June 14, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Top 5 Summer Projects [Maker Update #38]

This week on Maker Update, Donald runs through a list of projects he’d like to accomplish this summer. This week’s featured Cool Tool is the d.light S2 rechargeable LED light

3D Printer shopping

Solar projects

Bluetooth Boombox

Bike projects

Halloween projects

Cool Tools Minute

d.light S2 rechargeable LED light

Buy the d.light S2 rechargeable LED light on Amazon

Kent Barnes review



Hey, I’m Donald Bell, and this week while I’m on vacation I’m giving you guys something a little different. As some of you know, I used to do a weekly show called Top 5. So as a little throwback, this week I’m giving you my Top 5 Maker DIY Projects for Summer. It’s totally subjective — these are just projects that are on my mind, but hopefully it will inspire a project for you this summer.

Starting off at #5 — buying my first 3D printer. If you don’t think that’s a project, than you’ve never had a 3D printer.

Now, I’ve used 3D printers at work, and I know them well enough to talk about 3D printing on this show without sounding like an idiot — but I don’t yet own a 3D printer. I’d like to change that this summer and also let that lead me into some deeper skill with designing 3D models in Fusion 360.

I’m not sure which printer I’m going to grab yet, but I’ve been regularly pouring over Make magazine’s online 3D printer guide to weigh my options. If you have a strong opinion on what I should get (or not get), leave me a comment.

At #4, a solar project. Now, I’d like to say that I’m interested in solar as a way to save the planet, but if I’m being honest, I just love the idea of an electronic project that can live on its own.

For example, I want like a lightshow of Neopixel projects in my backyard that charge up during the day and automatically switch on at night. Energy independence is great, but really I just want to stop having to plug things in altogether.

#3, a custom Bluetooth boombox. There are dozens of these on Instructables, but I have yet to really roll my own. Specifically, I want to add a speaker system to the Hello Kitty go kart. Because, as a grown man it’s a little creepy to ride around my neighborhood in a Hello Kitty car, but if I could blast some Ramones while I do it — then I’m just the neighborhood eccentric, right?

At #2: a bike project. I have a hand-me-down, little beater bike that is falling apart, but I love it. It just needs some TLC and some fun hacks. There’s no reason this bike shouldn’t reflect who I am and there are so many bike projects to try — lights, decorations, Arduino speedometers, paint jobs, mud guards, helmet hacks. The bike is a perfect outlet for maker projects, and I’ve been letting my bike down.

In the spirit of summer, I have a new tool I’m excited to show you that I found through the Cool Tools blog. This is the dLight S2 rechargeable LED light. It sells for around $14 on Amazon, and by picking one up using the link in the description you help to support these videos and the Cool Tools blog.

You can find cheap solar lights anywhere. I have some crappy ones in my backyard. They’re dim, the batteries wear out, and they’re fragile.

The S2 is exactly the opposite. It was designed specifically to be as bright as a kerosene lantern for rural off-grid households in developing countries.

The battery technology uses a lithium iron phosphate pack or LifePO, that holds up much longer than other rechargeable batteries and is covered by a 2-year warranty and rated for at least 5 years of use.

And the light is designed so well. It’s tough, great for camping, resists water, dust, bugs. The metal stand also works as a hangar. There’s a barrel jack that lets you charge the battery over USB in a pinch. The power button glows in the dark. For $14, it is a rock solid, versatile light and it came recommended by maker Kent Barnes.

I keep mine hung up in the back yard, but I’m thinking of getting another one just to keep with my camping gear. There’s a link to Kent’s review in the video description, and you can see thousands of reader-recommended tools just like this at cool-tools.org.

Alright, and now, my personal, #1 DIY summer project: planning for halloween!

I know it seems wrong, but how many times have you let yourself down on your Halloween costume or decorations? It happens to me every year. And now that I’m this more public Maker guy, I just can’t halfass it anymore.

Good costumes and props take time. So this summer, I’m going to sift through the Instructables Halloween section and make a plan. No more spending Halloween envious of other people’s decorations and costumes. It’s time to be the awesome house on the block.

So there you go, those are the 5 projects I hope to take on this summer. If there’s something you’re excited to do, leave me a comment or send me an email. I’m donald@makerprojectlab.com. And be sure to pick up that solar light, especially if you have any camping planned this summer. And next week, I’ll be back to the regular format, but I hope this was fun. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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