We just got an advance copy of The Art of Tinkering, by our friends at the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium.
On their own, science, art, and technology all make for interesting, fun, and rewarding explorations. But when you mix them together, you get a veritable tinkering trifecta in which technological tools and scientific principles let you express your own artistic vision.
We flipped through the wonderful pictures and projects before we took it to the bench for some quick pictures. In the spirit of the book, we put it among a few tools and parts from recently photographed projects that were still on the table.
We found projects by some of our friends, including Ken Murphy, Jie Qi and AnnMarie Thomas. We’re excited that we have a few projects in the book, including our Circuitry Snacks, in a section on Surprising Circuits. The book itself incorporates some circuitry on the cover, which we hope to play with soon!
The book launch party will be at the Exploratorium Afterdark (ages 18+) event on November 7.
Peter wrote in to share his build based on our Tennis for Two video game project.
He has more pictures up in his post.
Just in time for Halloween, we’re launching a Snap-O-Lantern kit. You can still build this robotic snapping pumpkin from scratch using our original instructions, or you can do it the easy way with this kit, which uses one of our ATtiny2313 target boards and has all the parts you’ll need— except the mini-pumpkin and three AA batteries.
We’re putting the full documentation for the kit on our wiki.
Pumpkins are being featured today on a special Halloween edition of Maker Camp, and I’ll be there, showing our Snap-O-Lantern project. Tune in at 5 pm (Pacific), today, Thursday, October 10.
Dan at Maniacal Labs posted a review of our Three Fives kit:
… yay for creative kits that cause you to go out and (re)learn stuff! The cool thing about the 555 chip is that it is very much a building block to bigger things. There are plenty of resources out there for 555 applications and project ideas. I’d like to thank Eric Schlaepfer for his awesome kit idea and Evil Mad Scientist for helping make it available to the masses!
dinofizz posted in the forums about the LED display based on the Peggy 2 he installed on his vertical blinds:
I had custom PCBs made to help daisy chain the vertical blinds (they’re sitting on top of the horizontal beam from which the blinds hang). 300 ft spool of 16-way ribbon cable completely used up. Around ~4000 individual solder joints, and I’m still using breadboard to hold things together at the moment! Took me forever.
He linked to a few more build photos over in the forum post, and he even posted some video of it in action:
Matt Mets of Blinkinlabs assembled a crack team of volunteers to assemble BlinkyTape for the Crystal Archway at Maker Faire NY. They sat in the dark with their soldering irons and LEDs, making Maker Faire happen in real time.
It was great to see the installation come together over the course of the fair.
After building up one of our Three Fives kits, Ed wrote in to say:
I have been an electronics hobby enthusiast for well over 45 years building many, many kits, hacking my own stuff, others’ stuff, designing projects, etc. I have to say, your Three-Fives kit is truly the nicest commercially available kit I have ever had the privilege of assembling.
I was inspired to create a small, flexible wire harness with an 8-pin header on the end to effectively create an “In-Circuit Emulator” interface. You can prototype a circuit and then quickly pull the chip and insert the “ICE probe” and use a scope to probe any part of the chip you want to see what’s going on “under the hood.”
Thanks to Ed for sharing his project with us— and what a cool idea!
Eric Weddington of Atmel shows off a wafer full of ATmega328P chips (as found in Arduino and many of our own kits) at Maker Faire New York.
That’s about 1500 chips on an eight inch wafer, and not something you see every day!
Our reader Jon wrote in with a question about our open collector tutorial:
I really appreciated the tutorial, and I was able to follow along and understand it very well. One question I had was – what is the purpose of the 1 kilo-ohm resistor that is connected to the base of the PNP transistor? Because when the open collector is ‘high’ then the base of the transistor is at 12 V and it appears the 1 kohm resistor didn’t affect anything, and then when the open collector goes ‘low’ then the base is connected to ground through the output of the SN7407. So basically, what would the difference be if there was no 1 kilo-ohm resistor at all?
And, that’s actually an excellent question, about something that we usually gloss over.
The short answer is that this is a “base resistor” that we use to limit the maximum current that flows through the base of the PNP transistor. But, let’s take a look in a little more detail, and see what would happen if we didn’t have that there.