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Hello again, true believers – er, Makers!

Working at the heart of MAKE’s Editorial team is like being the small pebble that starts rolling down an Alpine hill, gathering layers of snow until we bash into something (often Daffy Duck). Right now, our giant snowball of editorial doom is on a vector for World Maker Faire in NYC in about six weeks, and all eyes are on the awesome makers who will be there showing off their projects.

But in the meantime, the make-o-sphere keeps spinning, and there are some bits and bytes I’d like to share with you this week.


First, we have some new folks joining us to contribute to the blog. This is an initiative I’m championing, to give as many enthusiastic everyday makers as possible the chance to show off the great projects they’re doing at home or in the workshop, and to write about the things that inspire them to make. Some of this first group has been selected out of our previous MAKE: Beta team project that had its heart in the right place back in the day, but suffered from its own success and our own small numbers in house. So, phoenix-like, it rises from the ashes to become something new; the MAKE Volunteer Contributor Program. Here are introductions to a few of our new bloggers:

Michael Leonard: I am currently a graduate student at the University of Arkansas pursuing my M.S. EE so naturally I enjoy making electronics based projects! I am currently most actively playing around with the BeagleBone Black and exploring its capabilities, I just recently made my first “cape” for the BBB that should be available for order soon. I look forward to helping cover the Electronics side of makezine and can’t wait to get more involved. [Follow @LeonardMH]

Jenny Cheng: I have a large hodgepodge of interests, reflected by the various personal blogs I run. On main personal blog, Caret Dash Caret, I make stuff like 3D printed video game figurines and LED shirts. Recently I made algorithmically generated sewing patterns from 3D models. On my side projects blog, Iron Chef SynBio, I write open source software to help with synthetic biology community. My Ruby Gem for reading DNA sequencing results has over 34,000 downloads, which feels pretty sweet. The blog also a bunch of random projects like 3D printed enzyme structures.

Jeff Faust: I have been a professional woodworker for 17 years. I pursue my hobby of model railroading with a zeal that my wife finds disconcerting. I find mentoring on my son’s FIRST Robotics team to be a highly inspiring experience. I’m tinkering with Arduino quite a lot these days. I discovered long ago that too much laser cutting turns your fingertips orange. Everybody looks at me funny when I say “icosadodecahedron.” I am such a compulsive MAKE blog reader that I figured I ought to write for it, too.

Clayton Ritcher: I’m currently pursuing my Bachelor degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Robotics. While robots are my passion, I enjoy making anything I can dream up, from a Raspberry Pi RC car to force-sensitive light-up shoes to a fabric micro USB charging cable. You can see more of my work on my site, or by following @ClaytonRitcher on Twitter.

Phil Shapiro: My main job is working as the public geek at a small public library in Takoma Park, Maryland. I help youth and adults use the 28 Linux stations we have here. I studied a few years of mechanical engineering in college before ending up with a degree in philosophy. I ran my own small educational software company in the early 1990′s, creating software for Apple II computers. These days I’m teaching myself Python and doing some volunteering with a meetup I co-founded — DC Kids and Tech. I love making explanatory screencasts and satirical videos for YouTube. I’m on Twitter at @philshapiro.

Will Borzon: I’m an undergrad at Georgia Tech studying Mechanical Engineering. I help run the Invention Studio, a massive makerspace/shop on campus that encourages interdisciplinary creating, learning how to use advanced tools to make your inventions come to life. We pride ourselves in being completely student run — there aren’t any “adults” or “professors” looking out for anyone’s safety, student’s volunteer their time to teach others how to use laser cutters, waterjet cutters, 3d printers, etc (for FREE)!

Jason Poel Smith: I make the “DIY Hacks and How-Tos” video series for MAKE. My undergraduate degree is in “General Engineering” (50% Mechanical Engineering and 50% Electrical Engineering). I spent a number of years workings in industry as a design engineer for manned aerial lifts and later aircraft tooling. I am currently taking care on my new baby full time. In my extremely limited free time, I make how-to videos.

Ian Lee: I’m a software engineer at Mercury Intermedia helping to build several award-winning mobile apps. Although I love developing software, in recent years it has become more of a way of funding my other maker passions. Software & Sawdust, my personal blog is where I’m supposed to document all my projects – mostly electronics, woodworking, and the combination of the two. Last year, I started NashMicro, the Nashville Microcontrollers users’ group. My current favorite technology is the Gadgeteer microcontroller prototyping system. I’m actively promoting the technology through presentations and workshops at several local conferences, user groups, & our upcoming Mini Maker Faire.

Welcome all! In the following weeks, I’ll introduce even more of our new bloggers. I really want to give as many makers a voice here as possible.


Second, I want to follow up on the Crowdfund Fund poll I sent out last week. Here are the results of your voting for which projects you want to see us back:

Results via Polldaddy.com

Results via Polldaddy.com

The obvious winner was Leddie, the Internet-connect light-up RGB LED coaster that you can program to do just about anything in the way of notifications. It’s a great project, though it has a bit of an uphill climb to reach its goals. However, we’ve been trying to think a bit bigger with our Crowfund Fund, and since the general backer level for the LEDDIE is only around $100, we made the decision we’d back the top 3 winners of the poll instead! So, as of now, we are backing the LEDDIE, the DIRO Robot Chassis which looks like a great generic robot-building platform, and the HackRF Open Source SDR Platform, the possible applications for which have set our brains afire.

Our plan is, once any or all of these projects fund and ship, and we can get our hands on them, we’ll test them and tear them apart and show you how the work and if they were worth the money and time to get. We take the crowdfunding risk so you don’t have to!


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Last, but not least, I’d like to report on my delightful visit to the Exploratorium in its new location at Pier 15 in San Francisco last night. They were holding their first Tinkering Social Hour, launching it with an exhibit of the work of Todd McLellan, whose photos of disassembled items have sparked the imaginations of many makers (or un-makers!). Todd was there, and the Tinkering Studio team had brought a bunch of odd items from Urban Ore in Berkeley for participants to, well, take apart. The best was a classic electric organ that a mad band of guests dove into with verve. There was a delightful moment of discovery and reverence when they discovered the signatures of the people who had originally assembled the organ scrawled on one of the interior boards.

I myself had the joy of taking apart a non-functioning hair dryer, which experience I recorded on this Vine:

As soon as all the photos come in from our team at the event, we’ll post a gallery of the fun.

That’s about it for this week, makers. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and that you all get to make your dreams come true!

Ken Denmead

Ken is the Grand Nagus of GeekDad.com. He’s a husband and father from the SF Bay Area, and has written three books filled with projects for geeky parents and kids to share.


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