December 13, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Selfie Bot [Maker Update #64]

This week on Maker Update, an adorable robot wants to take your selfie, a future-proof charging dock, two new types of NeoPixel, and rolling your own coin cell pack. Our Cool Tool is a Klutch angle grinder stand.

Show Notes

Advanced Project of the Week

Photo and project by Sophy Wong.

Raspberry Pi Selfie Bot by Sophy Wong and Kim Pimmel

More Projects

Photo and project by Jonathan Odom.

Apple Charging Dock by JON-A-TRON

Cool Tools Minute

Klutch Angle Grinder Holder

Safety Equipment

Leather Welding Gloves

Safety Works Adjustable Headgear with Faceshield

Professional Ear Defenders


Photo by Gem Red.

Digital Angle Ruler


Photo courtesy of Adafruit.

Adafruit NeoPixel LED Side Light Strip – Black 60 LED

Photo courtesy of Adafruit.

Adafruit NeoPixel LED Dots Strand – 20 LEDs at 2″ Pitch

Tips of the Week: Stupid Bench Tricks, Glue Gun Rivets, and DIY Battery Packs

Image and tip by Jeremy S. Cook.

Coin Cell Battery Pack by Jeremy Cook
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This week on Maker Update, an adorable robot wants to take your picture, a future-proof charging dock, turning your angle grinder into a chop saw, two new types of NeoPixel, and rolling your own coin cell pack.
It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell, and welcome to another Maker Update. Thanks for joining me here again. I really thought the projects would level off towards the holidays here, but there were tons to sort through for this show. I only have time for two, so let’s get on with it, starting with the project of the week.

Check out this Raspberry Pi-based portable photo booth by Sophy Wong and Kim Pimmel. Sophy calls it the Selfie Bot and has a wonderfully thorough guide for making it over on Adafruit.

The core of the project is a Raspberry Pi computer board, attached to a screen, a camera module, a thermal printer, and a big red arcade button for triggering the process.

Two things that really take this project up a notch. One is the enclosure, which uses a mix of clear laser cut acrylic for the front and back, and 3D printed cavities to hold the parts internally. Sophy walks you through masking and painting everything to get this great look.

Second is the adorable robot face animation and sound effects Sophy built in. It smiles, it laughs, it goes to sleep when you lay it down, and makes a grunting little poopy face when it’s pushing out pictures.
On the downside, the photos are a low-res black and white receipt print and it doesn’t tweet or upload or really get online at all. And without a laser cutter you’re not going to pull off this same quality of enclosure.

That said, if you can get your hands on the parts, there’s no reason you can’t prototype this into a cardboard box and still have a lot of fun. It’s a great project, a fantastic guide, and I’m looking forward to seeing more projects from Sophy and Kim.
Next up, we have this rapid charging station made by Jon-A-Tron. It’s a 3D printed shell, that perfectly fits his phone, his smartwatch, and his wireless headphones. Inside, he has spots for all of his charging cables, plus a 4-port rapid charging hub.

On the outside, Jon dresses up the design with some cutout pieces of chipboard that can be painted for whatever look you’re going for. He also has a tray in the back that can hold his keys and wallet.

What’s really smart about this design is that each of the three charging docks has a removable insert that can be swapped out as you replace and upgrade your gadgets.

Jon’s design here is for Apple gear, but an Android version or a mix of devices can be easily supported jut by designing and printing your own custom insert. It’s a cool dock design, and maybe the last one you’ll ever need.

It’s time for another Cool Tools review. This week I’m going to show you an angle grinder holder made by Klutch. I got this for around $26 on Amazon, it’s a unique way to cut metal, and you can pick this same one up by using the Amazon link in the show notes, which helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Let me say up front that there are better tools for cutting metal stock. A bandsaw or metal cutoff saw would be my first choice. But even if I had the money for those machines, in my small workshop I simply don’t have the space.

This angle grinder holder from Klutch is a cheap hack for getting relatively square cuts from metal stock. Compared to doing it freehand, I get much better results from this.

For the $26, you have to supply your own grinder, and you have to assemble the holder. It took me about 20 minutes to get up and running, and probably another 20 to dial it in.

What’s cool about it is the design can accommodate a wide range of angle grinders. I’m using a $30 Harbor Freight grinder in here, but you can see on the Amazon reviews that people have made this work with all kinds of grinders.

The tradeoff for that flexibility is that there are so many adjustable parts, it takes some time to dial it in square. And if you ever take your grinder out of here, you’ll need to set it all back up when you use it again. Ideally, I’d just leave this grinder in here and buy another for finishing work.

If you use this, I strongly recommend protecting yourself with heavy leather gloves. I use welding gloves. I also always use this with a full face shield and hearing protection, and I get a good cross-breeze going to clear out the fumes. I’ve got links for all this same protective equipment in the video description. So be safe. And with all the sparks be sure to clear out any sawdust, keep an eye on where those sparks are going, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

The upshot of all this is an ability to create square, flat cuts in metal using a tool the size of a lunchbox. The built-in clamp can also be adjusted for angled cuts, but I wouldn’t trust the gauge here. I’ll include a link to the digital angle ruler I use to set up square or angled cuts.

So that’s the Klutch angle grinder holder. It’s NOT a great tool, it’s not for everybody, and it takes a lot of tweaking. But if you want straight cuts on metal stock and you don’t have the space or money for the ideal tool, this and an angle grinder will get the job done.

You can pick one up 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. Adafruit added two new types of Neopixel LEDs to their catalog. The first is this strand of 20 addressable LEDs that are attached to each other using flexible wires instead of the thin, flat PCB ribbon we’re used to seeing.

Each LED is enclosed in a water resistant plastic shell with built-in loops on the back. These are ideal for wearable or fashion projects. They come in either a 2 or 4-inch spacing.

The other new Neopixel is a more traditional strip, but with the LEDs facing out to the edge instead of facing up. The big advantage here is that you can twist and shape the strip without having to cut and rewire it. It’s great for creating neon-style signs or letters or outlining something. I’m excited to check it out.

Over on Makezine, Gareth Branwyn has a bunch of cool tips to share in his latest Tips of the Week column. My favorite this week is a tip from Jeremy Cook on how to create coin cell battery packs using heat shrink tubing, stranded wire and hot glue. As someone who loves coin cells but hates the limited selection of battery packs you can get for them, I can’t wait to try out this technique.

And that’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, leave me a thumbs up or leave me a comment. Pick up an angle grinder holder if you want to chop some metal. And sign up for the email list to get these links sent out to you every week. I’ll be back next week for one last show of 2017, and then taking a few weeks off. But I’ll see you next week, and thanks for watching.

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