[Caleb Kraft] Brings Us The Moon, On A Budget

As you might expect from one of our most illustrious alumni, [Caleb Kraft] is a rather creative fellow. Over the years he’s created some absolutely phenomenal projects using CNC routers, 3D printers, laser cutters, and all the other cool toys the modern hacker has access to. But for his latest project, a celebration of the full Moon, he challenged himself to go low-tech. The Moon is something that anyone on Earth can look up and enjoy, so it seemed only fitting that this project should be as accessible to others as possible.

[Caleb] started this project by looking for high-resolution images of the Moon, which was easy enough. He was even able to find sign shops that were more than happy to print a giant version for him. Unfortunately, the prices he was quoted were equally gargantuan. To really be something that anyone could do, this project needed to not only be easy, but as affordable as possible. But where do you get a giant picture of the Moon for cheap?

He eventually found a source for Moon shower curtains (we told you he was creative), which fit the bill perfectly. [Caleb] says they aren’t nearly as detailed as the original images he found, but unless you’ve got your face pressed up against it you’ll never notice anyway. To make the round frame, he used PEX tubing from the hardware store and simply stapled the curtain directly to the soft plastic. The hardest part of the whole project is arguably getting the curtain flat and taut on the PEX ring.

Technically you could stop now and have a pretty slick piece of art to hang on your wall, but [Caleb] took the idea a bit farther and put a strip of RGB LEDs along the inside of the ring. The shower curtain material does a decent enough job of diffusing the light of the LEDs to make it look pretty good, though there’s certainly some room for improvement if you want to get a more even effect over the entire surface. While you’re at it, you might as well add in some additional electronics so the lighting matches the current phase of the real-life Moon.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to settle for a far more diminutive version of Luna and don’t mind using those highfalutin hacker tools that [Caleb] decided to avoid for the good of mankind, we’ve got a project you might be interested in.

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Don’t Shovel Snow; Build An Epic Melt System!

When [Ronald Walters] was building a new house, he decided he didn’t want to shovel snow anymore. So he built a snow melt system under his new driveway. He knew the system would be expensive to operate, but he reasoned it was cheaper than back surgery and much cheaper than having a heart attack.

The system uses PEX┬ápipe on rebar and insulation that is all set down before the concrete in the driveway. An instant-on water heater produces the heat that melts the snow and ice off [Ronald’s] driveway with no shoveling required. The working fluid includes anti-freeze, of course, and there is a set of pumps, flow valves, and flow meters to keep everything flowing when the system is in operation.

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