Open Make at the Exploratorium: Time

555 Footstool   IMG_5331Nixie Clock   Apha Clock Five

This Saturday, we’ll be at the Exploratorium participating in the Open Make event focused on the theme “Time.” We had a great time when we participated in the very first Open Make event, and are glad to see the program continuing with a great lineup of themes this year. This time, we’ll be bringing several clock and time related projects.

The event runs from 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday, February 18, and will feature workshops, maker displays, and Dale Dougherty interviewing several makers on their time related projects. We hope to see you there!

Evil Mad Science Kits on Make: Live!

The most recent episode of Make: Live was a special episode on kits to celebrate the upcoming release of the Make: Special Issue, The Ultimate Kit Guide. Our very own Octolively and Meggy Jr RGB kits were both featured on the show. The electronic kits clip is embedded above, or you can watch the full video and the rest of the clips, including siege & ballistic kits and crafty kits on the Ultimate Kit Episode post over at Make.

Advanced servo hacking: The one-ton linear servo motor

One Ton Servo A

Hobby servo motors are the little wonders that make radio-control boats, airplanes, cars, hovercrafts, helicopters, submarines and robots work. And they are excellent devices for hacking.


Hobby servo motors each contain a little motor, which (through a set of gears) turns the output shaft, which is connected to a potentiometer, which provides position feedback to the controller chip inside the servo, which commands the motor to move until the output shaft reaches the desired position.
We’ve seen all kinds of crazy and wonderful servo modding– from the standard continuous rotation mod to the simple electronic speed controller, to full-on (servo) brain transplants.


Some time ago, I wrote up an article an article in Make Magazine, about how to modify a hobby servo motor to precisely control a one-ton scissor jack. The resulting sub-$100, one-ton linear servo motor can be used for any number of CNC and robotics projects. (For our own use, this was the Z-axis lift motor of the CandyFab 4000.)


We are now pleased to report that this project has just been released to the public over at Make Projects, where they have released a step-by-step version of the magazine article. (So go take a look!) One note: be sure to download the two PDF documents listed under “Files” — you’ll need those diagrams to follow along with the project.

Make Live

Becky and Matt

We’re looking forward to today’s premier of Make: Live, a new live web show hosted by Becky Stern and Matt Richardson. The show will feature show and tell DIY projects from guest makers and hackers– and we’ll hope to be amongst those guests in an episode later this year.

The first episode is Arduino focused, and features two (more) remarkable friends of ours: Steve Hoefer (of rock-paper-scissor-golve fame) and Collin Cunningham (of Make Video fame). Steve is bringing his Secret Knock Gumball Machine, and Collin will be discussing his MidiVox shield for Arduino.


The show runs live Wednesday January 26th, 9 PM Eastern / 6 PM Pacific, and you can see it at makezine.com/live or on UStream.

(And, if you can’t catch it live, they’ll be archiving it on their YouTube channel and iTunes podcast. We’ll post direct links to those when they’re available.)

Update: You can subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download Make: Live episode 01 in its entirety (m4v), or watch clips on YouTube.

The next episode, “Make: Live 02 – The Soldering Episode,” runs
Wednesday February 9th, at 9 PM Eastern / 6 PM Pacific

Peggy on Make cover!

Make vol 18 cover
We’re thrilled to see Peggy 2 on the cover of Make Magazine vol. 18 which is showing up in mailboxes now and will be on shelves soon. We were especially excited to get our copy so we could see Windell’s article on making a one-ton servo motor out of an electric automotive jack.

See us at Maker Faire!Speaking of our friends at Make, Maker Faire is coming right up! We’ll be there again and hope to see lots of you in San Mateo on May 30 and 31. Discounted tickets are only available through May 20, so if you’re planning to attend, get your tickets soon!

MiniPOV Cylon firmware

MiniPOV3 Cylon   MiniPOV3 Cylon head-on

The MiniPOVs were created by AdaFruit Industries. They Rebelled. They Evolved.
And now, they may be invading your front porch.

It’s an open secret that here at evilmadscientist we go both ways: analog and digital.

So, here is yet another way to get a Cylon pumpkin circuit– a useful component for halloween. (Yes, you can do KITT too, we won’t stop you.) We’ll spare you the carved pumpkins and dive right into the details.

There seem to be a lot of MiniPOV kits out there. If you’ve got one, this is a fast way to make a passable slowly-scanning eye.

Note that we are not using the “POV” part of the MiniPOV– you don’t need to wave your pumpkin back and forth; it really is just a slowly-moving image.

(You can get a MiniPOV direct from Adafruit or from the Make store, probably in time for the big day.)

This is a one minute project for some of you (you know who you are), but if you are really starting from scratch there isn’t any giant time advantage to going doing it this way instead of analog.

Once you have a working minipov, the first step is to download the firmware (4 kB .ZIP file) and unzip it. If you are programming the MiniPOV3 directly through its serial port,
pop open a terminal and move to the directory. Type (with a return after each line):

make all

make program

And… that’s it.

(If you have a GUI for programming AVRs and know how to use it, you can of course use that instead of programming through the terminal.)

If you are using some other AVR programmer or are programming a bare ATtiny2313 without a MiniPOV at all, you will need to edit the header of the included makefile to reflect the type of AVR programmer and the port where it is located. (And then, proceed with the instructions above.)

While this makes a pretty good looking pumpkin, there is still room for improvement in the firmware– the motion is reasonably smooth but doesn’t yet capture the incandescent fade that the analog versions do. I’ll leave it to the community to improve this firmware; if you have some better code, let me know and I’ll help roll it in.

Update:
Tim Charron sent in a greatly improved version of this program– please give it a try.

Time to Make a Cylon?

Make: HalloweenStarburst

Yay! We finally got our copy of the Make: Halloween Edition.

This special issue is actually available in two different covers, but we particularly like thisversion because of that little starburst: “Make an LED Jack-O’-Lantern!”

On page 60, you can find the article that we wrote about how to build the Larson Scanner (named after Glen A. Larson); a scanning eye for your old-school Cylon or KITT pumpkin projects.

Red Eye

The article is actually a slightly updated version of our project from last Halloween, Make A Cylon Jack-O-Lantern. Last year’s how-to is still online– and we have recently checked to make sure that all the parts on the parts list are still available.

Either way, let’s see those Cylons! If you build one, please post your pictures in the Evil Mad Science Auxiliary.