Like many great Make: ideas, the centerpiece of the latest issue, an homage to Mondo 2000’s iconic “R. U. a Cyberpunk?” poster (located in the forthcoming Make: Vol 62, page 24), all started in the Video Lab. Make:’s Senior Video Producer Tyler Winegarner and I like to sit around and bounce ideas off of each other, and sometime around last Christmas, we had begun making jokes about EDC (Every Day Carry) circuit boards and what kinds of things makers had in their bags at all times (safety glasses, specific gauge wire, paracord, etc.). Running across the poster again sparked an idea: what would a modern cyberpunk look like, and what would they have in their bag? With a powerful net-connected computer in almost everyone’s pocket these days, what differentiates today’s cyberpunk from the masses? And where was the cool scene art that would inspire today’s kids to become the makers and hackers the way I was inspired?
As Tyler and I started pitching the idea back and forth we formulated the basis of a piece: an updated spread of the latest gear and gadget must-haves that any self-respecting/deprecating cyberpunk wouldn’t be caught without.
With the relaunch of Mondo 2000, I had been revisiting a lot of the art that impacted a much younger me. I don’t even know where I first came across the “R.U. a Cyberpunk” poster; it’s just a piece of media that has always been present in my pop culture awareness. It did however, have an immediate and permanent effect on my worldview: the idea of on-the-go computing mixed with the ability to really get inside your electronics fundamentally changed the way that I interacted with the world. Even though this piece was intended as a gentle self-parody at the time, the ideas it inspired were real. From becoming an early adopter of the Sidekick (former Danger Hiptop) with which I finally embraced permanent connectivity, to my love of breakout boards, micro cameras, and electronics, I credit that piece with encouraging and instigating an early love of technology, making, and breaking.
>Initilizing the run…
Make: contributor (and former Mondo writer) Gareth Branwyn connected us with the mysterious Mondo 2000 editors, who gave us their blessing to pursue the piece and helped track down Chris Hudak, the digital nomad tech journalist who had crafted the original writeup. Skype convos and late night texts ensued as he worked on the story from an undisclosed overseas location in true cyberpunk style.
Putting together the list of items was easier than expected. Today’s cyberpunk carries on the same ethos as in the past, so tools that facilitate intrusion both digital and analog, with an emphasis on style. I knew I wanted a well-rounded set of hardware penetration tools, like the JTAGulator, the Bus Pirate, and the DSO Nano along with signal tools like the Hack RFOne and a cell jammer. Erring on the side of prankster versus malicious, we chose to include the Malduino, a Macchina, and several Make: builds like the Rasperry Pirate Radio. The most important items for me to get were the Pi-Top and the Dieselpunk Cellphone. You might use off-the-shelf gear for mundane communications, but good opsec demands full access to all parts of your hardware. On the style side things like LED work gloves, 3D printed TSA keys, and an amazing ErgoDox split keyboard with a custom harness were includes so that we had the look of the cyberpunk, as well as the feel.
The location had to be the perfect mix of grimy and cool, and American Steel Studios in Oakland, California seemed the logical choice with its long history of Bay Area artistic contributions. Diversity has been a huge focus for Make: and I wanted this modern update to show a new representation of cyberpunk as well as reflect the diversity found in the maker scene. Having someone comfortable with the aesthetic who also is technology familiar and a part of the maker community was extremely important. Melissa Lamoreaux was my immediate pick for the subject, she teaches coding and Arduino robotics to middle schoolers, and is constantly creating beautiful inspiring projects for family and friends. She has previously modeled Anouk Wipprecht’s 3D printed dresses, and is also someone who still lives the daily cyberpunk lifestyle.
Cyberpunks and spies share a common motivation, unauthorized secret access to information, so as our piece came together it started to influence the style of the section. Once it grew in scope, we got the go ahead to shoot it for the cover as well. This shoot has been the culmination of an aesthetic photography dream that I have been pushing around in my brain for my entire career. As we go forward into the cyberpunk real world from our childhood dreams, I hope you enjoy this update to maker spycraft and the high-tech lowlife.
What’s in the Issue
Reader Input 05
Notes from readers like you.
Made on Earth 06
Backyard builds from around the globe.
Mechanical Masterminds 12
The awe-inspiring Les Machines de l’Ile are planning incredible surprises.
Rural Radio 18
Open source toolkit RootIO is helping communities create their own micro radio stations.
Tech Trends 20
Keep an eye on these emerging developments.
Spies Like Us 23
The hackers, phreaks, and cyberpunks from the dawn of the internet can give us a glimpse into the future.
R.U. Still a Cyberpunk? 24
Here’s our modern update on the classic Mondo 2000 poster.
Jeepers Creepers 26
Hidden cameras abound! Be aware of what might be peeping on you.
Hide and Seek 28
Make these clever devices and get your covert career underway.
Invisible Touch 30
Build a magic frame that turns any surface into a giant touch interface.
Urban Ore 34
Fill your parts bin with valuable scraps, freely available to those in the know.
Light Security 36
Perfect your evasion skills with this laser-armed maze.
Craft a Creeper 38
Build a motorized “mob” robot and attached controller.
Go, Dog. Go! 44
3D print a custom wheelchair for a pet in need.
Toy Inventor’s Notebook:
Vari-Tone Mini Cajon 47
Make this bass box drum with a wah-wah effect.
Corgi Keyboard 48
How I designed and sewed my first musical plushie.
Dragonfly Helicopter 52
Scratch-build a wind-up flyer that darts into the sky.
Curing Cuteness 56
Embed and embellish electronics in molded resin to craft adorable accessories.
’Sup Brows 58
Ping your bud with the lift of your eyebrows.
Novel Nails 60
Modernize your manicure with twinkling LEDs.
A Good Sign 62
Create inexpensive, suspended LED signage for your makerspace.
Power Ranger 64
Get notified by SMS when the electricity goes out.
Gimme Shelter 66
Build a model Mayan-style structure to learn how lime was used to construct buildings in ancient times.
1+2+3: Simple Succulents 69
Brighten your home with these easy to make, zero-maintenance paper plants.
Brace Yourself 70
Learn about melding electronics and leather with this light-up project.
Meddling with Metal 74
Customize your work with a variety of finishing techniques.
Fab Fillets 76
Get up to speed on designing the most common joints for CNC construction.
Gear up with reviews of the latest tools and kits for makers.
SHOW & TELL
Show & Tell 80
Dazzling projects from inventive makers like you.