We have the technology (to quote The Six Million Dollar Man), but commercial tools for exploring, assisting, and augmenting our bodies really can approach a price tag of $6 million. Medical and assistive tech manufacturers must pay not just for R&D, but for expensive clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and liability — and doesn’t help with low pricing that these devices are typically paid for through insurance, rather than purchased directly. But many gadgets that restore people’s abilities or enable new “superpowers” are surprisingly easy to make, and for tiny fractions of the costs of off-the-shelf equivalents. MAKE 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, explains how.
Groovy Mechanical Sound Players
By Bob Knetzger
A look back at the all-mechanical marvels that made fun sounds for over 100 years. (Page 36)
Thumbnail-activated talking strip
Japanese all-cardboard record player toy
Mattel’s “Dishonest John” talking puppet
Fisher-Price See ‘n Say
Mattel’s Mickey Mouse Chatter Chum
Air Guitar Hero
Drop the controller and shred songs using the electrical signals from your arm muscles. (Page 44)
Check out the full Air Guitar Hero project build.
Videos of Air Guitar Hero in action
A wearable device to give your projects a live heartbeat. (Page 52)
Check out the full Pulse Sensor project build for the circuit diagram and more photos.
Download the Pulse Sensor code here.
Gateways to the Soul: EyeWriter and Eyeboard
Two systems, EyeWriter and Eyeboard, let people draw, write, and connect using only their eyes. (Page 57)
DIY Blood Pressure Monitor
Make a blood pressure tester that’s tough, smart, and mobile. (Page 70)
Tacit: A Haptic Wrist Rangefinder
By Steve Hoefer
This ultrasonic “bat glove” lets you feel things at a distance. (Page 78)
Check out the full Tacit project build.
Watch Tacit in action
Tiny Wanderer Robot
By Doug Paradis
An easy-to-make robot with a $2 microcontroller brain. (Page 88)
Check out the full Tiny Wander project build.
SVG and PDF cutout templates
- Download the templates zip file.
Circuit Board Layout files
Wiring Check Tables
Before inserting the ATTiny85 into the socket on the controller board you should make some simple ohm meter checks using these tables.
Programming Instructions for the ATtiny85 Chip
- See Step 12 through 16 of the Tiny Wanderer project build.
Download the Code
Photos Identifying Acrylic Kit Pieces
By John Iovine
This radiation detector clicks, flashes, logs radioactivity levels, and shares its data with the world. (Page 100)
Check out the full Geiger Counter project build.
- Sources for radioactive test materials
- Schematic diagram, including alternative sound output circuit
- Acrylic cutting files for enclosure
Better Nerf Gun
By Simon Jansen
Build a metal foam-dart gun that blows away store-bought plastic models. (Page 112)
Check out the full Better Nerf Gun project build.
Design Images and Templates
By Joshua Blake
Go from handwaving to coding with the Microsoft Kinect SDK. (Page 124)
Kinect Hacking Code
- Step 1 code – Get image and depth data
- Step 2 code – Remove background
- Step 3 code – Track skeleton and add maps
- All code – single download
More Fun Kinect Hacking
- Kinect JediBot
- Kinect Turntable 3D Scanner
- Kinect 3D Object and People Scan
- UC Berkeley Quadrotor
- Jonathan Oxer Kinect ARDrone Parrot demo
- NAVI (Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired)
- Minority Report Software for Kinect
- Kiwibank Interactive Wall
- Kinect Augmented Urban Model
- Jellybean, the Kinect Drivable Lounge Chair
Kinect Weather Map And Other Kinect Hacking Resources
- Kinect SDK Download
- Kinect SDK Forums
- Visual Studio 2010 Express
- Natural User Interfaces in .NET book
- National Weather Service radar images
- Kinect Weather Map project source code
- OpenNI website
- OpenNI mailing list
- OpenKinect wiki
- OpenKinect mailing list
Bent-Wire Crank Toy
Learn these tricks and turn plain wire into a head-bobbing toy. (Page 144)
Check out the full project build.
Root Beer Pong Bot
By Bob Knetzger
Here’s a “noninvasive hack” that takes advantage of ReCon 6.0 Programmable Rover’s cool features while adding a fun new function to make a “Root Beer Pong Bot.” (Page 161)
Here’s the code sheet for the game program I wrote. Each numbered box is a step in ReCon’s instructions. ReCon beeps, announces the game and 10 points, turns around (so that he presents the cup to you), backs up, stops to announce 75 points, turns and backs up, turns and backs up again, stops and announces 50 points, turns and backs twice again, then if you haven’t yet gotten the ball in the cap and triggered the kill switch, Recon blows his horn and announces you lost, as he does a victory dance to a dance beat.
What kind of game program can you create? Can you use the LOOP command and HOME command to make a more elegant routine?