July 26, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike-Powered Xbox [Maker Update #44]

This week on Maker Update, an Xbox exercise bike, losing WD Labs and Arduino 101, printing butterflies, a $14 super power, and marking your tools. This week’s Cool Tool is wearable magnifying glasses.

Show Notes

New show logo!
See more of Todd’s Kurnat’s art and design work:

Maker Update Logo

Advanced Project of the Week

Cykill – a Bike Powered Gaming Console by Fuzzy-Wobble

Project and photo by Fuzzy-Wobble.


WD Labs closing down

Statement on WD Labs homepage.

Arduino 101* discontinuance

Photo courtesy of Adafruit.

More Projects

Butterfly, Animated. by gzumwalt

Photo and project by Greg Zumwalt.

Cool Tools Minute

LED Light Weight Magnifier with 5 Lenses

Review by Gary Klaus (2015)

Photo by Donald Bell.


List of upcoming Instructables Contests

Make Tip of the Week

Photo by Caleb Kraft.

Maker Faires

Institute of Imagination Mini Maker Faire London
Maker Faire Detroit Dearborn, Michigan



This week on Maker Update, converting XP to exercise points, losing WD Labs and Arduino 101, printing butterflies, a $14 super power, and marking your tools.

It’s Wednesday, July 26th, I’m Donald Bell, and welcome to another Maker Update. I hope you’re all doing well. I’m pretty excited about the new show logo done by my friend Todd Kurnat. I figured it was about time to give this show a real logo. Over the next month I’ll be tweaking the intro and just try to refresh the whole thing. Hopefully you’re into it.

There are some fun projects this week, and a bit of news, so let’s get started with the project of the week.

This week, Fuzzy Wobble on Instructables — the genius behind the 90s payphone boombox hack I covered in episode 12– he has a new project called Cykill. This is an exercise bike combined with an Xbox in such a way that the Xbox will only work while you’re pedaling.

The project uses a relatively cheap exercise bike (there’s even a link to get the exact same one on Amazon) an Xbox, and Arduino, some LEDs and a Power Switch Tail.

That power switch tail is the real critical ingredient. It’s basically an extension cord with a relay switch baked into it. When it gets 5v from the Arduino it turns on the power, but when the Arduino signals that activity has stopped, it kills power to the Xbox. To prevent tampering, the Power Switch Tail is permanently glued to the Xbox power cable.

To make a nice interface for the whole thing, Fuzzy prototyped some switches, knobs and a readout in cardboard first, and then transferred it over to a nice, lasercut panel. Illustrator templates are included so you can make the exact same interface.

Using the panel you can set the duration and intensity of your workout. The meter in the middle will let you know if your power is about to get shutoff.

On one hand, the project is sort of a silly hack to get you exercising. But part of me also thinks that maybe this could be an effective tool for tackling weight loss. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.

Time for some news, and this one is also a personal bummer for me. The Raspberry Pi-focused division of Western Digital — WD Labs, has announced on their site that they are discontinuing their products, including their suite of PiDrive kits.

As some of you know, WD Labs has been an important sponsor for some of my project videos, and they were great to work with. I’m sad to see them go, and surprised.

We’re also saying goodbye to the Intel-based Arduino 101 board. As reported by Adafruit, Intel has issued a notice of discontinuance for the board, which will see its last shipments on December 17th of this year. Of all the Intel project boards, I liked that one the most.

One more project I wanted to share with you this week — and this might be the first three-peat for this show — Greg Zumwalt made this outstanding, 3D printed, animated butterfly on a tulip. Greg emailed this one to me personally, which I encourage any of you to do. I’m donald@makerprojectlab.com.

In his Instructable, Greg includes all the parts you’ll need to print this out. You’ll need to supply your own geared DC motor, and a way to power it, but you could probably get away with some flavor of AA battery pack with a switch on it.

Greg used the dual-color extrusion feature of the Ultimaker to get the wings like this, but he also includes a single extrusion file that should work on any printer. Love it.

For this week’s Cool Tools review, I’m going to show off these wearable magnifying glasses. These run around $14 on Amazon, and by using the link in the video description you help to support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

I bought these a year ago looking for a way to get a better look at soldering up small stuff. They really are perfect for those times when you’re wiring or painting or glueing up something tiny and delicate. Plus there’s a little LED on the front that helps put a little extra light on things.

These come with an interchangeable set of lenses. The most powerful one gives you 3.5 times magnification and is the one I leave on all the time. I honestly wish these went up a little higher, as the lower lenses really don’t do much for me.

The lenses are plastic, so they can get scratched if you’re not careful, which I’m guilty of. On the upside, compared to glass these are lightweight and can be worn for long periods without hurting your face. The lens also flips up and down so you can kick in the magnification just when you need it.

But by far my favorite use for these is put these on and surprise people. They make you look so super nerdy. They should really file these things under birth control. They are quite possibly the unsexiest pair of glasses ever made.

So that’s my take on these $14 magnifying glasses. You can also read Gary Klaus’ original review from 2015 over on the Cool Tools blog. And if you pick some up using the link in the description it helps me out and the Cool Tools blog. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools like this at Cool-Tools.org.

I have just a couple tips to share with you this week. The first is from a comment I saw from Britt Michelsen on Greg Zumwalt’s butterfly project. She pointed out that he could have benefitted from waiting a few weeks until Instructables’ Make It Move contest kicked off and she linked to a community post for upcoming contests that gets updated every few months.

I’ve posted the link in the show notes, but this is a great list to reference when you have a project ready to go, but the current Instructables contest lineup can’t really take advantage of it. You can peek and see if there’s a contest coming up that you should hold it for.

And on Make’s weekly tips roundup by Gareth Branwyn, one idea that really struck me is to come up with a way to mark your tools. Caleb Kraft shares a photo and a story about how his granddad marked all his tools with 5 notches. Not only does this discourage theft, but it creates a connection to your tools. Maybe this week think up your own tool mark.

Maker Faires! There are two happening this weekend, including the Institute of Imagination in London, and Maker Faire Detroit, which includes a Power Racing Series.

And that’s it for this week’s show! Be sure to subscribe if you’re not already. Give it a thumbs up or leave a comment. Check out those magnifying glasses on Amazon. And that’s it. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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