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MAKE contributor David Simpson wrote to tell us about a workshop he’s going to be doing at the Spy Museum next month:

We all love spy gear, from the wacky Maxwell Smart rotary-dial shoephone to the grab bag of goodies Bond always so nonchalantly snares from Q. Thank you, MAKE, for Volume 16, the “Spy Tech” issue, which featured Mad Magazine’s iconic Spy vs. Spy on the cover. In that issue, you can find my wireless “Bug-in-a-Book” project The guts come from readily available Radio Shack components (a mini FM transmitter for listening to your iPod through the car stereo and a grandpa-tech amplified listener).

Last year, my wife and I were thrilled to visit the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC and to see all of the gear and contraptions that REAL spies from around the world have used over the years, including cameras, guns, and radios disguised as everyday objects. If you haven’t been there before, the museum is a must-visit for makers and spycraft lovers alike. You could spend days there. The presentation was lightyears beyond what we expected. I think it had a lasting effect on both of us; at the Maker Faire in New York this year, my wife spent about a third of the time at the lock-picking workshop!

After our visit, I reached out to the Museum staff to express our appreciation and to offer a demonstration of my fun and fairly easy-to-build Bug-in-a-Book project. Their Youth Education Director, Jackie Eyl, said yes!

Fast forward: I’ll be leading that workshop at the Spy Museum at the end of January.

The session will open with an “NCIS-like” briefing, laying out an impeding threat and mission, but I can’t divulge the full details here. Let’s just say that this whole thing was triggered by an encrypted message intercepted by an allied listening post off the coast of Algeria on one of the long wave frequencies known to be used by a US-based black market arms dealer and certain intermediaries representing a radical militant religious group targeting pro-western nations. Maybe by now it’s becoming clearer; the well-being of the free world lies in the hands of the young makers that attend this workshop and the intelligence they’re able to gather during surveillance using their field-made Bug-in-a-Book. Over and out.

In the Maker Shed:
Makershedsmall


MAKE: Volume 16
Our Price: $14.99
Volume 16 will help you get smart with a special section on spy tech. Learn how to build and use tiny surveillance devices, and how to know if a spy is using them on you. From tiny video cameras to sneaky recorders, this volume has enough cool stuff to make James Bond’s inventor Q envious. Get the PDF edition here ($9.99).

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


  • Rahere

    I was present on the FISITA registration desk when Academician Ivanov signed in at the very start of the Lada story. Signing him in, we had been paying attention to our work, not to what was going on around, and we were vaguely aware of somebody with him. Having completed his details, we asked, “And your companion?”, to which he repied “Him? Oh, no, no, no, no, no…” at which we focused on him. About the build of Brian Dennehy, his KGB minder was dressed exactly from the Spy-vs-Spy catalogue – it was all we could do not to burst out laughing.