Stunning Sand Paintings by Joe Mangrum

Joe Mangrum Sand Art

Using nothing but colored sand, his bare hands, and much patience, New York artist Joe Mangrum creates beautifully vibrant large “paintings” that are here today, gone tomorrow. Mangrum is drawn to the ephemeral nature of sand and how he can make an aesthetically pleasing work that is enjoyed by many people throughout a day and swept up in the end. For those in New York, Mangrum will be at the SOFA Art Expo this weekend.

Story Eyed Media did a great, short video profile of Mangrum, where you can see how he creates his pieces:

Joe Mangrum Sand Painting

For Those About To Launch, We Salute You

A project true to the series title, Weekend Projects, our latest offering, 10-Rail Model Rocket Mega-Launcher, is a true weekend build but will actually save you time in the end. Instead of launching model rockets one at a time, or trying to time multiple stations to launch simultaneously, this project is designed to launch 10 rockets from one “mega launch” switch! Once armed, you can fire the rockets individually, but there’s something extremely rewarding about watching many rockets ignite within seconds of each other.

A fairly complex circuit (most powered by a 12V sealed lead acid battery usually are), the “guts” of the circuit are visible, mounted on clear pieces of polycarbonate. This “clarity” aids in educating young model rocket enthusiasts, allowing you to trace wires and point to respective diodes. So a cubby, for example, will not only have the satisfaction of pressing a launch button, but of seeing how it works.

This project will also introduce some new components to our arsenal of Weekend Projects parts, namely the DC voltage regulator, which as the name suggests, regulates a specific output voltage, in this case 5V. Watch the video below for more tips on assembling your 10-Rail Launcher, and to see the launch in action. This project is ideal for rocket clubs and will add an amazing “wow” factor to any launch event!

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Matthias Wandel’s Carving Machine

Matthias Wandel’s may be my favorite personal maker website.  It’s clean, well organized, packed with resources, and every click brings new inspiration.  I can get stuck there for hours, so be careful when you click through.

This time it’s Matthias’s homemade 3D pantograph carving machine / pattern duplicator that I’m fixated on.  Mechanical pattern-copying machines like this, of course, are not new. They’re often used in restoration work, for instance, to replace a damaged architectural detail by directly copying a surviving original.

There are commercial versions, but it’s also pretty common for shops to build their own, and Matthias’s is one of the best looking DIY versions I’ve ever seen.  Plus, the build is documented with his characteristic attention to detail.  In the embedded video, above, Matthias is using it to cut patterns of pips in giant wooden dice.

3-D router pantograph

Guitar “photocopier”

Bronze-Casting Timelapse

French artist René Zaki shot this great time-lapse video showing the process of creating a bronze bust from a lump of clay to the finishing touches. The actual build time is shorted from 4 days to 10 minutes!

Young Kenyan Maker Develops Lion-B-Gone

For people who raise livestock near Nairobi National Park, lions are a major-scale pest. Two years ago, Richard Turere, who was responsible for herding his family’s flock, noticed that lions never struck ranches where people were walking around with flashlights. So the self-taught maker, who is now 13, rigged up a system of flashing LED torches around his family’s stockade, drawing electricity from the solar panel and battery circuit that powered their TV.

Since installing the system, they have suffered zero lion attacks, unlike 5 of their neighbors. Richard was recently awarded a scholarship to the Brookhouse School in Nairobi, where he plans to study engineering.

From AfriGadget

Ask MAKE: DIY Algae Biofuel

Ask MAKE is a monthly column where we answer your questions. Send your vexing conundrums on any aspect of making to If we don’t have the answer, we’ll scare up somebody who does.

Phil asks:

I’m curious to learn more about some of the good “DIY algae growing at home” web resources for family scale production of algae fuel. Are there any available kits or books about this yet? (I’d be looking to spend less than $2,500.)
This Stanford student’s YouTube video looks intriguing, although I don’t happen to have a spare centrifuge lying around.

Hi Phil,
As far as I can tell, making liquid fuel from an algae bioreactor does, in fact, require a centrifuge to extract the oils from the algae. However, you can harvest the algae and make solid fuel from it through a simple drying process, which could be used for home heating. But be aware that producing even a small amount of dry fuel requires a sizable amount of biomass. For example, according to Algae Lab “To grow 100g of Spirulina a day would take roughly 20 square meters, or 216 square feet. It would have to get plenty of sun.”

If you’d still like to explore your own algae bioreactor for either solid fuel or food (spirulina), there are a couple of ways to go. Michael Fischer, the Stanford student from the video you sent, shows how to create his setup on an Instructables page. Also, algal fuel guru Aaron Baum sells starter kits through his site Algae Lab. If you want a professional consultant for a larger system, I’d recommend contacting him.

If anyone has experience with algae bioreactors or has more information, please post in the comments.

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Concrete Canvas Furniture

We’ve written about Concrete Canvas before, but I thought this was an interesting application. This stuff is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—a fabric impregnated with cement (though I doubt the cloth is actually canvas).

Here designer Florian Schmid has wrapped the dry material around a demountable wooden form, sewn it at the edges with what looks like Paracord, applied water, and then removed the form after the cement has set. His website, linked below, shows off a chair, a bench, and three different stools made with the same method. Concrete Canvas is manufactured in the UK, and it looks like they are willing to supply small “man-portable” quantities.

Florian Schmid – Stitching Concrete

Instant shelter: Just add water!

Where’s The Logic In That?

The above is a modified image from page 193 of our best-selling book Make: Electronics by Charles Platt. It illustrates the 7432-series Integrated Circuit, a Quad 2-input OR gate IC, which is the centerpiece (along with a pair of 555 Timers) for Game Show Buttons, a quiz show circuit for two players. The OR gate is one of seven common logic gates, the complete list being: AND, NAND, OR, NOR, XOR, XNOR, and NOT (or as most call it, an Inverter). The OR’s output, as the name implies, is true if either gate A “or” gate B are true (or if both are true).

0 0 0
0 1 1
1 0 1
1 1 1

There are several ways to visualize – to aid in understanding – logic gates. These can include truth tables (the OR truth table is shown here), Venn diagrams (see Wikipedia’s entry on logic gates), or my favorite the “mechanical comparison” which Platt makes on pages 187-189 of his book, visualizing the notion of logic gates with physical sliding plates on a bubblegum machine. There are also several ways to visualize the pin order of gates. Sometimes these are shown as lines from left to right through the IC, with inputs on the left and outputs on the right. But the most common, and by far the most helpful, is the technique shown above, which imposes the gates on a diagram of the IC, with inputs and outputs shown as line traces, and symbols corresponding to the type of gate.

We’ll explore one other type of logic gate in a future installment of Weekend Projects, but be sure to pick up the Make: Electronics books for further reading on logic gates, as well as several breadboard experiments that put these theories to use!

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One-Pallet Park Bench

Julien Deswaef of Brussels, Belgium, designed this bench built from a shipping pallet.

Get from a standard (Epal-Eur) pallet to a public bench in just a couple easy steps. The idea came while thinking about urban hacking or how to reclaim public space with easy to find material and tools in urban areas.

This project is totally free (as in freedom) and follows the principles of OSHW (Open Source Hardware). The design is released under The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

For a period of 2 years, tree benches stayed successively in front of my house, but they disappeared one after the other. Some of my neighbours encouraged me to organize a “public bench fabrication day”, which we did this 15 April 2012. Around 12 benches were created that day and placed along the street. Some benches were decorated using pyrography.

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