Every issue of Make: provides more proof that today’s generation of makers is creating an amazing array of inventions, gadgets, circuits, and projects. Some of these creations even appear sufficiently novel to qualify for patent protection.

No matter what you plan to make, invent, or discover, one of the best steps you can take is to keep a detailed record of your progress. The traditional mechanism for documenting inventions and projects is a paper notebook, preferably one that is bound to assure that pages have not been added or removed. While paper notebooks remain very popular and are easy to update and store, the computer era has provided a variety of ways to record the progress of a project in far more detail and flexibility than possible with paper.If you have commercial plans for what you’re designing or making, a notebook will help establish your intellectual property rights and document your expenses. Be sure to enter all your ideas into your notebook but keep in mind that ideas alone are not patentable. Your notebook should disclose how to transform an idea into a working apparatus, tool, rocket, instrument, robot, or computer program.


MAKE Volume 34: Join the robot uprising! As MAKE's Volume 34 makes clear, there’s never been a better time to delve into robotics, whether you’re a tinkerer or a more serious explorer. With the powerful tools and expertise now available, the next great leap in robot evolution is just as likely to come from your garage as a research lab. The current issue of MAKE will get you started. Explore robot prototyping systems, ride along with the inventors of the OpenROV submersible, and learn how you can 3D-print your own cutting-edge humanoid robot for half the price. Plus, build a coffee-can Arduino robot, a lip balm linear actuator, a smartphone servo controller, and much more

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Forrest M. Mims III

Forrest M. Mims III

Forrest M. Mims III (forrestmims.org), an amateur scientist and Rolex Award winner, was named by Discover magazine as one of the “50 Best Brains in Science.” His books have sold more than 7 million copies.


  • Hi Forrest,
    Enjoyed the essay as I always do with your projects and writing. I’ve been using a lab notebook type to keep track of billing hours for years and while it works well enough there is that more modern concert. How can I duplicate the labbook on-line with some sort of security for intellectual property. It would be nice to have the notebook contents indexable and searchable. I don’t have a good answer but maybe you of some of the readers might share some thoughts.
    Tom B

  • Steve Spence

    Now called a blog …..