Friday, November 20, 2009

Remote Volume Knob

Remote Volume Knob
Paulo Rebordao | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 2 pgs | 1 mb
There's nothing like hard work to get your mind
running. Having to get up from the couch to adjust
the volume on my old stereo amp several times
each night got me thinking. I didn't want to buy
a new stereo, so I came up with a plug-in remote
volume controller that you can easily adapt to
anything with a reasonable-sized volume knob.

My circuit uses a Picaxe-08M microcontroller,
which is programmable in BASIC, and a TSOP2238
infrared receiver, which sees signals from any
Sony (or compatible) TV remote. The removable
device hangs off the volume knob, attached with

At the top, an R/C servomotor turns the knob
through about 180° of travel, which should be
enough range for most environments. At the
bottom, 3 AA batteries act as a "keel," weighing
that end down so that the knob is forced to turn.

G-Meter and Altimeter

G-Meter and Altimeter
Double-duty aerospace instrument on a shoestring budget
David Simpson | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 4 pgs | 2 mb
Here's an aerospace instrument you can build for
$5 that will measure the crushing forces that a
model rocket withstands and the rarified strata it
attains. It isn't exactly six-sigma technology in
terms of accuracy, but it's darn fun.

The device, which you install in the rocket's
payload compartment, uses 2 small bands of
heat-shrink tubing that slide over a dowel to record
the maximum G-force and altitude attained. As
the rocket accelerates, the G-force band is pushed
down by washers on a spring, and as the rocket
rises, the altitude band is pushed down the rod by
the expansion of a pressure chamber made from a
pill bottle and a rubber-balloon membrane.

Pole's-Eye View

Pole's-Eye View
William Gurstelle | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 9 pgs | 3 mb

Sometimes nothing is as important
as perspective. My goal in photography
is often to find a view no one else has
found, to be able to see things from
unusual and insightful vantage points.

The most practical way to obtain the
elusive aerial perspective is by attaching
a camera to a pole. While not trivial, it's
not complicated, either. Making a pole-
mounted camera rig like the Sky Eye
takes about a day, not including trips to
the store. You can make the rig and
use it the same day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5-Minute Foam Factory

5-Minute Foam Factory
Bob Knetzger | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 9 pgs | 3 mb
What keeps your coffee warm but also
rides the cold Pacific surf? What's in the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but makes an
annoying, squeaky sound? Even though
it's banned in over 100 cities, you can
find it just about everywhere. What is it?
It's expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam.

Styrofoam is a great insulator (for hot drink
cups and wall insulation), lightweight and
stiff, and impervious to water (great for
surfboards). Unfortunately, it's also
impractical to recycle and can be an
unsightly part of the waste stream. Our
landfills and waterways are filling up with
discarded coffee cups, store meat trays,
and take-out packaging.

With this easy hot-wire foam cutter, you
can reuse this leftover EPS foam to create
treasures from trash!

The Spinning Cylinder Illusion

The Spinning Cylinder Illusion
Donald Simanek | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 3 pgs | 1 mb
I've not been able to track down the origin of
this homemade toy, but it isn't very well known
outside the community of physics teachers. It's
a kinetic illusion, one that depends on physical
motion to make you see something that isn't there.

A familiar example of a kinetic illusion is the
strobe effect sometimes seen in old movies, causing
the spokes of a carriage wheel to seem to be turning
in the wrong direction.

In its simplest form, this toy consists of a hollow
cylinder of rigid plastic. The version in these photos
is 4cm long and 1cm in diameter, with 2mm wall
thickness. It was cut from a piece of polyethylene
plastic tubing that happened to be lying on my
workbench. Whatever tubing you use, be sure to
choose a very straight piece.

Flipping Faces

Flipping Faces
Reveal the assymetry in familiar features--- including your own
Erico Narita | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 2 pgs | .3 mb
None of us is perfectly symmetrical, but our eyes tend not to notice irregularities in faces we see many times. Anyone watching national TV news, for instance, had eight years to get familiar with Dick Cheney's lopsided grin, and a previous generation had an equal amount of time to get used to Ronald Reagan's crooked smile.

To see these features more clearly, select one half of the face and reflect it, so that the 2 sides become identical. Then select the other half and reflect that, and compare the 2 versions. The results will be surprising.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shadowless Closeups

Shadowless Closeups
A simple setup for better auction photos
Charles Platt | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 2 pgs | .3 mb
A friend of mine used to take the photographs for the sales catalogs printed by Sotheby's, the old-school auction house. Since many of the items up for sale were worth tens of thousands of dollars, they had to look good.

When I'm selling little items on eBay, I think it's still worth taking a little trouble to enhance their appearance instead of just using a flash photo of something sitting on a kitchen table. The main thing I learned from my friend is that if you place an object on an elevated glass plate and use a large, diffuse light source, your object will seem to float in space instead of sitting on its own shadow.

Create an Insect Eye

Create an Insect Eye
Make a multifaceted image from any portrait photo
Charles Platt | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 2 pgs | .4 mb
I wanted an insect-eye effect in Photoshop, but I wasn't satisfied with the ones that I found as plugins. So I made my own. This procedure works with Photoshop 6 or later.


Turn your favorite blonde into a silk-screened glamour queen
James Grant | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 2 pgs | .3 mb
When Andy Warhol made his famous silk-screened prints of Marilyn Monroe, he started with a simple idea: use a high-contrast black-and-white photo, and overprint it with bold swatches of color. Is that idea simple enough for us to emulate it with modern image-editing software? Let's find out. This will work in Photoshop 6 or later versions.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Surface Mount Soldering

Surface Mount Soldering
Techniques for making modern circuits
Scott Driscoll | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 8 pgs | 2 mb
When cellphones were housed in briefcases,
manufactured electronics had easy-to-solder
leads. Now phones fit in pockets, and the smaller
surface-mount devices (SMDs) inside are driving
through-hole components into extinction.

SMDs can cost less than their old-school equiva-
lents, and many newer devices, including most
accelerometers, are only available in SMD format.

If you design printed circuit boards, using
SMT (surface-mount technology) and putting
components on both sides makes them cheaper
and smaller. This may not matter on a robot, but it
helps a project fit into a mint tin or hang off a kite.

SMDs are designed for precise machinery to
mass-assemble onto densely packed PCBs. Their
tiny leads may look impossible for human hands
to work with, but there are several good, relatively
inexpensive methods that don't require a $1,000-
and-up professional SMT soldering station.

Alien Projector

Alien Projector
Brian McNamara | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 1 pgs | .2 mb
This simple projector shines an image of an alien
on the wall. It uses an LED as the light source and
projects an image varying in size from a few inches
to several feet.The simple circuit consists of only a
battery, resistor, switch, and LED.

24 Hours of Make: Television

24 Hours of Make: Television
Building a TV show is a project in itself
Dale Dougherty | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 4 pgs | 1 mb
It's already late on a Sunday in September in
St. Paul, Minn. In the studios of Twin Cities Public
Television (TPT), there are ten people working
on Make: television, a new PBS show that will be
a companion to this magazine.

The set is a workshop, within a larger workshop
normally used for set construction. The team is
shooting a build for Maker Workshop, the segment
that shows viewers how to make something in each
episode. It's important to get this segment right. It's
like demonstrating a recipe on a cooking show, but
the ingredients and the process are more technical.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sparky 2: No Sellout

Sparky 2: No Sellout
My robotic alter ego steps out -- open source
Marque Cornblatt | Make Vol. 16- 2008 | Pdf | 4 pgs | 2 mb
I spent much of my childhood dismantling toys
and gadgets and cobbling them back together in
interesting ways. One proud example combined
a slot car, a one-function wireless remote, a 9-volt
battery, and a few fabricated gears and bits to
create (in my mind, in the early 80s) the world's
smallest remote control car.

The 2-inch vehicle was top-heavy and had too
much torque, but it accelerated violently to the
right every time I pressed the remote button -- it
worked! - until it finally tore itself apart, like a tiny
top-fuel dragster. In my mind it was a success, and
it sparked my lifelong interest in interactive, kinetic

Make Vol. 15- 2008: Workshop

Make Vol. 15- 2008: Workshop
Pdf | 6 pgs | 2 mb

Make Vol. 15- 2008: Home

Make Vol. 15- 2008: Home
Pdf | 6 pgs | 2 mb