Maker Nation

Archive for June, 2008

How-To: Pop-Up Sprinkler Head Filter Cleaner

High-Pressure Sprinkler Head Filter Cleaner

I usually have to unclog a few sprinkler heads when I do my weekly system check, but I was in for a treat on Saturday when almost every single head was clogged! You see, the city did some work on the secondary water lines upstream from my house and, as a result, flooded my pipes with decades of sediment.

Always one to look for the bright side of any situation, I decided this was a good excuse to make a little sprinkler filter cleaner that’s been kickin’ around in my head for a while now. So if you have sprinkler heads with individual filters (like many RainBird, Orbit and Toro brand heads), read on after the break how to make one of these handy gadgets in about 5 minutes for under $12.

(Read the article)

Five Dollar Laser Show

Frickin' Laser Can

I’ll admin it: I’m a sucker for lasers, especially when they’re synchronized with music! This little project, which reminds me of something I saw in high school physics, is a perfect solution for those times when you only have a few minutes to make your living room look like discotheque — and if you haven’t been in that predicament yet, trust me: you will.

I doubt there’s a better project you can make lasers, a tin can, zip ties, popsicle sticks, clothes pins and some balloons… and if there is, I’d like to see it!

Read “The Five Dollar Laser Show”, or
Watch the original “Amazing Laser Music Can”

DIY film: This is not a trivial undertaking.

Monster Film-Coating Machine

No build info on this one, but the pictures pretty much tell the whole story. It makes me wonder if the renaissance of film isn’t on its way, where you’ll buy boutique films from guys with big, homemade machines like this one in their garages.

Personally, I get goosebumps just knowing that someone built such behemoth because he wasn’t satisfied with the film you can buy nowadays. It’s the embodiment of the maker spirit!

Read “DIY film”

CD Changing Machine

Home built CD changer / duplicator

Every time I head over to Matthias Wandel’s homepage (or his woodworking site) to see what’s new, I end up spending hours looking through all the cool projects! Seriously, what an awesome maker!

I thought I’d share the project that originally drew me to his a site in 2003: a mechanical CD changer/duplicator made mostly from wood and controlled via parallel port under Linux. While I’ve seen a few other CD changer projects, I think it’s safe to say this one is the original (and was probably the inspiration for the rest).

I think that every tinkerer should build something like this just because it’s such an interesting problem domain with so many details to consider, yet not insurmountable. I may just have to start my own CD changing robot this weekend!

After you check it out, be sure to poke around his site a whileyou won’t be disappointed!

Read “Home built CD changer / duplicator”

Robot Rock

I’ve always been intrigued by the evil robot stylings of Captured! By Robots even if their music wasn’t really my bag, but this new video of New Zealand robo-band The Trons has finally given me something to look forward to when robots eventually takeover mankind.

How do you do soldering? Let’s answer this question together with Hikaru.

Hikaru's diary on learning to solder

Hikaru’s diary on learning to solder is a truly excellent (and unintentionally hilarious) tutorial on soldering. The lessons are spread across 10 “stories” that cover topics such as the history of soldering, iron selection (including how various types of irons work), soldering theory, as well as through-hole and reflow soldering — all with the comedic precision that only precisely translated Japanese cartoons can convey.

This tutorial is straight from Hakko, maker of some of the best soldering irons you can buy, so you know the information is good (if a little biased). It’s easily worth the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to read through, even if you’re already a pro.

Read “Hikaru’s diary on learning to solder”

Dissection of an Uninterruptible Power Supply

UPS Guts

There’s nothing I enjoy quite like tearing into an old printer or VCR to find some new crap for my parts box. Harvesting stepper motors, gears, belts and other mechanical bits is easy (and fun), but I’ve never really considered going after the electronics.

The folks over at uC Hobby have a cool writeup of all the parts they scrounged from an old UPS unit. I was surprised at how many nice parts they found, including a couple of lead-acid gel cells and a serious transformer that could be really useful in your next alternative energy project. And since they’re from a device that’s meant to handle lots of power, the parts are all pretty beefy.

Read “Scrounging a UPS”

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Maker Nation is a blog for and about people who aren’t content to leave well enough alone. A blog focused on taking control of your stuff and making it your own. This is a place for tinkerers, inventors, hackers and geeks.

We’ll give equal time to the absurd and the practical. We’ll customize everything. We’ll break some stuff. We’ll probably push it to the limit or something, and in so doing we’ll probably go too far. But we’ll have a good time and hopefully learn a little.

So if you thrive on making crazy crap or tearing things apart and “improving” them, then I invite you to join us in making technology personal again.