Category Archives: EMSL Projects

National Week of Making: WaterColorBot in the Tinkering Studio

watercolorbot collage

This week for the National Week of Making, the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium is celebrating with a WaterColorBot and Beetleblocks workshop.

WaterColorBot always brings unexpectedness and whimsicality to your design. Here, getting the outcome does not become the end of your project. You feel you want to try more. Whether it is revising the code, tweaking the WaterColorBot setting, or replacing the brush, you are making a small but important adjustment for you. You find yourself in an eternal loop of iteration!

Tennis balls in the EggBot

We recently found out about a project to make custom printed tennis balls for an event in Sweden last year.

The first challenge was finding a way to print on round surfaces. Luckily, in our previous R&D experiments, we had played the with quirky EggBot, a printer that lets you print on eggs (yeah, you read that right). We knew that, with some work, it was possible to use that mechanism to print on a “normal” round object too. The Eggbot producers did not agree, stating on their official wiki:

“No matter what you do, EggBot will never produce good results on a tennis ball. Golf balls are okay, though.”

But those words only fueled our creativity and made us move forward.

They 3D printed some custom couplers to hold the tennis balls and wrote some custom software to streamline the printing process, and then printed on hundreds of tennis balls.

Tennis balls in the EggBot Pro

We’ve since updated the wiki.

TABIYSL: Talk and demo at Maker Faire

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

I’ll be giving a talk and demo on Saturday at this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I’ll be demonstrating one of the many projects from my book, The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory (and signing books as well).

You can catch the talk and demo on Saturday, May 21, at 1:30 PM, on the Maker Show & Tell Stage.

The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory is available from Amazon.com, O’Reilly, and other sellers of books, as well as from our store.

Introducing the MOnSter 6502

MOnSter 6502 PCB

Our collaborator Eric Schlaepfer has been extremely hard at work this year, designing a truly monstrous follow up to our giant-scale dis-integrated 555 and 741 circuits. This is the MOnSter 6502: a transistor-scale replica of the famous MOS 6502 microprocessor, the processor found at the heart of influential early computer systems such as the Apple ][ and the Commodore PET.

It is huge, at 12 × 15 inches, with over 4000 surface mount components, and 167 indicator LEDs added throughout so that you can see the flow of data.

MOnSter 6502

This is a new project, still underway. We will be showing off the first prototype of the MOnSter 6502 at the Bay Area Maker Faire this coming weekend. We don’t promise that it will be completely working by then — this is a first stab at an extremely ambitious project — but we’re genuinely excited to show it off in this early stage.

Decode ROM

You can read more about the MOnSter 6502 on its main project page, monster6502.com, and at Eric’s blog, tubetime.us.

(Before you ask, the MOnSter 6502 is not yet a kit or product that we’re selling. Right now, it’s an amazing thing that we’re trying to build. If you would like to stay in the loop as this project evolves, we’ve set up a special mailing list for updates.)

Father-Daughter Makers

Our friend Brian Schmalz (creator of the EBB) and his daughter Deanna are featured on the Minneapolis St. Paul Mini Maker Faire site.

Deanna was our youngest presenter at the 2015 faire – she discussed the learn-to-solder board that she designed and uses to teach her elementary school classmates. At this year’s faire, she will show you how to solder with her specially-designed board.

Deanna will be teaching soldering and Brian will be talking about chipKIT at the mini Maker Faire, which is May 14 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Instructables Egg Contest

We’re excited to be partnering with Instructables for the Egg Contest 2016.

It’s springtime, the season when eggs traditionally get their moment of glory. In the Egg Contest we want to see what happens when you scramble up your creativity with this theme. Any and all entries highlighting or featuring eggs (or egg-like creations) are eligible.

Prizes include the EggBot Pro and Deluxe EggBots. We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!

Stroboscopic patterns for Easter eggs

Jiri Zemanek from Prague sent in this fabulous video of eggs decorated using the EggBot, some with markers, and some with the Electro-Kistka.

Various patterns are generated in Matlab using mathematical equations similar to ones describing Spirograph (or harmonograph) and Phyllotaxis. The patterns are calculated in such a way that when rotated under a stroboscopic light of suitable frequency or when recorded by a camera, they start to animate. It is kind of zoetrope— early device for animation. … Eggs are rotated at a constant speed, special for each pattern, by a brushless motor. No computer graphics tricks are used in the video.

Additional information is available at their site.

Introducing the AxiDraw

AxiDraw drawing machine

We are very pleased to introduce our newest art robot: the AxiDraw.

The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.

AxiDraw drawing machine

The AxiDraw is a fantastic machine for making art — along with all those other things that you might use a pen-wielding robot for: Making “hand written” invitations, signing forms, or making neater whiteboard art than one might otherwise be able to.

AxiDraw is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.

Evil Mad Scientist Valentines: 2016 Edition

2016 valentines

Today we are releasing our newest set of “Download and Print” cards for Valentine’s day. This is our fourth year, and fourth set of cards: The 2013 set had six equation-heavy cards, the 2014 set was a set of six symbol-heavy cards, and the 2015 set included love, hearts, and arrows.

This year’s set of six new cards features a note about warming Pluto’s cold heart, at least one embarrassingly bad pun, and the perfect card for your robotic expression of love.

Solve for x
“I was supposed to solve for x. So glad I found u instead.”

Pluto heart

And, from the distant reaches of our solar system:
“Just knowing you’re out there warms my heart.”


“ROSES ARE RED
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
THIS VALENTINE AUTOMATICALLY
GENERATED FOR YOU”

2016 valentines

You can download the full set here, which includes all 24 designs from all four years (a 1 MB PDF document).

As usual, print them out on (or otherwise affix to) card stock, personalize, and [some steps omitted] enjoy the resulting lifelong romance.