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MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: What has been your most creative reuse of an object in the service of a project?

A while back I picked up a rectangular piece of machined steel from the Pratt and Whitney Surplus Store. It has two rows of screw holes and I bought it for its weight in scrap. I used the piece to attach various bits to it from my junk box, slapped a piezo mic onto it, and I had a scrap metal percussive instrument.

Post your responses in the comments section.

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


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Comments

  1. chuck says:

    I’m using some old tape player motors to build a three axis laser spirograph projector right now. I build synthesizers with ribbon controllers made from VHS tape, aluminum duct tape and the plastic slats from window blinds. I just built a really cool instrument with the harp from a Jaymar toy piano and the piezo elements from a Rockband drum controller.
    My favorite recent creative reuse/repurpose was building project enclosures from 4″x4″ PVC fence posts. I ended up with 24 6″x4″x2″ enclosures from one $15 6′ section of post, or just over $.60 each! Try getting a deal like that at Rat Shack. DIY or die!

  2. We use discarded pallets and upcycle them into handcrafted wooden chests. http://www.cratenation.com/

  3. At the Bristol Hackspace, we took some old BMX bike parts and made a generative music synthesiser. As the bike wheel rotates, it triggers three note-generators based on Pisano numbers (like Fibonacci but modulo). The notes are coded as MIDI note numbers and are sent to an interrupt-driven three-voice synthesiser running on the same Arduino. It has a selection of waveform samples that are played back via a phase accumulator and an envelope shaper. The BMX front forks and handlebars also carry a small amplifier and a battery pack. There’s a link to construction details on this Flickr photo:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/anachrocomputer/6162452440/

  4. Karl says:

    I have a prototype backpackers cook set that is small enough to fit in a hip pocket and only weights 6 oz not counting the fuel. Made with 90% recycled materials it is complete and self contained with a stove, pot stand, boil pot/frying pan and lid, adjustable wind guard, magnetic lid handle and a pouring or hanging chain. It can boil two and a half cups of water in three minutes and on a single “charge” of fuel can cook for 15 minutes. The only problem I have is finding the right size cans to start with.

    I really like Crate Nation’s wooden chests. I have seen piles of old pallets and have wondered what I might do with them. The chests they make are beautiful as well and the old pallets are such an eyesore.