Not New Year’s resolutions – What are you going to MAKE? What we are making…

Not New Year’s resolutions – What are you going to MAKE? What we are making…

Every year there are lists and list of New Year’s resolutions, we’re not going to do that here at MAKE. This years it’s all about what you plan to make! I asked our team and advisory board to send me what they plan to MAKE in 2009 and here is what some of them are going to make!

Since I made everyone answer my email over the holiday break, I’ll start with mine :) Click “read more” to see over a dozen others from the MAKE team and our advisory board! Lastly, post what YOU plan to make in 2009 – I’ll check the comments at the end of the day and pick a winner (We’ll send you out the very popular Maker’s notebook).

Twittering power usage device

Limor Fried and I are working on a cool project that should be done in early 2009, you take an off the shelf power usage device like the Kill-a-Watt and add an Xbee wireless module – once tapped in to the Kill-a-Watt you transmit the power usage to a local computer and that computer publishes how many watts per day you’re using to your twitter account and will also add something like #mywatts so everyone can compare what they use. You could also use an Arduino with ethernet or wireless and eliminate the computer completely. The project will be open source of course and we expect someone will see it and do a commercial product.

Phillip Torrone, Senior Editor, MAKE Magazine

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MRI art

I’m going to embroider the MRI slices of my knee into colorful little biscuits and arrange them suspended vertically to create a segmented 3D form. It should look half like an anatomical reference model, half like olive loaf.

Becky Stern, online author, CRAFT/MAKE

Arduino-powered Christmas Tree Mark II

One year ago, I built my first Arduino-powered Christmas tree. It’s a simple 8×8 LED matrix that I wove together myself, and drove with a MAX7219. The original was powered by a Bare Bones Board (Arduino clone), but when I broke it out this year, I used a Boarduino (left my BBB elsewhere). Not only will I make a better version, but I resolve to document it this time! I also resolve to use the Matrix.h library for Arduino instead of not RTFMing and doing the code the hard way. Video of me weaving the LED matrix & more build details.

Brian Jepson, Executive Editor for Make: Books

Pi Detector
Pulsed Induction Metal Detector “on the cheap”

My girlfriend wanted a the ultimate recession birthday gift — ideally one that was zero-cost (or could make money) — so I decided to make her a pulsed induction metal detector. Pictured is the analog front end for the detector, on top of the sense coil. The challenge is to make this with little more than the spare parts laying around my office, yet make it effective enough to operate on the salty San Diego beaches to try and find coins. I’m trying to be a little novel by designing a hybrid digital back-end for the detector, although as I learn more about the circuit’s properties and human psycho-perceptual factors, I am starting to see more wisdom in an all-analog approach.

bunnie — MAKE Magazine Technical Advisory Board


CNC XYZ gantry robot

This year I plan to make a Making Station. I am going to build a CNC XYZ gantry robot, to which I can attach various cutting tools etc. This will be my personal manufacturing workstation, and I can see it playing a part in many projects over the coming years. I hope to build a Lumenlab Micro, but I make take an even more homebrew approach.

Steve Lodefink, MAKE Magazine Technical Advisory Board

New workshop

After other people who have the necessary equipment finish building the exterior of my new workshop, my big construction project in 2009 will be finishing the interior. I decided to make it big–slightly larger than my little house adjacent to it, on two acres in Northern Arizona. I will use it for fabricating prototypes of medical equipment, and for proof-of-concept electronics devices for a book that I am writing for Make Books.

Charles Platt, Section Editor, Upload, MAKE magazine

Arduino Midi Shield Proto
Arduino MIDI Shield

I plan to produce a finished Arduino MIDI shield in ’09 – capable of acting as a standalone synthesizer and MIDI to control voltage converter.  The early prototype is pictured here, still has a few kinks to work out in software/hardware.  I’ll keep y’all posted on progress.

Collin Cunningham, online author, MAKE

Fake-fondue system

I’ve been working on a better fake-fondue system. Right now, I’ve put together a base prototype where we’ve got excellent heat transfer from the tea candles but the colander is not providing sufficient airflow. So Physicist Husband is helping to work out the airflow issues, perhaps by installing a small fan or upgrading to a better colander, which would kind of invalidate the point of using stuff we already had around the house.

Yes, I know, we could just go out and buy a fondue pot, but (a) where’s the fun in that; and (b) buying a special purpose device rather than working from first principals would be *wrong*.

The metal tray to the right in the picture sits on top of the colander and the saucepan with the fondue cheese goes onto the tray. In the past, we had used wooden building blocks in place of the colander and learned that, surprise!, wood burns. So we’ve moved on
from there.

That’s a small ceramic tile (from Home Depot’s bathroom department, handpainted as a rainy day project and modgepodged) under the tea candles. In the future, it will be wrapped in aluminum foil because blowing out the candles splashed wax all over the tile. Wax easily removed with hot water but also with son’s tears. Lesson: don’t use beloved tile projects for home improv.

The colander was picked for sturdiness, which it has in spades, but didn’t deliver on the airflow we hoped. The six tea candles provided enough steady heat transfer to keep the tray quite warm but the oxygen issue meant they kept going out.

Erica Sadun, MAKE Magazine Technical Advisory Board

BEAM Two-Motor Walker

For all of my cheerleading of BEAM robotics, and all the articles I’ve written about this approach to robotics, I haven’t actually made that many different types of BEAMbots (e.g. never made a swimmer, a mini-ball, a headbot, a climber). I’ve never even made a walker from scratch, beyond the one-motor walker featured in my robot book (which is really a walking machine, not a proper robot). I’ve also never made a BEAM Bicore circuit that uses a master-slave Bicore arrangement for its control circuit. So this year, I hope to finally build the two-motor walker found in Dave Hrynkiw’s Junkbots, Bugbots & Bots on Wheels.

Gareth Branwyn, Contributing Editor, Maker Media

A variety of low-cost laser range finders

Many laser range finders that exist for robotics applications are very expensive (hundreds to thousands of dollars). I’m working on a number of laser range finder designs based on various detection techniques and technologies. It’s a great learning experience for me, since I’ve never worked with optics before and analog design has never been my strong suit, and the end result should be a few low-cost units that hobbyists can integrate into their own products. I’ve made some good progress during 2008, but plan to make this my priority in 2009!

Joe Grand, MAKE Magazine Technical Advisory Board

Year-of-my-birth bike conversion

This year I want to convert this 1972 Gitane road bike into a single speed. I know I’m getting a bit old to be a “fixie hipster”, but I really like the idea of building/riding/maintaining a minimalist bike with fewer moving parts than my current commuter bike. I’ll use a freewheel hub in the back, and I’ll put some brakes on it for sure.

John Edgar Park, MAKE: author and Make: television host

DIY Eco Surfboard

Surfboards are a classic DIY project but frankly a toxic mess. So the guys at Greenlight Surfboard Supply have updated the traditional polyurethane/polyester/fiberglass board (landfill) with recyclable polystyrene, low-VOC resins, and bamboo fiber and laminates. Their kits include all materials and tools for shaping the foam, glassing your board, even drawing snazzy pinlines.

Keith Hammond, Copy Chief, MAKE and CRAFT magazines


You can’t possibly expect us to let your readership in on our secret plans, can you?

Lenore Edman, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, MAKE Magazine Technical Advisory Board

Open source hardware

In 2009 I would really like to MAKE ‘something’ that could be Patented. Instead of going through the arduous Patent process, I would open-source the project and see what happens. I am really interested in this business philosophy and the way the community can help further develop a product. The best way to learn about open-source hardware is to actually make something and release it into the wild.

Marc de Vinck, online author, MAKE

Chicken Tractor

I am going to make a chicken tractor, which is basically a box covered with wired mesh, to allow my chickens to graze and scratch in my yard, but to keep them from wandering off the property where they might get hit by a car or eaten by a dog.

Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE

Re-making the yard

I have a small urban yard with lots of shade (and slugs!). I’ve grown some vegetables in years past with varying degrees of success. This year I want to convert more of the yard to producing fruit and vegetables organically and sustainably, using found and local materials for the infrastructure.

Patti Schiendelman, online author CRAFT/MAKE, Make:Books indexer/editor

The ChugMast’R

A mug with a tilt sensor that lights up increasingly as you empty it and goes crazy once you’ve drained it completely.  Great way to get kids to drink their milk, and also of possible value to fraternities.

Paul Spinrad, Projects Editor, MAKE

Mosaic Tabletop

I found a 3-foot-diameter metal table base at the free section of the dump. Bruce bought a piece of hardiboard (a waterproof and sturdy building material) and I’ve been smashing up a box of broken dishes and tiles and laying them out in circles on top of the board. A friend who runs an art studio is helping me adhere the china and tile pieces and then finally grout it. Of course I’m referring often to the article we ran in CRAFT, Volume 09!

Shawn Connally, Managing Editor, CRAFT

Post what YOU plan to make in 2009 – I’ll check the comments at the end of the day and pick a winner (We’ll send you out the very popular Maker’s notebook).

32 thoughts on “Not New Year’s resolutions – What are you going to MAKE? What we are making…

  1. racerabbit says:

    I’m going to turn an empty mini-tower computer case into a combination boot/glove dryer using scavenged cooling fans; and transform an old server case into an indoor herb nursery for my roommate’s summer garden (aka a “server farm”).

  2. failrate says:

    I’m going to combine an old optical mouse and some wood glue laminated cardboard to make a Fiddle Hero controller.

  3. Unx Yim says:

    In 2009, I will try to fine tune my MIDI instrument, Sound Brick( Although my Final Year Project is over for half year, but I still want to make it perfect. Since right now it just work for 6 brick in a chain. So I will try to make it perfect this year and fine tune my idea.

  4. Unx Yim says:

    In 2009, I will try to fine tune my MIDI instrument, Sound Brick( Although my Final Year Project is over for half year, but I still want to make it perfect. Since right now it just work for 6 brick in a chain. So I will try to make it perfect this year and fine tune my idea.

  5. Dako says:

    I would like to make a Nintendo DS Intervalometer for my DSLR :B I already got a flashcart for using homebrew, now I just need to figure out how to connect to the camera and write some software :B

    I actually want to make a lot of stuff, I recently bought a sewing machine for my crafty projects, add LEDs to my old GBA (from MAKE vol 6 :B), build a small photography studio, etc..


  6. Anonymous says:

    I would like to make a battle-worn prop gun/cannon a la such games as Fallout 3 and Bioshock (hooray for Retro-futuristic-postapocalyptic-dystopias!) with all the goodness custom dremeling will allow and the loving glow of many leds, and (if my budget doesnt disappear) a nifty little oled GUI with custom scifi bmps like sine waves/vu meter etc. Of course, my little project will have an unnecessary amount of small brass fixtures and knobs which serve no purpose other than to look awesome! Can’t wait!

  7. Daniel says:

    Oy, clicked “submit” too quickly! *above post is mine :)

  8. Mark W says:

    I want to make a year long timelapse movie from a mountain top I have access to, so I’m modifying an older camera to take power from a sealed lead acid battery, control the camera with an arduino, and then install the whole thing in a weather proof enclosure.

  9. icarus75 says:

    We will MAKE a series of blogposts on the Jokamajo site about our social energy metering application called Flukso. Flukso is based on a bunch open-source technolgies like Arduino, OpenWRT, Lua and Drupal. Check out our first blogpost descibing Flukso hardware at and the live application at We will also be MAKING a second iteration of the Flukso hard- and software in the next 365 days.

    Happy 2009 to everybody and keep on MAKING!

  10. Brent says:

    I’m resolving to complete my solenoid project this year. Scavenged dishwasher solenoids and assembled a voltage regulator board to allow an arduino to control the output of water through the valves. Essentially the valves fill the room with rain, and as a participant walks underneath the valves shut off leaving them dry, but standing in the middle of a shower.

    Seems like I’ve been working on this one for a long time, but I knew nothing about soldering, plumbing, electronics, blob detection prior to the project! If anyone’s interested, more of my project details are up on my blog.

    (BTW, anyone else having trouble with the OpenID login?)

  11. Cody says:

    I’m working on getting my jailbroken iPhone speaking to a pic microcontroller which I will then use as a touch screen interface in my Jeep to turn on and off the axle lockers, disconnecting sway bar, fog lights, onboard air compressor and hopefully eventually an OBDII interface so I can use my iPhone as a code reader.

    I can program the microcontroller side no problem but all the programming I’ve ever done in a computer has been in MATLAB so I’m starting from square one trying to teach myself how to write a program and front end GUI for the iPhone.

  12. lxmorj says:

    I have to add a motor to my arduino setup to make my keyless entry system finally functional, and when I move into my new apartment (finally somewhere I will be for more than a few months) I’ll be doing my own version of the MIT digital dormroom, as well as building a bar for the place. I’m hoping to make it fold out into a work table, so I can work on my projects, and then fold back up to be a bar.

  13. TallDarkandWeirdo says:

    The coming years calendar of horrors includes a kerosene lamp, a high volume low pressure air blower for my pipe organ projects, a proper woodworking bench with vices and dog holes, and a new cabinet for the freshly restored Singer treadle sewing machine in the craft room. Everybody have a productive year!

  14. Pete Marchetto says:
    I’m making this work again… and getting paid to do it!

  15. suidae says:

    I’m working on a project to monitor the power usage of my home and to transmit the data to the computer. It’s been in progress for months, but I keep getting distracted by tangential projects (Like getting Arduino running on the AVR Butterfly so I can use Arduino instead of AVR Studio).

  16. Bathroom Ceramic Tile says:

    Excellent! Great article, I already saved it to my favourite,

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