The Mothership: A Visit to the New SparkFun Building

Sparkfun

The shipping department was full of dudes with asymmetric facial hair on skateboards. An engineer had picked up about a thousand Keva planks and on an upstairs wrap-around counter space, there was a crowdsourced build going on — in which you could tell the crowd had higher than the average bear’s level of design thinking skills. Strung on a wall was a DIY art piece made of light bulbs and wire that was set to ripple in response to sounds. A trigger-operated race car track wound underneath a 7-foot tall version of one of those wooden dinosaur skeleton kits. Continue reading

Having Fun at the PDX Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire Portland

Portland’s third Mini Maker Faire was held at OMSI last weekend, and it was an impressive show. I was only able to go on Sunday this year, but I could tell from the difficulty finding parking that it was well-attended. According to OMSI, attendance was 6,700 and there were about 115 Makers exhibiting. Continue reading

Protect Your Kids With the Jolt Concussion Sensor

Jolt Sensor details

My daughters play roller derby, which means they’re at risk of concussions. The thing about concussions is that it’s not always obvious: they don’t occur only when somebody has been knocked unconscious. The Jolt Sensor, now on Kickstarter, aims to make potential concussions easier to detect. Continue reading

Upgrade Your Water Gun Fights With Sugru!

Sugru Water Gun

Apparently the folks at Sugru never sleep. Just a week after I shared their cable-wrangling solution that involved LEGO minifigs and Sugru, they’ve gone and released another fun video involving water guns. I won’t spoil it… just take a look below. And the video afterwards shows you the How-They-Did-It portion. Just in case, you know, you might want to try and duplicate it before July 4th weekend. Pro Tip: You’ll need a LOT of Sugru! Continue reading

Create Your Own Snap-Together Plastic Models

Framed

Last week I had the opportunity to conduct a camp titled Beginning Electronics and Robot Building (BERB) to a group of 21 kids, ages 8 to 12. It went great, and I’ll be holding the camp again for another group in late July. In addition to learning some basic electronics skills (such as soldering and breadboarding), the kids also got to build a full-fledged Arduino-based robot that they took home. It was a great week, and it also gave me an opportunity to introduce the kids to some other concepts and tools, including 3D printing. Continue reading

Yet Another Reason to LOVE Sugru…

Sugru

I’m not a paid spokesman, but I sometimes feel like it! Ever since discovering Sugru so many years ago, I’ve become a devoted fan of this great little product. If you’re not familiar with it, it starts out a bit like PlayDoh — you can mold it, roll it, and even mix its basic colors (black, red, blue, yellow, white) to make more colors. But what’s cool about it is that it begins to cure… but not harden. When the curing process is complete (about 24 hours, but you have a solid 30 minutes to mold it and experiment), it not only has a rubbery feel to it, but it also pretty much sticks to anything. This means that it can not only be used to attach different materials together, but it can also be used to mold unique parts, repair broken parts, and hundreds more solutions. Continue reading

Fun Weekend Project — Superhero (or Supervillain) PowerUp Juice Bottle

Finished Bottle

For Father’s Day, I wanted to do a special project with my boys. We started but didn’t finish it on Sunday (paint sure dries slow in the Atlanta humidity), but the wait was worth it. For both my boys (and two nephews), we followed the instructions provided by author Scott Bedford in his new book, Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff, and this dad and two boys are quite happy with the final results. Continue reading