November 8, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hologram and Chill [Maker Update #59]

This week on Maker Update, a gesture controlled hologram, a new magazine for makers, a chill drinkbot, a DIY solar battery, shrink plastic, foam core tips and DIY solder masks. This week’s Cool Tool is the Aven Circuit Board holder.

Show Notes

Advanced Project

Photo and project by Hacker House.

Holographic Visualizer with Motion Control by Hacker House


HackSpace magazine launched

More Projects

Photo and project by John Park.

Chilled Drinkibot by John Park

Photo and project by Becky Stern.

Solar USB Charger by Becky Stern

Cool Tools Minute

Photo by Donald Bell.

Aven Adjustable Circuit Board Holder


How to Solder Mask by Ruiz Bros.

Photo by the Ruiz Bros.

Jay Carlson reviews 21 $1 microcontroller options

7 Resin Casting Tips by Eric Strebel

Foamcore Model Making by Eric Strebel

Tips of the Week by Gareth Branwyn

Shrink Plastic by Barb Noren

Maker Faires

Maker Faire Shenzhen Shenzhen
Phaeno Mini Maker Faire Phaeno-Wolfsburg
Buenos Aires Mini Maker Faire Buenos Aires
Akron Mini Maker Faire Akron, Ohio
Sindelfingen Mini Maker Faire Sindelfingen
Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire NATIONWIDE

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This week on Maker Update, a gesture controlled hologram, a new magazine for makers, a chill drinkbot, a DIY solar battery, and a cool tool for soldering circuit boards.

It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell, and it’s time for another Maker Update. I hope everyone’s doing well. Here in the Bay Area it’s finally starting to feel like Fall and I’m feeling motivated to get my backlog of projects wrapped up before the year’s over. I’ve got a great show for you this week, so let’s jump in, starting with the project of the week.

Over on, the team at Hacker House has a guide and video showing how they made this holographic music visualizer that responds to gesture control.

The project uses a computer monitor connected to a Mac to run the visuals. That gets projected down to a pyramid of acrylic sheets that have to be set at exact angles to achieve the 3D effect.

The base includes a Raspberry Pi connected to a Flick board that handles the gesture control and sends the control data to the Mac over a local network connection.

It’s definitely an involved build, with woodwork, electronics, coding, 3D printing, and cutting acrylic. On top of that, depending on what size monitor you use, all of the math for the 3D effect has to be recalculated, and the equations for that have yet to be posted to the project page.

Still, what a cool project? I’m excited to see this out there, and it’s totally something I’d love to have in my house.

And now for some news. The Raspberry Pi foundation has announced the launch of a new monthly magazine called HackSpace. It’s going to be published alongside MagPi, which they also handle, and will feature a broad range of DIY projects beyond the world of Raspberry Pi.

The first issue is out at the end of the month, and you can sign up now to get one, though shipping comes from the UK, so you have to pay shipping. Fortunately, just like MagPi, each issue will also be available as a free PDF.

A few more projects to share. Check out the Chilled Drinkibot by John Park on Adafruit. You pour in a drink, flip the switch, and press the button, and the base quickly chills the drink using a Peltier cooler and a computer fan.

Once a preset temperature has been reached, the Trinket M0 board controlling everything turns on a peristaltic pump that dispenses the now-cold drink into a different cup.

It’s literally a cool project, especially if you’re into cocktail robotics. There are a few panels to either laser cut or template out of wood, but nothing too intricate. Every other part can be ordered from directly from Adafruit.

While you’re at it, Becky Stern has another solar project on Instructables that’s also chock full of Adafruit parts. It’s a solar charged battery pack.

Inside the project box you have a solar battery charger board, which trickles power over to a 3.7 volt rechargeable battery. Then you have a PowerBoost board that takes the charged battery up to a regulated 5.2 volts for the USB output.

Solar power comes in through whatever size solar panel you can get, which hooks in through a barrel jack connection. Becky also adds in a nice, illuminated power switch so you know when things are charging up.

The whole thing is a clear, low-stakes project that requires just a bit of soldering. The payoff is some extra confidence around working with solar panels and rechargeable project batteries. Personally, I love the idea of my projects being able to harvest their own energy.

It’s time for another Cool Tools review. We’re going to take a look at this circuit board holder from Aven. I got this for just $12 on Amazon, and you can get this exact same one using the link in the description, which helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Helping hands tools are really a matter of personal taste. None of them are perfect, and this one’s no different, but for the price it really nails a couple cool tricks.

The first is that once you secure an unpopulated circuit board in here, wedging it in the grooved, spring loaded grippers, you can quickly flip in back and forth.

This is great when you need to drop in a component from the front, bend the leads, flip it over to solder it up, and flip it back for the next component. With this, it’s easy.

There are thumb screws to tension everything up the way you want. It sure beats working off a table, and it’s more rigid than a flexible arm clip.

The second thing this is great for is de-soldering components. If you screwed up and need to take something out, you can heat on one side and pull or pry from the other.

Or if you’re using a solder sucker, you can really rest your hand on this thing and get right up to the spot without having to chase it.

That’s all there is to it. It’s a simple and inexpensive tool, but relatively well built and I’m surprised I don’t see them more often.

You can pick one up using the link in the description. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools like this at

I have some more tips to share with you. Over on Adafruit, the Ruiz brothers have a guide on making your own solder masks on homemade circuit boards. This helps preserve the copper on the board, gives you a more professional look, and keeps the solder where you want it.

On his blog Jay Carlson reviews 21 different microcontrollers that cost $1 or less. These are not beginner friendly boards, but it’s cool to see what’s out there at this price, and Jay is definitely thorough.

Over on YouTube I came across some useful videos by Eric Strebel. One is this video with 7 tips for resin casting — from which containers to use, to what to do with leftover resin.

Eric also has this great guide on modeling prototypes with foamcore. One trick in particular is to cut a grid into a sheet of foamcore to loosen it up and allow it to create complex curves. There’s a lot of great nuggets in here.

And of course, Gareth Branwyn’s tips of the week column on Make is a treasure trove of cool ideas. One of my favorites is this one from Barb Noren on using shrink plastic in a toaster oven to make name tags and charms, or even recycling #6 plastic from take out containers to do the same thing.

Maker Faires! A deceptively light week for Maker Faires this weekend. You have Shenzhen China; Wolfsburg Germany; Buenos Aires Argentina; Akron, Ohio; and Sindelfingen Germany. But on top of that this weekend there are little Maker Faires in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide. So check with your local store to see if there’s a little Maker Faire happening.

That’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, and give a thumbs up, or a comment. Pick up one of those circuit board holders if you could use one. And sign up for the email list to get all these links sent right to you every week, plus some bonus projects I couldn’t fit. Alright? Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

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