TGIMBOEJ: One year later

TGIMBOEJ - new logo
One of the big projects that we launched in 2008 is The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk, a pay-it-forward style hardware sharing program for electronics.

Since our original article, TGIMBOEJ (pronounced Tig-Ihm-Boh-Edge) has somewhat taken on a life of its own. In that article, we set up simple guidelines for how to pass the box along, and in the interim we have taken a “laissez-faire” approach, watching and learning from the successes and troubles with that model.

Our mostly-hands-off approach to supervising TGIMBOEJ has worked remarkably well in some respects. There are upwards of 40 circulating boxes now, which have passed through hundreds of hands. And, hundreds of other people have signed up on our wiki site tgimboej.org as potential recipients.

On the down side, the mean free path of many of the boxes has been far too short– some have made it just one hop before stopping.

In talking to folks about the boxes that got stuck, we identified three main stories (all of which point us towards fairly obvious solutions):

1: “I sent it to some guy, but I haven’t heard anything since then.”
2: “Oh yeah– I’ve been meaning to ship it for some time.”
3: “I got this box and I don’t know what to do with it.”

So now, it’s time to get serious. First, we’ve been contacting the last known recipients of the stalled boxes, and trying to get more of the existing boxes back into circulation. Second, we’re relaunching the tgimboej.org wiki site with a wholly new set of participation instructions and procedures.

To keep boxes in circulation longer, we’re now encouraging that boxes should be sent to people who have specifically requested to participate– i.e., people who are familiar with how the project works. We’ve also introduced language in the revised instructions that will guide participants to keep an eye on their box, even after it leaves their hands.

To further alleviate the potential problem of people ending up with boxes but not knowing what to do with them, we’re standardizing the printed materials that go into each new box.

TGIMBOEJ Forms -- low res

Gone are the cute but scrawled little notebooks, replaced by two neat PDF forms– one to log the progress of the box, and the other with detailed instructions on how to participate.

Finally, we’re launching eight new TGIMBOEJ boxes this week, which — along with the others that are coming back into circulation — will help to increase the number and rate of box exchanges.

So now it’s your turn. If you would enjoy trading electronics with like-minded individuals, this is becoming a great time to participate in The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk.

To get started, please read about how it works on the TGIMBOEJ wiki, and if you’re game, add your name to the list of Box Requests.

Charming Japanese Notebooks

Japanese Notebooks  Japanese Notebooks

“Most advanced quality Gives best writing features” is a great not-quite-nonsensical slogan we found on a charming little notebook from Kinokuniya’s stationery store in Japantown in San Francisco. Another is “Made of paper specially prepared in Tokyo.” Or is that “Made of paper” and the booklet is “Specially prepared in Tokyo”? In either case, we’re always on the lookout for little booklets for TGIMBOEJ and these fit the bill perfectly.

Japanese Notebooks

20 millicenturies of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Evil

Happy birthday to us! Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories is now two years of age. Collected below is a “Best of Evil Mad Scientist” for the past year: Some of our favorite projects that we’ve published over the last twelve months. Here’s to the next year!

Quick projects:

Set of bands
Rubberbands made from old bicycle innertubes.

vertical light tent setup
Light tent made from a lampshade.

Still life with yellow paper (group shot 2)
Chip bugs

Enterprise
Bristlebots

Sizing
Spool spinner from an old fan.

Quick C to D adapter
The $1.00 C to D adapter

Electronics projects

Weekend Projects Podcast!
How to make a Joule Thief from Make: Weekend Projects.

lights off?
How to make a dark-detecting LED night light.

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk
The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junk

Finished 1
How to make a Sawed-off USB Key

AVR microcontroller projects

ADXL3XX
Using an ADXL330 accelerometer with an AVR microcontroller

Snapper - 09
Snap-o-lantern

Kit Projects

XX8_complete
AVR Target Boards

Four Panels 2
Interactive Table Kits

Resist1- Wall hanging
Peggy

grayscale
Peggy v 2.0

Crafty Projects

Q*bert close-up
QuiltBert

vintage software book handbag
Software Handbag

iPod inside
iPod cozy

Earrings 2
Fimo Fractals

Miniature Art Car
Mini Art Cars

New wing
Umbrella Bat Costume v 2.0

Food Hacking

cooking
Cooking hotdogs

555 LED flasher 1
Circuitry Snacks

Googly FSM
Edible Googly Eyes

Sierpinski Cookies-11
Fractal Cookies

CandyFab

Sugar Chain
Printing complex shapes: Sugar Chain

Before and after 2
Candyfab improvements: higher resolution and edible output

Papercraft:

Usage 3: First operand
Rotary Fraction Adding Machine

toner - 15
Electric Origami

Observations & silly projects:

Cat volume computation
Volume of a cat

Gourds
Pacman Halloween

Lego Projects:

Lego Shooter
Forbidden Lego review & build

Technic Bits
Efficient Lego Storage

Reviews:

suction tool
Obscure electronics tools

Lee Valley & Veritas catalog
Lee Valley & Veritas Catalog Review

Teardowns:

Twisted leads (close-up)
LED Stoplight

All the parts
pedometer
hp2600n - 178
HP Color LaserJet 2600n

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk is a progressive lending library of electronic components. An internet meme in physical form halfway between P2P zip-archive sharing and a flea market. It arrives full of wonderful (and possibly useless) components, but you will surely find some treasures to keep. You will be inspired look through your own piles, such as they are, and find more mysterious components that clearly need to be donated to the box before it is passed on again.

Recipient Conditions for The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk:

  1. Take out and add as much electronics junk as you like (but keep it small enough to fit in a USPS flat-rate Priority Mail box).
  2. Write up, photograph, document or otherwise publish in some way online at least one thing you took out (suggested flickr tag: TGIMBOEJ).
  3. There is a little book in the box. Add a checkmark by your name to show that the box has been to you. Also propose a future recipient by adding their name and e-mail address to the book.
  4. Within two weeks pass the box along to one of the people whose name is in the book. Before mailing it to them, send them this list and make sure that they want to participate.

If you get the box, who you should send it to?

A proposed recipient should be someone you suspect of having a critical mass of (or at least sufficiently interesting) electronics junk, should have a non-zero online presence, and should be reliable enough that you think they actually will send it off again within two weeks. (Naturally, bonus points for open source oriented hardware hackers.)

Why would you want to get a box of junk in the mail?

As Mark Frauenfelder observed in Make: vol. 12, there is a certain importance to keeping a junk box for future projects. We heartily agree. Perhaps a component in the box– or the box itself– will inspire your next project. Or just maybe it will have that frobnicated interoceter you’ve been looking for forever. Or maybe you just want to join our fledgling junk-sharing movement because it’s fun.

Don’t sweat the details.

Can you say “no” if someone offers you the box? Yes. Can you send it to the person whose name you wrote down? Yes. Can you send it to someone who already has a checkmark by their name? Yes. If the box gets too full, can you split the contents in two and send them in two different directions? Yes (but don’t forget to add a new book to the new box).

So, what did we take from the box before readying it for its next trip? Here are a few of our favorites:

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk   The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk

A piece of plastic fiber-optic cable.Some beautiful capacitors which will round out our wine charm set nicely.

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk   The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk

A couple of nifty old-school right-angle DIP sockets.Three nicely made phillips flat-head machine screws with great heft.

(And what did we put into the box? Not to name names, but we did add a small pile of cool and most mysterious components to help the box along on its journey.)


Update:

A commenter asked “So this sounds cool, how does one participate?”

  1. When someone e-mails you and asks if you want to participate, say YES and send them your mailing address!
  2. Work towards meeting the guidelines for proposed recipients: save interesting electronics junk and make sure that you have some online presence.
  3. If necessary, suggest to people participating in the project that you might be a good candidate.
  4. Take that one step further: Set up a wiki and start a network of people interested in participating in the project. (List people’s web sites, not e-mail addresses!)
  5. Alone, or with some friends, start your own box and send it off. What goes around comes around!

PS: On the topic of setting up a wiki: We’ll offer to host it if we get five serious volunteer administrators who will set up and run the site. Want to be one?

Update 2:

This is not chain mail. You do not send it to “the next person on the list.” You send it to a worthyrecipient, as determined by your own judgement. The purpose of the lists is to help identify proposed recipients who might meet the recipient conditions and exchange interesting junk with the box.

(By the way– we still need a couple more volunteers for a potential wiki site.)

Update 3:

There are many boxes. And they have a plan.

Update 4:

We have a wiki now! http://tgimboej.org/

Update 5:

(7/2009) A year later, we’ve learned a lot and updated procedures. Please see updated guidelines here.