Seattle-based artist Tamara Clammer began teaching herself leatherworking in 2004, and today she makes an array of imaginative masks and accessories. As she writes on her website:
Next weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area, Tamara will be providing a hands-on, interactive workshop space to teach people to make their own small leather creations using found and common household objects.
I sat down one evening at Unit 15 in the old Rainier Brewery Building with Rob Flickenger. His projects have always been amazing – the can-tenna, shrunken quarters, building wireless networks for the UN in Africa, and writing the books (literally) on wireless networks. His most recent project pushes him even further into the Mad-Scientist realm. He’s built a Tesla Gun.
When I asked him why he had started on this project, he cited Steven Sanders and Matt Fraction’s Five Fists of Science, a graphic novel in which Tesla and Twain battle the evil forces of Edison and Marconi. “How much more epically awesome can you get than a young Tesla fighting evil with a TESLA GUN?”
While Rob is undoubtedly brilliant, he had to learn a lot to make this project happen. If you made something like this out of duct tape and plastic, it would kill you. But if he wanted that Tesla Gun, he’d have to make a lot of the parts himself. Luckily for Rob, he lives in Seattle, where we have an outstanding group of hacker/makerspaces and incredible people doing crazy things in them. He went and talked to a lot of people. He learned about aluminum casting, 3D printing, working with ceramic slip, and machining — all things he had never had first-hand experience with. He learned even more about high voltage electronics. The end result is a hand-held (if you are very, very certain it is grounded) spark-gap Tesla Gun that puts out around 100k volts with sparks leaping a meter to DAGGAR*.
How and where it was made:
The casing needed to aluminum to withstand the high voltage and look cool. Rob headed over to Hazard Factory to talk with Rusty. They used the foundry there and green casted a NERF gun mold.
The resulting case was machined down with the Hackerbot mill so it would line up correctly and look pretty. He also machined some HDPE stand offs to house the primary coil, so it would be sturdy and resistant to HV. Then he needed a different switch – “no one in their right mind would manufacture what I needed for the consumer market.”
Off to Metrix Create:Space to 3D powder print a mold. They then poured porcelain slip into it, and fired the resulting piece in the kiln. The custom-made porcelain and tungsten switch can withstand 20kv at several hundred amps.
Most of the work was done at Rob’s resident hackerspace, Unit 15 (private). There, he put together his Hockey Puck of Doom. HPoD is a zero voltage sense flyback driver found on Instructables that lets you turn an 18 volt drill battery into 20k volts (the reason this device is more portable than other coils of the same effect). He hand-wound the 1100 turns of #30 copper wire, and laser etched some of the fiddly bits for a more mad-scientist feeling. And my personal favorite: the transformer is from an old TV, which is the best possible use I can think of for old TVs.
*DAGGAR is a staple of HV projects in Seattle. There is nothing more epic than catching lightning on this cheesily ornate blade.
images by yours truly and Rob Flickenger.
Eleven feet long and 150 lbs, the “Blackbird” is “a fully custom made electric recumbent chopper bicycle constructed of off-the-shelf parts from the hardware store” combined with scrap bike components, along with a commercial motor and battery. As for being super-charged, this bike is driven by a 36V DC motor capable of delivering 50 miles per charge at up to 20 MPH. If necessary, it can be switched off and instantly becomes a pedal-powered chopper! An array of cateyes, headlights, a pair of monkeylights, and even a singular spinning strobe light would definitely cause this machine to be confused with a UFO late at night!
The maker, Cat Woodmansee, says, “It is mad science, and is abundantly cool. But it is a serious transportation machine, totally practical.” Cat claims to have logged over 15,000 miles in daily commutes.
The Water Quality Forum of Knoxville, TN, is sponsoring an artistic rain barrel contest to promote the use of rain barrels to catch roof run-off. Twenty local artists have decorated rain barrels, which are being auctioned off to raise money starting tomorrow. This one from Curtis Glover is making the rounds, but they’re all pretty awesome. Click through to the whole gallery, below. [via Boing Boing]
Using a tom tom drum, an Icoustic bass, and violin, iCoustic founder Ken Preece has produced what looks to be a low-end banjo on steroids. The size and proximity of the tom tom brings out the depth of the bass as he plays it. Definitely a hip way to play upright bass.
I really enjoyed RobotGrrl‘s post on EMSL where she unboxes a mint Heathkit AC Voltmeter kit and assembles it. She finds all sorts of amazing components like RCA “electron tubes”, a crystal diode, and a gloriously old skool instruction book. See her unboxing and build progress pix.
And if you’re into Heathkits, be sure to read Dale Dougherty’s ode to Heathkit in our MAKE Kits special issue.
Ben Krasnow is one of the coolest makers I know. From his backyard lab in Redwood City (a stone’s throw away from Maker Faire — well, maybe with the aid of a trebuchet) Ben makes things that usually require a lot of money and sophisticated equipment: an electron scanning microscope, silica aerogel, and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream (I’ve tasted it, and it’s spectacular). Ben also builds electromechanical hardware for Valve Corporation, the famous game developers behind Half-Life.
Ben is coming to Maker Fair again this year, and he’ll be demonstrating his electron microscope on the Make: Demo Stage on Sunday at 2:30 PM. The rest of the weekend, he’ll be showing his work on liquid lenses “that change focal length based on the electrical potential applied to the lens. This makes use of a phenomenon known as electrowetting.” See Ben’s liquid lens video here.
The makers themselves are part of an open R&D lab that any company can benefit from, if they know how to engage them. Increasingly, businesses and investors are beginning to pay attention.
Here are some of the headlines:
Check out the full list of makers who will be speaking at the Hardware Innovation Workshop. Phil Torrone and Limor Fried of AdaFruit, Massimo Banzi of Arduino, Ayah Bdeir of LittleBits, Tod Kurt of ThingM, Liam Casey of PCH International, Bunnie Huang, Caterina Mota of OpenMaterials, Allan Chochinov of Core77, Nathan Seidle of SparkFun Electronics, Mark Hatch of TechShop and Carl Bass of Autodesk. In addition, on Tuesday evening, we will open with a showcase of 25 hardware startups along with demos by companies like Autodesk, ShopBot, MakerBot, and more.
The Workshop is a one-and-a-half day intensive introduction to the business of making and the makers who are creating these businesses. We will be sharing the ideas that come out of this workshop in a variety of ways during and after the event. Watch Makezine for details.
If you need information on the event and to register, go to: Hardware Innovation Workshop.
This was a reality check for me: Before there were TVs and computers, chairs were sometimes pointed at other human beings.
Well, not directly at them, I suppose. After all, if you force two adults to sit in chairs at the same height, directly opposite one another, directly facing each other, with nothing in between, at conversational distances, sooner or later they’re going to come to blows. Or at least feel like doing so.
Enter the “conversation chair,” for which I admit preferring the French term tête-à-tête: Two chairs built together, expressly for the purpose that their occupants sit and talk to one another. The parties sit very close beside each other, but facing opposite directions and, often, with the security of a shared armrest between them. The confrontational body language of face-to-face seating is eliminated and the degree of intimacy of the conversation is easily controlled, by either party, simply by turning the head. A three-way version—a tête-a-tête-à-tête, perhaps?—also turns up from time to time.
The UT-Austin campus and the Texas State Capitol are very close to each other, and when I was an undergraduate in 1999, the Capitol building was open for the public to explore. You could just walk into the Governor’s outer office and sign his guest book, which I did. That was the first place I ever saw a tête-à-tête, a cool 19th-century antique, and I was reminded of it this morning when I saw this thoroughly modern tête-à-tête rocking chair prototype from NYU ITP student Annelie Berner. [via matt richardson]
At long last, we have the Egg-Bot Kit in the Maker Shed! The Egg-Bot art robot was originally designed by Bruce Shapiro and is purpose built to draw designs on round objects 3cm to 10cm in diameter. Use it to decorate eggs, light bulbs, ornaments, golf balls, and (with some work) even wine glasses! The laser-cut tool holder can accept fine point markers, engravers, and a host of other drawing apparatuses. To use it, simply assemble the kit, adjust the holder to fit your object, plug in your computer, use the open source program Inkscape to create your design, and hit the button! Before you know it you’ll be creating art on unique objects like never before!
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