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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)

Videos

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

By Robert Armiger and Carol Reiley

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.

Open Myoelectric Signal Processor at openprosthetics.wikispot.org

dhs

Eagle Board Schematic

Videos of Air Guitar Hero in action

 

 

Pulse Sensor

By Yury Gitman and Joel Murphy

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

By Zach Lieberman and Luis Cruz

Two systems, EyeWriter and Eyeboard, let people draw, write, and connect using only their eyes. (Page 57)

 

DIY Blood Pressure Monitor

By Alex Russell, Garrick Orchard, and Carol Reiley

Make a blood pressure tester that’s tough, smart, and mobile. (Page 70)

Code files

 

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.

Template for cutting neoprene (PDF)

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

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

Download the Code

Photos Identifying Acrylic Kit Pieces

acrylic04

 

acrylic03

 

acrylic02

 

acrylic01

 

Geiger Counter

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.

 

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

Nerf Gun Interior

Nerf Gun Interior

 

Nerf Gun Exterior

Nerf Gun Exterior

 

Annotated Diagram

Annotated Diagram

 

Kinect Hacking

By Joshua Blake

Go from handwaving to coding with the Microsoft Kinect SDK. (Page 124)

Kinect Hacking Code

More Fun Kinect Hacking

Kinect Weather Map And Other Kinect Hacking Resources

 

Bent-Wire Crank Toy

By Lea E. Albaugh and Matt Mets

Learn these tricks and turn plain wire into a head-bobbing toy. (Page 144)

Check out the full project build.

Wire bending template

 

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)

Code Sheet

Rover-pong-code

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?

More Photos

A close up of the battery compartment. Note the two wires with a thin insulator between them at the lower right. The red wire steals the power from the batteries, send it to the outboard switch, which either sends it right back via the green wire, or sends it to the external bulb.

A close up of the battery compartment. Note the two wires with a thin insulator between them at the lower right. The red wire steals the power from the batteries, send it to the outboard switch, which either sends it right back via the green wire, or sends it to the external bulb.

Here’s the cup with the micro switch mounted in the bottom. A round paddle is glued to the arm of the switch.

Here’s the cup with the micro switch mounted in the bottom. A round paddle is glued to the arm of the switch.

The ReCon robot executes its mission.  It trucks along a programmed path of runs and turns, announcing the decreasing point value as it goes.

The ReCon robot executes its mission. It trucks along a programmed path of runs and turns, announcing the decreasing point value as it goes.

The weight of the ball trips the switch, cutting off power to the ReCon which stops in its tracks, and also illuminates the “kill” bulb. Your score is the last point amount ReCon announced. Remove the ball and play again. ReCon’s non–volatile memory keeps your program!

The weight of the ball trips the switch, cutting off power to the ReCon which stops in its tracks, and also illuminates the “kill” bulb. Your score is the last point amount ReCon announced. Remove the ball and play again. ReCon’s non–volatile memory keeps your program!

If you do open up and invasively hack a ReCon inside you’ll find a really cool module with twin geared motor drives, each with interrupt wheels and opto emitters/detectors for counting partial rotations.  What else could you make with this?

If you do open up and invasively hack a ReCon inside you’ll find a really cool module with twin geared motor drives, each with interrupt wheels and opto emitters/detectors for counting partial rotations. What else could you make with this?


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