Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sound Activated Outet


The Clapper was a popular gadget in the 80's and 90's. It let you turn appliances on and off just by clapping. This can be pretty useful, but it has some limitations. First there is the problem of loud noises accidentally turning the lights off. Also, you can't control multiple outlets independently of each other.
So I decided to make programmable version of the Clapper using an Arduino microcontroller. The Arduino lets you set codes for each outlet. This eliminates false triggering and lets you control multiple outlets independently. Your lamp could be turned on and off with one clapping pattern and your fan could be controlled with another pattern.
The Arduino also lets you program how the outlets are turned on and off. For instance, if your internet router needs to be reset, you could program it to turn your internet router off for ten seconds and then turn it back on automatically. Or you could turn a heater on for a few minutes and automatically turn itself off.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Sound-Activated-Outlet/

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Useless Candle (A Candle That Blows Itself Out)



A while back, I saw "The Most Useless Machine" by Instructables user Frivolous Engineering. This is a machine whose only function is to turn itself off. When you flip the power switch to turn it on, an arm pops out of the box and turns the power switch back off.

I love the hilarious absurdity of this project. So I decided to make some "useless" devices of my own. In this project, I am going to share with you how to make a "Useless Candle." Whenever you light this candle, it automatically blows itself out.

This is done with a simple light sensor and a small air pump. When the sensor detects the increased light from the candle being lit, it turns on an air pump. The air pump pushes air through a tube that is mounted to the candle holder and blows the candle out.

For step by step instructions on how build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Useless-Candle-A-Candle-That-Blows-Itself-Out/

Monday, November 24, 2014

3D Silhouette Light Box



In this project, I am going to show you how turn a photograph into a 3D silhouette light box. This is done by separating the picture into different layers based on how far away the objects are in the scene. Each layer is then turned into a silhouette cutout. The layers are reassembled with spacers in between each one. This gives the image the appearance of depth and creates a 3D effect. You can also add lights behind the cutouts to make your images glow and create shadows between the layers.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Silhouette-Light-Box/

Monday, November 17, 2014

DIY Simon Memory Game


Electronics memory games like Simon can be a lot of fun. But it is even more fun if you add a second player and make it a competition. So I designed a two player version of the game that runs on Arduino. This lets you play Simon head to head.

To make it even more interesting, I added jacks that allow you to use external switches. This lets you use almost anything as a switch to play the sequence. All it has to do is connect the signal wire to ground. You can use large push button switches. You can hook up piezo vibration sensors to a drum set and play Simon with a drum set. You could even wire it up to the switches on a "Guitar Hero" style guitar. The choice is up to you.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Two-Player-Simon-Memory-Game-With-External-Switche/

Monday, November 10, 2014

Frozen Pipe Alarm



Winter is coming. So it is time to make preparations. If you live in a colder climate, you need to be concerned about the possibility of your pipes freezing. There are a lot of preventative measures that you can take such as insulating your pipes and leaving the water dripping. But for a little extra peace of mind, I designed a simple alarm that will notify me if the pipes are getting too cold and are in danger of freezing.

For step by step instructions on how to make it, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Frozen-Pipe-Alarm/

Monday, November 3, 2014

Color Recognition Lock Box



There are a lot of ways that you can activate an electronic lock. You can use passwords, radio signals, or even voice commands. In this project, I am going to show you how to make a lock box that opens and closes based on color recognition.

With a color recognition lock, anything can be a key. You can set the lock to recognize the color of a cereal box, or the cover of your favorite book. You could even use pictures on your phone as the key. With so many different color combinations, a color lock is also very difficult to break into.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Color-Recognition-Lock/

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spooky Window Silhouettes With Follow-Me Eyes



Halloween is almost here. But you still have time to put together some really spooky decorations. One great kind of decoration is the window silhouette. To make these, all you have to do set up a monster cutout in your window. This blocks some of the light behind it and casts a spooky shadow. You can even add eyes that follow a person as they walk by.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Spooky-Window-Silhouettes-With-Follow-Me-Eyes/

Monday, October 20, 2014

Arduino Controlled Halloween Props



Animated Halloween props are a lot of fun. But the props that you buy at the store have some major limitations.
One problem is that each prop is activated by its own sensor. So it is difficult to get them to work together in unison. If the props are out of sync, the overall effect isn't as scary.
Another problem is that the built-in "motion sensors" aren't very effective. Most props are activated by a light sensor that detects the change in light when someone walks by. So in order for them to work, they need light to be shining on them. They won't work at all in the dark. They can also be falsely triggered if the lighting in the room changes.
So I worked out a system that lets you control all your animated Halloween props with a single microcontroller (such as an Arduino). This lets you exactly choreograph how and when each prop will turn on an off. It also lets you use external sensors that you can customize for your exact setup.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Control-Your-Halloween-Decorations-With-Arduino/

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Silhouette Forest Wall Mural

When we were decorating our nursery, we decided to make the accent wall a silhouette forest. This was made by applying painter's tape where all the trees were located. Then I painted over them with a light green paint. Then I stippled on dark green paint to create a color gradient. When the tape was removed, it let clear outlines of all the trees. 

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:



Monday, October 13, 2014

Decorative Foam Tombstones For Halloween



Tombstones can make a great addition to your Halloween Decorations. In this project, I show you how to make decorative tombstones from plain sheets of Styrofoam. Carved details are made be melting lines in the stryofoam with a hot glue gun. Then paint is applied to give it the appearance of weathered stone.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Decorative-Halloween-Tombstones/

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ultrasonic Spider-Sense



We would all love to have superpowers. But you probably don't want to expose yourself to toxic chemicals or radiation in order to get them. Fortunately, there are some abilities that we can closely approximate with a little technology.

For example, Spider-Man has a "spider sense" that alerts him to nearby danger, and Daredevil's "radar sense" lets him see nearby objects even in the dark. Using an ultrasonic range sensor we can sense how far away objects are. This would let you navigate in the dark or detect when someone is sneaking up behind you.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultrasonic-Spider-Sense/

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Automatic Moving Halloween Props

In this project, I show you how to use magnets to make Halloween props on a table move without anything touching them.

To accomplish this, I first embedded magnets inside a severed hand prop. Then I took a second set of magnets and attached them to the end of a linear motor. This motor was mounted to the bottom of a table. When the hand is placed on top of the table, the motor is able to move the hand with the magnets. This process can be controlled manually or with various sensors and a microcontroller.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Moving-Halloween-Props/

Monday, September 29, 2014

PC Box Fan

Whenever I upgrade a computer, I always try to salvage and reuse as many of the old parts that I can. One part that I have collected a lot of over the years is the cooling fan. You find these in power supplies, on CPU's and in tower cooling systems.

So what do you do with a bunch of small fans? You combine them into one big fan. In this project I take 16 PC cooling fans and mount them together to make a single 12 volt box fan. It is thin, light weight, strong, and quiet. It also stores easily. It can fit behind furniture or in a packed car. It can be powered by your computer's power supply, an AC adapter, or a 12 volt car battery.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/PC-Box-Fan/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Doorbell that Can Turn On a Light Instead of Playing a Tone



When I am using power tools in my workshop, I can't hear the doorbell ring. So I needed some other kind of system that can let me know when someone is at the front door.

I use a wireless doorbell system. This lets you set up multiple receivers without having to run wires all over your house. I also added the option to switch between audible chimes and flashing lights. That way you can still have a traditional doorbell but you are also able to silence it if someone is sleeping.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Doorbell-that-Turns-on-a-Light/

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stick Bombs (Exploding Kinetic Art)


The term "Stick bomb" is used to describe a broad category of kinetic art. A stick bomb can be almost anything that is constructed from flat sticks that are woven together and held under pressure. When a key stick is removed the entire structure flies apart. Designs range from simple single cell bombs that you can hold in your hand to massive chains and grids that are made of thousands of sticks.

In this project, I am going show you how to make a few classic stick bomb designs. So put on your safety glasses and let's get started.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Stick-Bombs-Exploding-Kinetic-Art/

Friday, August 29, 2014

DIY Soda Fountain



Has this ever happened to you? You are thirsty but you are just too lazy to walk over to the refrigerator to get a drink? Well, here is the solution. Build your own personal soda fountain that will refill your drink from across the room.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Mini-Fridge-Soda-Fountain/

Monday, August 25, 2014

DIY Sound Effects



Sound effects are the unsung heroes of movies, radio, and haunted houses. Hearing all the detailed sounds makes it feel the action is happening right next to you. By carefully selecting which sound effects are highlighted, you can create the perfect environment for your audience to experience.

In this project, I am going to give you a basic overview of the art of sound effects. I am going to show you how to make them, how to record them, and even how to automate them.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Sound-Effects/

How to Punch Through Brick



Have you ever wanted to be able to punch through a brick wall? Well you probably can. All you need is a pair of heavy duty gauntlets to add some weight and focus all the force to a narrow point. It is like wearing a sledge hammer on each arm.

This project was inspired by Instructables user NightHawkInLight. I saw his project "How to Punch Through Concrete" and I just had to build my own version.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Punch-Through-Brick/

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Remote Kill Switch



There are a lot of times when it is useful to be able remotely turn something on or off. In this instance, my son has a small Power Wheels car. I wanted to be able to remotely turn the car off if he drives too far away or in the wrong direction. So I designed a simple remote kill switch. This lets me turn the car (or anything else) on and off with a remote. As an extra safety feature, if the car goes outside the range of the remote, it will automatically turn off.

For step by step instructions check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Remote-Kill-Switch/

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rain Chains



Rain chains are a kind of decorative downspout for a gutter system. Rain water pours out of the gutter and onto a series of rings or cups. These help to channel the water down to the ground where it is either stored in a rain barrel or simply diverted away from the building. A set of rain chains can add a lot your house in both appearance and sound.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Rain-Chains/

Monday, July 28, 2014

Water to Wine Illusion Box



Have you ever wished that you could turn water into wine (or at least fruit juice). Well now you can with this magic mystery box. All you have to do is pour in water. Then inside the box a bunch of magic happens. Finally out comes a fine glass of wine. It is a simple illusion that uses water pressure and air pressure to switch the drinks. It can make for a fun party trick to amuse your friends.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Water-to-Wine-Illusion-Box/

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Solar Power Tools



Solar power is a great way to get electricity out to a remote project site. One simple way to do this is to use a solar panel to charge the batteries of your cordless power tools. In this project, I am going to show you several ways that you can do that.

For step by step directions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Battery-Charger-For-Your-Cordless-Power-Tool/

Monday, July 14, 2014

Unwashed Hands Alarm



You have probably seen signs in a restroom that tell people to wash their hands. But how often does that sign go ignored. Here is a humorous way to find out. In this project, I made an alarm that goes off if someone forgets to wash their hands when they use the restroom.

For full step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Unwashed-Hands-Alarm/

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Personal Cooling System



Summer is hot. And we all need to find ways to cool down. So I built a thermoelectric cooling system that can mount to your wrist. A thermoelectric element acts like a miniature refrigerator. It can turn electricity directly into a change in temperature. By adding a heat sink, you can improve the efficiency of the cooler. This apparatus gets mounted to your wrist right above your radial artery. At this point there is a lot of blood moving near the surface. By cooling this point your blood helps to distribute the cooling effect over your whole body. It looks ridiculous, but it works.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Wrist-Cooling-System/ 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Motion Activated Sprinklers



Do the local animals think that your front lawn is their personal toilet? Do ninja assassins keep trying to sneak into your house? Keep these unwanted visitors away with a motion activated sprinkler system. As soon as they step into your lawn, a passive infrared motion sensor detects the intruder and turns on the sprinkler to chase them away.

For step by step instructions check out the instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Keep-Unwanted-Visitors-Away-With-a-Motion-Activate/ 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Handheld Confetti Cannon



Confetti is a great way to add to a celebration. But just throwing a hand full of confetti in the air is boring. You should fire it out of a confetti cannon. All you need is some PVC pipe and a few fittings. You can use it to shoot confetti, rice, bird seed, flower pedals or even candy. It is perfect for parties, parades and weddings.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Handheld-Confetti-Cannon/

Monday, May 26, 2014

USB Powered Drill



I like to keep a small tool kit in my car in case of emergencies. In it I have a small 4.8 volt drill. It is small and portable but there isn't a convenient way to charge it in my car. So I made a simple USB charger cable for it.  I cut open a USB extension cable and connected the red and black wires to a DC power connector that matched the drill. This let me charge the drill from any USB port. So I can now charge it from the phone charger in my car.

Mini Rice Cannon



Tossing rice at a wedding is an old tradition. But it is much more fun to fire rice out of a mini confetti cannon. Most party supply stores sell hand held confetti blasters. Despite what it says on the label, these are reusable. Just fill one of these confetti blasters with rice (or bird seed) and take it to a wedding. Then you can fire rice out of your own mini rice cannon.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Baking Soda and Vinegar Cannon



Air cannons are an iconic DIY project. Here at Make: we have featured potato cannons, T-shirt cannons, burrito blasters, taser activated cannons, and even a potato Gatling gun.

But in this project, we are doing something a little different. We are going to make a baking soda and vinegar cannon. This is very similar to the baking soda and vinegar volcanoes that we made as kids. I have just scaled up the reaction so that it can be used to send a potato flying through the air. Proceed at your own risk.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Keyboard Refrigerator Magnets



Whenever I upgrade my computer equipment, I try to find a way to reuse the old parts. In the past I have made a Rapid Fire Mouse Button, Jewelry, a Bench Power Supply, and External Keyboard Buttons. This time I made a set of refrigerator magnets from the keys of my old keyboard.

First pry off the keys. Then use a pair of pliers to break off the mounting tabs on the back. Next, find some magnetic business cards or advertisements and cut them into sections that are just smaller than the keys. Lastly, attach the magnets to the back of the keys with hot glue.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Keyboard-Refrigerator-Magnets/

Homemade Honey Sticks


Honey sticks are a fun little treat. They are small, portable and have a long shelf life. To make them all you need is a straw, some honey, a pair of needle nose pliers and a lighter. Squeeze the honey into the straw  and let is move down the straw so that there is a small gap on each side. Then pinch the end shut with the pliers. Hold the end of the straw next to the flame and it will melt the end of the straw closed.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Honey-Sticks/

Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Make Small Single Use Containers From Straws



When you go camping or backpacking, you need to pack a lot of things in a small amount of space. These single use straw containers let you store a wide variety of objects in small waterproof packets.

How to Make External Buttons For Your Keyboard



There are a lot of times when it would be convenient to have external buttons or your keyboard such as a foot pedal. If you are into PC gaming, a foot pedal button would let you activate commands while moving and aiming at the same time. Or you could just use it to scroll through Reddit while eating ribs. You could even use it for research by using it to log how many times a certain event occurs. Use your imagination.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Create-External-Buttons-For-Your-Keyboard/

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Turn a Computer Power Supply into a Bench Power Supply For Your Workshop



There are a lot of ways that you can re-purpose and reuse old electronics. For instance, a computer power supply can make a great bench power supply for your workshop.

There are already a lot of tutorials online that show how to convert an old computer power supply into a bench power supply. But most of these designs require you to permanently modify the power supply itself.

Another option is to make an external adapter for your power supply. Any ATX power supply can be plugged into the adapter. The adapter then connects the appropriate wires to a series of output jacks that can be easily accessed to provide power for your projects. This design lets you utilize the power supply without having to modify it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to Silence the Annoying Beeping Electronics



There are a lot of annoying beeping electronics. So here are a few quick and simple ways to make them quieter.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Universal Robotic Gripper



There are a lot of different kinds of robot grippers (end effectors). The most common strategy when designing a robot hand is to try to replicate the human hand. However, in 2010 researchers at Cornell University and University of Chicago developed a unique approach. They created an amorphous gripper that was able to mold itself to the object that it wanted to pick up. This kind of gripper is much more versatile.

In this project, I am going to show you how to make your own DIY universal gripper for your robots.

For step by step instructions check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Universal-Robot-Gripper/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Unconventional Easter Egg Hunts



Easter egg hunts are a lot of fun. But you don't have to restrict yourself to just scattering eggs on your front lawn. There are plenty of ways that you can make an Easter egg hunt more interesting. So today, I am going to share a few ideas for unconventional Easter egg hunts.

For step by step instructions check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Unconventional-Easter-Egg-Hunts/

Spy Camera Hack



Being able to hack and modify random objects is an essential skill. Budget and time constraints often make it necessary to build a project using only the materials that you have at hand. Here is a simple example.

Let's say that you are a spy and you need to get a video recording of the secret documents being handed off to an enemy spy. You have a pair of video sunglasses. But a large pair of dark sunglasses would look very suspicious indoors. So you need to quickly modify them so that your hidden camera can be used in a variety of situations. This shows how you might do that.

For step by step instructions, check out he instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Modify-a-Toy-Spy-Camera-For-Other-Applications/

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Make Jewelry From Old Computer Parts



The easiest way to make interesting and unique jewelry is to use uncommon materials. One source of materials that often goes overlooked is a computer. Inside a computer you can find a wide array of objects that can make a compelling piece of jewelry. Since computers are constantly updating, it is usually easy to find old hardware to take apart. Also each computer that you disassemble will likely have different parts that you can use. This project gives you a few simple examples of how to turn computer parts into jewelry.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Jewelry-From-Computer-Parts/

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Remote Controlled Balloon Pop Prank



Balloons are great for simple pranks. You can pop the balloon and scare someone, or you can fill the balloon with water and soak them. These are some of the simplest and most basic pranks that you can do. But you can always make improvements on an old classic. In this project, I am going to show you how to pop a balloon remotely. That way you don't have to be anywhere nearby when it goes off. Pranks are always better if the victim can't figure out who did it or how they pulled it off.

All you need to do is attach a small needle to the wheel of a remote controlled car. When the remote activates the car, the wheel spins an the needle pops the balloon.

For step by step directions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Remote-Controlled-Balloon-Pop-Prank/

Friday, March 28, 2014

Control Appliances With Your TV Remote (and an Arduino)



Most of the buttons on a remote control are never used. So why not use them to control appliances and other electronics around your house. In this project, I am going to show you how to use an Arduino to decode the signal from your remote and use it to make an outlet switch that can turn your electronics on and off.

When you are done, you will be able to control lights, fans and even your coffee maker with your TV remote.

For stet by step instructions check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Control-Any-Circuit-With-a-TV-Remote-and-an-Arduin/

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sound Effect Desk Bell



Most people are familiar with the classic desk bell. So when they press the button on top of the bell, they expect to hear a gentle ringing sound. They are not expecting to hear a bird chirping, gun fire or other sound effects. But that is what will happen if they press the button on this desk bell.

In this project, I show you how to modify a desk bell so that it plays sound effects. It makes a fun little prank for your friends and coworkers.

For detailed step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Desk-Bell-That-Plays-Sound-Effect/

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Magnetic Scrubber for Hard to Clean Containers



Sometimes it can be difficult to clean the insides of containers like vases and fish tanks. Many flower vases have an opening that is too narrow to fit your hand through and a shape that makes it inconvenient to use a brush. With a fish tank, you often have to drain the tank in order to clean the glass. Both of these problems can easily be solved with a simple magnetic scrubber. All you have to do is embed a strong magnet inside a sponge or other scrubbing tool. Then you can guide it with another magnet on the outside and clean even the most difficult to reach places. You could even use this kind of tool to clean the outside of windows.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Magnetic-Scrubber-That-Can-Clean-the-Insides-of-Va/

Talking Caps Lock Key Prank



Do you know someone that types with the Caps Lock on? How would you like to modify their keyboard so that it yells at them when they hit the Caps Lock key? In this project I show you how to do just that. All you have to do is wire a small sound module to the circuit board inside the keyboard. You don't even need to solder anything.

The keyboard has a small LED that indicates when the Caps Lock is on. I connected this LED to the Play switch on the sound module. When the LED turns on, it activates the sound module and it plays the sound clip.

Just for fun, I recorded a clip of Billy Mayes saying his tag line  "Hi Billy Mayes here!"

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Talking-Caps-Lock-Key-Prank/

Monday, March 10, 2014

Invisible Spy Beacon / Infrared LED Throwie



Spies need ways to secretly communicate with their partners. This can be a simple signal like a chalk mark on a wall or a newspaper left on a park bench. But the best kind of signal is completely invisible. In this project, I am going to show you how to make a simple invisible beacon that you can use to signal your friends and accomplices.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Invisible-Signally-Beacon-Infrared-LED-Throwie/

Snow Monitoring Scale



Snowfall is often just measured by its depth in inches (or centimeters). But there are other important factors to consider. The density, the temperature, and the crystal shape all greatly affect how the snow behaves when you try to work with it. So it might be useful if we also measured other properties of snow as well.

For instance, if you have to shovel snow, the thing that you are most concerned about is the weight of the snow. To measure this, I made a simple scale that can be read remotely. This lets you monitor the snowfall from the comfort of your warm house. It makes a great addition to any DIY home weather station.

For step by step instructions check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Snow-Monitoring-Scale/

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Custom Lid for Resealing Canned Food



There isn't really a good way to reseal canned food. I usually just end up covering the opening with a sandwich bag and a rubber band. To solve this problem I made a custom silicone lid that perfectly fits a can. I took some silicone putty and covered the top of a can. When it cured, the inside was the exact shape of a can. Now, I can use it to make a tight seal around a can. This helps to keep the contents fresh for a few extra days in the fridge.

For detailed step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-Lid-for-Resealing-Canned-Foods/

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rapid Fire Mouse Button



Many computer video games involve a lot of rapid mouse clicking. But there are limits to how fast your finger can click and how long you can keep it up before your hand starts to ache. So I modified a mouse to add a rapid fire button to it. That way you can rapidly activate the clicking function by simply holding down one button.

To do this, I connected a 555 timer circuit to the terminals of the left mouse button. When the rapid fire button is pressed, the timer circuit sends a series of pulses to the controller that simulate the button being clicked. This circuit lets you click up to 800 times per minute. A similar circuit could even be used for console video game controllers.

For detailed step by step instructions you can check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Rapid-Fire-Mouse-Button/

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Children's Nightlight from an Old Garden Ornament


When I was putting together my son's nursery, I decided to do something a little different for the nightlight. I found an old garden ornament in the shape of an owl. This owl fit perfectly with the other decorations in the room. So I added a small LED light to it and turned it into a nightlight.

For detailed step by step instructions for this project, you can check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Childrens-Nightlight-From-a-Garden-Ornament/

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Poseable Flower Arrangement



Many people will be giving or receiving flowers this Valentine’s day. But there is no reason why you have to put the flowers in a boring old vase. Why not put them in a poseable flower setting. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it lets you arrange the flowers in an unlimited number of ways.

For detailed step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Poseable-Flower-Arrangement/

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Magnetic Kissing Stuffed Animals



Stuffed animals make great Valentine's Day presents. But you can make them even better by just added a couple of magnets. If you place a small magnet inside the mouths of a pair of stuffed animals, they will pull towards each other and kiss whenever they are close to each other. This is a simple project that just takes a few minutes. It is great for people who are just learning to sew. So here is how to make magnetic kissing stuffed animals. 

Get detailed step by step instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Magnetic-Kissing-Stuffed-Animals/

Intercom From Old Corded Phones



In this project, I show you how you can make a simple intercom system from a pair of old corded telephones. The phones already have all the circuitry that is needed for processing a voice call.  All you need to add is a 9 volt battery and a resistor. This is an easy electronics project for beginners and it is great to do with children. Try it out and have fun.

Get detailed step by step instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Intercom-From-a-Pair-of-Old-Corded-Phones/

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pole Snowball Launcher


Snowball fights are one of the simple joys of winter. But I sometimes like to make useless inventions that make simple things more complicated. For instance, why just throw a snowball when you could build a catapult for them. So in this project, I built a pole snowball launcher. It is basically just a cup on the end of a pole. It doesn't seem like much, but with it you can hit targets almost twice as far away as you could with a thrown snowball. 

Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pole-Snowball-Launcher/

Thursday, January 23, 2014

7 Winter Hacks to Help Keep You Warm This Winter



Here are a few tricks that can help you stay warm. They are each really small so I combined them into one video.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Adding a Digital Scale to a Workshop Vice

In this project, I attempted to use the sensors from a common bathroom scale to make a digital readout for a shop vice. The idea was pretty simple. Relocate the sensors on the scale to locations on the vice. That way when the vice is tightened on an object, it will press on the sensors. The scale should then give a readout of how much pressure the vice is applying.

Unfortunately, I discovered that the scale doesn't work well unless pressure is applied evenly to all the sensors. Also many scales will not give readouts for small weights. They only work above a certain threshold.

So this is an example of the many times when a project just doesn't work out. But I still got to take apart a scale a learn how it worked. So it's never a complete loss.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Replica of the Glowing Briefcase from Pulp Fiction


Every now and then I like to make replicas of props from my favorite movies. In this project, I built a replica of the mysterious glowing briefcase from the movie Pulp Fiction. In the movie the briefcase contains an unknown treasure that emits a golden light when the case is opened. The prop itself is basically just leather briefcase with a light and a switch to turn it off when the briefcase is closed. This is really similar to the glowing treasure chest project that I built a few weeks ago.

It's a simple project that you can build in about an hour. Why not build one for yourself. It's a fun way to carry around your stuff.

For full written instructions check out the Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Glowing-Briefcase-From-Pulp-Fiction/

Friday, January 10, 2014

$2 Car Camera Mount



You have probably seen quite a few videos that were taken from inside a moving car. They are a major element of professional racing and police car chases. My favorites are the videos of the meteor exploding in the skys above Russia in early 2013. You never know what interesting things you might see while driving.

So in this project, I designed a really simple in-car camera mount. You can build it in just a few minutes with materials that will cost you less than $2. Basically it is just a 2x2 board and a 1/4" machine screw. The design is pretty crude but it work.

Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-In-Car-Camera-Mount-for-Less-Than-2/

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adjustable Power Outlet



There are a lot of electrical devices that only have two settings: ON and OFF. For a many of these, it would be helpful if you could adjust the output with an external circuit.

So in this project, I show you how to make an adjustable power outlet. This circuit acts as an external dimmer and can be used to adjust the power on a variety of appliances such as Lamps, heaters, soldering irons, and hot glue guns.

For detailed instructions check out the instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Adjustable-Power-Outlet/