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.

Linkdump: May 2016

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.)

Book review: What’s It Like in Space?

What's It Like in Space?

I’ve had What’s It Like in Space? sitting on my desk for a few weeks now. It’s a compact book that fits nicely in your hands, with a glittery starfield on the cover. Every so often I pick it up and flip it open to one of the vignettes of astronaut experiences Ariel Waldman has gathered together.

Mysterious Headaches

My favorite is titled “Mysterious Headaches” which tells the story of how NASA accidentally sent astronauts into caffeine withdrawal by providing them with insufficiently caffeinated (freeze-dried) coffee.

The brightly illustrated tidbits can be jumping off points for further exploration— inspiring the reader to learn more about a particular bit of science or history. They’re also just plain fun to read, ranging from silly to profound. This makes it great both as a coffee table conversation starter and for anyone with an interest in science and space.

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.

Circuit Classics

We’re very excited about the Circuit Classics PCBs and kits that Star Simpson is making based on Forrest Mims designs.

Each circuit depicts an original, traced and hand-drawn schematic created by Forrest Mims for his iconic books “Getting Started in Electronics”, and the “Engineers’ Notebook” series. Every board includes a description of how it works, in Mims’ handwriting, on the reverse side.

They look like a fantastic way to learn electronics. You can order them through her Crowd Supply campaign now.

2016 Hackaday Prize

We are once again excited to be helping judge the Hackaday Prize.

Now in its third year, the Hackaday Prize challenges the international community of designers and makers to address issues facing humanity through technology.

This year the prize is divided into five separate 5-week design challenges. The first one, Design Your Concept is ending on April 25th. It will be followed by Anything Goes, Citizen Scientist, Automation, and finally Assistive technologies, which ends on October 3rd.

20 projects will be chosen from each of the 5 rounds, and awarded $1000 per project. At the end of all 5 rounds, 100 projects in total will advance to the finals where 5 top prizes will be awarded: $150k, $25k, $10k, $10k and $5k. In addition the 1st place project will win a residency in the Supplyframe Design lab to develop their project further.

You can see the entries so far on hackaday.io. You can also head to a hackaday meetup in your community. We’ll be at the San Jose meetup on April 23rd, and hope to see you there!