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Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

Latest from Sean Michael Ragan


A guide to making interlocking, self-aligning, and demountable joints in flat stock. Read more »

Several detailed illustrations of a generic quadrotor drone with lettered callouts indicating the various components.

Our illustrated guide to finding your way around a modern multirotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Read more »


BEAM robotics is about getting the most complex and interesting behaviors from the simplest circuits and components. The SunBEAM Seeker is a very simple LM386-based light-seeking robot based on Randy Sargent's classic "Herbie" BEAM design. Build this little bot and it will follow a black line traced on a white... Read more »

This thing is a giant chip!  Not a disproportionate Dorito (nor even a tremendous Tostito), but a giant integrated circuit, or IC.  These little "black boxes" combine dozens, hundreds, thousands, and upwards into the kajillions of little discrete resistors and transistors in a single package with inputs and outputs that respond in well-defined ways. 

Learning to understand and use ICs is one of the earliest and most exciting challenges when you're entering the field.  And the classic 555 timer is the chip that almost everybody cuts their teeth on.  It's so useful, so versatile, so robust, so reliable, so inexpensive and so widely available, that it's pretty common for old-timers to get a bit nostalgic and/or sentimental about it.  Hence you see things like 555 benches, 555 footstools, 555 jewelry, and other fandom-y projects that, considering we're ultimately talking about a little black wedge of silicon and plastic, might be a bit confusing for the uninitiated.

This thing works just like the familiar 555 timer chip, but instead of being manufactured from a sliver of silicon wafer, it's manufactured by you, on your benchtop, from a stack of discrete resistors and transistors soldered into the black PCB body.  When it's done, you can hook up wires to the finger-friendly screw terminals and use it just like a monolithic 555 for projects, demonstrations, or educational activities.  Pay attention to what you're doing, as you build, and by the time you're done you'll understand the 555 literally inside and out.

Take it from one who knows: this stuff is awesome. Even if you have no idea what it does or why anyone would care. Read more »


FM transmitters can be complicated to build, but not this one — it's about the easiest you can possibly make. And though the science of radio is well understood, there's a magical, emotional quality about it that we don't often stop to appreciate. Building your own radio receiver — or... Read more »


Mad props to NPR's All Tech Considered blog for namechecking MAKE (and yours truly) yesterday in this n00b-friendly piece about the prospect of building one's own 3D printer. MC Rae Bichell quotes me on my favorite four-word description of fused-filament printers as "robot hot glue guns," and drops a link... Read more »


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