Maker Project Lab
December 21, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cocktail Robotics and Laser Cats [Maker Update #15]

This week on Maker Update, a Nixie tube alternative for the 21st century, Arduino puts your sketches in the cloud, robot cocktails, laser cats, making it rain, making music, and making the cookies. SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE!

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December 14, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Ways to Slice a Raspberry Pi [Maker Update #14]

This week on Maker Update, highlights of the best projects from our WD Labs Raspberry Pi contest, Minecraft in your Pocket, Coding for Medieval Glory, Fish Feeders, Alien Finders, and a maker show to put in your queue. SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE

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December 7, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let Me Give You a Raspberry Pi [Maker Update #13]

This week on Maker Update: making your own 3D printed computer museum, Fusion 360 learns a new trick, a smoking laser sword, a new drawbot, a reason to buy a dental vacuform, and a giveaway for a full Raspberry Pi computer setup from our show sponsor, WD Labs. SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE

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November 16, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The DIY Nintendo You Really Want [Maker Update #11]

This week on Maker Update: a project for painting the air, a new ally for Maker Spaces, Hackster has a new owner, Make Magazine’s 3D printer shootout, hacking the NES Classic, making your own NES Classic, and Maker Faires.

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November 11, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: Kits, Project Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: NeoPixel Goggle Kit

This Halloween, I decided to dress up as a mad scientist. Kind of obvious, I know, but a great excuse to wire up this Adafruit Neopixel Goggle Kit I had sitting around.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never had an easy experience with Neopixels. Somehow I always manage to burn one out, or get an unexpected glitch. My hope was that this kit would provide me with a guaranteed success, and I’m happy to say that it delivered.

Goggle Kit Contents

The kit comes in a box with most everything you need including a Trinket micro controller (basically a tiny Arduino), a pair of plastic costume goggles, two Neopixel rings, multiple colors of wire, a surface mount JST battery connector, a small rechargeable battery pack, and USB battery charger. You will need to supply your own micro USB cable for loading code, and devise your own diffuser for the lenses (plain copy paper works fine).

Tools Needed For Goggle Kit

You’ll also need a few tools, including a soldering iron, solder, hot glue, E6000 adhesive (optional), wire cutters/strippers, and a computer.

No printed instructions are, but the online documentation is ample and detailed, plus you’ll need to go online to download the code required for the Trinket to do its magic.

Right off the bat, the instructions have you soldering a small surface mount JST connection to the Trinket. This allows you to run the Trinket from the included battery pack, but it’s also a likely stumbling block for anyone just beginning with soldering. It’s a delicate operation.

Wiring Neopixel Ring Wiring Two Neopixel Rings and trinket

Wiring the two Neopixel rings also presented some challenges. Despite the documentation, it was hard to get a clear idea of exactly which wires ran to which areas of the rings. After thinking it through, I came up with the right solution — but again I think this is an area where someone without experience might lose hope.

Before glueing everything in place, you’re advised to load the Arduino code to the Trinket and see if everything’s working as planned. Though the Trinket is Arduino IDE compatible (meaning it can connect to the standard Arduino software), you will need an additional download and adjustment to get things working. Again, another bump in the road for a beginner.

Trinket Wiring Closeup Neopixel ring Wiring Closeup

The Instructions also advise reinforcing some of the wiring with a few globs of E6000 adhesive. I didn’t have any, but having seen it used in so many other projects I took it as a great excuse to walk to the hardware store and buy some. Securing the rings into the goggles required hot glue, which I had plenty of.

The end result looks great and I’m happy with how these turned out. For a unique costume or cosplay showpiece, I think the $40 price of the kit is a good value. It should be noted that you can’t see through the goggles once they’re complete — they’re just meant to hang out on your head and look cool.

Goggle components wired without goggles Goggles without components

Cool things I learned with this kit:
-Programming a Trinket board
-Chaining together multiple NeoPixels
-Using E6000 to provide strain relief on electronic wiring
-Working with and recharging small LiPo battery packs
-Surface mount soldering (JST on Trinket)

Finished Neopixel Goggles

What to watch out for:
-A little bit of tricky surface mount soldering
-Configuring Arduino software settings for use with Trinket
-Aligning Neopixel rings in goggles for symmetry
-Devising your own diffuser for the lenses (I used Frisket film)

Check Neopixel Goggle Kit price on Amazon!

November 9, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Hack Alexa into a Fish [Maker Update #10]

This week on Maker Update: making your own Alexa-Powered Billy Bass, the rise of the modular swarm bots, DIY candy dispensers, 3D printed Thanksgiving accessories, and a good excuse for a blow torch.

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September 28, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maker Update #04: The Year’s Most Controversial DIY

This week on Maker Update! The most controversial DIY project of the year, a desk fan that can see your face, glowing horns, animated knots, and a 3D printed boat battle.

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September 21, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maker Update #03: Robots, Skulls and Middle Fingers

This week on Maker Update, a robot dog that probably won’t kill you, a skull made out of string, a lamp made out of veneer, and ways to measure things with parts of your body.

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September 14, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maker Update #02

Here we go again. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I’m getting the hang of this. Let me here from you on the YouTube comments page or by emailing me. Here are the show notes:

Project of the Week
Micro Sketch by Fernando Jerez
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1668472

News
Wazer announced
https://makezine.com/2016/09/13/wazer-desktop-waterjet-cutter/

Make Launches Comunity Projects Page (powered by Hackster.io)
https://community.makezine.com/share/?utm_source=makezine&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=launch-blog
http://makezine.com/2016/09/08/share-your-project/

Projects
DIY Steel Pipe Toilet Paper Holder by PhilL42 (Now GermanSize)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-DIY-Steel-Pipes-Toilet-Paper-Holder/?ALLSTEPS
3D Print onto a t-shirt by Sahrye Cohen, Hal Rodriguez
https://community.makezine.com/share/sahrye-cohen-hal-rodriguez/3d-print-directly-onto-your-t-shirt-e0622d?ref=platform&ref_id=18265_trending___&offset=5 
Vintage Intercom Echo by Nick Brewer
https://community.makezine.com/share/nick-brewer/vintage-intercom-echo-5d90bd?ref=platform&ref_id=18265_trending___&offset=24

Tools/Tips
3D Printed Pegboard adapters https://www.thingiverse.com/glitchpudding/collections/pegboard/page:1

Contests Ending Soon
http://www.instructables.com/contest/

Wood http://www.instructables.com/contest/wood
Backyard http://www.instructables.com/contest/backyard
Caning & Pickling http://www.instructables.com/contest/canningpickling

Maker Faires
http://makerfaire.com/map/

5th Mini September 17 + 18, 2016 Seattle Mini Maker Faire Seattle, Washington USA
2nd Mini September 17, 2016 Wilson County Mini Maker Faire Floresville, Texas USA
4th Mini September 17, 2016 Nashville Mini Maker Faire Nashville, Tennessee USA
1st Mini September 17 + 18, 2016 Zürich Mini Maker Faire Zürich Switzerland
1st Mini September 17, 2016 Sherbrooke Mini Maker Faire Sherbrooke, Quebec Canada
1st Mini September 18, 2016 Southcoast MA Mini Maker Faire Fall River, Massachusetts USA

Donald talks at EBMF Sun, OCT 23rd
http://eastbay.makerfaire.com/

September 13, 2016 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My Favorite 5 Kits for Makers

My selection of tools needed for the TV-B-Gone build.

I have no shame admitting that I love making kits. Hell, I even get a sick satisfaction from making Ikea furniture. There’s just something nice about a project that’s been well thought out, with the instructions and all the pieces you need laid out for you.

So, to put my love of kits to good use, I figured I’d dedicate a page to this site to my running list of what I think are the five best kits for makers (of any age or skill level). You can find the top navigation bar of this site (tucked under Projects), or by clicking this link here.

If you have a kit you’d like to suggest adding to the list, I want to hear about it. Contact me.

Also, in full disclosure, I (theoretically) get a little cut of the money from the Amazon links on this page. So if you feel like supporting me, indulge yourself in buying a kit from the list. Thanks.

 

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