January 17, 2018 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LED Pixel Physics [Maker Update #67]

This week on Maker Update, simulated gravity pixels, the HowToons Kalimba kit, an automata art bike mashup, and building your own B-MO. This week’s Cool Tool is the DeWalt Right Angle Attachment.

Show Notes

Advanced Project

Photo and project by the Ruiz Bros.

Animated LED Sand by Ruiz Bros.


Use code: MAKER30 for 30% off entire purchase of any items (excluding subscriptions).

Kalimba Kit

HowToons book illustrated by Nick Dragotta

More Projects

Photo and project by CamilleMakes.

Bicycle Chariot: Santa Sleigh Edition by CamilleMakes

Cool Tools Minute

Photo by Donald Bell

DEWALT DWARA100 Right Angle Attachment


Image courtesy of Make: magazine.

Make #61

Photo and project by Bob Herzberg.

Build Your Own BMO

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This week on Maker Update, simulated gravity pixels, the HowToons Kalimba kit, an art bike mashup, putting screws in tight places, and build your own B-MO.

It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell, and welcome to another Maker Update. I hope you’re all doing well and settling in to 2018. I’ve got a fun, full show for you, so let’s get started with the Project of the Week.

The Ruiz Brothers, along with some code from Phillip Burgess, have created this mesmerizing handful of LED sand.

This is actually an Adafruit LED matrix board, driven by a Feather M0 board sandwiched behind it, along with an accelerometer breakout board, rechargeable LiPo battery, and a slide switch to turn it off and on. The Feather reads the position of the accelerometer and then runs a little physics simulation to animate the pixels on the LED matrix.

Noe and Pedro have included a design for the 3D printed enclosure that allows it to wobble around, or even spin inside of a 3D printed gimbal.

It’s such a fun, little project, and the parts can be all had for under $50. And even though the 3D printed case really puts a nice polish on this, it would still be fun with just the bare boards. It’s also just begging for a large scale, table-sized version.

This week, I want to give a shoutout to one of my hometown maker businesses, HowToons. I’ve been a big fan of their books and kits for years now. Their first book is a prized part of my 9-year old’s book shelf. Like everything they do, it’s filled with these amazing illustrations by artist Nick Dragotta.

I ran into the HowToons team a few months back at East Bay Maker Faire and we’ve stayed in contact. They’re not a show sponsor yet, but if there’s a kid in your life I encourage you to get a book or a kit from them. Their latest is this Kalimba kit for making your own thumb piano. It’s $25, shipping is free, you’re supporting an awesome Maker business, and if you use the offer code MAKER30, you’ll get 30% off your entire purchase. You won’t be disappointed.

It’s time for another project. I couldn’t get over this bicycle chariot by first-time Instructables user CamilleMakes. If you can forgive seeing a candy cane paint job in January, there’s a lot of great ideas to glean here for making your own franken-bike.

In this guide, Camille slices up no less than 4 bikes to create this 3-wheeled art bike chariot. But what really puts it over the top is this jumping reindeer automata she engineered for the back. She walks you through the trial and error to get this design just right and it’s such a cool idea that you can adapt for all kinds of art bike designs.

It’s time for this week’s Cool Tool review. This time, we’re taking a look at this right angle adapter for your drill or impact driver, made by Dewalt. I picked this on Amazon for around $18, and if you want one for yourself, using the Amazon link in the description helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Sometimes you need to put a screw in a spot where your drill just can’t fit. I recently had this happen right here in my shed where I record these. I had to repair some of the rotten framing in the corner, but the spacing between the studs was so tight I couldn’t get my impact driver in there to screw in some new wood.

This attachment from Dewalt is specially made to get into tight spots. It can be used with any driver or drill chuck, not just Dewalt. By spinning the shaft, the adapter spins the screwdriver bit at a right angle.

The bit can face left, right, up or down, and you need to stabilize it with your other hand to direct it where you want to go, but it does the job.

One thing that surprised me about this adapter, but is actually pretty smart, is that you have to use a screwdriver or extra bit to eject whatever bit is in here. This helps minimize how much space the bit takes up

It’s also because Dewalt has this magnetic lip out in front of the bit that latches right onto your screw head and holds it flat, which is a great feature when your dangling the screw into a tight spot or over your head, and you don’t want it falling down.

It came in handy for me. You can pick one up using the link in the description and you can see thousands of reader recommended tools like this at Cool-Tools.org.

I have a few more tips to share with you this week. First, issue 61 of Make magazine is on newsstands now. The issue includes Shenzhen-based maker Naomi Wu on the cover and has a profile of her and other Shenzhen makers. It’s worth picking up.

I also learned from the Raspberry Pi blog about Bob Herzberg and his obsession with making his own interactive BMO character from the show Adventure Time. The blog BYOBMO.com includes build photos, sample images, and some great demo videos. He shows off a few different builds, but most of them are based around a Raspberry Pi computer and look like a fun project for an Adventure Time fan.

And that’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, leave a comment, and leave a thumbs up. Go check out my friends at HowToons and take advantage of their discount code. Pick up that Dewalt right angle adapter if you have the good project for it. And sign up for the Maker Update email list to get these show notes sent out to you each week. Alright? Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

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