November 1, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wake Up! [Maker Update #58]

This week on Maker Update, a meme alarm clock, solar balloons, an Imperial rocker, bending PVC with sand, AxiDraw XL, and hacking wheelchair motors. This week’s Cool Tool is the Surebonder Pro2-100 glue gun.

Show Notes

Advanced Project

Project and photo by Fuzzy Wobble.

Meme Video Alarm Clock “Wake Up Wake Up” by Fuzzy-Wobble

More Projects

Project and photo by Becky Stern.

Solar Balloon by bekathwia

Project and photo by Never Not Making.

Imperial Rocker by NeverNotMaking

Cool Tools Minute

Photo by Donald Bell.

Surebonder PRO2-100 100-Watt High Temperature Industrial Glue Gun


Bend PVC with Sand by Darbin Orvar

Image courtesy of MagPi.

MagPi Issue 63 is out

Photo by Solarbotics.

GraviTrack Solar Marble Machine Kit By Solarbotics

Photo by Evil Mad Scientist.

AxiDraw V3 XLX by EMSL

Photo by Randy Sarafan.

Remove a Wheelchair Motor Brake by randofo

Maker Faires

Belo Horizonte Brazil
Taipei Taiwan
Cleveland, Ohio USA
Kharkiv Ukraine
Parkland County, AB Canada
Madrid Spain
Adelaide South Australia

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This week on Maker Update, a meme alarm clock, solar balloons, an Imperial rocker, bending PVC with sand, AxiDraw XL, and hacking wheelchair motors.

It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell, and it’s time for another Maker Update. I hope everyone had a fun Halloween. I’ve got a good show for you today so let’s get right into it, starting with the project of the week.

One of my favorite makers, Fuzzy Wobble, has a new video alarm clock that wakes you up with your favorite or most obnoxious video meme. For his version, he appropriately went with this one where the preacher shouts “Wake Up!” over and over and over.

The project uses a Teensy 3.6 board to make the magic happen. The Teensy is a powerful, Arduino-compatible board that’s well known for it’s audio features, but using it to play videos is pretty novel.

To make it happen, you actually have to convert video to a binary file. Fuzzy shows you how to do this using a Processing application called MP4 to BIN, which is handy to know about.

The cool, black enclosure for the clock is made from laser cut acrylic, but Fuzzy includes Illustrator templates that you could just as easily print out as a template to cut this from wood.

On the back you get a switch for setting the time or the alarm, there are two rotary encoders for setting the time, and a toggle switch for turning the alarm on and off.

On the front, you have a 2.3 inch color display from Adafruit to show you the time and the video. You also have a speaker grille under the screen with a sealed Adafruit speaker behind it.

It looks like a fun, just challenging enough project, and it’s great to see the Teensy get some attention.

For an equally fun, but far less complicated project, Becky Stern has a new Instructable for making solar balloons with black garbage bags. By cutting and taping a series of bags into a tube, and filling it with air, you can whip up your own little blimp.

Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve never seen this before. It’s a pretty rad trick. The black color of the trash bags helps to absorb heat, making the air inside lighter than the surrounding air. The project is part of a larger, free online class Becky is doing on solar.

Over on YouTube, Never Not Making has a project video on creating a rocking horse shaped like a Star Wars AT-AT.

The project is made from several layers of CNC carved plywood, though none of the sections are terribly big, so it could probably be done on a modest sized CNC router.

There’s a separate Imgur gallery showing off the build steps. It’s a lot of sanding and beveling and gluing, but the payoff is adorable. Speaking of glue…

It’s time for another Cool Tools video review. We’re going to take a look at the Surebonder Pro2 100 watt glue gun. I got this for $30 on Amazon, and you can pick up the same one using the link in the description, which helps support my show and the Cool Tools blog.

For years, when something called for hot glue, I’d reach for this 14 watt mini glue gun. It’s horrible. It takes forever to heat up, the built in stand is practically useless, and you have to unplug it to turn it off.

After researching my options, I settled on the Surebonder Pro2 as the best value in a step-up, workshop glue gun. There are more expensive options, and I also purchased a $70 option I’ll compare this to in a later video for Cool Tools, but for around $30 this delivers a significant improvement over the craft store variety glue guns.

There’s a built-in stand that actually works. You get a nice, long, 2-prong cord to work with. There’s a power switch at the base of the handle, so you can turn it off as soon as you’re done with it instead of fiddling around to unplug it. It heats up faster. It takes the bigger half-inch diameter glue sticks. And it has nozzles you can buy that you can swap out more control.

Another advantage to using a hotter gun like this is that most general purpose hot glues will take longer to cool down and set up, so you’ll get a little more working time with it. You can also fall down the rabbit hole of different glue types — low heat, high heat, wood glue, colored glue. Now that I don’t hate this thing, it’s been fun to see what options are out there.

My only complaints with this are that it would be nice if the heat were adjustable, and I wish the power switch lit up when it was on for a little visual feedback. Otherwise, I’m thrilled with this and wish I’d upgraded sooner.
You can pick up this same glue gun using the link in the description and remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools like this at

Some more tips to share with you this week. Linn from Darbin Orvar has this cool trick for bending PVC pipe by filling it with hot sand covering the ends, and then then molding the pipe freehand or around a jig before it cools down. Compared to using a torch, it’s apparently less prone to kinking because the sand inside maintains an outward pressure. The results look cool, especially on small, thin pipe.

The latest issue of MagPi is out — issue #63. The special section is on arcade projects. There’s also some cool music projects inside.

I noticed there’s a new Solarbotics marble machine kit available called the GraviTrack. It’s more like a marble roller coaster. There’s a solar version and a battery version, both come as laser cut wood kits that you screw together.

Evil Mad Scientist has a new XL version of their AxiDraw V3 pen plotter. It costs $600 and has twice travel distance on the X direction, allowing you to make longer or wider drawings.

And Randy Sarafan from Instructables has a quick guide on hacking wheelchair motors to remove the electromagnetic motor brakes, making them less complicated and more suitable for electric go-kart or scooter projects where a manual brake is usually better.

Maker Faires! A lot of fun faires this weekend including Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Taipei, Taiwan; Cleveland, Ohio; Karkiv, Ukraine; Parkland County, in Alberta Canada; Madrid in Spain; and Adelaide, South Australia. If you have one near you, go out there and see what happening.

And that’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, leave me a thumbs up or a comment, go upgrade your hot glue gun, and sign up for the Maker Update email list which goes out each Wednesday and includes extra projects I couldn’t fit here. Alright? Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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