Evil Mad Scientist at Rods and Mods

While we don’t normally find ourselves as part of the case mod community, we’ve been invited to participate in the Rods and Mods event, “The Kustom Kulture of Radical Computer Modification” currently going on, Thursday through Saturday at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. We’ll be attending this Saturday, showing off some of our recent projects and maybe even some hacked devices.

You can read more about this event here, and we’ll hope to see you there!

Young Makers at the Exploratorium

We’re thrilled to be heading back to the Exploratorium this Saturday for the first Young Makers event put on by Make, the Exploratorium, TechShop, and Pixar.

Here’s a little bit about the program from Make’s writeup: “It’s a first experiment in a new program we call Young Makers, in which we intend to create an infrastructure to nurture kids who want to learn by making, beyond what they can do with construction kits. We hope to fulfill a dire need: satisfying a little bit of what shop classes used to do before they, lamentably, started getting booted out of schools.”

We hope to see you there this Saturday between 11 am and 3 pm. There will be BristleBot building going on, as well as BlinkyBug building with our friend Ken Murphy. Ken also has an exhibit called A History of the Sky that is at the Exploratorium through the end of the month and is definitely worth seeing. If you can’t make it this weekend, they’ve got a great line-up of folks for the last Saturday of each month leading up to Maker Faire:


February 27th: Wearables & Soft Circuitry — Adrian Freed

March 27th: Make Your Own Kind of Music — Walter Kitundu and Krys Bobrowski

April 24th: Motors & Mechanisms — Brad Prether and Ernie Fosselius

Update: Dale Dougherty posted an article about the event here.

CandyFab at the Exploratorium Maker Webcast

CandyFab SignCome see the CandyFab 4000 in action on Saturday, July 28 at 1:00 PM (PDT) at the Exploratorium in San Francisco or live online for the Maker Saturday Webcasts.

Make: Magazine is partnering with the Exploratorium to bring weekly webcasts of interviews with makers this summer. If you haven’t been to the Exploratorium yet, use this as an excuse! It is one of our favorite sources of inspiration.

Duchamp redux

Fountain

Last week I visited the Exploratorium with some friends, and we saw this remarkable drinking fountain. The exhibit cleverly produces a little bit of introspective psychological trickery: It notes that the water is clean, and that the toilet has never been used, but asks why you might hesitate to drink from it? Funny how our brains work sometimes.

Drinking aside, the exhibit reminds me in particular of one other famous fountain.
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Homopolar motor exhibit at the Exploratorium

A couple of weeks ago, we visited the The Exploratorium, where we saw this giant homopolar motor, labeled “Daisy Dyno.” This is a classic demonstration of a homopolar motor. There’s a giant permanent magnet. In its jaws sits a big copper disk that is free to spin. A low-voltage but high current power supply is provided, where the positive end is hooked to the bearing in the center of the copper disk.

To run the motor, you touch the loose lead from the negative end of the power supply to the edge of the copper disk. A neat little arrow shows you exactly where to touch. The electric current flows from the center of the disk to that point of contact, which is in the direction perpendicular to the magnetic field, which creates a force in the correct direction to cause the disk to spin. In order to help the electric currents move in a fairly straight line between the edge of the disk to the center, the disk has a lot of radial slits cut through it, giving the disk the appearance of a daisy (hence the name) when it’s at rest. In the photo here, it’s moving pretty quickly.

We, of course, are quite fond of motors and magnets and things that spin, and have (so far) written up three under-one-minute science projects that are related: How to build a homopolar motor, how to make the version that spins water instead of a metal disk, and how to make a super-simple directional compass.