Looking for inspiration for your Halloween projects? Need ideas for snacks, costumes or decor? Not sure what to do with your pumpkins this year? Head over to the Halloween Project Archives for a list of our projects over the years.
- Pricing Niche Products
- An illustrated guide to San Francisco’s hidden restaurants
- Area woman heads to town and impulse-buys entire bookstore.
- Sea urchins have teeth that sharpen themselves
- Prop designers wax nostalgic on the hardest props of their careers
- We could send a tiny spacecraft to visit Interstellar Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), but it isn’t easy
- An incredible Shirt-Pocket Sound Movie Camera prototype from 1976
- How one town’s restauranteros built an empire
- Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Mark from MN wrote in to say:
I persuaded my school district’s community foundation to buy an AxiDraw for me to use with my high school geometry students. It’s SO GREAT! These kiddos are seeing their 2D creations come to life because of AxiDraw, which is a great motivator for their future studies (either computers or mathematics or art or all/some of the above).
Our friend Allie has a regular feature on her channel Tech-nic-Allie Speaking called Trumpet Case Tuesday where she highlights someone and puts their sticker on her trumpet case, and today, it’s us! She talks about EggBot, WaterColorBot, and AxiDraw, which was on Mythbusters Jr. with her last year. Thanks, Allie!
I’ve been using my Plum Chutney recipe for years and enjoying every batch. Our own plum tree is now mature and producing lots of wonderful fruit each year, so I have had many opportunities to reproduce and refine my recipe. Here’s my new spicier recipe, with notes below on ingredient changes and other tips I’ve learned over the years.Ingredients:
- 8 cups cut up pieces of plums, pits removed, skins left on, fresh or frozen
- 3 lemons, (optionally peeled) cut into small pieces, seeds removed
- juice from 3 more lemons
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated (a microplane works great) or cut into matchsticks
- 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 cups sugar (granulated or brown)
Throw everything except the sugar in a sauce pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts to soften. Add sugar and cook, stirring regularly, until it thickens to a consistency you like. You can test the consistency by putting a spoonful in a cold dish in the fridge for a few minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks after cooking. You can also follow your favorite canning procedure for longer term storage. Makes about 3-4 pints.
We’ve tended toward more flavor intensity in our cooking over time, and I’ve settled on a version with twice as much spice as before. Sometimes I’ll cut the some or all of the ginger into matchsticks instead of grating it, which results in little bursts of ginger flavor when you’re eating the chutney. If you like that, by all means, use matchsticks! For a more even flavor or consistency, stick to using the microplane. I added a small amount of salt, which makes all of the flavors shine just a little bit more.I’ve stopped adding water to my preserves. It cooks a little faster without as much liquid, and there’s enough liquid in the lemon juice to get it started cooking even if the fruit isn’t covered. I’ve also started removing the lemon peel for most of the preserves I make other than marmalade. The peel gives it a stronger lemon flavor, and keeps the pectin in the pith from gelling from as well. If you want a thicker consistency, you can leave the peel out. If you want zingier lemon flavor, leave it on.
One other consistency related tip: if I want a less chunky consistency, I use a potato masher to crush the fruit pieces early in the cooking. During fruit season, I try to preserve as much as I can by making jams and chutneys, but I usually run out of time and end up cutting up the last of the crop and freezing it. Using frozen fruit for jams seems to work just as well as fresh. The other thing I usually run out of is sugar, because I often forget how much it takes to make preserves, so I started using brown and granulated interchangeably in the chutney. I even used palm sugar once! Which sugar you use doesn’t seem to affect the flavor significantly, so use whichever you have on hand.
Corey Haber just posted a clip of his AxiDraw finishing its first painting:
Finished my first plotter painting using a custom 3D printed plotter paintbrush. 15 layers of color and 57,000 dots using @Liquitex acrylic paint. #plottertwitter #axidraw @EMSL #processing #creativecoding #generative pic.twitter.com/FqUnfahErH
— Cory Haber (@Cory_Haber) September 9, 2019
- Casting Glass from 3D Printed Molds
- Documentation on data storage and file formats
- Cats with Cameras
- Svg2Shenzhen: An Inkscape extension for exporting artwork as PCB graphics
- The “terrible” 3 cent MCU – a short survey of sub $0.10 microcontrollers.
- Sparktrola Tesla Coil Plasma Speaker
- Thermochromic temperature and humidity display
- Make your own GENIAC replica
- Carvone: One Molecule, Two Different Scents And Flavors
- hmm, a heightmap to 3D mesh utility.
- All about SpaceX’s Raptor engine by EveryDay Astronaut (YouTube)
- Keep your Tabagotchi happy by keeping fewer browser tabs open
- Why put googly eyes on robots?
We love any excuse to create science themed food, and we had a blast brainstorming our contribution to “Astro-Gastro” contest at the annual member meeting at the Fremont Peak Observatory. We settled on some of the things we love to show visitors to the observatory: Galaxies, globular clusters, and nebulas.
Cinnamon Pinwheel Galaxies are inspired by palmiers. They are made with puff pastry that is coated in cinnamon sugar and rolled up, sliced and baked. The recipe is identical to palmiers except that you first fold the pastry over itself a little further than halfway, and then roll up from the folded edge to create the spiral pattern that shows when you slice them.
We iced them with a chocolate icing derived from a recipe for Black And White cookies from Baking Illustrated. Melt 2 oz unsweetened chocolate in double boiler. Bring 2 Tbsp light caro syrup and 3.5 Tbsp water to a boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 2.5 cups powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Stir icing into chocolate in the double boiler. You may need to reheat the chocolate icing in the double boiler to keep it at a good consistency for spreading.
Immediately after spreading the icing on a cookie, very slightly moisten the top of the icing with water. You can either dip a finger in a dish of water and smooth a bit over the surface of the icing or use a water mister to give it a very light spritz. The water on the surface will make it sticky enough for the sprinkles to adhere to. Drop small white non pareil sprinkles over the center of the cookie. We used a small funnel held over center of the cookie, to create a dense cluster in the middle, and fewer and fewer as you reach the edges.
For the Meringue Nebulae, we divided a batch of meringue into two, and colored half of it with black food coloring. The other half we split again and colored with red and blue respectively, stopping before it was fully mixed in to allow for some color variation. We spread the blue meringue along one side of a piping bag, and red along the other. Then we filled the middle with the grey. We piped the mixture out with a #12 icing tip in a wavy, uneven fashion. Using two different sizes of non pareil sprinkles made it look like there were stars of different brightness in our nebulae.
Other astronomers brought moon rock smores, almond asteroid cookies, and an Orion constellation cake. We’re tickled that the Cinnamon Pinwheel Galaxy won the contest against such fun competition.
I am a fan of science as an art subject, and Michael’s protein ribbon diagram drawings are a great example. A ribbon diagram depicts the 3D structure of the protein as well as the common secondary structures of helixes, strands, and coils.
In addition to making the drawings, he has a twitter bot that publishes ribbon diagrams and has published the code for the project. This ribbon diagram was one that we got to see at the Plotter People meetup in San Francisco.
Michael hits another of my weaknesses, vintage gaming with his NES Sparklines drawings.
For these drawings, I use an NES emulator (of my own creation) to record a snapshot of the Nintendo’s RAM at each frame (60 fps). The NES only had 2048 bytes of RAM. For each address in memory, I plot its values over time as an individual sparkline. I only show addresses that changed at least once, so there are usually fewer than 2048 sparklines. Because each game developer used the memory in different ways, each game produces its own unique look when plotted.
He also plotted something dear to our hearts (and close to the heart of the NES), the MOS 6502 processor.
One subject that I’ve often thought appropriate for plotting are maps, and Michael’s topographic maps are elegant. Again, in addition to making drawings, he has provided his code for working with AWS terrain data as well.
Michael sells drawings, and accepts commissions for favorite NES games, proteins, map regions, and even cellular automata. He has projects on wide ranging subjects, not limited to pen plotters, so go check them out!