December 20, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Projects of 2017 [Maker Update #65]

This week on Maker Update, I’ll take a look back at some of my favorite projects from 2017 and show you a cordless hot glue gun for hot glue on the go. This week’s Cool Tool is a Ryobi Cordless Glue Gun.

Show Notes

Project and photo by John Park.

John Park’s Overwatch Lucio Blaster

Project and photo by Ruiz Brothers.

LED Eyes by Ruiz Brothers

Project and photo by Fuzzy Wobble.

Cykill – a Bike Powered Gaming Console by Fuzzy-Wobble

Project and image by Scott McIndoe.

Laser-powered Lightsaber by makendo

Project and photo by Becky Stern.

Retro Raspberry Pi Tumblr GIF Camera by bekathwia

Project and photo by Jonathan Odom.

3D Printed Animatronic Puppet by JON-A-TRON

Flamethrower Skateboard by mikeasaurus
Project and photo by mikeasaurus.

Flamethrower Skateboard by mikeasaurus

Cool Tools Minute

Image courtesy of Ryobi.

Ryobi (60 Watt) Cordless Glue Gun – Tool Only

Glue Gun w/Battery and Charger

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

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This week on Maker Update, I’ll take a look back at some of my favorite projects from 2017 and show you a cordless hot glue gun for hot glue on the go.

It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell, and welcome to the last Maker Update of 2017. For this episode I’m going to quickly roundup some of my favorite Maker projects of the year in no particular order. As usual, you can find links to all these projects in the show notes.

Let’s start things off with John Park’s Overwatch Lucio Blaster. It was so much fun to watch this build unfold and see John geek out on this. From the 3D print build, to the circuit design and all the little modes and extras John packed it — it’s this perfect crossover of cosplay and electronics and the final payoff is undeniably awesome.

Next up, LED Eyes by the Ruiz Brothers. Noe and Pedro have had so many great projects this year, and I feel a little silly highlighting one that doesn’t showcase their outstanding 3D design skill, but there’s just something about this LED eyes project that knocked me out.

There’s no microcontroller. It’s just LEDs, some careful wiring, and a coin cell battery. But nothing else this year made me feel more like I was living in the future than seeing Pedro longboarding at night with these on his face.

Next, the Cykill by Fuzzy Wobble. His project shows you how to rig your game console (or anything, really) so that it can only work while your exercise bike is in use. It’s a cruel, but ingenious and arguably very useful way to life hack your way into a healthy exercise habit. The project uses an Arduino, some LEDs, and a relayed power cord to get the job done, plus some super glue to prevent tampering with the system in desperation.

It’s time for another Cool Tools review, this time we’re taking a look at this cordless 60 watt glue gun by Ryobi. I got this for around $35 on Amazon, and if you want this same one you can use the Amazon link in the description, which helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

After resolving to upgrade my annoying little underpowered glue gun recently, I’ve been buying up a few different options, including this Surebonder Pro-2 which is great and I’ve talked about in a previous video.

But when I heard that Ryobi had a cordless glue gun that could take advantage of the 18v Ryobi battery packs I already had around, I had to check it out.

This thing takes the bigger, ½-inch style glue sticks. Mine came with 3. It has a great molded grip and a satisfying trigger. There’s an on/off switch on the side. And the tip has a silicone cover on it that really cuts down on the chances of getting burned.

The tips are replaceable too, so you can swap out any Surebonder style tip if you want to change how glue flows out of this.

Two things I love about this design. One is that the weight of the battery pack really acts as its own stand. It feels just like using a cordless drill.

But more than anything, I love that hot glue can now go anywhere. Instead of bringing work to the glue gun, I can bring this to the work. So if you’re working on costumes, or upholstery, or just working out of the back of your van — it’s totally liberating.

There are drawbacks, of course. Best case scenario, Ryobi rates a battery pack for 3.5 hours of use — so it’s not an all-day solution. I also find that this glue gun dribbles more than my other ones — which isn’t a big deal, but makes it a little messier.

But the biggest drawback is expense. If you don’t already have a Ryobi battery pack and charger, getting all of this together is around $150 — which for me is a silly amount to pay for a glue gun. But if you already have the battery system, at $35 for just the tool, it’s been crazy convenient to have around.

If you want to get one for yourself, using the Amazon link in the description helps me out. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools just like this at

Back to my list of favorite Maker Projects from 2017, we’ve got this laser-powered lightsaber by Scott McIndoe. It’s one thing to have something that looks like a lightsaber, but Scott actually wanted to make a sword with real lasers shooting from it. He 3D printed the hilt, wired in some non-lethal laser pointer modules, and shoved a little e-cig vaporizer inside filled with fog fluid just to give the lasers something to bump into.

We saw a lot of great projects from Becky Stern this year, but my favorite is this old camera she hacked to fit a Raspberry Pi computer, a camera module, and a battery. The camera takes a series of photos, stitches them together into an animated GIF, and then uploads it to your Tumblr account by tethering to your phone.

Jon-A-Tron’s 3D printed puppet was my introduction to servo tester boards and some great weathering techniques to give 3D prints a prop-quality look. Creating your own animatronic puppet like this seems like an impossibly complicated project, but there’s no code here, or project boards. It’s just servos hooked up to little manually controlled knobs, making the whole thing much more approachable.

Finally, what list would be complete without the Flamethrower Skateboard by Mikeasaurus? A project so controversially awesome that it’s been delisted from Instructables. You can’t find it by search anymore, but you can still get to it using the direct link in the description here.

Using a fuel pump, lighter fluid, and a spark generator, Mike created a skateboard that leaves a trail of flames behind it. Will it light your shoe on fire? Maybe. Would I make one? No way. But I am so glad this thing exists.

That does it for this week’s show and for the year. I want to give a special thanks to Mark and Kevin of Cool Tools for making this show possible. To Gareth Branwyn for all his tips and encouragement this year. To the crew at Instructables and at Adafruit, Maker Media, Jordan Bunker, all the makers whose projects I’ve covered here and all you watching who’ve left comments or a thumbs up. Without all of you there’d be no show. So thank you, and I’ll see you next year.

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