MAKE Newsletter for November 20, 2008
Next year is going to be a big year: we'll see more investment and emphasis on alternative energy than ever before -- this will be our "space race" and our "moon landing." The children of today will be the ones who will shape the next decade and the next century. Whether you're a parent, a friend, a mentor, or just someone giving a gift this holiday season, I'm going to ask that you consider giving something that might just spark the interest of a young mind who may potentially solve our energy needs.
We all know we will not be able to sustain a future on a fuel (oil) that's going to eventually diminish and/or become more expensive. Other nations like China and India are going to drive demand through the roof, and we're going to need to diversify our energy sources. The solution may not come from those of us reading MAKE right now; it's likely going to come from the children of folks reading MAKE.
Solar, wind, biodiesel, nuclear -- these are all subjects we explore in the pages of MAKE, online, in our videos, and with the kits we carefully select for our Maker Shed. We're not going to get out of this current crisis with the same thinking that got us here. We need to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. It may take decades, and 8- to 12-year-olds today will be the ones who will need to rise to the challenge. Will our education system do enough? No, we'll all need to do something. It's a daunting task and a seemingly impossible challenge, and that's why I know we'll do it. If it were easy, it wouldn't be interesting.
Entrepreneurs will see this as a wonderful opportunity to start new and amazing companies. I'm positive there are going to be more incentives to do so starting next year. We're talking jobs, new industries, and tax breaks. It's going to happen, but everyone needs to be active. Being involved might just mean tinkering around with a solar panel in your neighborhood to get folks interested, or it might mean modding the Prius you just bought. A new era in energy independence is going to happen, not overnight, but I am 100% positive it will happen, and it will be makers (and their children) who lead the way.
I've put together a gift guide of all the cool and interesting alternative energy kits and resources as well as an entire list of educational electronic kits for under $20. Check it out, and maybe send it to a few friends. If you think a young person might have what it takes to change the world, this just might be the spark that starts him or her off. People always ask "how can we get started," and this is just one of the ways.
From the MAKE Blog
Solarspeeder Kit A quick Solaroller that can cover 3 meters (10 feet) in under 40 seconds in direct sunlight. Simple to construct and a great project for beginners! Price: $25.00
Also check out:
Power House Kit Sustainable living in the 21st century. Build and use an alternative energy model house and 20 other energy-related devices. Learn about energy from the sun, wind, plants, and electro-chemical reactions. Discover how to transform, store, and use these forms of energy with real working models. Price: $149.95
Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit Assemble and experiment with a unique reversible hydrogen fuel cell. This fuel cell kit provides a playful introduction to one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century. With this kit you can build a model car that actually runs on water! Comes with a 96-page full-color book. Ages 12 and up. Price: $149.95
Alcohol Can Be a Gas! For the last century it has been impossible to find reliable information on alcohol fuel production and use. Oil companies have continuously suppressed data on Henry Ford's favorite auto fuel. For example, by the late 80s, over 90% of the cars in Brazil ran on straight alcohol; any gasoline vehicle and most diesel engines can be inexpensively converted to run on straight alcohol; millions of Flexible Fuel vehicles and even many cars can run on alcohol or gasoline unmodified, but most vehicle owners don't know it. Alcohol Can Be a Gas reveals this hidden history. The only comprehensive manual on alcohol fuel production ever written. Price: $60.00
MAKE, Volume 03, "Making Biodiesel" The best way to learn how to make your own backyard biodiesel is to start with a one-liter batch. It's easy to make a small batch that will work in any diesel engine. You won't need any special equipment--an old juice bottle will serve as the "reactor" vessel--and on such a small scale, you can quickly refine your technique and perform further experiments. Price: $14.99
MAKE, Volume 05, "Wind-Powered Generator" With a motor and some piping, it's surprisingly easy to build this inexpensive, efficient windmill generator--and enjoy free energy forever. Price: $14.99
MAKE, Volume 12, "Make a 20-Watt Solar Panel" With a few solar cells and a plastic case, you can utilize the sun's energy to power anything from a light bulb to your entire house. Price: $14.99
MAKE, Volume 14, "Solar Power System Design" How to use solar panels to supplement your home or workshop electricity needs. Price: $14.99
Last up, a subscription to MAKE. In 2009, we're going to focus a lot on alternative energy, so now is a great time to give a gift subscription. Price: $34.95
Electronics Kits: Give the Gift of Engineering!
MintyBoost USB Charger Kit v2.0 Let's start with the classics. Build your own MintyBoost: a small & simple (but very powerful and very MAKE-like) USB charger for your iPod (or other MP3 player), camera, cellphone, and any other gadget you can plug into a USB port to charge. If you're looking to get started with electronics, this is it, and it's extremely useful. I use one with my iPhone and never leave home without it! Price: $19.99
Loud Objects Noise Toy Kit Bzzzzrrrreeeeepehkhkhkhhhhhhhk! Build your own noise toy with this new kit from electronic noise group, the Loud Objects. Plug in your headphones and glitch out, or jack into an amp and play it as an instrument. These kits come with a custom-printed circuit board, a noise generating microchip from their live performances, two buttons for modulating the sound, headphone jack, and battery. Price: $19.95
MiniPOV: An Inexpensive Persistence of Vision Spell words in the air! The 3rd-generation MiniPOV is perfect for beginners who are looking to learn how to solder, how to program microcontrollers, or make LED blinky toys. Because the programmer is built into the kit, you don't need a special "microcontroller programmer." This version can be used with PCs (Linux/Unix or Windows) and Macs (running MacOS X and with a USB/serial converter). Price: $17.99
The Solar Powered Theremin-Sounding (Heliophone) Kit This is an electronics kit suitable for beginners but it DOES require some soldering. With very few parts, you can build a tiny solar-powered theremin enclosed in a mint tin (NOT INCLUDED) like our new Make Tin. So when the oil runs out, the ice caps melt, and civilization crumbles to dust, thanks to the Heliophone, we will still have electronic music. Price: $15.99
Drawdio Kit The pencil that makes music! Invented by Jay Silver and developed with Adafruit, Drawdio is an electronic pencil that lets you make music while you draw! It's great project for beginners: an easy kit with instant gratification! Essentially, its a very simple musical synthesizer that uses the conductive properties of pencil graphite to create different sounds. The result is a fun toy that lets you draw musical instruments on any piece of paper. Remember Bill Cosby's picture pages? Yah, it's like that, but you make it! Price: $19.50
Game of Life Kit Create digital "colonies"! In 1970, John Conway came up with a one-player game called Game of Life. The Game of Life is a mathematical game that simulates "colonies" that grow or die based on how crowded or lonely they are and is known for the way it creates a beautiful organic display out of randomness. Here is a design for a simple electronic project that plays Conway's Game of Life. Make one kit and keep it on your desk, or attach multiple kit modules together to create a large display. The kit is very easy to make and an excellent first electronics project. It is perfect for workshops since at the end everyone can connect their completed module together. Price: $17.50
SIM Card Reader/Writer Kit Read what is on your cellphone's SIM card and more! This is a SIM card reader/writer for experimentation and investigation of SIM & Smart cards. Once the kit is built, accompanying software can be used to read and write from the card. Together they can be used to backup stored SIM card data, recover deleted SMSs and phone contacts, examine the last 10 phone numbers dialed, etc. Despite being called a SIM reader, it can also write to SIM cards. The kit includes PCB and components. Basic hand tools, 9V battery, SIM card, and serial cable are not included. This project is fairly easy and can be built within an hour, even if you've never soldered before! Price: $17.00
The Open Heart Kit The Open Heart is an LED matrix of individually addressable LEDs. It can be used to create a brooch or bag light with highly customizable animations. It can be configured so that you can temporarily attach it to fabrics with headers that you simply push through, or you can configure it to be sewn into a project using conductive fabric for a more permanent setup. You'll need an Arduino to complete this project as well as a soldering iron and basic hand tools. Price: $18.00
DC Boarduino (Arduino Clone) Kit An inexpensive way to join the Arduino world! If you've ever struggled to use a solderless breadboard with an Arduino, you understand how frustrating it can be! This clone acts just like an Arduino, and works with the latest Arduino software. For many projects it can even be preferable! The kit includes all parts necessary, and the assembly is straightforward and well documented. Since this design doesn't include a USB chip, you'll want an FTDI TTL-232R USB-to-TTL serial cable. Since the cable plugs right into the Boarduino, you can use one cable for multiple Boarduinos (the cable is only $20, and only $18 if you order it with the Boarduino). Also see Bare Bones Arduino Kit. Price: $17.50
MotorShield for Arduino Kit Last up, for those of you with an Aruduino already, a full-featured motor shield that will be able to power many simple- to medium-complexity projects for your Arduino. Kit comes with all parts necessary, unassembled. Motors and Arduino are not included. Price: $19.50
And to wrap up the $20 and under kits, we've included some holiday kits! Still under $20 too!
3D Christmas Tree Kit Celebrate the holidays with this great, easy-to-build kit. Perfect for the cubicle! Eight simple steps give you a cool, flashing, multi-colored LED Christmas Tree. Price: $8.99
DIY LED Felt Ornaments Brighten up the season by making your own LED felt decorations. Three designs to choose from, and look ma, no soldering! Price: $19.99
LED Mini Menorah Kits A DIY mini-LED menorah for Hanukkah. The mini-LED Hanukkah menorah is a modern update of the traditional Hanukkiyah, the nine-armed Hanukkah candelabrum. Two candles are lit on the first night of Hanukkah (one "real" candle plus the uppity lighter candle, or shamash, which apparently doesn't count), three on the second night, right up to nine on the eighth night. That's (2+9)*(8/2)=44 candles all together, for those of you keeping score. Price: $10.00
LED Micro-Readerboard Kit This fun little open source soldering kit provides an introduction to the capabilities of microcontrollers.The readerboard spells out preprogrammed messages such as "MAKE" one letter at a time on its alphanumeric LED display. Price: $15.00
Holiday Shipping Deadlines:
Ground - Dec 15th
3-Day Saver - Dec 17th
2-Day - Dec 18th
Overnight - Dec 19th
*Customer experiences with orders made using these shipping methods placed after the dates specified may vary, and the dates listed are what we call "safe dates."
USPS (Any Method): Due to the high volume of mail that the postal service deals with around the holidays, order by Dec. 10th; however, many packages are lost or delayed in transit and we do not replace or refund any orders lost using this ship method. We strongly encourage you to not use this method in December.
Want more? Stop by the Maker Shed store and check out THE place for open source hardware, Arduino & Arduino accessories, electronic kits, science kits, smart stuff for kids, back issues of MAKE & CRAFT, box sets, books, robots, kits from Japan, and more.