Are you a Maker? Get Your Projects Into MAKE

make Do you make stuff? Do you have fun projects you’ve developed with electronics, or crafting, or furniture, or toys? If so, MAKE wants to hear it! As the voice of the maker community, we want to be YOUR voice to show off the fun things you’re doing in your workshop, gameroom, or garage.

All you have to do is visit our CONTRIBUTE page, and pick “Submit an Article or Project” to give us all the details. If we fall in love with your project, a MAKE editor will contact you to take the next steps and bring you into the family.


MAKE and RadioShack Expand Partnership

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Very soon, it’s going to be a lot easier to find great projects, materials, and tools for prospective makers to build with and use to expand their skills. This week, just in time for Maker Faire Bay Area, RadioShack and Maker Media announced a major expansion of their partnership.

“Adding to the popular Make line of kits, like ‘Getting Started with Arduino,’ the new cobranded product lineup from Maker Media and RadioShack combine Maker Media’s strength in cultivating and growing the maker movement with RadioShack’s strong retail footprint and DIY heritage,” said Dale Dougherty, founder and CEO of Maker Media. “Our new cobranded products are designed to give makers a path to making while they continue to develop their skills and push the limits of their creativity.”

New Make-branded kits, tools, materials, and guidebooks will start landing in RadioShack stores nationwide this Fall, broadening the availbility of great DIY resources and hopefully introducing many new makers-to-be to the world-wide movement.


How-To: The Panjolele Cake Pan Ukulele

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What can you make with two cake pans, 20 toothpicks, some lumber, and a handful of screws? A Panjolele! Whitehall, Michigan-based maker Chester Winowiecki loves to make his own musical instruments. A few years back, Chester wanted to make a cigar box ukulele and had the box and wood, but needed to order the frets and a slotted fretboard. Itching to make, he thought about how to substitute those parts:

I remembered someone using toothpicks for frets on cigar box guitars, and while I was wary of steel strings cutting into the wooden frets, I thought a ukulele’s nylon strings should be fine. Toothpicks for frets: check. I’d also seen a lot of instruments built with cookie tins for the body, so I headed to the local resale shop to look for one. No tins, but what I did find was even better. Nice, rigid aluminum cake pans, in two sizes. “Resophonic instruments use aluminum cones, don’t they?” I thought. Cake pans for the body: check. I brought my treasures home and found a nice piece of hardwood for the neck. Luckily, I had a set of tuners and strings on hand. I got to work and a few days later, I had a cake pan uke! The name? Early in ukulele history, Alvin D. Keech introduced a banjo ukulele that eventually got the name banjolele. Looking like it does, it seemed natural to call my instrument a Cake Pan-jolele, or Panjolele for short.

So while you do indeed tuners and strings, the rest of the tools and materials list is pretty basic. Chester shared his full how-to on the pages of MAKE Volume 33. We posted it on our site so you can start gathering materials and building right away.

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And the sound? Check out Chester playing “Sweet Georgia Brown”:

And Chester accompanied by Adrian Schuster, his bandmate in the Bearded Ladies Men, jammin out Robert Johnson’s 1936 classic “They’re Red Hot”:

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MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: Grow Super Hot Ghost Chilis

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There’s no better way to spice up your garden than growing one of the world’s hottest chili peppers: Bhut Jolokia, otherwise known as the ghost chili. In 2007, the ghost chili was certified as the hottest pepper in the world by Guinness World Records, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce and 125 times hotter than the spiciest jalapeño. (The current world record goes to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.) It’s so hot that in 2009 India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the peppers in hand grenades. Before you get carried away, though, the ghost chili can be used for peaceful, tasty purposes too. In MAKE Volume 33, Portland, Oregon-based maker Gabriel Nagmay taught us how to grow this lovely little pepper and even shared his recipe for Belizean-style Ghost Sauce. Check out Gabriel’s full how-to and invite the ghost into your garden.

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Illustration by Evan Hughes


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MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: Digital Pinhole Photography

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Nearly 40 years ago, scientist and author Forrest M. Mims III wrote an article titled “The Pinhole: A ‘Lens’ that Just Won’t Quit” that was published in the April 1974 issue of Popular Photography. His enthusiasm for pinhole photography, taking photographs with a 35mm film camera equipped with a pinhole instead of a lens, hasn’t waned over the years.

In MAKE Volume 33, Forrest shares his simple tutorial for taking pinhole shots with a digital camera, as part of his ongoing Country Scientist column. He first gives us background on characteristics of pinhole photographs and exposure times, then teaches how to make a super basic foil pinhole as well as a better aluminum pinhole from a soda can. Check out the full how-to.

From the article, here are some pinhole images Forrest has taken, along with explanations:

Figure A shows the sharpening that resulted from reducing the pinhole size from 0.6mm to 0.3mm. Three images of the sun and an arrow on a computer screen, photographed through 3 pinholes mounted on a Canon 40D digital camera. The largest pinhole (the width of a 0.6mm-wide pin) produced the brightest but fuzziest images (at right). The smallest pinhole (0.3mm) produced the dimmest but sharpest images. m33_countrysci_fig_a Another characteristic of pinhole cameras is nearly infinite depth of field. Make a pinhole photo of a very close object with a distant building or mountain in the background — it’s all in focus. You can even use the sun for the distant object (Figure B), but it will be fuzzy unless the exposure is brief. Handheld beverage-can pinhole image of barbed wire illuminated by flash and the morning sun (1/60 sec., ISO 320). Pinholes punched through foil or thin metal leave behind a projection of torn metal on the exit side known as a crown burr. Pinhole photographers often remove the burr with sandpaper. When left in place, the burr can cause uniquely beautiful effects, especially when making pinhole photos of the sun, as shown in Figure C. m33_countrysci_figc Pinholes admit much less light than a conventional camera lens, so exposures must be longer. This usually means the camera must be mounted on a tripod or placed on a stable surface. But thanks to the high sensitivity of digital cameras, handheld photos are often possible when the scene is brightly illuminated. I’ve made handheld pinhole photos at speeds from 1/30 second (bright sunlight) to 1/8,000 second (the sun itself). Figure D shows three dramatically different views of a high-voltage power transmission tower, all made without a tripod. m33_countrysci_figd

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MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: Brew Sake

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Sake, the delicate Japanese alcoholic beverage, is said to have originated in the Nara period (710–794 AD). And though it’s often referred to as rice wine, sake is produced using a grain-based brewing process more like that of beer. Surprisingly, sake is easy to make, requires only four ingredients, and can be made using basic beer-brewing equipment in about 12 to 15 days. Fermentation specialist Alastair Bland walks us through the eight steps on the pages of MAKE Volume 33.

From his intro:

Brewing sake requires rice, water, yeast, and, finally, one more essential component: a mold native to East Asia called Aspergillus oryzae. We have this critter to thank for black bean sauce, soy sauce, miso, and other cultured food products of Asia. A. oryzae releases an enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugar. Since sugar is what yeast turns into ethanol, the first step in making sake is to convert steamed rice into a sticky, sweet porridge. Purists may wish to start from scratch by buying spores of the A. oryzae mold and sprinkling it over a batch of steamed rice. Here, the mold blooms and does its magic: the grain turns as sweet as candy. The rice is now called malt-rice, or koji, and can be dried or frozen and stored for months until needed for brewing. Most sake homebrewers opt to purchase dried, premade koji ready to use. A favored product is that of Cold Mountain, which sells 20oz plastic containers full of dried rice inoculated with A. oryzae. You’ll also need yeast, and many beer and wine yeasts do just fine. In advanced sake brewing, the water and its particular mineral content are a matter of concern, but beginners can use clean tap water. Finally, there’s the rice. Brown rice is commonly advised against, since the outer layers of each unhusked kernel contain proteins and fats that can, by some opinions, produce off-flavors. Commercial brewers use specially bred sake rice varieties, but these are expensive. Fortunately, table rice can make very respectable sake. The magic moment of brewing arrives when the lid of the bucket is removed. Here, where 2 weeks before was a slurry of rice, fungi, and warm water, is now a naturally transformed beverage. If all went well, the aromas should be beautiful — stone fruits and guava and flower petals — and to think that they all came from polished white pearls of rice can be astounding. To see firsthand that sake can easily be produced in a bucket in one’s kitchen is just as thrilling.

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Read Alastair’s full sake tutorial and try your hand at making your own.

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MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: Finger-Gesture Lock Box

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Want to ditch that combination lock and bring your lock box into the 21st century? California-based best selling tech author Gordon McComb shows us how to pair an optical finger navigation (OFN) module with an Arduino and a small motor to create a lock box that reads your finger gestures across a small optical window, opening only to a combination you create. You can build your own by checking out Gordon’s how-to, which originally appeared on the pages of MAKE Volume 32.

In the intro, Gordon writes:

The OFN sensor works much like an optical mouse, except it’s intended to be used in direct contact with your finger. They are used in handheld devices where a trackpad would be too large, but because they are more expensive than trackballs, they’re not common in consumer products. Movement across the small surface of the sensor is converted to X and Y distance measurements — up, down, left, and right. Sequences of these movements make up the combination of the lock. For this project I’m using the Parallax OFN module, which puts a commercial OFN sensor on a breakout board that provides connectors for power (3.3V to 5V), ground, and 6 signal lines. The OFN module uses 2-wire I2C to communicate with a microcontroller, and has additional I/O pins for such things as the momentary pushbutton switch that engages when you push the optical sensor down. The locking mechanism uses a standard-size R/C servomotor that’s glued into the bottom of the box. To lock the box, the turning servo engages a metal arm attached inside the box’s lid. Turning the other way, it frees the bar, letting you open the lid. An Arduino microcontroller works as the main brain of the lock box, handling all the communications with the OFN module, controlling the servo, and even making musical tones on a small piezo speaker. For my box, I used a plain 8″ square cigar box from a craft store — no need to smoke a bunch of stogies. The wood is unfinished; stain or paint to suit. You don’t get Fort Knox with these boxes, but they’ll keep out the casual thief.

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MAKE Volume 32: Design for Makers

Forget duct tape and baling wire — now makers can design and manufacture things as beautiful as Apple and as slick as Dyson. We’ll show you how to conceive and visualize great-looking projects with our speed course in industrial design. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: DIY Welding Rod

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Brooklyn-based maker Chris Hackett is founder and director of the Madagascar Institute, whose slogan is: “Fear is never boring.” Can’t argue with that! In MAKE Volume 33, Hackett shows us how to make our own welding rods.

In his intro he writes:

There are a bunch of DIY welder articles and how-tos out in the maker ether, ranging from the super-simple, dumb, and brutally effective (three car batteries, wired in series) to the high-tech and fancy (TIG machines from microwave bits, oxy-hydrogen torches from split water and plumbing supplies). With all of the information out there, it is safe to say that experienced makers will be expertly fusing metal even if an oddly specific, exceptionally brutal catastrophe were to strike the welding industry. If civilization and supply chains collapse the anti-zombie fences will still get built, and the Thunderdome will be sturdy and made from steel. However, all of the DIY welders I have seen assume you have access to welding rod. … The standard, coated arc-welding rod is the common currency of welding, used to hold the world together. They are ubiquitous. You can get them everywhere. Until you can’t. … Even the finest DIY welder is useless without welding rod. I did a bunch of research, Google-ing and drilling down through increasingly sketchy forums, ranging from the mainstream DIY to the super-sketchy survivalist fringe. Tons of interesting information on every imaginable topic, but, as far as I can tell, it seems like no one has ever made their own welding rod and documented it online. A minor, but potentially crucial gap in the DIY world, solved here. Basically, a steel rod is wrapped in cellulose (paper) soaked in sodium silicate. The wrapping is crimped to maintain close contact with the rod. The electrodes are then dried out (I used a toaster oven — a rod oven, or some time in the sun should do the trick as well).

You know those silica gel packets (usually labeled “Desiccant: Do Not Eat”) packaged with things that shouldn’t get damp? With this project, you finally have a use for them. Hackett shows us how to make sodium silicate from water, silica gel, and sodium hydroxide (lye). Then you use wire hangers for the rods, wrap them in newspaper soaked in sodium silicate, and bake them (Hackett used a dedicated toaster oven). After that, weld with your new homemade rods and take pride in your clean welds.

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You can check out the full how-to starting on page 72 of Volume 33, or here online.

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MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: Cat Scratch Feeder

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“Has your cat left scratch marks on everything from grandmother’s kneecaps to your grandfather clock? It’s time to train Kitty to use this scratching post instead of everything else in your home.” Phil Bowie and Larry Cotton are here to help with their Cat Scratch Feeder project that appears on the pages of MAKE Volume 33. Their simple design combines scratching post and treat dispenser, sure to get Kitty’s undivided attention and keep it. Essentially all it takes is some wood, PVC, an extension spring, aluminum flat bar, a piece of carpet scrap, and a weekend in your workshop.

A catnip cup in the top will attract your cat and place her in natural scratching position. Each time the cat claws downward on the spring-loaded carpeted cylinder, this device will deliver up to 4 special treats. Because you control the number of treats, you can keep your cat lean and gradually wean her off the treats altogether as she becomes accustomed to using the post, if you wish.

Below are a few glimpses from the project: drilling and assembling the treat disk, and putting together the spring assembly inside the body tube. The full project how-to is available starting on page 108 of MAKE Volume 33 and here on Make: Projects.

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cat scratch feeder finished

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MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!


How-To: Make Your Spray Bottle Omnidirectional

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Finally, a simple mod to make your spray bottles work in any orientation. Yup, upside down, sideways, and weirdly angled. Maker and DIY evangelist Jason Poel Smith shared the hack on Make: Projects, and we had it illustrated by the talented Julie West and ran it on the pages of MAKE Volume 33. The trick? If you replace the spray bottle’s hard suction tube with flexible tubing and add weight to the end (like stainless steel nuts), the tubing will naturally fall to the lowest point of the container. Simple as 1-2-3.

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m33_wp_cover1

MAKE Volume 33: Software for Makers

In our special Codebox section you’ll learn about software of interest to makers, including circuit board design, 3D CAD and printing, microcontrollers, and programming for kids. And you’ll meet fascinating makers, like the maniacs behind the popular Power Wheels Racing events at Maker Faire. You’ll get 22 great DIY projects like the Optical Tremolo guitar effect, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk Mouse, CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, brewing sake, and more. Buy or subscribe today!