“Our civilization was built on a technology so advanced we still don’t know everything it’s good for. But somewhere along the way, most of us seem to have forgotten how to tie these things together. Yet, if you can tie things together securely, you can make almost anything from practically nothing,” writes Gever Tulley in the intro to his lashing tutorial that appeared in MAKE Volume 20. We shared the how-to in Make: Projects, where he teaches us basic lashing technique using simple sticks and rope, and then shows off the tripod lookout tower he lashed together. Great skill to know! What else can you lash together? I’m digging this awesome spiral tower.
The DeRose family, and several other maker families, are all pitching in on another amazing project for Maker Faire Bay Area. They’ve done the potato Gatling gun 2009, the Saphira fire-breathing dragon, and Project Varia 2011. This year they’re building a scifi fighter simulator inspired by the Colonial Vipers in Battlestar Galactica.
How does liberating the data from a sports body monitor impact a baby’s health in a remote clinic? In MAKE vol. 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, hardware hacker Kyle Machulis explains how his OpenYou project is figuring out how to hack into mass-manufactured consumer biosensor devices and access the data they collect. This is great news for DIY and extreme environment medical technology.
Last summer our team was in Ocotal, Nicaragua visiting a local hospital’s delivery room to check out their medical equipment. On the surface, the beige and aqua boxes looked clean and neatly arranged. Closer inspection revealed that ward’s only patient monitor was damaged. Patient monitors are those machines that you see at an intensive care unit with multiple graphs showing blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and sometimes a baby’s heart rate and other vital signs. In this case, the model was older but the biosensors still worked. The problem was that the mechanism that unrolled the roll of paper for plotting on, like with a polygraph machine or a seismograph, was damaged long ago. This meant that the monitor could only display an instantaneous reading on its LED numerical display, and the doctor could not see a time-plot of the baby’s ongoing progress.
What if we could simply intercept the signal that is sent to the instantaneous display and log it electronically on a cheap LCD? How do we begin to tap into the data feed? And why can’t we do that for lots of other devices: pedometers, blood pressure monitors, spirometers, pulse oximeters? Fast forward to page 32 of MAKE vol. 29. Reading that, I saw that Kyle Machulis’ hardware hacking work could tap and liberate the same type of data trapped in that device in Ocotal, Nicaragua.
I visited the openYou.org website and found recipes for hacking into medical devices mostly aimed at the Quantified Self (QS) crowd, but these translate into fantastic applications in developing world, hand-me downs begging to be liberated. Our next goal is to look at how the available libraries can tap into the available inventory of medical equipment being used our Nicaraguan partner’s local clinics. Pulse oximeters with a USB port can be found for as little as $50 online. Using Kyle’s growing libraries of hardware unlockers could turn these devices into exciting biosensors.
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.
Cutting and polishing gemstones seems kind of like machining: Once you have access to the proper tools and understand how to use them, getting good results is more a matter of knowledge, patience, and attention to detail than of developing great manual skill. Accordingly, this six part instructional video series from jeweler John Bailey focuses more on theory and orders of operations than on the physical use of the tools themselves.
The first video, embedded above, explains the general process of “meetpoint faceting,” as it’s known, in terms of the familiar standard round brilliant (SRB) cut. The remaining five in the series go on to discuss more advanced concepts. The program John is using onscreen is called gemcad, which is quite old, at this point (“Windows 95 or later”), but still seems to be highly regarded and widely used in the community. [Thanks, Tara!]
Dave Heisserer and Dillon Hodapp of Minneapolis, MN, are building the Jiggernaut, a crowdfunded bike-welding jig:
The guys’ Kickstarter campaign has been funded but you can can still grab a jig for $299 including shipping, or $499 with all the tube you need to build your own frame.
Gizmodo asked the CGI experts at Industrial Light and Magic to look at the human bird wings video that we, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, and a bunch of other sites posted yesterday. Eleven experts cry foul (fowl) and offer some pretty compelling evidence that it’s most likely a well-crafted hoax.
ThinkerToys is the brainchild of Dhairya Dand, who had the novel idea to build small, simple modules from Arduino that could be wed to common e-waste such as keyboards and CRT televisions. One such idea is the Keyano, which turns (what looks like a PS/2) keyboard normally used for typing, and turns it into a musical keyboard.
Another device is the TV++, which can connect to any standard CRT and provide learning games for children.
Their site claims to be an open source project, but I’ve yet to spy any documentation. Here’s hoping that some comes our way soon.
[via Arduino Blog]
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