chinese gourd craftsman Zhang Cairi, focuses on growing gourds into molds shaped to produce portrait busts. But it could be generalized to grow pretty much any hollow form. A speaker horn? A flashlight body? An enclosure for an Arduino or other PCB? A robot chassis?

The master is sculpted in clay, then latex is painted on to produce a slip-off negative, which is filled with plastic resin to produce a duplicate positive. Finally, a two-part negative mold is cast around the resin positive, separated, and secured around the immature gourd with string or wire. The mold needs to be suspended in such a way that the vine doesn’t have to bear its weight.

Portrait Gourds Grown in Molds


Maker Faire Booth Design Challenge

Road to Maker Faire ChallengeWhen I attended my first Maker Faire Bay Area in 2010, one thing I was especially impressed by was the level to which makers took their booth designs. Taking into consideration signage, traffic flow, points and levels of interactivity, and supporting material, it was like the science fair & craft market of my dreams! Featuring everything from plastic crafts and hand-forged metal tools to robot guts and even a zine library, how a booth was designed largely dictated its level of interaction and subsequent success.

So for the current Road to Maker Faire Challenge, presented by Esurance, one of the criteria makers are being asked to consider is their booth design. There’s definitely some synergy in the air around this topic too, as the folks running the Seattle Mini Maker Faire recently conducted a public seminar to assist makers with booth design. Some really good points they raised include:

  • Show things in process.
  • Show the broken parts & failed experiments.
  • Show the tools!
  • Try and engage all audiences – from Young Makers to adults – with the same materials.
  • And lastly consider how people will flow through your space.

Another great tip they give for inexperienced booth makers is to do trial runs at home. It’s only tables and chairs really – the rest is up to you! Layout a booth at home, look at it, and break it down. Wait a week and try putting it up again. See if anything has changed or should be changed. Sometimes a sign or a hands-on project is all it takes for your booth to be a success!

How to Design Your Maker Faire Booth


Arcade Button Shelves for Fast Inventory Tracking

Not much specific detail about what’s going on in this intriguing tumblog image from British open-source kit-makers .:oomlout:., who simply write:

Getting more serious with our button shelves ( ) (shipping has never before felt so much like an 80s arcade game)

But unless I miss my guess, they’re tracking their part inventories in real time: pack or use a bit from bin 12? Just hit the corresponding button and the database is updated immediately. Very cool. [via adafruit]

button shelves


Stage Combat Training Shirt w/Lilypad Arduino

Instructables user grossmr1 teaches stage combat, and was looking for a more efficient way to communicate sword target points to her students than language or pointing. The garment she designed features LEDs at various target points, and conductive pads on the fingers and thumb of one gauntlet. She can select which of the various target points is lit by touching her thumb to the corresponding finger.

Smallsword Choreography Shirt


A House Built into a Chair

Ted Lott constructed this house frame built into a chair, playing around with what can be called design, and what can be called architecture. From his site:

Craft practices are at once defined and restrained by their connections to tradition. When viewing woodworking in the context of objects made with wood; housing, particularly stick frame construction, emerges as possibly the most widespread use of the material throughout the modern world. Utilizing these contemporary techniques in a studio based practice, it is my hope to further the conversation on how notions of craft fit into the modern world.

[via Dude Craft]


Treadmill Belt Sander – Smooth!

YouTube user omiateeful scavenged a variable-speed treadmill that his next-door neighbors were throwing away and turned it into a heavy-duty standing belt sander that he uses all the time. He had the custom sanding belt made for $18, and he outfitted the sander with a granite table and a vacuum at the back end for sucking up dust. “It’s very powerful; you can’t stop it.”

Also see his retracting faucet, which looks like a James Bond prop. Also smooth!


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