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Wind Your Own Guitar Pickups

When I first started building homemade instruments, I used a piezoelectric buzzer from RadioShack as a pickup (see http://onestringwillie.com for details). But while it’s cheap and simple, the piezo transducer has downsides: it has a low signal output, it picks up a lot of handling noise and can go into... Read more »

Coffee Table MAME Console

By John Baichtal and Adam Wolf Do you remember those classic video game arcades filled with rattling quarters, 8-bit songs, and flashing lights? You can reclaim that excitement in your own living room with this Coffee Table MAME Console. In 1997, Italian software developer Nicola Salmoria released the first iteration... Read more »

Dodecahedron Lamp

People appear symmetrical, but even the most perfect human face shows irregularities if we compare the left side with the right. Perhaps this is why the absolute, rigid symmetry of crystals seems beautiful yet alien to us. Unlike DNA’s soft spiral, a crystal’s molecular bonds align themselves to form regular... Read more »

Electromagnetic Aluminum Levitator

About 13 years ago I learned of some military research into a satellite- and missile-defense device that would propel projectiles using Lenz’s law, which governs the direction of electrical current induced by a changing magnetic field. I decided to make a little gadget based on the same principle for my... Read more »

555 Timer Ball Whacker

555 ball whacker

This project uses a simple 555 timer chip and a feedback loop to control a servo-controlled wooden arm. Whenever an object comes close to a photosensor mounted on the end of the arm, it blocks the amount of light detected, which triggers the arm to swat the object away. Read more »

Marble Adding Machine

Computers add binary numbers constantly, but we never see how. This elegant machine does the math using glass marbles. I started building marble track machines years ago using Lego. I experimented with all sorts of crazy ways for the marbles to descend. One was a rocker that shunted a stream... Read more »