Punch Card Interface Now on Twitter


Ever want to go back to the “good old” days of computing, when men were men, and all coding was done on punch-cards? OK, maybe you don’t, but it’s always fun to combine old technology with new concepts, like this interface that let’s you tweet via punch cards.

The first step in making this clever retro-computing experiment was how to actually read the cards and transmit this information into a modern computer. The reader was made, after a brief attempt using mechanical contacts, with a series of infrared LEDs and photo-transistors salvaged from an HP print station. These LED/transistor pairs were attached to two plastic cards so that when a punch card is passed between the two, it can tell whether a hole is punched or not.

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This data is decoded by a Teensy 3.1 per IBM model 029 keypunch codes found here. This Teensy microcontroller then acts as a USB keyboard to the “mother” computer, transmitting whatever text equivalent is contained on the card. If you’d like to try this kind of experiement yourself, you can find the code on TimJay’s GitHub page, or you can just follow “it” on Twitter.

So far the reader hasn’t said much, but I’m hopeful there are some interesting quips on the horizon!

Vox & Dolly's Pac-Man Electric Guitar Pillow


If you played a lot of guitar and Pac-Man growing up, then Natalie and Wolfgang of Vox & Dolly may have just stuffed all your teenage nostalgia into one plushy package with this beautiful Pac-Man electric guitar pillow.


This pillow is just one of many that the crafty duo have put together, and it’s amazing how well fabric patterns work with the iconic shape of a guitar, which is perfect for snuggling up with, especially while listening to a Pac-Man themed lullaby played on electric guitar by Youtube user The Cesar Experience.

And, if you happen to be an electric guitar and Pac-Man lover, then you can learn how to play the theme on guitar for yourself with this handy video tutorial by BobbyCrispy!

[via Technabob]

Vintage Internet Connected Radio


This retro radio project brings back old to meet the new. A trendy old radio that plays any music you want, not just the boring stuff that you can get through the radio waves!

Using the credit card sized computer, Raspberry Pi–the sky is the limit. To get the best streaming music experience for this project once you have the Raspberry Pi, use the free Linux distribution, Pi MusicBox. Pi MusicBox offers the cream of the crop:

  • Spotify, Google Music and Sound Cloud
  • Remote control it with a nice browser-interface, or with an MPD-client
  • Web Radio
  • AirTunes/AirPlay streaming
  • Last.FM scrobbling
  • Play music files from the SD, USB, Network
  • and more!

Select any old Radio of choice. These can be found everywhere; eBay, garage sales or your grandma’s basement. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be in working condition because all of what is inside them will be thrown out!

Follow the creator’s instructions for disassembly, installation and reassembly:

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Now you can have the best house cleaning day of your life with your own retro radio!

Classic NES Games In 3D Paper Dioramas


All gamers have a favorite game. Maybe that game was actually amazing on its own merit, and maybe the nostalgia that is laced within your memories is enough to elevate it to grandiosity.

Alain Wildgen wanted to pay homage to a retro game in his own way. About a year ago, he created the first level of Super Mario Brothers. He says that this first one, made from foam and paper, took roughly 20 to 30 hours.


He has refined his process since then. The workflow he now follows is fairly strait forward:

  1. Decide which game to feature
  2. Search for good graphics to use, typically from Spriter’s Resource or VGmaps
  3. Load the image into Gimp and clean it up or stitch together multiple images
  4. Print on Din3 or Din4 paper
  5. Cut each layer with a scalpel
  6. Cut pieces of foam rubber to create the different elevations
  7. Paste it together



A detail shot from Alain’s favorite diorama so far. Zelda A Link To The Past.

He has been doing this for a little over a year now and has created 18 dioramas. These are all for his personal collection and are not for sale. He does upload his files for others to be able to assemble on their own. Typically he posts links to the downloads on his facebook page, like the Zelda map he shared recently, which you can download here.

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Alain with his collection

Alain with his collection

Alain says he has a whole list of projects just waiting to be done, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Day of the Tentacle, Megaman, and the Illusion of Time. If you want to follow along and see what he comes up with next, you an follow him on Tumblr as well as his Facebook page


These Vintage Dutch Safety Posters Aren’t Messing Around

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Buzzfeed has posted some vintage Dutch work safety posters that are both scary and effective, especially this one: the electricity eel kills you, and the Grim Reaper catches you when you fall. Yikes!

Or this one, which definitely downplays the copious amount of blood that would be spattered across the table saw where you just cut off your entire thumb:

dutch safety poster1

“The cap was too high.”

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Building a Punchtape Reader


NYC Resistor’s phooky built a punchtape reader to read some old punchtapes. After an initial attempt, he built a new reader:

This time I used proper phototransistors and IR LEDs I scrounged up around the space (thanks, Miria and Raphael!). Because they’re 5mm in diameter (and the spacing between channels is only 2.54mm), I had to come up with a new sensor packing. This one reads bits from four separate columns over a space of five columns, requiring an internal buffer of five columns to reconstruct a single column of data. Even so, the spacing was tight, and I had to sand down the flanges of the phototransistors and LEDs to make everything fit. I milled simple PCBs for both sides to keep things nice and neat, and used a small surface-mount potentiometer to limit the current to the LEDs in case the paper wasn’t thick enough to block enough light. The light mask is made of black acetal this time, and the spacers include runners to help keep the tape straight. There’s still no automatic feed mechanism, but we now have a reader that’s fast and reliable enough to read tapes in earnest.

phooky has a github repository with his design files.

DIY Robot Building, Circa 1956


1744_519802478058868_1068122400_nStuart “Mr. Retro” Sandler built a super retro robot from plans found in a 57-year-old copy of Boys Life he’d purchased from eBay. Stuart had heard about the robot as a teenager and wrote to the magazine for the copy of the plans. They sent him a photocopy but left out a couple of key details, which he learned about later after he’d bought the actual magazine. Here’s a video of the robot in action.

Raspberry Pi in an N64 Case



By Nick Parks

At the Raspberry Pi Meetup at MAKE, I found a lot of neat applications for the Raspberry Pi. There was an old time radio, media center, personal computer, and even a video game console. Raspberry Pis are neat because they have so many applications and are open to creative expansion by any user with an idea. For something with all of this functionality, I would expect it to be ridiculously overpriced, but I was happily surprised when I found out that they only cost $35. The problem with only spending $35 means no accessories are included; this is a bummer because a case is would be nice to protect it and keep dust out. After looking at a few cases people made, I came across an N64 game cartridge case. This one is simple to build, surprisingly durable, and just plain cool.

Here are the steps to build your own N64 Raspberry Pi case:

1. Choose a game cartridge

Make sure you don’t pick one that you’ll miss, but also try to get one with a neat graphic. I choose Ready To Rumble Boxing.

2. Remove the screws from the game cartridge

This is probably the trickiest part if you don’t have the exact six prong screwdriver, I used a hex driver with a spanner bit and small needle nose pliers to remove the exterior screws. The interior screws are a standard Phillips, so they come out easily.




3. Make the cut outs for the connections

For this part you can use a variety of tools, I used a saw and a Dremel, it’s a little tricky to get the cuts in the right place. Designing a template will help get a closer approximation of the cutouts, and if you make the cuts on the bottom, it’ll be hard to notice small imperfections. I made a template with dimensions on the bottom, to be cautious I would error slightly oversized. Depending on the exact placement of your Pi, you will have to remove the screw hole and grind down the edges a little to fit in the Pi and access the ports.

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4. Put the Raspberry Pi inside the N64 enclosure

If you cut on the bottom, you’ll have to put the Raspberry Pi upside down. I think this is better, because, this will make the ports right side up. To make life easier in the future, I used the Phillips screws from the inside of the case to in place of where I removed the triangle screws since they are the same size.



Now all you have to do is surprise some of your friends and use it for something awesome.

NickPark-mug-150Nick Parks is an engineering intern at MAKE, and he’s studying mechanical engineering at Santa Rosa Junior College. He likes to build and take apart things to make products better or create something new. He enjoys working at MAKE and likes to help other people build projects of their own.


The Lost Art of Aztec Prismatic Blades

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Start talking about flintknapping, and most people think first of arrowheads or other projectile points. Though made using essentially the same basic techniques, a prismatic blade is a very different animal. In the archaeological record, prismatic blades appear as long, thin flakes of stone, usually having two parallel cutting edges and a trapezoidal or triangular cross-section.

Prismatic blades photographed by Joshua Ream

Photo: Joshua Ream, Arrowheadology.com

Though prismatic blades have been made in many different types of stone, by cultures all over the world, the technology arguably reached its height in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations like the Maya and Aztec, which enjoyed access to abundant supplies of natural obsidian. These cultures produced and traded prismatic blades on an industrial scale, for use both as utilitarian cutting tools and in the construction of elaborate hafted weapons–like the Aztec maquahuitl and tepoztopilli–featuring long, continuous, razor-sharp edges made by fixing prismatic blades side-by-side into wooden handles using natural adhesives.


A few modern flintknappers make prismatic blades, but the leading light (online, at least) is probably Californian Jim Winn, aka “paleomanjim.” Jim’s YouTube channel is a deep, rich vein of hands-on how-to information for many aspects of flintknapping. For those interested in prismatic blades, particularly, I recommend Jim’s four-part series from 2012:

Another great resource, for those with more of an intellectual interest, is Pathways to Prismatic Blades: A Study in Mesoamerican Obsidian Core-Blade Technology, a 2002 compilation of academic writings from a dozen specialists published through UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and edited by anthropologists Kenneth Hirth and Bradford Andrews. The prismatic blade reduction diagram in the slideshow above is a mash-up of Andrews’ illustrations 1.1 and 1.2 from this book.

Raspberry Pi Gives Amiga a New Life

ToolKitMan describes himself as a 36-year-old Italian hardware tech with a passion for retro computers, modern computers, and consoles. Those interests explain his project: marrying an old Amiga 1200 case and keyboard with Raspbery Pi. Have a look.


Old keyboard/case, new Pi.


Keyrah Amiga 1200 case, USB hub, and Raspbery Pi.


All put together.

[Editor’s note: This post came to us via MAKE: Page 2 where we invite readers to submit their stories and projects. Particularly good submissions get published on the MAKE blog like this one. Please submit your ideas here.]