Best of MAKE: My Ten For 2011

Best of MAKE: My Ten For 2011

I took some free time over the break to review the stuff I covered last year and pick out about 50 personal faves. Then I went back through that list and produced this highly unscientific “Top 10” by bubble sort. Looking at it, now, I’ve learned some things about my own taste:

  1. I like projects that do a lot with a little.
  2. I like projects that use familiar materials and processes in new, unexpected, and/or clever ways.
  3. I like scratchbuilt models of giant guns that shoot nuclear bullets.

Except, perhaps, for #3, I know I’m not alone on these, and I think you’ll enjoy looking over this list as much as I enjoyed making it. Thanks, as always, for reading and here’s looking forward to another great year!


Small Screw Top Capsules from Plastic Bottle Caps, Necks

I went a little nuts making these, and now have about a dozen. I knew it was time to move on when I found myself choosing beverages at the grocery store based on the shape and color of their bottle caps.


Lemon Hand Grenades

I made something very like these myself, once, but using a piece of real fruit. Also, I like the idea of taking something as generally tasteless and useless as fake fruit and making it into something, while perhaps equally useless, is at least 400% cooler.



How-To: Ultralight Camp Pot from Heineken “Keg” Can

One of several “upcycling” posts that appear in this list, though I now rather cringe to use that word. I’m as green as the next guy, but I’ve figured out that I like projects like this not because they are somehow “eco-friendly,” but because it’s cheap to make stuff out of trash, and because doing so imposes a lot of constraints that force you to come up with clever solutions. And once you’ve figured it out, it’s easy for pretty much anyone else, anywhere, to go and do likewise.


Scratchbuilt: M65 Atomic Cannon

See rule #3, above.


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Car Tire Pottery Wheel


Circuit Tree

I’ve always wanted to design a PCB where the traces were both functional, within the circuit, and also arranged to create a pleasing visual design. This “Circuit Tree” etching is non-functional, but it’s headed in the right direction.


Ultra Simple 360 Degree Photo Hack

A reflective tree ornament, a digital camera, and a piece of open source software combined to enable one-shot panoramic photographs using materials most folks probably have just lying around.


How-To: Form Fitting Case, Drawer Liners from Old T-shirts, Canned Foam


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Harvard’s $14 Swarm Bot Design

We are constantly talking about this “Kilobot” low-cost swarm robot design in our weekly conference calls. Swarm robotics is a fascinating area, but when it comes to real-world applications that require hundreds or thousands of identical robots, cost per unit becomes a huge problem. Designing the most useful and versatile swarm-bot for the lowest possible cost is exactly the kind of problem I like.


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Pico Projector + Light Fixture + Free Code = Desktop Spherical Display

This post was inspirational to me in a lot of ways. The marriage of Gorillapod, Pico Projector, and ceiling light fixture globe to create a desktop spherical display is a pretty brilliant improvisation. Plus it makes a great excuse to buy one of those pocket video projectors.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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