Fetch-O-Matic: Automatic Ball Launcher

Several years ago I watched a viral YouTube video that starred Jerry the Dachshund, whose engineer owner had built him his very own automated ball launcher. I had two dogs at the time, and was also unemployed with some time on my hands, so I decided to try my hand... Read more »

Gigantic Bubble Generator

When I read the Geekcon 2010 call for projects, I thought, what the hack — I’ll do it. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I decided to let creativity into my life, and start inventing things. I watched Sterling Johnson’s magnificent “Giant Stinson Beach Bubbles” clip on YouTube, and... Read more »

Lunchbox Laser Shows

Back in the 1970s, my friend Wayne Gillis and I used to do light shows at science fiction conventions. We had the usual panoply of overhead, slide, and custom-made projectors, and a single, very expensive, helium-neon laser from Edmund Scientific. Calling ourselves Light Opera, and later, Illuminatus, we performed at... Read more »

The Autophenakistoscope

Motorize a phenakistoscope, a 19th-century parlor novelty that preceded motion pictures, and keep its frames synched to an LED strobe by using a sensor and an Arduino microcontroller. Invented in 1832 by Joseph Plateau, this device creates a moving picture from a sequence of stills arranged on a spinning disk... Read more »