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Adam Savage's Maker Tour: Albert and Tina Small Center For Collaborative Design

Adam Savage is on a tour of maker spaces around the country. He visited the Tulane School of Architecture’s Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, where students are assigned real-world projects. He went to a local homeless shelter “to learn about one of the center’s recent builds: an outdoor space that the class conceived, designed and built in just 16 weeks!”

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Strollers suck so these designers made their own amazing, lightweight, compact marvel

Tim from Windfire Designs writes, “We got excited about making our own stroller after getting sick of trying to choose between really giant expensive and clunky strollers, or putting up with cheap, throw away strollers. We made our own — which is always great — because we could decide what was cool, rather than being told and sold. This thing goes everywhere, and the kiddo loves it. This video should show others the path to not accepting the de facto standards in stroller design.”

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Favorite tools of Danielle Applestone, CEO of Other Machine Co.

Our guest this week on the Cool Tools Show is Danielle Applestone. Danielle is a material scientist, co-founder and CEO of Other Machine Co., the leading manufacturer of high-precision desktop CNC milling machines. Formerly, Danielle ran a DARPA project to develop digital design software and manufacturing tools for the classroom. Danielle’s team took that technology and launched Other Machine Co. in 2013.

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Show notes:

monarch

Monarch Instrument Examiner 1000 ($1,200)

“I came across this electronic stethoscope as part of our manufacturing process. We would get motors from a manufacturer that looked balanced and met a spec, but once we put the whole machine together, sometimes a machine would have a lot of vibration and we didn’t know how to quantify that vibration or to know what was good or what was bad. … There’s a lot of intuition when you’re putting something complicated together like “Well, it feels right,” or “It doesn’t feel right.” That’s really hard to do so we found this amazing thing, which cut a ton of time out of our manufacturing process and now we have beautiful graphs of everything. We know exactly what things vibrate and which ones don’t. You can use it on musical instruments. It’s an amazing tool. Once you have one you realize how much you needed one in your life.”

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Bicycle inner tubes with holes in them

“I came across bicycle inner tubes with holes in them through a friend who had made a sail boat that was attached only with these bicycle inner tubes —it was a catamaran. The reason why they’re so important is they are waterproof, they stretch, and you don’t have to tie them in knots, so you can latch things together really quickly and then undo them, and make a new configuration. … They’re used a little bit like a bungee cord, but bungee cords are really expensive and you have to make do with the hooks whereas if you take a long inner tube that has a hole in it — you’re not going to use it anyway — slice it up into strips. It’s like a variable length bungee cord, but it also doesn’t have the hooks so you can just wrap it around itself and tuck it under and it’ll stay put.”

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The Encyclopedia of Country Living ($20)

“This is a great tool. This is so comprehensive for every little thing. I moved out into Kentucky and lived on 1200 acres for a while and didn’t have much. It was the go-to for, “Okay, we need to build a shanty for chickens. We need to learn how to clean a chicken.” It has everything, like “How to bury your own dead.” … The thing that’s magic about this book is it has the right level of detail, just enough to get yourself in trouble. … It’s just enough to get you going and then you can kind of DIY the rest. I still use it. The pages are all rained on, and moldy, and whatever, but it’s well loved.”

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X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer

“Yeah, well we just went from just about the lowest tech to the highest tech thing I’ve ever laid my hands on. … What’s great about this tool is it’s super useful for telling what’s on the surface of materials. I used to be a material scientist and I worked on lithium ion batteries. The surface is where all the action is. There’s not a lot of techniques out there that are nondestructive. Usually, if you invent a material, you have a sample, you have to crush it up or put it on a slide, you have to do something to it that mixes the surface in with the bulk. Sometimes, you don’t want that. … The X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer is amazing because you can just put a sample in and it’s nondestructive …. How it works is you take a beam of x-ray, so you shoot photons at the surface of your material and those photons have enough energy to pick off electrons. A photon goes in, ejects an electron, and then there’s a collector that collects that electron and measures the kinetic energy, measures how fast it was moving. Then, if you know the energy of your x-ray going in, and the energy of that electron that you caught, you can just subtract and figure out how tightly bound was that electron to my surface. What’s cool about that is if you know how tightly a molecule was hanging onto it’s electron, you can tell what that molecule was. Whether it was a sulfur dioxide, or sulfur monoxide, the electrons that are swimming around those molecules will be held differently depending on what those molecules are. … The place that I used one was at the University of Texas at Austin. They’re quite common, but they’re usually at universities, or national labs … They’re millions of dollars.”

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A kid-friendly electronics board that you can program from the web

Peegar is an Arduinio-style electronics kit that you design programs for by dragging and dropping Scratch-style objects around in a browser; when you’re done, the program is converted to a brief snatch of sound that you transmit through the board by plugging a standard audio cable into your device’s headphone jack.
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Kickstarting a car-hacking tool that lets you take control of your own vehicle

The fully-funded Macchina project on Kickstarter is an Arduino-based, “open, versatile” gadget that bypasses the DRM in your car’s network, allowing you to configure it to work the way you want it to, so you can customize your car in all kinds of cool ways.
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A master of miniature model-making shares his hard-earned secrets

I first discovered David Neat’s work via his website where he delves deeply into all sorts of fascinating interests, from furniture design to natural history to art. Mainly what drew me there was his extensive tutorials on all aspects of miniature model-making. The amount of content he’s posted is staggering, as is the quality of everything. Read comments about David’s site (or this book) and you will hear from seasoned pros, surprised by how much they’ve learned from David’s work.

Model-Making: Materials and Methods collects some of David’s best content from the site. While only 176 pages, this book manages to cram in a lot of eye-opening tips and techniques for building miniatures. David comes from the theater set-building world and teaches design and model-making, mainly with theater, TV, and movie models in mind, but the techniques in this book can be applied to all forms of model-making, from dioramas and dollhouses to tabletop miniature games and train layouts. Chapters cover model construction, molding and casting, working with metals, creating surfaces and textures (one of David’s strong suits), and finishing techniques.

I love a book that has so much to offer, you can simply poke your head into it for a few minutes and you’ve added a few more wrinkles to your brain by the time you put it down. Model-Making: Materials and Methods is such a book.

Model-Making: Materials and Methods

by David Neat

Crowood Press

2008, 176 pages, 8.5 x 0.5 x 11.0 inches, Hardcover

$33 Buy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

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“Artisanal” Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog.
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The Bathgate Artifact Spinner: a beautiful, hand-machined fidget toy

Machinist/sculptor Chris Bathgate (previously) continues his foray into collaborations to make gorgeous, hand-machined fidget today (see: the slider; spinning tops, slider mark II): his latest is a “spinner,” made in collaboration with Mike Hogarty and Callye Keen from Revolvemakers.
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Punk tech versus consumer tech

The interview I recently did for the Working Together Podcast is live.

Here’s a link to the episode with lots of detailed shownotes on Stefan’s Working Together blog.

We talked about my upbringing, the Maker Movement, “punk tech” versus “consumer tech”, the blockchain, and some of the books and mentors who have inspired me over the years.

If you like what you hear, you can subscribe to his show through the usual directories: iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherTuneIn and so on.

The host of the show, Stefan, also encouraged anyone using iTunes to rate and review the podcast as he welcomes your feedback and support, and it helps the show get discovered by more listeners!

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Bake: a pixel-art Mario pie for National Pie Day

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) writes, “It is National Pie Day in America tomorrow (not to be confused with “International Pi Day” – the cooler big cousin of pie holidays on March 14th…) In honour of this occasion I’ve posted a new tutorial video that is very attainable for any novice pie-geeks out there thinking about whipping something up nifty. It features our favourite 8 bit plumber hero, with a special guest appearance at the end.”

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Portal for the Apple ][+, //e and related systems

Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal — “the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007” — to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit — inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has “the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors.” He’s released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, as well as sourcecode.
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