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Published by Elkhan Julian, 2016-09-12 14:47:50

Make Magazine - Volume 30

Make Magazine - Volume 30

Smarter Homes:
Control Your
House from


& fix!




You’re smart. So is your home.

(with a little help from us)



Free INSTEON Apps available
for iOS and Android devices*

Check out our DIY

*App screen similated. Actual App may vary depending on device and features available.

Make: Volume 30 ON THE COVER

40: Smarter Homes SNAPPY “TOWEL”: It’s the powerful, highly

Learn the elements of intelligence for automated homes, maneuverable R/C flying wing that’s easy to make, fly,
from communication protocols to physical interfaces. and fix. Photography by Gregory Hayes. Art direction
By Bob Parks by Jason Babler. Plane built by Daniel Spangler.

44: Homemade Home Security 44

Build a complete 4-camera surveillance system and view I SPY: Build a 4-webcam video switching system,
it over the web. By David Bodnar
and see who’s playing while you’re away.
50: The Electronic Nag
Build a Notification Alert Generator that pesters you verbally
to do your chores. By George Tempesta KEYBANGER’S BALL: Program any electrical

54: Networked Smart Thermostat device with pushbuttons, without writing a line of code.
Vol.30,April 2012.MAKE (ISSN 1556-2336) is published quarterly by O’Reilly Media,
Control your home’s heating and cooling system from Inc. in the months of January, April, July, and October. O’Reilly Media is located at
anyplace, using Arduino and Ethernet. By Eric Merrill 1005 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, CA 95472, (707) 827-7000. SUBSCRIP-
TIONS: Send all subscription requests to MAKE, P.O. Box 17046, North Hollywood,
59: Notify Me Now! CA 91615-9588 or subscribe online at or via phone at (866)
289-8847 (U.S. and Canada); all other countries call (818) 487-2037. Subscrip-
One young maker’s smart home security system. tions are available for $34.95 for 1 year (4 quarterly issues) in the United States;
By Goli Mohammadi in Canada: $39.95 USD; all other countries: $49.95 USD. Periodicals Postage Paid at
Sebastopol, CA, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address
60: X10 Arduino Macro Module changes to MAKE, P.O. Box 17046, North Hollywood, CA 91615-9588. Canada
Post Publications Mail Agreement Number 41129568. CANADA POSTMASTER:
Give classic X10 controllers a new Arduino brain and tap into Send address changes to: O’Reilly Media, PO Box 456, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6V2
a powerful open source code library. By Jim Newell

66: 12,000-Mile Universal Remote

Open your garage from a smartphone! Use XBee networks
and the cloud to flip any switch at home, from anywhere.
By Jordan Husney

72: Keybanging

Enjoy code-free home automation using prop controllers.
By William Gurstelle

76: Home Smart Home

Inspiration for your automation, from cool makers, projects,
and products.


11: Welcome

George Jetson’s wild ride. By Mark Frauenfelder

12: Reader Input

Soapy peril, Nerf newbies, and real-life heroes.

15: Maker’s Calendar

Events from around the world. By William Gurstelle

17: Make It Legal

Makers, what’s in your legal toolbox?
By Ryan P.C. Lawson, Esq.

28: Soapbox

Zen and the art of making. By Phillip Torrone

2 Make:

“It’s just a smart thing … brilliant.” “I can’t think of anything more
— Becky Worley, convenient when you’re wanting
to charge your iPhone.”
ABC’s Good Morning America — Mike Ferrara,

“The next best home upgrade for your “… we love the Power2U … a great
digital family.” product … makes the lives of anyone
— Casey Tschida, AppAdvice with multiple electronics a little easier
… without the need of any adapters.”
“I love it … you can plug in your phone — Nathan Kirsch, Legit Reviews
and your tablet along with your toaster
oven and coffee maker … Nice.” “… a must-have device for the home
— Lori Cunningham, of today.”
— Kristofer Brozio, DragonSteelMods
The Well Connected Mom
“Very clever … an outlet with … two
“… my 2011 gadget of the year is the plugs, two USB ports … when it closes,
Newer Technology Power2U.” shuts off phantom power.”
— Gregg Ellman, Miami Herald — Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

“… I will be getting plenty of use out of “I’m … a huge fan of the Power2U …
the...Power2U … with my whole family a great accessory for anyone with
using more electronic devices than I multiple gadgets to charge … easy
care to count.” enough for anyone to install.”
— Thomas Ratas, Test Freaks — Josh Smith, Gotta Be Mobile

Upgrade your home to integrate your digital life

Turn your walls into USB charging stations
with the Newer Technology Power2U™

It’s the twenty-first century and electronics fill the pockets of Basic DIY Install
teens and adults in every home. Phones, GPS devices, iPads— tInstalls on standard 15A
all kinds of devices, and the majority of those charge via USB.
electrical circuit
You typically have two options for charging these devices:
tSmart Power outputs only as
t Plug directly into the computer for USB charging much power as required to
t Use a USB power converter that plugs into the wall charge connected devices

Power2U gives you another option—remove power adapter tSafety Shutters turn off USB
clutter and make USB charging more convenient. Turn your power when closed to
walls into charging stations by installing native USB outlets eliminate “vampire” draw
directly into the wall with Power2U.
tHow-to videos available online


©2012 Newer Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Newer Technology and the Newer Technology arrow logo are registered Available online at: Upgrade your home today!
trademarks of New Concepts Development Corporation. The OWC logo is a trademark of New Concepts Development Corporation.
Power2U is a trademark of Newer Technology, Inc. Apple and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other Only $27.99 ea.
countries. Other marks may be the trademark or registered trademark property of their owners. Prices, specifications and availability
are subject to change without notice. or $22.99 ea.

when purchasing two or more

Make: Projects 9 8 9 10 11 12
10 8 9 10 11 12
The Towel 11
Make a robust R/C flying-wing airplane 1
that’s fun to fly and great to learn on. 2
By Breck Baldwin 3
82 11
12 2
11 3
9 14
8 2




Pipe Dreams

Build sturdy, great-looking furnishings
with PVC pipe and a few tricks.
By Larry Cotton and Phil Bowie


Yakitori Grill

Get cookin’ with this
Japanese-style skewer grill.
By Bob Knetzger

4 Make:
How to capture, view, clone, and generate
infrared signals. By Tom Lauwers


Forrest M. Mims III Puzzler



VOLCANO Can you describe any of the three methods
Joe used to detect the aerosol?

Satellites provide global coverage of clouds, water vapor, dust, smoke and the
ozone layer. The colorful images provided by the data from these satellites
looks very impressive. But satellite instruments don't always stay calibrated
and problems can occur when satellite orbits drift. Amateur scientist, Joe
Novice learned about this when he heard a satellite scientist say that the
global aerosol cloud formed by the eruption of a giant volcano had dissipated
much sooner than expected. Joe suspected the satellite was simply wrong,
but he was not a satellite scientist. How did he use some everyday items and
several electronic components to prove he was right?

What's your solution? See if you are correct at
where you will find all three of Joe's solutions.

Order Your Free Jameco Catalog! 1-800-831-4242

Make: Volume 30 READ ME: Always check the URL associated

with a project before you get started. There may

be important updates or corrections.

Maker 30

18: Made on Earth HIGH-TECH HOBBITRY: Filmmakers and

Snapshots from the world of backyard technology. friends build their Shire in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

30: Hobbits of Trout Gulch 126: Toys 132: Circuits

These cutting-edge animators are creating a live-in New: Supercap Racer kit. Tough LED lanterns,
hackerspace in a California forest. By Jon Kalish coffee-maker salvage.
130: Home
36: My TV Stinks! 136: Vehicle
iPad monopod stand.
Scratch-and-sniff TV: incorporating smell into digital projects. iPhone car ignition.
By Alex Kauffmann
140: Science
117: 1+2+3: Stain PVC Any Color
Microbial fuel cell,
Permanently dye your PVC projects. By Sean Michael Ragan hydraulic ram pump.

125: 1+2+3: Sound Sucker 158

Try this weird acoustic trick. By William Gurstelle

146: Country Scientist

Using sensors with data loggers. By Forrest M. Mims III

150: What I Made

Turn a dimmer switch into a cool day-and-night dial.
By Scott Bedford

152: Toys, Tricks, and Teasers

Simple tricks of illusion make the impossible a reality.
By Donald Simanek

155: Danger!

Harness the superheat of fire and melt glass.
By Gever Tulley with Julie Spiegler

156: Howtoons: The Measure of a Man

By Saul Griffith and Nick Dragotta

158: Electronics: Fun and Fundamentals

Use rotary encoders and LEDs to make your own
Magic 8 Box fortune-teller. By Charles Platt

162: Toolbox

Kits, books, and tools to paint your couch, get hypnotized,
control your robot army, and design in 3D for free.

170: Remaking History: The Oliver

Build the treadle hammer that helped build medieval Europe.
By William Gurstelle

172: Make Money

Silver bells from pre-1965 coins.
By Tom Parker

176: Homebrew: My DIY Gravity Balancer

By Gilles Robin

SIGNS POINT TO YES: Build an electronic,

random fortune-teller inspired by the classic toy.

6 Make:

“To invent, you need a good FOUNDER & PUBLISHER
imagination and a pile of junk.”
Dale Dougherty
—Thomas Edison
[email protected]



Mark Frauenfelder Jason Babler Sherry Huss Vickie Welch

[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] BUSINESS MANAGER


Paul Spinrad Michael Silva Katie Dougherty Kunde DIRECTOR, RETAIL MARKETING
[email protected] DESIGNER [email protected]
Heather Harmon Cochran
Melissa Morgan ASSOCIATE PHOTO EDITOR Cecily Benzon
Rob Bullington
[email protected] Gregory Hayes [email protected]
Marc de Vinck
Keith Hammond ASSISTANT EDITOR Brigitte Kunde

[email protected] Laura Cochrane [email protected]


Goli Mohammadi Arwen O’Reilly Griffith Sheena Stevens Michael Castor

[email protected] [email protected] PROGRAM DIRECTOR


David Pescovitz Gillian BenAry


Suzanne Huston

Gareth Branwyn Jake Spurlock cs@readerservices.
Tim O’Reilly, CEO
[email protected] [email protected] Laura Baldwin, President
Manage your account online,
DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA EDITOR AT LARGE Copyright © 2012 including change of address:
O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Shawn Connally Phillip Torrone All rights reserved. 866-289-8847 toll-free
Reproduction without in U.S. and Canada
[email protected] [email protected] permission is prohibited. 818-487-2037,
Printed in the USA by 5 a.m.–5 p.m., PST
COMMUNITY MANAGER Schumann Printers, Inc.
Follow us on Twitter:
John Baichtal Visit us online: @make @craft
Comments may be sent to: @makershed
William Gurstelle, Mister Jalopy, Brian Jepson, Charles Platt [email protected] On Facebook: makemagazine


Thomas J. Arey, Breck Baldwin, Scott Bedford, Kipp Bradford, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories,
David Bodnar, Larry Cotton, Stuart Deutsch, Rob Faludi, Limor Fried, Joe Grand, Saul Griffith, William Gurstelle,
Ashley Franks, Saul Griffith, Matthew Gryczan, Steve Hoefer, Bunnie Huang, Tom Igoe, Mister Jalopy, Steve Lodefink,
Phil Bowie, Jordan Husney, Jon Kalish, Alex Kauffmann,
Erica Sadun, Marc de Vinck
Bob Knetzger, Ryan P. C. Lawson, Tom Lauwers,
Sean McIntyre, Eric Merrill, Forrest M. Mims III, Jim Newell, INTERNS

Meara O’Reilly, Tom Parker, Bob Parks, Gilles Robin, Eric Chu (engr.), Craig Couden (edit.), Max Eliaser (engr.),
Donald Simanek, Jerry James Stone, George Tempesta, Ben Lancaster (engr.), Brian Melani (engr.),
Tyler Moskowite (web), Paul Mundell (engr.),
Sylvia Todd, Gever Tulley, Tara Wheeler
Nick Raymond (engr.), Daniel Spangler (engr.)

Roy Doty, Nick Dragotta, Juan Leguizamon, Tim Lillis,
Rob Nance, Kathryn Rathke, Nik Schulz (L-Dopa),
Damien Scogin


John Baichtal, Michael Castor, Michael Colombo,
Chris Connors, Collin Cunningham, Adam Flaherty,
Nick Normal, John Edgar Park, Sean Michael Ragan,

Matt Richardson

PLEASE NOTE: Technology, the laws, and limitations imposed by manufacturers and content owners are constantly MAKE CARES
changing. Thus, some of the projects described may not work, may be inconsistent with current laws or user agree-
ments, or may damage or adversely affect some equipment. Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper MAKE is printed on recycled,
use of equipment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill and experience. Power tools, process-chlorine-free, acid-free paper
electricity, and other resources used for these projects are dangerous, unless used properly and with adequate with 30% post-consumer waste,
precautions, including safety gear. Some illustrative photos do not depict safety precautions or equipment, in order certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the
to show the project steps more clearly. These projects are not intended for use by children. Use of the instruc- Sustainable Forest Initiative, with soy-based inks
tions and suggestions in MAKE is at your own risk. O’Reilly Media, Inc., disclaims all responsibility for any resulting containing 22%–26% renewable raw materials.
damage, injury, or expense. It is your responsibility to make sure that your activities comply with applicable laws,
including copyright.

8 Make:


Breck Baldwin (“The Towel” R/C Flying Dan Spangler (MAKE engineering Jessica Fortner (Yakitori Grill illustration)
Wing) is the founder of LingPipe, whose intern) describes himself as “a big, fuzzy, is an illustrator from Toronto, Ontario,
offices are perched at the edge of fun-loving guy who has an amazing focusing on editorial, advertising, and
McCarren Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. He knack for making things.” He has a pen- children’s illustration. Jessica’s work
steadfastly denies that the office was chant for building projects that explode. has appeared in publications such as
chosen for the excellent flying site only “I made my first combustion spud gun Juxtapoz, The New York Times, Ammo
steps away. The Brooklyn Aerodrome and promptly shot out the window of Magazine, Digital Arts, and Pork & Mead.
R/C plane collective grew out of a desire my dad’s truck, which was parked Also, her portfolio website has been
to introduce UFO awe in the night sky across the street,” he laughs. He is cur- featured as one of How’s Top 10 Sites
to jaded urbanites. The project has rently working on a number of exciting for Designers. She is co-founder, editor,
morphed into a teaching tool, DIY object projects, including a jet engine Tesla coil, and designer of the online arts magazine
of fascination, and art entity that is a rocket engine, a Gatling gun, a model Squidface & The Meddler (squidfaceand
collectively developed by a loose group internal combustion engine, a giant, and founder of the arts
of innovators. He developed the Towel piloted Maker Faire robot, and a nuclear site Tangled Fingers (
as a healing intervention for all the unfin- fusion reactor. A design enthusiast, she’s particularly
ished, unflown, or crushed balsa plane fond of sustainable design, interface
dreams of children everywhere. design, and typography.

Tom Lauwers (IR Remote Hacking) is George Tempesta (Notification Alert Eric Merrill (Cellphone Car Ignition
the founder of BirdBrain Technologies Generator) is the proud but forgetful and Networked Smart Thermostat) is a
LLC, maker of the Finch robot, Hum- father of three beautiful daughters. The programmer by trade and photographer
mingbird robotics kit, and the Brainlink NAG is actually his wife Traci’s brilliant by hobby. He has had a passion for
universal robot controller. According to idea to prolong their marriage! George electronics and robotics since taking
the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, has been tinkering with and fixing things three years of classes on the subject at a
Tom is both a master and doctor of most of his life, and has an insatiable technical center in high school. Married
robots; he is an invaluable ally in the appetite to know how things work. When with his first child on the way, he is now
event of a robot uprising. Born in he’s not messing around with electronics a member and current CEO of the i3
Belgium and raised in Silicon Valley, or fixing one of his cars, he can be found Detroit hackerspace (
he now resides happily in Pittsburgh, camping, boating, or fishing with his In addition to various automation and
Pa., with his wife, two kids, and a small family. His kids have inspired him with electronics projects, he enjoys working
army of robots. This brief bio contains their amazement at the things he makes. on his quadcopter and learning to use
variations of the word “robot” eight the equipment at i3.
times, which tells you much about
Tom’s current preoccupation.

Follow us @make 9



Want to learn how to weld, feel the power of a laser cutter, or create a 3D model using the latest design
software? TechShop—a membership-based workshop and fabrication studio—offers access to over
$1,000,000 worth of tools and technologies for a low monthly fee. Stop in for a free tour from one of
our highly trained staff or sign up for a class on our website. The possibilities are endless at TechShop.
Build your dreams here!


By Mark Frauenfelder

George Jetson’s
Wild Ride

THE JETSONS WAS AN ANIMATED PRIME- automation. They ride in floating scooters with
time sitcom that debuted in 1962 as a time- extra-large cup holders for the sugary drinks
warp twist on Hanna-Barbera’s previous hit, they consume around the clock. The lesson is
The Flintstones. The Jetsons depicted family that technology specifically designed to allow
life in the year 2062. One of the reasons I you to sit and do nothing is not without conse-
loved the show was the futuristic technology quences. (Does a TV remote control cater to
it featured in every episode. short attention spans, or create them?)

The show’s end title sequence has an exem- MAKE’s special section this issue is about
plary roundup of Jetsonian-age conveniences. Home Automation, and we didn’t take the
The scene opens with George Jetson gliding subject sitting down. In fact, we went in the
home to the Sky Pad Apartments in Orbit City. opposite direction. Instead of a pushbutton
As George slides through the front door on a haven for couch potatoes, we imagined a net-
moving sidewalk, Rosie, a robot housekeeper worked space for active makers who want to
dressed in a maid’s outfit, greets him and efficiently manage the systems in their homes
takes his briefcase. from anywhere they might find themselves —
whether they’re in the kitchen, out in the back-
A second later, a molded fiberglass chair yard, or on the other side of the planet.
springs out of a hidden door in the sliding walk
and smartly scoops George right out of his New wireless protocols and cellphone-
white plastic boots. George falls into the chair, based interfaces make it easier than ever to
nearly supine. He smiles and shuts his eyes. control your castle. We’ve got projects that
The chair whisks George to his boy Elroy, who show you how to flip any switch in your home
slaps a pair of slippers on his father’s feet, from your mobile phone (page 66) or even
then onward to daughter Judy, who lovingly start your car (page 136), how to receive timely
puts a pipe in his mouth and kisses him on the verbal reminders to do household chores
cheek before the chair conveys him away. (page 50), and how to program home systems
without writing a line of code (page 72). You’ll
George's chair ride ends where Jane, his learn how to set up a webcam security system
wife, and the family dog, Astro, await him. (page 44), give classic X10 automation mod-
Jane gives him a kiss as she hands him Astro’s ules a new brain (page 60), make an Arduino-
leash, and the Goliath-sized dog bounds out- controlled thermostat that’ll cut your energy
side, dragging an alarmed George along. bill and take commands over the internet
(page 54), and more.
The scene cuts to a conveyor treadmill
outside the apartment’s back door. George Other projects in this issue are sure to keep
is walking the dog when a cat hops onto the you out of your chair, too, like the yakitori grill
belt. Astro gives chase and the belt spins out (page 108), our new Supercap Racer toy kit
of control, with George sprinting wildly to keep (page 126), and a radio-controlled flying wing
up. The dog and cat hop off and enjoy the that’s easy to make and incredibly fun to fly
spectacle of George, trapped on the belt, cry- (page 82).
ing, “Help! Help! Jane, stop this crazy thing!”
So, get automated and get active! a
In a way, the scene tells the same lesson
told in the movie WALL-E, in which people of Mark Frauenfelder is editor-in-chief of MAKE.
the future have ceded their body movement to

Follow us @make 11


From Makers Like You

Soapy Peril, Nerf Newbies,
and Real-Life Heroes

I read Saul Griffith’s column in Volume 29 SPECIAL ISSUE: ULTIMATE KIT GUIDE $9.99
[“MENTORing Kids into Makers”] and I was
just so impressed at your undertaking. I’m LOCAL MOTORS:
sure MAKE’s new Makerspace program (maker BUILD THIS CAR! will change student’s attitudes (NOT CHEAP)
toward STEM. You might be interested in the
Lemelson-MIT poll of 16- to 25-year-olds. MUSIC • TOYS • ROCKETS • FOOD • HOME
Popular Mechanics reports that “Nearly a third TOOLS • OUTDOORS • ROBOTS • LEDS
said they had little to no experience building SIEGE WEAPONS •ARDUINO AND MORE!
anything hands-on, whether it’s a digital prod-
uct like a website or a physical project like BUILD YOUR OWN I picked up
piecing together a circuit.” 3D PRINTER! the MAKE: Ultimate

I also really like that you’ve put role models Kit Guide 2012
on the cover of the magazine. Having a role
model, especially one that’s not your stereo- (kits.makezine.
typical white male, can help young students
picture themselves in a STEM profession. com), and after
In a program at Techbridge, an organization
dedicated to expanding the options of girls $9.99 DISPLAY UNTIL FEB. 15, 2012 gleefully devouring
interested technology and engineering (I’m its packed pages, I
a board member), we found that without role PLUS: How Kits want to thank your
models and field trips to worksites, students Drive Innovation
saw hands-on activities as a hobby but not
a career.

I strongly encourage the Makerspace team for putting together such a wonderful
program to incorporate role models. I also
encourage MAKE readers to become role collection of kits. What I appreciate most is
models to their children, nieces, nephews,
or friends’ children. the distilled simplicity of it. The personal com-

—Lyn Gomes, PE, LEED AP, mentary of your reviewers cuts through the
mechanical engineer, and maker
(Motorized Barcalounger), Livermore, Calif. hype and/or lack of information associated

Thank you for featuring real-life superhero with many kits, and gets to the heart of what
Carol Reiley [MAKE Volume 29, “Air Guitar
Hero” and “DIY Blood Pressure Monitor”]. I’m interested in. Thanks again for going the Garry McLeod (Carol Reiley)
She’s just as smart as Tony Stark and more
attractive than Wonder Woman, and on top of extra mile.
that, she builds robots that save people. Reiley
is a true inspiration. —Aaron Stone, Fort Worth, Texas

—Bob Bohan, Kent, Wash. As a science teacher and Ph.D. chemist, the
soap-making tutorial in Volume 29 [“Making
Bar Soap”] caught my eye for a few reasons.
» None of the pictures illustrate the safety

12 Make:

equipment that’s specified. patterns and relationships. Most classroom
» The exact proportions of oil and sodium learning is left-brained, all about labels and
logic and rules. There are schools that are
hydroxide (NaOH) are extremely impor- finally realizing just how much of the right
tant for safety reasons. Excess NaOH brain we leave untapped in our schooling pro-
can remain, and the pH of the soap is not cess (other than fine-arts programs), and are
tested. When you get NaOH on your skin, it now starting to incorporate more discovery
feels soapy (it’s actually making soap from into regular academics.
the fatty acids in your skin); this is worth
explaining so people know they might have Neurologists are also beginning to see how
got some on them. previously labeled “disabled or difficult learn-
» It’s true that the amount of NaOH used in ers” are often right-brained children in a left-
your method should not be enough to react brained school. Exercises (both mental and
with the all of the oil completely; this is physical) designed to help reconnect the right
itself a safety precaution, because in theory and left hemispheres are proving successful in
all the NaOH will be used up. But the type helping these kids adapt better to school.
of oils used shouldn’t be changed, as this
would alter the amount of NaOH required. —Phil Wrzesinski, Jackson, Mich.
» Any mistakes made during this process are
much more serious than any “toxins” found It is just my opinion but your magazine is
in off-the-shelf soap. the best magazine out there. When I read the
Robots issue (Volume 27) I really wanted to
—Zac Watts, Melbourne, Australia build those robots and possibly merge them.
In the Toys and Games issue (Volume 28)
I’m not impressed with the homemade I wanted to build the catapult really bad. The
Nerf blaster in Volume 29 [“Better Nerf Gun”]. instructions for the projects are good at telling
There’s an online community that has tack- me what to do, and you seem to include the
led this problem in ways that are far easier. blueprints that I need to build a device right
Not every maker has a lathe, and using metal away. Thank you for publishing such an awe-
racks up the cost and difficulty. A better blast- some magazine.
er can be built for $20 out of PVC pipe and
fittings by a newbie with a Dremel, and gets —Anthony Rinaldo
ranges of 60ft to 80ft. Heck, even a well-made
HAMP (High Airflow Manual Plunger) gets MAKE AMENDS
60ft, and it uses yarn for the seal! I’m disap-
pointed that the novice maker was ignored. Volume 29’s Country Scientist column stated that
“Water vapor ... alone keeps the Earth warm enough to
—Daniel Seyler, Pocahontas, Illinois prevent the entire planet from freezing.” In fact, while
water vapor is the gas most responsible for the green-
EXECUTIVE EDITOR PAUL SPINRAD REPLIES: Thank you house effect, it is not sufficient to prevent “snowball
for writing. I think our Nerf gun is beautiful, but it does Earth” conditions — that requires CO2 as well.
require metal lathing, wood shaping, and other operations
that aren’t quick or easy. Is there a quick PVC Nerf blaster Also, we may have implied that air temperatures
or HAMP you’d recommend? An easily built high-perfor- decrease with altitude because the air is dryer, when
mance PVC Nerf dart blaster sounds really fun. the opposite is true: the air is cooler at altitude
because of lower pressure, and it’s dryer because
DANIEL SEYLER REPLIES: The HAMP is one of the most cooler air holds less vapor.
basic NERF guns, originally documented on NerfHaven
( by member KaneTheMediocre. You can Thanks to reader Christopher Hogan for spotting
build one for $10 in less than an hour! the errors, and to Dr. Gavin Schmidt of the NASA/
Goddard Institute for Space Studies for setting the
record straight.

I own a toy store and have been pushing In the schematic for Volume 26’s “Luna Mod” sound
the educational power of toys for decades looper, the labels for Tempo and Sound were mistak-
[Volume 28, “A Curriculum of Toys”]. enly reversed. The corrected schematic is online at and
“Toy learning” is very right-brained, all about project/t/974.

Follow us @make 13

Got an idea?

Anne & Gary 100kGarages connects you with people
who can turn your thoughts into things.

565 Y



Anne Filson and Gary Rohrbacher Get it made.
have created designs for beautiful,
functional furniture (called AtFAB) Got a CAD design file, or just a napkin drawing?
that customers can fab themselves We have free resources to help you get your
or have made for them using a dream project made.
ShopBot or other CNC tool. To
prototype and make the pieces Want some help from a designer?
ready-to-fab, they connected with Post your project on
Jeff Shapiro through 100kGarages, for designers to bid on.
and have been collaborating for the
past two years. Says Anne, "We've Is your idea designed and ready for fabbing?
become friends as fellow makers. Post it now and get fabbers to bid on making it!
That's been central to our success."

Making connections on is FREE. Search and find 100’s
of people working with 2-D or 3-D digital fabrication tools to cut, machine,
drill, sculpt... or print in 3-D. It’s easy to find someone near you.

connect. collaborate. create.

100kGarages is a project of ShopBot Tools Ŕ

Apr May Jun
July Aug Sept Compiled by William Gurstelle
Oct Nov Dec
Our favorite events
from around the world.

Maker Faire Bay Area

May 19–20, San Mateo, Calif.
The seventh annual Maker Faire Bay Area is guaranteed to
be huge, the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. This two-
day family friendly Faire has something for everyone — it’s
a festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, and a
celebration of the maker movement.

James Bastow MAY all things Airstream, the old- drain pipe organ installation
est and perhaps best-known and a bioluminescent plank-
» Indianapolis 500 travel trailer. Highlights ton light show. 2012.northern
include a rare look at how
Emerging Tech Day trailers are manufactured
May 7, Indianapolis, Ind. inside the factory, customiza- JULY
Some of the best and bright- tion work shops, and social
est young minds in America activities. » Wisconsin Farm
will show off their renewable
technology ideas for the auto- JUNE Technology Days
motive industry here. A high- July 17–19, New London, Wis.
light is the competition at the » Transit of Venus Each year, several Wisconsin
Indianapolis Motor Speedway family farms are selected
by alternative-power vehicles June 5, Mishawaka, Ind. to host this three-day event
in the Formula Hybrid and Celebrate the 2012 transit that showcases the latest
American Solar Challenge of Venus across the face of innovations in agriculture.
series. the sun with a planetarium The approximately 600 edu-
emergingtech program, public lectures, and cational and commercial
a performance of Sousa’s exhibitors show off everything
» Lego Inside Tour “Transit of Venus March.” from arts and crafts and dairy
Telescopes will be set up equipment to heritage equip-
May 23–25, Billund, Denmark for public viewing, and the ment and “beef exhibits.”
The Lego factory opens its NASA Edge webcast will bring
doors to the public in a rare live coverage from Hawaii.
open house. The two-and- * IMPORTANT: Times, dates,
a-half day tour includes an
opportunity for hardcore » Northern Spark locations, and events are subject
Lego enthusiasts to meet the to change. Verify all information
product’s designers, tour the June 9–10, Minneapolis, Minn. before making plans to attend.
factory, and visit the archive. Inspired by European night- time art festivals, Northern MORE MAKER EVENTS:
Spark turns the Mississippi Visit to find
» Alumapalooza River into one giant art gallery. classes, fairs, exhibitions, and more.
Last year there were more Log in to add your events, or email
May 29–June 3, than 100 public art projects, them to [email protected].
Jackson Center, Ohio including a sewer pipe/storm Attended a great event? Talk about
Alumapalooza is a festival of it at

Follow us @make 15


By Ryan P.C. Lawson, Esq., Small Business Advocate

What’s in
Your Toolbox?

IF YOU’RE A MAKER, YOU PROBABLY HAVE inventor, or you and some close friends who
a toolbox. If you’re a careful maker, you have share an idea. If you have multiple people,
some safety tools in that toolbox, like safety the rules you set up on how you run your
glasses and earplugs. Maybe you have rub- company can prevent arguments about how
ber gloves if you work with chemicals. There’s profits are shared, who gets to vote on impor-
another safety tool that makers should have tant decisions, and how votes are counted.
at their disposal: a company.
There are lots of different kinds of com-
“Company” is a word that garage-based panies, such as the traditional company, the
makers might not want to be associated LLC, and the S corp, and these vary depending
with. It may bring to mind large, faceless on what state you live in. Forming a company
corporations that care more about profits isn’t that hard. In most states, it just involves
than innovation or creation. But the people filing a form and paying a fee.
who started these companies did it as a way
to protect their owners and investors. Just as you protect your eyes
and hands with glasses
Just as you protect your eyes and hands and gloves, you protect your
with glasses and gloves, you protect your assets with a company.
assets with a company. Companies give us
the concept of limited liability: a company’s While you’re not required to get a lawyer,
owner is generally only liable for the amount there are many reasons to have one help you
that they invested in the company. This is get started. A short conversation with a lawyer
an incredible protection, because no matter will help guide you to the right type of corpo-
how careful you are, accidents happen. ration for your business. A good lawyer will
explain your options and offer to let you save
Let’s say you design and sell remote- money by filling out the forms yourself and
controlled lawn mowers. What if RF inter- give you assistance if you need it.
ference causes the mower to go off course?
Even if an accident isn’t your fault, someone A business lawyer can also explain rules
may be injured or even die. We live in a world you can set up internally to avoid future con-
where no one likes to take responsibility for flict. The lawyer will tell you how to prevent
their actions, so they may come looking someone going around your company to try to
for you because your name is on it. get to you. Most importantly, by consulting a
lawyer now, you’ll establish a relationship with
If you’ve made a company, a customer someone you can consult if something goes
generally has to go after the company. Of wrong or if you need some fast advice.
course, there are some exceptions to this and
some rules you have to follow to make sure Protecting yourself with a company is the
this happens. A company is a person under best legal safety tool you can have as a maker,
the law, and though you control it, it isn’t you. and it should be in your toolbox. a
That means the only thing someone can go
after is what the company owns. So, while Ryan Lawson is a Michigan lawyer. His practice focuses on
company-owned tools might be at risk, your technology licensing and advising small businesses.
house and your car may be protected.

Your company might be just you as the

Follow us @make 17

Made On Earth

Reports from the world of backyard technology

Stick City

When Scott Weaver first started gluing so numerous and uniform in color that they
toothpicks together to create sculptures at
the age of 8, little did he know he would later risk being overlooked. The main tour starts
embark on a monumental 34-year journey
toward completion of his epic Rolling Through at Coit Tower, wraps under a Rice-A-Roni
the Bay sculpture.
cable car, through the Transamerica Pyramid,
The fourth-generation San Franciscan
started Rolling Through the Bay in 1974 as out to the Cliff House, down Lombard Street
a smaller piece that featured his signature
ping-pong ball path running through it. He to Chinatown, back toward the Palace of
continued to work on the piece off and on
until 2008, when he debuted it at the Sonoma Fine Arts, out around the windmill at Ocean
County Fair, winning Best of Show. Utilizing
a staggering 100,000 toothpicks, it stands 9 Beach, across the Golden Gate Bridge, over
feet tall, 7 feet wide, and 30 inches deep, and
features four different ping-pong ball routes Humphrey the humpback whale, behind
that start at entry points atop the piece and
travel past San Francisco landmarks. Weaver Alcatraz, by the Maritime Museum, ending
uses only Elmer’s white glue.
in the long-lost Fleishhacker Pool.
The ping-pong ball routes are essential for
a full appreciation of the details, which are At Maker Faire Bay Area 2011, Weaver

earned Editor’s Choice blue ribbons and

had perhaps one of the most photographed Luigi Anzivino/Exploratorium

projects at the Faire. He is fueled by seeing

people’s reactions to his work, recognizing

the madness in his method. “What kind of

eccentric idiot would spend thousands of

hours making a toothpick sculpture?

That’s me!” —Goli Mohammadi

18 Make:

Follow us @make 19

Made On Earth

On-Demand Rainbows

It’s not obvious what the Rainbow Machine the on-site monitor. Shameel Arafin
does at first glance. The machine’s arm of By the end of the night, we accumulated
colorful flashing LED patterns gives it the
look of a carnival gate or a giant’s wand. But 186 photos, all of which were uploaded to
a long-exposure photograph turns the motion a Flickr account and given away for free.
of the machine’s arm into a vibrant rainbow.
A year prior to this debut, Reid and I met
Reid Bingham and I (Sean McIntyre) working on an art installation at a Brooklyn
debuted the Rainbow Machine as a light- warehouse party. Inspired by light-painting
painting photo booth at the outdoor light-art projects and artist Alexander Kurlandsky’s
festival Bring to Light: Nuit Blanche New York. Robo-Rainbow (see MAKE Volume 26, page
One after another, groups of friends posed for 69), we combined Reid’s LED art with my pro-
10 seconds in front of the machine while the gramming background to create the Rainbow
LED arm painted the rainbow behind them. Machine. We wanted to build something that
With an initial flash, the group was crisply everyone could enjoy in a variety of settings.
captured in the photograph.
Reid and I continue to upgrade the Rainbow
The flash was also my cue to rotate the Machine. A new feature translates JPEG imag-
machine’s flashing arm 180° in the air. The es into complex patterns of blinking lights
group blocked the LEDs traveling behind on the machine’s arm. Our next challenge is
them, cutting out their silhouettes from the automating the arm’s movement.
photograph’s light-painted rainbow. Their
rainbow photo immediately showed up on —Sean McIntyre

20 Make:

Refine Your Own Wine

Sabine Marcelis While the art of making fine wine is usually and is as beautiful as it is easy to use. All
left in the hands of seasoned winemakers in of the equipment needed for nurturing the
places like Napa or Bordeaux, it really doesn’t fermentation process, siphoning the wine,
have to be. Anyone who has seen the movie and bottling and corking is stored within the
Bottle Shock knows that you never really base of the unit. And the design is smart
know where the next great wine will hail from. enough that it makes items such as funnels,
bottle cleaners, and stirrers extraneous.
Thanks to Netherlands-based designer Less equipment also means fewer things
Sabine Marcelis, the next great winemaker to sterilize and therefore less work.
could very well be you!
She writes, “The [home brewing] process
Marcelis got the inspiration for her do-it- is often hidden away from view in garages and
yourself winemaking kit while in New Zealand, basements. This is a real shame, as wine is
where “it is not so uncommon to brew your a living, breathing entity, which deserves an
own wine at home,” she writes. “While making audience to witness it maturing.”
a batch of apple wine and grape wine, I care-
fully observed and recorded all the steps House Wine celebrates the process of
needed to get it from fruit to bottle. I quickly wine-making by bringing it into our living
discovered some key problems with the space. Best of all, House Wine potentially
current techniques which make the process enables experimentation, creating a whole
both messy and unappealing.” new world of blends. I’ll drink to that.

This all-in-one kit, called House Wine, —Jerry James Stone
was used for her graduation design project,

Follow us @make 21

Made On Earth

Mighty Mini Men of Metal

Amsterdam native Mark Ho was at film Made almost entirely of bronze and stain- Louis Lemaire
school, working in stop-motion animation, less steel, Artform No. 1 was produced in a
when he built his first articulated metal arma- limited, numbered edition of 25. Not counting
ture. That project sparked his imagination its switchable magnetic display base, each
with visions of a kind of “ultimate puppet” figure weighs a bit more than 17 pounds,
— an intricately jointed, fully poseable figure stands almost 17 inches tall, and has 85
with all the grace and range of movement moving parts, allowing remarkably lifelike
of a real human body. and expressive postures. The piece was
featured on the covers of Scientific American
After graduating, he apprenticed in the and Bright magazine, and earned Ho the
workshop of a veteran machinist for more distinction of being featured in Joe Martin’s
than two years before starting work on his Internet Craftsmanship Museum.
prototype. He began, fittingly enough, with
the hands. Together, the hands account for Following the success of No. 1, Zoho
202 of the completed figure’s 920 parts. Once International has started production of
they were finished to Ho’s exacting standards, Artform No. 4, a figure built to the same
the rest of the body had to measure up. pattern as the first statue, but substituting
anodized aluminum, in an array of colors,
Working primarily with a lathe and a milling for the original bronze parts.
machine, using a number of custom fixtures
of his own design and construction, he spent —Sean Michael Ragan
more than six years refining the design before
fixing it, in 2005, as Zoho Artform No. 1.

22 Make:

Brick Tower of Superpower

Mike Schropp Using more than 2,000 Legos and some mad and done you’ve got nooks, bins, and chests
computer skills, Mike Schropp of Livonia, full of them. I’ve been addicted to Legos for
Mich., built a fully operational supercomputer longer than I can remember, so when the
that’s not only awesome, but helps in the opportunity comes up to work on a new proj-
fight against diseases like cancer and HIV. ect of some sort, the question that invariably
arises is, ‘Can I use Legos?’”
The machine uses three Intel Core
i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz processors But he didn’t just build the machine as a
overclocked to a full 4.7GHz, three Asus way to offload some extra Legos — it was
P8P67-M motherboards, 28 gigs of RAM, and also for a good cause. It’s connected to the
just one Antec HCP-1200 power supply. Intel’s World Community Grid (WCC), which uses
Core i7 is unlocked for modifications just like distributed computing to tackle humanitar-
this, so the skill once required for such a task ian projects, like medical research. The WCC
has now been eliminated, as well as much of currently has almost two million connected
the risk. And the case is constructed mostly devices and makes its technology available
of Legos! to organizations whose research might oth-
erwise not be completed due to the highly
“Legos seem to have an uncanny ability prohibitive costs of computer infrastructure.
for multiplying in my house at an almost
exponential rate,” says the 29-year-old race Mike Schropp could very well be the next
engine builder and designer. “First you build Lego superhero minifigure — sorry, Batman!
models, then it’s Star Wars, then it’s your
phone, your jewelry. Before things are said —Jerry James Stone

Follow us @make 23

Made On Earth

Miniature Motion

Without an everyday reference for a sense of machinery outside of the enclosures, cutting
scale, Szymon Klimek’s intricate mechanical
creations could easily be mistaken for twice and shaping the pieces by hand. He says
their true size. Made from 0.1 millimeter
sheets of brass and bronze, Klimek’s minia- the wine glasses lend a bit of elegance to the
ture machines dance effortlessly in wine-glass
enclosures that measure little more than 4 display, and the spherical shape allows view-
inches across.
ers to see the work from any angle. Sealing
Klimek’s latest creation, Sponge, is a steam
engine-like machine named for the lattic the top and gluing the machines down with
work of tiny, interconnected brass pieces that
expands and contracts as the engine runs. clear resin also protects the delicate pieces
Sitting in a wine glass about a foot tall, a small
silicon solar cell powers a concealed electric from dust and curious fingers.
motor, which drives the 3-inch flywheel.
Living in Poznan, Poland, Klimek entered
He doesn’t work to a specific scale, but
customizes his designs for each glass: the into the world of small-scale making in 2004
opening of Sponge’s wine glass and the diam-
eter of its flywheel differed by less than a with a miniature steam locomotive and coal
millimeter. CAD programs assist with design,
and Klimek, 57, assembles most of the wagon, measuring about 3 inches. He’s built

close to a hundred handcrafted brass and

bronze miniatures, including ornate carriages,

early 20th-century roadsters, and yes, even

a ship with billowing sails that fits in a wine

glass. Since 2008 he’s created nine “active Szymon Klimek


Next, Klimek wants to tackle a more chal-

lenging material: steel. —Craig Couden

24 Make:

Please Seat Yourself

In developing countries — where roads look purpose. Whether for simple outdoor use,
like off-road, sidewalks are as rare as wheel-
chairs, and nothing’s as rare as cash — a distance hauling, gardening, or even kayaking,
mobility issue can create a major drain on a the chairs all satisfy Geile’s intent to improve
family’s already sparse resources. That’s why
Randy Geile designs inexpensive wheelchairs independence and productivity. “In Rwanda,
using readily available parts. if one person in the household is disabled,
someone needs to care for them constantly.
The price of a stock off-road wheelchair If you can help them be independent, you’re
starts at a couple grand and skyrockets freeing up the caregiver as well.”
quickly. Geile’s contraptions, mainly made
of scrap wood and used bicycle parts, might The designs themselves leave a lot to the
cost $25 (and a little sweat). imagination. “Every bicycle is different; every
body is different; every disability is different.
Early designs had some simple metalwork, You don’t have to show them exactly how to
but working in Rwanda steered Geile toward
wood. “Whatever they’re making there, they’re do it, just that it can be done. The first time
making of wood,” he explains. “Metal is rare. they see this chair go across the grass, they
Who has a welder? Even finding a drill is dif-
ficult, and someone who knows how to use it go, ‘Aha!’ So I just give them enough informa-
even harder. But they have woodworking tools
and skills.” tion to get them started down the right path.

Each chair design is inspired by a different They get some skin in the game, get it exactly

how they need it, and come up with their own

Bob Geile good ideas.” —Gregory Hayes

Follow us @make 25

The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth!

A two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness,
and a celebration of the Maker Movement.

Take a tour with young maker Super Awesome Sylvia!

Hi! I’m Sylvia Todd, a 10-year-old girl from Check me out at
northern California. I love to make things, and
teach other people! In fact, I have an online
show called “Super Awesome Sylvia’s Mini
Maker Show,” where I explain how to make
everything from crazy putty to a no-heat lava
lamp. You should check it out!

Once a year, MAKE puts on Maker Faires in
the San Francisco Bay Area and in New York,
and they’re amazing. I’ve been a few times
now, and I’m pretty sure there’s nowhere else
on Earth where you can see the incredible
things you see at Maker Faire!

Touch and experience
something crazy!

Have you ever felt the urge do something daring or
dangerous? Maker Faire has the stuff that’s safe to try,
but still crazy daring fun! I rode a bike that turned the
wrong direction, climbed into a giant rocket, and pulled
a 20-ton rock sculpture by a rope!

Get soaked with Coke and Mentos.

Do you know what happens when you drop
a Mentos into a Coke? A soda explosion!
I got to the Coke Zero and Mentos Fountains
show early to be in the front, and got totally
soaked in soda, and it was awesome! You can
stand farther back and stay dry, too. That’s
what my parents did. Afterward I got to go
up and say hi and take home my very own
minty soda.

26 Make:

Look for Sylvia on the cover ScHoOl'S OuT! 50+ PrOjEcTs 3InD!
of MAKE’s School’s Out special edition,
on newsstands May 29! W musiC
W toys
W elEctroNics
W wEird scIence
W ouTdoors

aNd moRe!

Me with Adam Savage! aWSsuYelPSVeoiRMA e

$9.99 DISPLAY UNTIL SEP 1, 2012


Feel the buzz of Arc Attack!

Meet all the awesome and The only giant Tesla coil band I know, Arc Attack
interesting makers in person! is loud and bright and awesome to see! Adam
Savage even got in the Faraday cage during a
Maker Faire has amazing projects and what’s song. They also played the Zelda theme song
super awesome is that you can ask the people (and Star Wars too)!
who made them anything you want! They all want
to show off their hard work and help everyone Build your own projects —
understand how their projects are made. That’s and play with them.
what makes Maker Faire the best place in the
world. Here you can see me with the amazing
Adam Savage, of television’s MythBusters! I was
stoked to meet him. He’s so nice!

Want to visitNEW YORK 3, 2, 1, blast-off! I made my own rocket and
a Maker FaireBAY AREA launched it. The best part was pressing the big red
button! Remember: “Failure is always an option!”
in your area?SNEePwmTYoa2rk9ke–Hr3afl0al oi,rf2eS0.cci1eo2nmceSMamnAMaYka1tee9rof–Ea2vi0erne,t.2cC0oen1mt2er
Be inspired at Bazaar Bizarre.
Maker Faire is brought to you by the folks
at MAKE magazine, and they put on two flagship The best handmade crafts: stuffed animals, hats,
faires each year: one in the San Francisco Bay crochet, clothing swap and refashion, and more!
Area and one in New York. There are also smaller I love it — sooo cuuute!!
featured faires in Detroit and Kansas City as
well as mini Maker Faires popping up in cities
all over the world. To find a faire near you, go to

Follow us @make 27


By Phillip Torrone, Open Source Enthusiast

Zen and
the Art of Making

LATELY I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT can celebrate failure while experts rarely
how much fun it is when you’re a beginner admit it. For a beginner, all the obstacles,
at something as opposed to being an expert. failures, and challenges are the path ahead.
At some point, we all become experts at one Beginners usually don’t have any fear; they
thing or another. I really want to avoid being just make things — maybe it doesn’t work out,
an expert in some things, only so I can con- maybe it does — but they don’t have the same
tinually look forward to learning more without risk aversion experts tend to have.
the burden of being an expert. Being an expert
means your journey is somewhat over. Beginners get the satisfaction of solving
many small problems that are wonderful mile-
A beginner can imagine more than an stones to keep motivated. Experts build bigger
expert because a beginner doesn’t see con- and for longer, so when something goes wrong
straints yet. Kids are the same way — they it can really crash hard. The little problems a
approach things with an open mind because beginner solves are like weeds in a garden: you
they haven’t been told “you can’t do that” yet. find them and use them for mulch — they’re
Beginners aren’t billing someone for their fuel. Eventually you might have a manicured
time — it’s not a job, and time doesn’t mat- estate, but I think the small garden is more fun
ter. Beginners (and kids) usually have more and approachable. More people can participate
time than money. Beginners aren’t collecting because the fence is lower, or not there at all.
trophies (yet) — they’re exploring. If you don’t
know the boundaries of something, for a brief Once you get enough experts together,
time your ideas are boundless. that’s when the infighting usually starts. Even
The Beatles fought with each other about who
Experts stay still; beginners are constantly was the best. Experts start to see the tiniest
moving. An expert can point out the difficulty differences between each other and (usually)
in every project, while the beginner can only fork their efforts. It might be, over the phras-
see possibilities (and later, many ways to ing or titles of efforts, what licenses they use
make mistakes). The reward for beginners or don’t use, who is more pure than someone
is not the stuff they make, it’s the person else. Beginners don’t know enough to care
they become because of the stuff they make about these things yet — it’s the freedom
and share. Beginners need to practice a lot; beginners enjoy, even if it’s just for a short
experts need to talk more than practice. while. Beginners tend to see what they have
Beginners do very simple things before they in common with each other; experts can only
understand what they are doing. Experts see the differences. Many experts don’t want
struggle to make things simple because they to share their knowledge, and beginners don’t
want to put everything they know into some- have anything to share yet other than encour-
thing, to demonstrate their expertise. agement and enthusiasm for other beginners.
Experts like to defeat each other, often pub-
Beginners share their mistakes; experts licly; beginners conquer themselves and their
hide them. Knowledge is one of the few things own challenges, and the experience cannot be
that doesn’t diminish the more you share it. taken away by anyone. Beginners don’t have
I probably read about 1,000 messages a day strong opinions — they can’t effectively bother
across mailing lists, forums, customer support each other yet.
emails, Google+, Twitter, and more. Beginners

28 Make:

Juan Leguizamon Beginners can take more risks than experts If you don’t know the
— they start with zero, so there’s nothing to boundaries of something,
lose. Experts worry that if they’re experts in for a brief time your ideas
one thing, they’ll need to be experts in other are boundless.
things, otherwise their expertise could be
questioned. For experts a lot of things are easy hobbies. When I ask them about this, the
because they’ve done them so many times. response is usually something like, “I love to
Experts become impatient (with themselves learn.” I think new discoveries and the joys of
and with others); beginners are patient and learning are the crux of this beginner thing
brave, because they don’t yet know it will I’ve been thinking about. Sure, when you’ve
become easy. Experts have pride; beginners mastered something it’s valuable, but then
can’t deceive themselves so easily. part of your journey is over — you’ve arrived,
and the trick is to find something you’ll always
Now is a fantastic time to start out making have a sense of wonder about. It’s possible
things. With 3D printers, laser cutters, open to be an expert but still retain the mind of a
source hardware, TechShops, hackerspaces, beginner. It’s hard, but the best experts can
and Maker Faires there’s never been a better do it. In making things, in art, science, engi-
time. I’m sure every generation says that, but neering, you can always be a beginner about
I really do think it’s true. Starting out now, something you’re doing — the fields are too
you get to explore more, faster, cheaper, and vast to know it all. a
with more people. This is all new stuff too —
it’s hard for anyone to be an expert yet. This Share your ideas, and read the full version
phenomenon happened with homebrew com- of this column, at
puters, and it happened with the web. In the
maker world, we’re all still figuring a lot of this Phillip Torrone is an editor-at-large of MAKE and creative
out. There’s still plenty of time before we’re director at Adafruit Industries, an open source hardware and
all experts. electronic kit company based in New York City.

Some of the most talented and prolific
people I know have dozens of interests and

Follow us @make 29



These cutting-edge animators
are creating a live-in hackerspace
in a California forest.

By Jon Kalish

In the mountains outside Santa Cruz, affords them the luxury of not having to Trout Gulch Farms
Calif., an intentional community is under worry about the rent. So they manage to
construction. On 10 hilly acres in Aptos, balance lucrative film gigs with their zeal
three filmmakers who live in tiny houses for DIY projects at the Gulch, as it’s known.
and their friends have established a sort
of rural hackerspace where nail guns are Ever since they made a big splash with
more prevalent than soldering irons. The a music video for Icelandic pop diva Björk,
compound also has a small organic farm. there’s been a steady stream of offers to
The guiding philosophy can be summed up work on videos and commercials, from
in three letters: DIY. This utopian outpost the likes of Sprite, Jeep, and Honda. So far
is called Trout Gulch by its inhabitants. they’ve only agreed to work on two: one for
the video game Spore and one for AT&T.
“We’re building a 21st-century Hobbit
village in which things are extremely “We’ll only do advertisements for prod-
bucolic and integrated into nature, but ucts we use,” explains Saxon, the tall,
we’re also embracing the best of technol- slender filmmaker. “We could certainly be
ogy,” says 29-year-old Isaiah Saxon, who maximizing our potential to make money
grew up on the property and returned with right now, but that would hinder and slow
two filmmaking buddies, Sean Hellfritsch down the development of this neighbor-
and Daren Rabinovitch. hood that we’re building. It would take us
on a road to possibly an empty existence.”
This back-to-the-land trio has a digital
animation company called Encyclopedia Jon Kalish ([email protected]) is a Manhattan-
Pictura, which is very much in demand and based radio reporter and podcast producer. He covers the
DIY scene for NPR.

30 Make:


(From left to right) Saxon, Hellfritsch,
and Rabinovitch with props from
commercials and music videos. The
water buffalo to the left of Saxon was
used in a Björk music video.

Follow us @make 31


Scenes from the Gulch mation with his parents’ camcorder at 13.
Hellfritsch got a used motor kit, which
Their existence might strike some as
downright idyllic. Visitors to the compound included a small Subaru internal-combus-
are immediately taken by the outdoor tion engine, and installed it on his mountain
kitchen and dining area, which is accessed bike over the rear wheel. It gets 200 miles
by a long flight of wooden stairs from the per gallon. The Gulchers say that bicyclists
dirt road that runs through Trout Gulch. who scoff at a motorized mountain bike
The food prep and eating is done under don’t get the point that it’s replacing a
a 1,000-square-foot canopy made from car, not a bicycle, which is less utilitarian
redwood logs and corrugated roofing. For in Aptos’ hilly environs. Hellfritsch once
baking, there’s an igloo-shaped cob oven rode his motorized mountain bike from the
the Gulchers built out of earth, chunks of Gulch to San Francisco, completing the
broken concrete, and cement. A large red- 100-mile trip in about five hours. By car, the
wood slab serves as a kitchen counter. drive takes about 90 minutes.

Their refrigerator, also outdoors, is Web of Knowledge
actually a commercial freezer that was
being discarded by neighbors. Like so It would be hard to overstate the impor-
many of the hacks and mods done here, tance of the internet in the lives of
the Trout Gulch boys learned how to do Hellfritsch, Saxon, and Rabinovitch.
the conversion on the web — in this case
from the community of home beer brewers. “We’re self-taught in every possible area,”
They installed a thermostat controller on says Saxon. “We grew up in a generation in
the freezer to make it act as a refrigerator, which internet search was entirely native.
but it’s much more efficient than a tradi- Search is all about self-directed education,
tional fridge. Inside is often a stainless- and all of us are extremely keen at search-
steel pail of fresh goat milk. The three ing and finding what we need out there to
filmmakers take turns milking goats. get things done. To go from complete igno-
rance on a subject to execution of a project
“If you have to face the weather while within a week is pretty normal here.”
you’re cooking, it kind of brings you closer
to whoever you’re cooking with because Says Hellfritsch: “I probably spend 50
you have to endure the wind or the damp- percent of my time on the internet read-
ness or the scorching heat with the flies,” ing forums. Being on a forum and trying to
says Cole Bush, one of the 12 people who connect with someone or search for the
currently live at Trout Gulch. stored history of that forum has been really
key. I’ve used it a lot — even in the middle
But having an outdoor kitchen has its of a project.”
You might expect an internet-savvy crew
“You never sweep,” observes Sean like Hellfritsch, Saxon, and Rabinovitch
Hellfritsch. “You can just pour stuff right on to have tons of computer gear, but the
the ground and then kick some mulch over Encyclopedia Pictura office at Trout Gulch,
it and you are building soil. I love that.” currently located in Saxon’s mother’s
house, basically consists of three modest
Hellfritsch, 28, knits his own socks and worktables with MacBook Pros on them.
made his eyeglasses frames by carving A rhomboid-shaped nook that’s too small
pieces of redwood and using rare earth to stand in houses the Vizard, their home-
magnets instead of hinges. Not surprising made 3D viewing system. It consists of two
for a guy who was taking apart stereos at LED computer monitors and a mirror. They
age 6 and taught himself stop-motion ani-

32 Make:


(Clockwise from top)
Rabinovitch’s remote pampas
grass hut, complete with 175-
watt solar panel, enough for
his lights and laptop. Saxon
and Meara O’Reilly’s tiny cedar
house, modeled in SketchUp
and handmade with love. The
community kitchen features
an igloo-shaped cob oven the
Gulchers built out of earth,
chunks of broken concrete,
and cement. Hellfritsch stokes
the fire for dinner.

Jon Kalish (top, bottom left) made the Vizard before 3D monitors were grounds, sleeps in a tree house that’s 24
available commercially. feet off the ground. Hellfritsch and Saxon
live in tiny houses not far from the kitchen.
Like so many of the objects in Trout But Rabinovitch’s “crib” is off the beaten
Gulch, the Vizard was the fruit of online track a bit.
instructions — in this case posted by video
game enthusiasts. They also built a 3D Walk through a stand of redwood
camera rig, but it mostly gathers dust trees and up a steep hill and you’ll get to
these days because their animation work his thatched hut, which is made out of
is now done digitally. Cortaderia selloana, an invasive species
from South America commonly known as
Hobbit Houses pampas grass. It took Rabinovitch a couple
of months to gather enough grass for the
At the moment there are several small hut, which has a pyramid-shaped glass top.
outbuildings at Trout Gulch, including a There’s a plastic water barrier between the
tool shop, guest room, an old trailer, a grass and the canvas that lines the interior
hoophouse for starting plants, and goat of the dwelling. The hut’s door is only 4 feet
paddocks. The compound has outdoor tall, causing visitors to wonder whether a
showers and a composting toilet with two gnome might dwell within.
“thrones” side by side.
“This is basically a sleeping chamber
Encyclopedia Pictura’s web intern, that is built to last about 10 years, and then
Rob Wilson, who can sometimes be seen decay beautifully into the land and become
carrying his pet turtle, Torta, around the

Follow us @make 33


mulch,” says Rabinovitch, 33. “We’d like to DIY Heroes
figure out how to live in the forest and not
just trample everything.” One factor in the appeal of Trout Gulch is
the regular visits of people Saxon refers to
As you approach the hut, a 175-watt as “DIY Heroes.” In the winter of 2010–2011
solar panel comes into view, providing a the Gulch was home to Marcin Jakubowski,
wonderful metaphor for how the bucolic a Princeton-educated physicist who settled
and the space-age coexist here. The photo- on a farm in Missouri. His Factor e Farm is
voltaic panel, which rests on a frame made home to the Open Source Ecology project
from tree branches, powers LED lights and (, which is making
Rabinovitch’s laptop. Before installing the prototypes for 50 different DIY industrial
solar panel, he used to schlep an auto bat- machines, including tractors, a drill press,
tery every day from the hut to the commu- a sawmill, a micro combine, a bioplastic
nal tool room, which is a bit of a hike. extruder, and a compressed earth brick

Sean Hellfritsch knits his own socks and
made his eyeglasses frames by carving pieces
of redwood and using rare-earth magnets
instead of hinges.

Saxon and musician Meara O’Reilly (a press that can turn out 5,000 bricks a
MAKE contributor) live together in a tiny day — enough for a home. Saxon is the
house they built across a dirt road from the project’s media advisor and produced a
kitchen. The 160-square-foot structure has video for Open Source Ecology’s successful
a 14-foot peaked roof and was constructed Kickstarter campaign.
of locally harvested wood and reclaimed
lumber. The cedar siding shingles were But mostly the DIY superstars come
cut on one end at angles other than the from the San Francisco Bay Area. One of
traditional 90°, creating a pleasing them is MAKE columnist Tim Anderson,
aesthetic pattern. leading the league at
Anderson drove down to the Gulch with
True to the Trout Gulch credo of docu- a lady friend on a weekend in early May
menting and sharing, Saxon and O’Reilly to help work on the homestead and was
have posted Google SketchUp illustrations impressed with the DIY skills on display.
of their tiny house on the company website, “Their chops are awesome!” Anderson
said of the boys at Trout Gulch. Nearby, his
“Core to our philosophy is [the belief] companion ate out of an “ice cream dish”
that with proper documentation and Anderson had fashioned out of a beer can.
proper information sharing, any averagely
capable person should be able to pick up Many of the weekend regulars at Trout
what may seem like a daunting task and Gulch are Bay Area friends of the three
learn it,” Saxon says. “I think everyone in filmmakers, mostly people in their 20s and
this country is capable of building their own 30s. They feel a part of this place.
house, even using power tools that may
intimidate them.” “A lot of us who are part of the com-
munity don’t actually live here right now,”
said May Nguyen, a graphic designer and

34 Make:

landscaper at an urban agriculture group in a Farmer Ryan Helt works the bio-intensive raised-
Oakland called Planting Justice. “Our jobs
are still up in the city but we’re trying to bed gardens of the farm behind the outdoor kitchen.
contribute however we can.”
of the surrounding environment that’s
Nguyen was helping dig a graywater digitally manipulable and interactive with
wetland that uses waste water from the programmed content, not unlike walking
outdoor kitchen sink to irrigate a fruit through a video game taking place in the
orchard. The project was supervised by real world. Demonstrating augmented
Brent Bucknum, a restoration ecologist reality on Nintendo’s handheld device, the
with the Oakland-based Hyphae Design 3DS, Saxon observed, “What you have is
Laboratory. Bucknum met the Trout Gulch essentially magic.”
fellas up in Ukiah, Calif., where he was
building a composting toilet that resembled But the Encyclopedia Pictura crew
human intestines. sees AR as much more than a technology
for gaming.
“We’re sort of working with these guys in
trade for video production and a nice place “We see this as the big, new, creative
to escape from the city,” said Bucknum. “I medium for the 21st century,” says Saxon.
guess we’re lured by the good food, too.” “We’re trying to position ourselves as the
first creative team that really understands
Much of that food is grown in the Gulch’s the intrinsic power of augmented reality
garden, just a few paces from the outdoor and creates really memorable content for
kitchen. Farmer Ryan Hett, a North Dakota it. We’re going to try to be the Walt Disney
native, presides over a garden with beds of augmented reality.”
that are 18" deep. The garden was created
by double digging: removing the soil, mix- They’re are also working on their first
ing it with compost, and then putting it feature film together. Set in Johnstown,
back. Saxon says such beds are unrivaled Pa., in the year 2023, it chronicles the
for bio-intensive production. The “farm” is adventures of a 12-year-old boy and his
currently just acre but plans call for it to crafty friends who leverage the talents of
be expanded to two acres. their town’s carpenters, mechanics, and
gearheads in a rebuilding effort after a
Saxon says part of the appeal of Trout devastating flood. The film’s tentative title
Gulch is that it provides an opportunity to is DIY. a
gain land-based experience unavailable in
an urban setting.

“I think people are excited by the free-
dom of this place and the amazing sense of
empowerment you get from being able to
build everything around you,” he says.

Augmenting Reality

When the filmmakers at Trout Gulch
ponder the notion of building everything
around them, they also think along virtual
lines. In addition to animation projects,
they’re working on an entertainment and
education medium called augmented
reality (AR). Think of it as a real-time view

Follow us @make 35



Incorporating smell into digital projects.

By Alex Kauffmann

As an interaction designer, I spend much of tance it was powerful enough to make a Alex Kauffmann
my day observing people and trying to figure roomful of adults squeal like excited children.
out how and why they use technology. About Thus began my obsession with designing com-
a year ago, I participated in a group activity pelling smell interactions, an obsession that
that involved identifying ten substances by eventually led to the creation of Scratch ’n’
smell alone. Sniff, a scented digital interface.

Even though the smells were extremely My project brings the scratch-and-sniff
strong and distinct (mint, shoe polish, truffle sticker into the digital age. When a user
oil, lemon), none of us successfully identified scratches a display monitor, it briefly smells
more than half of them. We did, however, of whatever image the user scratched, often
spend almost an hour talking excitedly about to the user’s incredulous delight (visit vimeo.
the memories certain smells evoked and how com/15881329 for a movie of people’s reac-
frustrating it was to recognize a smell but tions at Maker Faire New York).
not be able to put a name to it.
How It Works
For me, it was a revelation. I realized that
in years of designing hardware and software Scratch ’n’ Sniff relies on fluid dynamics and
interfaces, I’d never once considered smell, some clever sleight-of-nose. Five hacked elec-
even though without any technological assis- tric air fresheners loaded with custom scents

36 Make:

are hidden just below a computer touch- SNIFF OUT THE HACK
screen monitor.
a An Arduino Diecimila priming six scent dispensers
When the user rubs his finger on the
screen, across an image of a grapefruit for (not for the faint of nose).
instance, a Processing sketch communicates
the coordinates to an Arduino, which fires a Tools of the trade: scent canister, Glade Flameless
the appropriate air freshener.
Candle, and Demeter Fragrance Hershey’s chocolate scent.
A fine mist of grapefruit-scented particles
flows mostly along the surface of the screen, a Under the hood: five scent dispensers mounted just
thanks to a property of fluid dynamics called
the no-slip condition, which makes rigid sur- beneath and parallel to a touchscreen.
faces especially “sticky” to fluids such as the
grapefruit aerosol (there’s a great video dem- Standing in the Nostrils
onstration of this phenomenon at makezine. of Giants
com/go/noslip). Diffusion into the surrounding
air dissipates the smell within 5 seconds. I am not the first person to become obsessed
Presto! A scratch-and-sniff TV! with smelly media. People have been creating
scent-emitting devices for years. A quick
There were three main design challenges: search of the U.S. Patent Office’s database
1. Designing the interaction. I chose to turns up all sorts of odoriferous inventions.
mimic the workings of the scratch-and-sniff There’s the “olfactory special effects system,”
sticker not only because it’s familiar to almost the “multimedia and scent storage medium
everyone, but also because it takes advantage and playback apparatus,” the “combined
of the nature of smell: the images visually scent and audio point of sale display unit,” and
reinforce people’s scent perception, while Hans Laube’s original 1954 patent for Smell-
scratching the screen provides a clear ratio-
nale for the strength of the smell (the longer
the scratch, the stronger the smell).
2. Emitting the smell. All manner of con-
traptions exist for emitting and dispersing
smell, from scented candles and heated oils
to complex industrial vaporizers. I used Glade
Wisp Flameless Candle air fresheners because
they’re cheap, readily available, and easily
hacked to produce an almost invisible spray.
(See MAKE Volume 16, page 161 for instructions
on how to hack similar fresheners.)
3. Choosing scents. Light can be broken
down into three primary colors, and all sound
can be analyzed into waves of distinct frequen-
cies, but scientists can’t seem to agree on a
basic unit of smell. They’ve identified more
than 700 chemical compounds that are the
basis for thousands of smells we can detect.
Rather than trying to combine scents, I chose
five distinct and easily identifiable smells.
There are companies devoted to producing
scents of everything you can possibly imagine
(see Resources).

Follow us @make 37


O-Vision: “motion pictures with synchronized ambient scent marketing. In 2005, ScentAir,
odor emission.” a leading “scent delivery solutions” provider,
partnered with long-time elevator music
The idea of augmenting cinematic experi- company Muzak — soon you’ll find yourself
ences with smells is nearly as old as cinema wondering not only why you’re “Singin’ in the
itself. A mischievous projectionist is said to Rain” but also why you smell like it!
have used an electric fan to disperse a rose
scent during newsreel footage of the Rose Designing Smelltech
Parade in 1906. Fifty years later, Smell-O-
Vision and rival AromaRama battled to win What distinguishes smell technologies that
over the noses of American moviegoers, an succeed from those that fail is thoughtful
ultimately futile episode that inspired film- design — design that takes into account both
maker John Waters to create his tongue-in- the science of smells and how people interact
cheek Odorama scratch-and-sniff cards. These with them. Before we consider what makes
were distributed at screenings of his 1981 smelltech compelling, let’s first consider how
comedy Polyester, where viewers were invited smell differs from our other senses.
to enhance selected scenes in the movie with
famously unpleasant scents, including glue, Take, for instance, the new iPhone, a prodi-
grass, and feces. gious piece of multisensory interactive tech-
nology. It has a high-resolution display that
The dawn of the internet age heralded the delights our eyes with crisp text and sharp
arrival of digital scent technology. A 1999 images, sound output that floods our ears with
Wired article profiled DigiScents, the company the full dynamic range of flawlessly reproduced
behind the iSmell scent generator. The unfor- audio, and an interface that engages our sense
tunately named device’s creators envisioned of touch in increasingly novel ways. It’s not
a fragrant future in which scent-emitting edible, so Apple’s engineers haven’t spent too
hardware attached to computers and other much time worrying about how it tastes. But
media devices would allow content creators why have they entirely ignored our noses?
and advertisers to add an olfactory dimension
to the web. The company sank in 2001 when Try for a second to imagine how the mes-
the internet bubble burst, but the idea persists. sage “See you tomorrow at 4” smells, and it
It resurfaced most recently in Japan as the becomes clear that smell is not a particularly
i-Aroma, a USB device that emits astrologically effective method of communication. Smell
appropriate aromatherapy. moves through the air slowly and unpredict-
ably, and unlike sight, sound, and touch, it
Not all smell-related innovations have failed, can’t easily be turned on and off.
however. Scratch-and-sniff stickers remain as
popular today as they were 30 years ago, and Because scents are invisible and diffuse,
it’s hard to open a glossy fashion magazine it’s hard for people to agree on them in the
that doesn’t contain at least one perfume- absence of visual stimuli. While you and I might
drenched scent strip. If you’ve walked around a agree that the orange I’m holding in my hand
supermarket recently, you’ve probably noticed smells like an orange, if instead I were holding
the growing number of air freshening products, a glass of green liquid that smelled the same,
from low-tech spray odor maskers such as we may no longer agree that orange is the pre-
Febreze to motion-sensing electronic devices dominant scent. Smell expert Avery Gilbert is
that dispense scent whenever you enter a quick to point out that “wide person-to-person
room. variability is a hallmark of odor perception.”

Many hotels, casinos, and retailers have In other words, smell is more subjective
adopted “logoscents,” smells intended to than the other senses (it is responsible for
enhance the emotional effect of their brands. the majority of our sense of taste, which is
A whole industry has arisen around the idea of why tuna may taste horrible to one person
and like heaven to the next). This also means

38 Make:

Augmenting cinematic experiences with smells
is as old as cinema.


a Arduino microcontroller drives

five Glade Flameless Candles
(transistor version).

» Don’t overwhelm users with smell. Olfactory
fatigue sets in quickly in the presence of
overpowering smells.

» Be prepared for some people to not “get”
the smell. Remember, smell is subjective,
so have at least a couple of different types
of smell on hand. a

that our sense of smell is more susceptible Resources
to suggestion.
» Demeter Fragrance Library:
A successful smell interaction will take these
peculiarities into account. Here’s a list of fur-
ther considerations: » Novelty fragrance oils:
» Give people a clear indication of when they » DIY Home Perfumery: MAKE Volume 22,

should smell something. Don’t expect them page 135
to react to ambient smells. » A listing of hundreds of chemical compounds
» Smell takes time to diffuse and disappear.
Make sure you account for this time in that make up the smells we recognize:
your design.
» Choose distinct smells. Everyone knows » Avery Gilbert’s book What the Nose Knows
Play-Doh, but few will identify marjoram. (Crown Publishers, 2008) and his amazing
» Test your setup in a variety of conditions. smell blog:
Scents behave differently in large, crowded » Smell marketers index:
spaces than they do in small, empty rooms.
Alex Kauffmann is a New York-based writer/artist/designer.
His work, like his life, is beautiful, simple, and absurd. You can
see a bit of both at

Follow us @make 39

To some, a smart home means greater energy efficiency —
like appliances that respond to time-of-day pricing or
motorized curtains that shut on hot days. To others, it’s
whimsy — like waterproof speakers that blast “Immigrant
Song” while propane torches ignite along the roofline.
Either way, it’s cheaper and easier now to build the kind of
smart, reliable home automation that has been promised
for decades. New wireless protocols and cellphone-based
interfaces make such installations extremely flexible. And by
experimenting with next-gen technologies like gesture-based
control and bio-engineered materials, you can turn your home
into a research center that explores the technological limits
of how easy, efficient, and fun your life can be.

Bob Parks is a frequent contributor to MAKE, Runner’s World, and Wired magazines. He lives in Vermont with his wife
and two children. Online, he can be reached at

40 Make:

L-Dopa 44
76 50

72 54

66 59

Follow us @make 41

Control Interfaces Cloud Service With a “cloud” inter-

When the Singularity comes, you’ll program your face, changes made on any web-con-
home with pure consciousness. Until then, you’ll need nected device are routed back through
to tell any home automation system how to behave. the network to your home. Having
Even in a smart home where actions auto-trigger the magic happen on a distant server
based on occupancy sensors or weather patterns, means always-on status, cross-platform
you need some sort of setup screen or programming compatibility, and mobile access.
interface to define your system’s behavior. Some of Setting up these services — such as
the latest commercial graphical interfaces can pro- Digi’s iDigi Device Cloud, Verizon’s
vide a terrific front-end to custom hardware projects. Home Monitoring and Control, Lowe’s
Iris Smart Home System, or Xfinity’s
Protocols Home Security — entails paying a fee,
installing a home internet gateway, and
Communications protocols dictate how well the logging into the company’s web page.
automated devices in your home talk; they can mean
the difference between a sprinkler system that turns ZigBee This protocol is based on the
off at the right time and one that floods the driveway.
Some protocols send signals over electrical wires, IEEE 802.15.4 standard for general-
others send them over the air. They all vary according purpose wireless, plus some additions
to reliability, hackability, and security. The best op- owned by the ZigBee Alliance (zigbee.
portunities are with protocols whose licensing bodies org). It works on both 915MHz and the
offer affordable developer kits for people who want more common 2.4GHz frequency, with
to experiment. a range of 50 meters. Dumb nodes like
sensors and switches sleep a lot, so
Physical Interfaces they can run for over a year on battery
power, while the rest of the system does
Getting signals to zip around your home is one thing. the heavy lifting of routing the 250kbps
The real challenge is ensuring that they trigger the in- data stream. This means you need to
tended actions. At the edge of the network, proximity, install at least one “coordinator” ZigBee
temperature, infrared (page 118), and other sensors node in a network (page 66). If you want
provide inputs to the controller. And for outputs, to create the next ZigBee must-have,
devices need to translate commands into steps, such developer kits cost $150–$300.
as turning on a 240-volt power supply or operating a
window-blind servomotor, then report back on device Z-Wave This fast-growing standard
status to confirm success of the mission. (All proto-
cols except X10 have a feedback system built-in.) ( sends radio sig-
nals over the air on the 908.42MHz
42 Make: makkeezziinnee.c.coomm//3300 frequency, sometimes running afoul
of cordless phones, but avoiding the
increasingly crowded 2.4GHz space.

Plug-In Switches The simplest

modules plug in to wall power and
control any device that you plug into
them. All protocols have such wall warts
(prices vary from $10 to $200) as well
as receptacles you can install in-wall for
a seamless appearance. You can also
control an outlet from a microcontroller
using the PowerSwitch Tail II, which
simply takes a digital pin output
(3–12V DC, 3mA–30mA) to switch
an integrated 120V AC, 15A plug.

Built-In Control Devices All

home automation protocols feature

Home Computer With a PC or Commercial Touchscreen has a great tutorial on how
Hardware/Software High-end to do this. With an Ethernet shield (or
Mac wired into your system, it’s easy other interface) on the controller, you
to make changes to your setup. You automation systems such as AMX, can run a simple web server that takes
can do so from the computer room or Control4, and Creston use custom commands and reports device status
outside the home using remote-access tablets that you carry around the house. via a private web page, and syncs up
software. But if you’re energy-minded, These systems, and lower-cost packag- with other Arduinos by accessing the
remember that the machine must run es, also offer iPad apps and sometimes same server location. One limitation
continuously, with a load of at least iPhone and PC-tablet apps, as well. of putting a web server on the Arduino
50 watts. That said, a computer-based itself is that it will generally limit its
interface offers the most flexibility for DIY Control Screen and Web access to the same network. So if it runs
homebrew automation or security Interface You can make your own on a private port, the Arduino won’t also
projects, like the Webcam Security be able to pull data from the open web.
System (page 44), especially if you’re controller by connecting an Arduino
conversant with C++. microcontroller to buttons and a
character LCD screen (page 54).

It’s reliable, power efficient, and ranges no prefab developer kits, but you can Decentralized Control Some
between 30 and 100 meters depending read, write, and program X10 with an
on obstructions, but sends a meager Arduino and a $15 plug-in device called automation projects don’t need a
9.6kbps signal. a PSC05 (page 60). (Also note that communication protocol; they run on
inventor X10, Inc. is going out of busi- microcontrollers, or even just simple
Insteon Compatible with the well- ness, resulting in dirt-cheap X10 gadgets circuitry — imparting worm-like reflexes
coming to market as hacking fodder. to a smart home, rather than a central
known X10 protocol, Insteon is the only For instance, a cheap light dimmer can nervous system. For instance, maker
system that sends signals on electricity be modified to control a motor.) Ed Rogers used a vibration sensor to
lines and over-the-air radio at the same automatically close his windows when a
time, giving you double coverage. Many Wi-Fi Many very cool home automa- train went by, and the Notification Alert
inexpensive devices for the reliable Generator (NAG) reminds you of house-
system are for sale on the Smarthome tion gadgets, such as the Nest and hold tasks as you walk past (page 50).
site ( and around the Ecobee thermostats, and Belkin WeMo
net. Want to mess around with it? devices, use ubiquitous wi-fi. So you’d Universal Powerline Bus UPB
A developer kit is $250. think the wireless network standard
might be a good alternative for DIY doesn’t have any developer boards,
X10 This powerline standard from home automation projects. But wi-fi, which puts a damper on things. Devices
like networking standard HomePlug, use the protocol by adding proprietary
the 1970s ( is the most mass- is designed to move lots of data via code to their firmware to send a radio
market option, although it can be slug- TCP/IP, and it therefore demands wall signal on electrical lines using fat
gish and susceptible to interference: in current (or large batteries) and the 40-volt pulses. The kicker? Setting up
one test, an X10 light switch inexplicably processing muscle of a cellphone. UPB requires expensive software tools,
turned off whenever I played Stevie Ray Development boards cost $20 to $60. usually purchased by a contractor.
Vaughan on a nearby stereo. There are

myriad gadgets and appliances with affordable; for example, $25 XBee control bundle used in forced-air
the built-in ability to receive and send boards that use ZigBee and other pro- HVAC systems.
signals. Screw a ZigBee or Z-Wave ther- tocols, or the $15 X10 PSC05.
mostat into the wall, for instance, and it Using this basic recipe, makers have
becomes visible to the network instant- These connect via some interface created a vast array of custom inter-
ly. Automation-ready devices run from to the physical layer, like servomo- faces. Anything can control anything:
mundane light switches and door locks tors that open blinds or turn locks, or home theater remote controls that
to sprinkler systems and pet feeders. actuators that turn on and off a water “change the channel” on physical reality,
hose. The interface can be relay circuits, ovens that start cooking dinner when
DIY Protocol Control If you’re drivers, microcontrollers, or push Google Latitude shows that you’re get-
button programmable prop control- ting close to home. In some ways, home
building an interface yourself, think of it lers (aka programmable switches), as automation is like cooking ossobuco —
as two parts: the protocol-compatible described in Keybanging (page 72). The it’s not that hard to do on your own, but
transceiver, and the physical hardware Networked Smart Thermostat project it entails a lot of prep time in the kitchen.
that performs the action. Transceivers (page 54) performs its physical actions
for almost all the protocols are relatively by tapping into the standard four-wire

FFoolllolowwuuss @make 43

Home Security

Build a 4-camera surveillance system
and watch from any web browser.


My basement office/workshop is a fair distance from the front of
the house, and I frequently want to check the front porch for mail,
UPS deliveries, and the arrival of friends. I have experimented with
various ways of monitoring the activity there and have found none
as useful as a real-time video feed.

Getting video from a camera on the front and operate the system controls at n3enm.
porch to a screen in the basement is a trivial
undertaking, but as projects like this are apt to
do, it grew into a $200 four-camera, full-color The Harbor Freight security cameras
system that can be monitored in my workshop screw-mount to any beam and have a 6'
or from any web browser. Some commercial cord that terminates in a 6-conductor RJ11
systems can do the same thing, but they (technically, RJ25) telephone jack. The jack
cost much more or use only black-and-white accepts an included 80' extension cable, the
cameras. Meanwhile, I learned that switching other end of which splits into a yellow RCA
composite video signal is actually very easy, plug for composite video, a white RCA plug
doable with a 35¢ CD4066 analog switch chip. for audio from the camera’s microphone,
and a barrel connector for 9V DC from the
START included wall wart power adapter.

1. INSTALL THE CAMERAS I haven’t set up the software to put the
First, of course, you’ll want to decide where cameras’ audio online, but I did connect the
the cameras go. I have one mounted on my audio from the front door camera to an old
front porch, aimed at the front door and mail- pair of computer speakers in my basement
box; a second camera looking down on the office. This lets me hear the sound of the
driveway, so I can see when someone arrives newspaper hitting the driveway when I’m
by car; a third looking over the pond, garden, working in my office early in the morning.
and garden railroad; and a fourth giving a view
of the front yard. You’re welcome to see the The cameras and cables have proven to
live camera feeds at be weatherproof when protected from direct
rainfall under a roof (Figure A), but the RJ11
connector between the camera cable and
the extension cable became corroded from

44 Make:

Check the cars in
the driveway to see
who’s home, or make
sure all’s well around
the house when
you’re on vacation.

L-Dopa; David Bodnar (A); Gregory Hayes (B) AB

Follow us @make 45

DC power jack, panel mount to match power supply;
Security cameras, weatherproof, color, with night
vision and 80' cable Harbor Freight item #95914 size M and size N coaxial are common
(, about $40 each, or other security Wire, 18–20 gauge, stranded, insulated, various colors
camera with composite video output Project box, 6"×3"×2" RadioShack #270-1805

Composite video to USB adapter I started with an ( or similar
expensive (over $100) Pinnacle device, but later tried Machine screws, #4-40×1", with matching nuts (4)
the EasyCap, an unbranded dongle available for about
$7, which has worked flawlessly for over a year. for mounting PCB
Plastic standoffs, ¾" (4) Buy them or cut lengths from
Computer, Windows-based, with a USB 2.0 port
Web streaming software like Yawcam ( plastic tubing or a pen barrel.

This free software has some features that I don't use For Picaxe microcontroller:
but may be handy for others, like the ability to send Resistors, ¼W: 10kΩ (1), 22kΩ (1)
an email when a camera detects activity. Pin header, straight, male, 3-pin for programming

For video switcher; most electronic components For PIC microcontroller:
available at Jameco ( Pin header, straight, male, 4-pin for programming
Video switcher PCB available at for
$12, or download the ExpressPCB files to make your
own at You can also just use Soldering iron and solder
a plain breadboard and hookup wire. Wire cutters and strippers
Microcontroller, Picaxe-14M or PIC16F684 Screwdriver
Quad analog switch chip, CD4066 Drill and drill bits widths to match LEDs, RCA jacks,
Voltage regulator, 5V, LM7805
LEDs, 3mm or 5mm, different colors (4) switches, and mounting screws
Resistors, ¼W: 470Ω (4), 10kΩ (4)
Toggle switches, SPST (4) or you can use a 4-position For Picaxe microcontroller:
DIP switch USB programmer for Picaxe SparkFun #PGM-09260
Potentiometer, linear, 10kΩ–100kΩ I used a 50kΩ pot.
Capacitor tantalum, 10μF (
DIP sockets, 14-pin (2) 3-conductor wire connected to 3×1 female pin header
Power supply, 9V–12V DC, 2A
RCA jacks, panel-mount (4) For PIC microcontroller:
PICkit 3 in-circuit programmer Microchip #PG164130


1 Video +5V +5V +5V +5V
2 Power
3 Audio R3 R4 R5 R6
4 GND 10K 10K 10K 10K

1 To computer serial port Video output to +5V
2 CAMERA 1PC via USB converter
13 VDD 1
All shields from cameras & to video out go to groundCTRL I/O
R8 O/I
470 VSS 2



+5V Picaxe - 14M 12 CTRL I/O 11
R9 O/I
470 10

R1 1 +5V GND 14 D2
2 22K CD4066
3 2 serin out0/serout 13
5 5 CTRL I/O 4
3 in4/adc4 out1 12 R10 O/I
R2 470 3
10K 4 in3/infrain out2 11

5 in2/out c5 in c010

6 inl/out c4 out4/in cl 9 D3
+5V 7 in0/out c3 out5/in c2 8
6 CTRL I/O 8
7V−12V LM7805 +5V R7 O/I
470 9
1 In Out 3
Com C1 R11 Scan Time
10MF 50K
2 tantalum


46 Make:

David Bodnar E camera is given, reading the setting from a
potentiometer. Four LEDs provide additional
F visual indication of which cameras are on.

moisture. I sealed the connector inside a Figure D shows the schematic for the
plastic bag and have had no problems since. Picaxe-14M switcher; you can see it full-
sized, along with the PIC16F684 version,
The camera video cables will plug into a at The 4 camera
homemade video switcher (Figure B, page inputs run to switcher input pins 1, 11, 8, and
45), which connects to a PC via the compos- 4, and microcontroller output pins 2–5 (IC
ite video-to-USB adapter. Using the camera pins 8–11) determine which one routes to
cable wiring (Figure C), you can easily shorten the shared video out. On the input side of the
the cables for cameras installed closer to the controller, input pins 0–5 (IC pins 3–7) read
switcher. You can also lengthen a cable, but from the toggles and potentiometer.
the video quality may suffer.
To build the switcher, first solder the
2. BUILD THE VIDEO SWITCHER onboard components as marked on the PCB,
A video switcher takes inputs from multiple with 14-pin sockets in place for the switcher
cameras and cycles through them at a user- and microcontroller chips. I connected the
settable interval (between 1 to about 30 LEDs sticking up on their untrimmed leads,
seconds), routing each of them in turn to its to poke through the enclosure with the board
single video out. It’s not a complex device, mounted upside down, but you can also con-
and it contains just 2 chips: a 4066 quad ana- nect them offboard with wire, as MAKE Labs
log switch and a Picaxe-14M or a PIC16F684 did in Figure B. You can use a small onboard
microcontroller (either one works). The 4066 potentiometer as shown here (Figure E), or a
routes the video inputs to the single output. longer one for making adjustments without
Meanwhile, the microcontroller controls opening the enclosure.
which cameras are active, reading from 4 tog-
gle switches, and times the interval that each For the offboard connections, solder the
center leads from the RCA jacks, which will
carry the camera signals, to pads In1–In4 on
the board. Solder one side of the toggles or
DIP switches to Sw1–Sw4 on the board. For
ground, run wires connecting the outer con-
tacts of the RCA jacks and the unconnected
legs of the switches (Figure F). Don’t connect
the DC power jack or video out cable yet.

Drill holes in the project box for the PCB
mounting screws, LEDs, switches, RCA jacks,
power jack, and video out cable, marking
positions for proper PCB alignment. Cut the
RCA cable, thread the cut end through a hole
drilled in the enclosure, tie a knot for strain
relief, and solder it to Video Out on the board,
center contact to (+) and outer shield wire
to (–). Mount everything. I mounted the PCB
and controls inside the lid (Figure G, follow-
ing page). If you’re using DIP switches, which
aren’t designed for panel mounting, you can
thread the wires through small holes and glue
the switches to the outside. The completed

Follow us @make 47

unit is shown in Figure H with labels. G
Rather than use 4 wall warts for camera

power plus another for the circuit, I supply
them all with a larger supply rated at 2A
at 12V DC. To do this, cut the plugs off the
included adapters and wire them in parallel to
the DC power jack. Then wire another parallel
pair of leads from the the DC power jack to
(+) and (–) in one corner of the board. The
power plugs can plug into the camera cables
inside or outside the box (Figure I).

Download the project software for the Picaxe I
or PIC microcontroller at
v/30, and follow the directions there if you Select File → Enable Stream-output. If your
haven’t programmed the microcontroller computer’s firewall warns you that it’s block-
before. The 2 versions of the software are ing a port, select Unblock. To see the webcam
almost identical. The main differences are in image, enter your local IPv4 address followed
how variables and pins are named. by “:8081” into a web browser (Figure K).
You can determine this address by entering
With the PIC16F684, which you program via ipconfig in the Windows command window
4-pin ICSP (in-circuit serial programming), (cmd.exe) and looking for the IP Address
you must configure your programmer so that value (Figure L). You should see the Yawcam
pin 4 (MCLR) is set to an input pin, and you server screen with your live webcam image
must have the switch connected to that pin (Figure M)!
(UseCamera2) set to Off. Compile and upload
the code to the microcontroller, plug the chips
into the PCB, and you’re ready to connect.

Make sure the EasyCap unit is switched
to NTSC video, not PAL. Plug it into the
computer’s USB port, install the driver from
the included CD when prompted, and con-
tinue past any warning that the driver hasn’t
passed Windows Logo Testing.

Download and install Yawcam (yawcam.
com), then launch it and select Settings →
Detect WebCam. Syntek STK1150 should
appear in the list of devices. Select Settings →
Device (Syntek STK1150) → Device Properties
and specify NTSC/M and Composite Video
(Figure J).

From the main menu, select Settings →
Edit Settings, then choose Startup and Start
Stream Output. Click on Stream — the default
port number should be 8081. I changed this
to 8888 to accommodate other devices on
my network, but you can leave it at 8081.

48 Make:

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