Interviews with the Hand-Makers

Want some inspiration to launch your own Handmade adventure? [Anne Hollowday] wrote in to share a series of short films she’s been posting called Makers of Things.

So far there are just four episodes but we hope she makes many more. Above you can see the latest, entitled Woodworker. It’s a monologue-style interview with masters of their crafts. The first installment looks at an engineering club called SMEE that builds a wide range of intricately engineered things like clocks. There’s another maker who builds miniature models of machines. And of course, The Problem Solver whose high-tech endeavors parallel the subjects of interest found on our main site.

Dumpster hackers and junkyard makers get their own TV show

junkies_tv_show_science_channel

The Science Channel has a new show premiering tomorrow night that we think you won’t want to miss.

JUNKies takes a look at a group of junkyard engineers led by [Jimmy “The Junk Genius” Ruocco], who also happens to be the junkyard’s owner. From the trailer you can see below, the show looks like it will be pretty entertaining, combining the best parts of Junkyard Wars, Mythbusters, and even Jackass – with hilarious and interesting results.

The show includes crazy stuff that [Jimmy] and his crew piece together, as well as the creations of individuals that come by the shop looking for parts. When the crew is not busy concocting crazy machines, they seem more than happy to help random inventors and makers dig out just the right parts for their projects.

The show airs tomorrow night, 8/18, at 10 PM Eastern, so be sure to check it out and let us know what you think!

[via Make]

[Phillip Torrone] on why all makers should learn Chinese

phil_torrone_why_every_maker_should_learn_chinese

A while ago when he was working in China, [Phillip Torrone] started learning Mandarin Chinese in order to help him communicate more efficiently with his peers. Unfortunately, once he returned to the US, he slowly started forgetting most of what he had learned. He recently wrote a piece over at Make: explaining why he’s attempting to learn Mandarin once again, and why you as a maker should consider doing the same.

He starts off citing the economic trends which indicate that China’s global GDP share will likely bypass that of the US in a few short years. While the stats might be a bit boring he says, the rise of a new global superpower is nothing to shrug off.

Economic changes aside, he has found that through his workings at Adafruit and other tech companies, he is frequently being exposed to more and more Chinese on a daily basis. Between emails with suppliers, data sheets, and schematics, he says that learning Chinese is a must for makers.

What do you think? Do any of you full-time makers and hackers see the same trend in your jobs? Let us know in the comments.

BAMF2011: Google’s SKPR Bot, not for arachnophobes

Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.

18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.

BAMF2011: Lasersaur is one BIG laser cutter!

Psst…wanna buy a laser cutter, but not ready to sell your internal organs? Nortd Labs’ Lasersaur project aims to create an open source large-format laser cutter/engraver that undercuts (har har!) the cost of commercial models by an order of magnitude.

[Read more...]

BAMF2011: Keyboards built from scratch

As the most direct interface between computer and programmer, keyboards can be a deeply personal, sometimes almost religious thing. Some find solace in their vintage IBM Model M, or luxurious leather keyboard, but maker [Carol Chen] took things into her own hands, quite literally. [Carol]’s Maker Faire exhibit has a half dozen specimens of interesting commercial tactile and ergonomic options…but [Chen]’s personal keyboard, where she commits to her work as a full-time coder, has been made to her own exacting specifications.

[Read more...]

BAMF2011: Bloxes, a building kit with a nifty pedigree

Not every cool hack needs to involve microcontrollers, LEDs or other bling. We were initially drawn to the Bloxes display simply because we love a good multipurpose construction set, whether it be Lego, 80/20 aluminum, or in this case, a system of interlocking cubes formed from six identical pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut and scored in such a manner as to form a surprisingly sturdy little building block. They can become simple furniture, groovy Logan’s Run-style room decor, or the all-important kids’ forts…then later dismantled and made into something else.

[Read more...]

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