Category Archives: Field Trips

Evil Mad Scientist Open House: November 19

Evil Mad Scientist Door

You’re invited to our annual open house!

When: Thursday, November 19, 5 pm − 9 pm
Where: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
175 San Lazaro Ave, Suite 150
Sunnyvale, CA, 94086

You can check out our latest projects, play with the giant Digi-Comp II, meet Zener the cat, and share in food and conversation.

The collectivity project

Dreamy Lego architecture

While in NY last month, we stumbled on The collectivity project while walking along the beautiful High Line park.

Building with Lego in NY

This exhibit by artist Olafur Eliasson invites the public “to build their vision of a future city” with three tons of white Lego bricks. It was fun to see people building bridges between tables of buildings, rebuilding architectural features, adding words and symbols.

Building with Lego in NY

Today (October 12) is the last day of the project on the High Line.

World Maker Faire 2015

Great hall wall

We had a great time at the 2015 World Maker Faire. The Great Hall has reopened after renovations.


Gamelatron was set up on the patio outside the hall and formed a meditative place of respite from the high energy of the rest of the faire.

Moat Boat Paddle Battle

Moat Boat Paddle Battle was hugely popular with their newly built raceway.

Flexible interactive animated arms

There were beautiful interactive flexible robot arms.

Power racing series under the Terrace on the Park

The Terrace on the Park formed a fabulous backdrop for the Power Racing Series.

Limor and 4 Paws Wearables

We caught up with Limor from Adafruit while learning about wearables for pets from Blythe of 4 Paws Wearables.


We were completely wowed by the VEC9 vector arcade game. Every aspect of it showed obsessive attention to detail, and the tank controller felt amazing.


This cookiebot was made with the Fizzbit, a USB chargeable vibrobot platform by The Crafty Robot.

Rocket go-cart

The rocket powered go cart was one of the more impressively dangerous projects. There were many more wonders to see, and you can see our full set of pictures from the event in the flickr album.

Clocks at Maker Faire NY

Clocks at Maker Faire

The first day of Maker Faire New York was great fun. We’ve found a several great clock projects so far, including this one, featuring image processing running on a Raspberry Pi.


Our friends at NYC Resistor brought a wonderful papercraft seven segment display clock.

Tom, Massimo and Ahmed

At the end of the day, while talking with Tom and Massimo from Arduino, we ran into another maker with a clock project. Welcome to the maker community, Ahmed!

Photos from Portland Maker Faire


We had a great time at the Portland Mini Maker Faire at OMSI this weekend.

R2 builders club

It was well attended by humans and robots alike.

There were some great activities including lapidary demonstrations.


Our Three Fives kit made an appearance in a beautiful giant breadboard at the OSHPark booth.


We got to see some of the workshop areas at OMSI.


It was great to see our old friend, the Gravitram. The full set of photos is on flickr.

Maker Faires and the BIYSL

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

This month I’ll be traveling to Maker Faires in Portland, Oregon, and New York City to sign and talk about my book, The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory. That, of course, is the new, updated version of Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory, the classic 1960’s hands-on science book by Raymond E. Barrett.

The Portland Mini Maker Faire is being held September 12-13 at OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I’ll be speaking on the Innovation stage at 11 AM on September 12. This is a bit of a homecoming for the book: Raymond Barrett was the Education Director at OMSI when he originally wrote the book.

The World Maker Faire is September 26 and 27 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. I’ll be speaking on the DIY stage on both days.

Bonus: During O’Reilly’s Back to School sale (through September 17), you can get the E-book version of The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory for 50% off using discount code B2S5.

Geek Tourism: Biosphere 2


Biosphere 2 is an enormous earth science laboratory, originally built as an attempt to create a closed ecosystem. The goals were to study long term viability of an isolated human habitat, such as might be needed for long term space travel or colonization.


The results of the initial experiments were a (fascinating) mixed bag. The goal of a strictly closed ecosystem was not met for a variety of reasons. However, some of the results have improved our understanding of the effects of climate change, such as how increased CO2 levels lead to acidification of the ocean habitat and coral bleaching.


The facility is now being used both for education and for research. The enormous agricultural greenhouses have been transformed by the University of Arizona into the Landscape Evolutionary Observatory, a large-scale carefully-controlled long-term study of soil processes. It serves as an experimental bridge between computer models, small-scale laboratory experiments, and the real world.


Some of the original biomes are relatively unchanged and have been growing since the project started in 1991. It is striking to have all hint of surrounding desert obscured by the vines of the rainforest.


One of the most fascinating engineering aspects of the facility are the “lungs,” which are accessed through long narrow tunnels branching off of the main facility.


The lungs were used to compensate for the changes in pressure and temperature. The two domed buildings have flexible inner liners that can expand and contract. A weight attached to the center of the liner makes them look toroidal inside of the dome.

Biosphere 2

The facility was built outside of Tucson, and is strikingly beautiful, surrounded by wildlife including lizards, snakes, tarantulas, jack rabbits, coyotes, gila monsters, and an incredible variety of birds and insects. We’ve put a few more pictures from our visit in albums on flickr here and here. Tours are available to the public daily, and it’s worth the drive and ticket price if you’re nearby.