This week:
The Pocket Art Studio, The Portative Organ, Robot Fish, Eye Glasses: Always Keep Your Eyes Open, The Air-Conditioned Shirt, Automatic Dessert Making Machine, Otona no Kagaku Synth, USB-Powered CD Fan, Always Make the Shot – Wastebasket Three-Pointer Hack, Gakken Announces 8mm Movie Camera, and Bamboo-Copter Slow-Mo.

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Pocket Art Studio
As we all know, a great deal of technology focuses on allowing indoor-type tasks to be done on the go, but here’s a trick that allows artists to take an analog approach to the on-the-go craze. Artist Kay-san makes a “pocket atelier” or portable art studio that can be used to work on art anywhere by using plastic capsules to hold industrial clay and just a toothpick as a modeling tool. Do-it-yourself… pretty much anywhere!

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blogentry [via MAKE: Japan]

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Portative Organ
Organs. Sometimes they sound cool, but most people want seem to want to get rid of them, and they can often be had for free if you know where to find them, have the lifting power, and a vehicle large enough to transport them. Here we have a DIY’d organ that is way less burden and way more awesome: Influenced by the wooden organs of the 15th century, the Portative Organ (which means portable organ), provides pleasant organ sounds while on the go. Details here. Make the organ.


Robot Fish!
The last thing that I saw that qualified as a robotic fish sang “Don’t Worry Be Happy” to me, so this one is certainly a welcome improvement:

Engineers at the University of Kitakyushu have developed an underwater survey robot that looks good enough to eat. “Tai-robot-kun,” a 7-kilogram (15.4 lb) robotic sea bream (red snapper) with a silicone body covered in realistically hand-painted scales, features a unique propulsion system that allows it to move its tail and drift silently through the water like a real fish. (Watch a video.)

The robotic fish can swim for an hour on a full battery charge, and it relies on a ballast system similar to those used in submarines to adjust its buoyancy and depth.

Tai-robot-kun’s creator, professor Ikuo Yamamoto, says the robot can easily be mass-produced, outfitted with various cameras and sensors, and released into the sea to perform a wide range of oceanographic survey tasks. He adds that because the robot swims silently and looks like a real fish, it would be able to gather data without alarming the creatures it encounters.

Yamamoto and his team are also reportedly developing a robotic manta ray that uses some of the same technology.

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Eye Glasses: Featuring Your Real Eyes
This funny hack takes a photo of your real eyes and puts them behind the lenses of a pair of glasses. You poke small holes in the photo paper so that you can still see through. Could be good for giving the illusion of being awake during class, or for just generally weirding people out.

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Cooled Shirt
Summers are hot and humid in Japan, and they even have a word for summer sluggishness: natsubate. In order to combat this natsubate, a brave pioneer from DPZ serves up this hack for keeping cool. Just like those astronaut suits, this shirt is cooled by a constant flow of cool water through tubing that lines the inside of the shirt. The double irony of this shirt being cooled by a bottle of Pocari Sweat (the curiously-named Japanese sports drink) is hopefully not lost.

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Automatic Dessert Making Machine
As a result of the previously-mentioned natsubate, a member of the DPZ team set out to make a machine that would alleviate the trouble that one must go to in order to make a delicious dessert. Like a mystery entry for a Rube Goldberg contest that doesn’t exist, this dessert-making machine stands in all its messy glory, a testament to a good intention that has taken a life of its own. Beautiful. The result:

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Otona no Kagaku Synth
From the magazine that gives MAKE a run for its money as the coolest magazine on the planet, this supplemental volume of Gakken’s Otona no Kagaku (7/30/08) includes a miniature analog synth to go along with their “Synthesizer Chronicle” issue, made in cooperation with the Japanese Synthesizer Programmer Association (JSPA) to cover the history of the synthesizer. All for the amazing price of 3200 yen (~$32), the synth includes controls for pitch envelope, attack, decay, LFO wave/rate, cutoff, and resonance, and includes a stylus on the slider to make it all go nuts. It can also be interfaced with the mini-Theremin that was included in a previous issue of Otona no Kagaku. Which brings me to my idea for a band: “Otona no Ongaku” (Music for Adults!), a band whose instruments are made entirely of Otona no Kagaku toys and whose album artwork is made entirely out of Gakken pinhole cameras, their videos are shot on Gakken 8mm cameras (see below), etc. Mark my words, they will play the next Maker Faire.
USB-Powered CD Fan

Here’s a how-to on making a USB-powered fan out of two old CDs (got any of those?). Materials needed: 2 CDs, scissors, a candle, a cork, a USB cable, connectors to connect the power to the motor, a small motor, and a thick paper tube. Cut one CD up into flower-like petals and fan them out as shown. Place a cork inside the hole in the CD, and cut off the data cables from your USB cable so that just the power cables remain. Glue the bottom of the paper tube to that 2nd CD for the base, attach the cork to the motor, plug it in, and watch it blow some feathers.

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Always Make the Shot – Wastebasket Three-Pointer Hack
Become the (fake) Peja Stojakovic of office three-pointers with this clever hack that makes it looks like you are making impossible wastebasket shots from incredible distances. A little fishing line, a motor, and some DIY mojo will suddenly endow you with the skills you never had. Watch:

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Gakken Announces 8mm Camera!
Gakken has done it again!

Earlier this year, toy and hobby kit maker Gakken released it’s 8mm Film Projector kit as a modern and economical way to experience retro 8mm film without the classic heavy, overheating machinery from the old days.

Now, coming soon, Gakken will be releasing an 8mm Film Camera as a companion to the projector. This is as simple as it gets, but is a great option for aspiring filmmakers to have a low-cost and lightweight camera with no frills. It runs on regular batteries, takes normal 8mm film, and records in all the glory of 8mm with the ease of a disposable 35mm.

While the 8mm Film Projector is available online (product page), the camera is yet to even be announced. Being film nerds ourselves, we’ll be keeping tabs on this one for sure.


Bamboo-Copter Slow-Mo!
Check out how the sweet sweet hand-powered bamboo-copter flying toy works by viewing it in slow motion. The original ancient Chinese design of these copters is said to have influenced modern aviation! [via MAKE: Japan]

Thanks for reading!
Mike