June 28, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Revenge of the Fish [Maker Update #40]

This week on Maker Update: how to give a fish a hammer, Intel gives up, Raspbian gets an update, Printrbot tries for infinite Z, a love letter to gaffer tape, and a better way to trim a zip-tie. This week’s featured Cool Tool is Gaffer Power Gaffer Tape

Show Notes

Advanced Project of the Week

Fish Hammer Actuation Device by neilmendoza

Photo and project by Neil Mendoza.


INTEL Discontinues Joule, Galileo, and Edison Product Lines

Raspbian Update

New GPIO access in Scratch 2 on Pi.

PrintrBot PrintrBelt

Brook Drumm and the PrintrBelt 3D printer.
Brook Drumm and the PrintrBelt 3D printer.

DIYode Magazine

Cool Tools Minute

Gaffer Power Gaffer Tape 2 Inch X 30 Yards

Gaffer Power Gaffer Tape 3 Inch X 30 Yards – Black

Gaffer Tape Review by Monty Zukowski 10/6/03

Duct vs gaffer tape vs painter tape.
Duct vs gaffer tape vs painter tape.


Twisting Zip-Ties to Cut Them (via Make)

Twist your zips!

Instructables Contests Ending Soon

Maker Faires

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



This week on Maker Update: how to give a fish a hammer, Intel gives up, Raspbian gets an update, Printrbot tries for infinite Z, a love letter to gaffer tape, and a better way to trim a zip-tie.

It’s Wednesday, June 28th, I’m Donald Bell and welcome to another Maker Update! I hope you’re having a great week. I’m excited that I have some new lights in the studio now, so hopefully this video’s looking a little better. I also got some new tools in to review for next month, which I have to admit is a nice perk of working for Cool Tools.

A lot of news this week, but let’s kick things off with an equally bizarre and amazing advanced project of the week.

Artist Neil Mendoza built a fish tank that gives this goldfish the power to aim and hit things outside the tank with a hammer. He calls it the Fish Hammer Actuation Device — or “Fish Hammer” for short — and it works by tracking the fish’s movement with an overhead camera, and then mapping it to a Teensy-controlled stepper motor on a half-circle track.

So why give a fish a hammer and have it smash doll furniture? Neil says that since humans have been destroying fish habitats for years, he wanted to give fish a chance to wreak destruction on a mini human habitat. All I know is that I can’t see aquariums now, without thinking they should have one of these.

The real trick for this particular build is the custom semi-circular aluminum track, which Neil had to design in Autodesk Inventor and cut on the Pier 9 waterjet. Had he used a straight track and rectangular tank, he probably could have purchased some off-the-shelf components to make things easier. It wouldn’t look as fancy, but it’d be a hell of a lot easier to pull off.

Now, am I going to actually use this to weaponize a fish tank? Probably not. But could you use this guide to create a motorized system or camera dolly that tracks people with computer vision? You totally could, and there’s a lot of potential there.

And now for news. Last week, Hackaday reported that Intel is quietly discontinuing several of their developer boards, including the Galileo, Joule, and Edison. The boards will continue to ship until the end of 2017. In the meantime, Intel continues to support their Curie chip and the Intel-based Arduino 101 board.

The cut isn’t a huge surprise, considering how expensive and relatively unpopular the boards were. But that said, it is a little surprising that Raspberry Pi continues to steamroll ahead without much real competition from more established brands. I think it’s great — just unexpected.

Speaking of Raspberry Pi, there’s an updated version of the official Raspbian OS out now. It includes an offline version of Scratch 2.0, which can now more easily interface with the Pi’s GPIO pins for creating interactive hardware projects. You can also now create Scratch animation sprites using the Pi camera module.

The new Raspbian also includes a new tool for programming Python called Thonny. Compared to Python’s own IDLE tool, Thonny is supposed to be much more user-friendly and geared for beginners like myself, so I’m excited to check it out.

In other news, on YouTube, Brook Drumm from Printrbot showed off a new 3D printing prototype he’s calling the PrintrBelt. The idea is that it prints to a rolling belt of Kapton film, which can just keep rolling your print out for an infinitely long print, or series of prints. It’s a neat idea, and I’ve never seen anything like it, but still totally experimental.

Finally, in news, there’s a new DIY electronics magazine being launched called DIYODE, or DIYode. It’s out of Australia, and you can sign up for digital or print editions online. I’m curious to see what it’s like.

This week for my 1-minute tool review brought to you by Cool Tools, I’ve got gaffer tape from Gaffer Power. I’ve got two flavors here, they’re both available on Amazon Prime, and by picking them up using the link in the description you help to support these videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Gaffer tape is a cloth-backed tape, similar to duct tape, but more expensive and harder to find. It gets its name from movie set lighting electricians known as gaffers. These people spend their days on location taping down cables to prevent them from getting tugged or tripped on. But the next day, equally important, they need to be able to peel away the tape without leaving behind a sticky mess on the set, or on their cables.

The magic thing about gaffer tape is that it comes away clean. So it’s almost like painters tape, but with the strength of duct tape. And if you’ve ever peeled up old duct tape, you know what a gross mess it leaves behind.

What I also love about this tape is that you can easily tear it by hand, and the cloth backing keeps your tears square. You also get straight tears lengthwise, which can be useful for making small labels.

And that’s the other great thing about gaffer tape — the matte cloth backing is easy to write on and non-reflective. So if you pick up a bright color like white, yellow, or pink, labels really stand out.

Now, per yard, this tape is about 4x as expensive as duct tape. This 30-yard, 2-inch wide roll sells for $17. This 3-inch roll sells for around $23. The wider roll is better at tapeing down bundles of cables, but is also great for tearing 3-inch vertical strips that are often just enough for what you need.

For what it’s worth. I ordered the 2-inch roll first and it came with a 25% coupon from Gaffer Power I could redeem on Amazon for the 3-inch roll. So, I basically got these for the same price.

You too can cultivate your fine taste for gaffer tape by using the link in the video description here, and by doing so you help to support this show and the Cool Tools blog and podcast. And remember, you can see thousands of reader-recommended tools just like this at cool-tools.org.

One other tip to share with you this week. Through Gareth Branwyn’s Tip of the Week over on Make, I found a tip from Scott Haun on how to trim down zip ties without leaving a sharp edge. Chad from Mancrafting has a video showing the technique. Instead of just tightening the zip tie and trimming it down, Scott recommends using pliers right where the extra plastic meets the lock, and twisting until it shears off. You get a neater cut with no sharp edge.

Contests! It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned contests running on Instructables, but there are a bunch right now including Vanlife, Invention, Fidget Spinner, Makerspace, Science, and more. So go try to win stuff!

Two great Maker Faires this weekend including a mini Maker Faire in London, and a big Faire in Detroit. If either of those are near you, go check it out.

And that’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe or give a thumbs up or leave a comment. And again, if you’re ready to step up to gaffer tape, using the link in the description here helps to support this show. Alright? Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

Submit a comment

Sign the Mailing List

A once-weekly email for each Maker Update episode, including bonus links for stuff that didn't make it into the show.
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

BMC logoBuy me a coffee