Make: 43 — Wires and Threads


Electronics shrink. Power requirements lessen. Capabilities compound. Processing speeds skyrocket. Interfacing options multiply. Today’s microcontrollers and microsized computers greatly surpass those of even just a year ago, making almost any project feasible. And some of the hottest projects right now come from the world of wearables.

What is a wearable, exactly? Some call the space “wearable electronics,” others “wearable computing.” We see it as something far broader than that. Wearable technology can be advanced electronic sensors and displays combined with everyday apparel, like Io Flament’s brainwave-sensing beanie (see page 60) and Jonathan Cook’s Open-Source Smartwatch (page 54), but it also includes the futuristic under-the-skin projects of a few daring body augmenters (page 53), as well as the mechanical technology in Keahi Seymour’s Bionic Boots (page 44).

In this issue of Make: we guide you through these examples and more. But first we’ll explain all the latest trends in electronics prototyping boards — including advanced wireless communication protocols — and which boards to keep an eye on. All of them smaller and more powerful than ever. Plus, build a Shishi Odoshi fountain to scare away animals from your garden, make two(!) R/C airplanes that are great for beginning pilots, capture stunning close-up photos with a microscope and a smartphone, and install a climbing wall in your backyard that doubles as a play structure.




Table of Contents



Page 08

Reader Input

Page 09

Fully Immersed

Meet the creator of Nomiku, the connected sous vide stick.Page 11

The Worst Maker in the Room

Too much planning leaves too little time for making.Page 12

Made on Earth

Explore the amazing world of backyard technology.Page 14

Over the Top

Finely crafted medieval battle armor ... for cats.Page 112

Special Section

Wires & Threads

Take a look at the latest wearable tech trends and the boards that power them.Page 20

A Smorgas-Board

Wearables and IoT are driving diversity in the microcontroller market.Page 22

Photographic Memory

Teach Intel’s Edison to spot faces in images using OpenCV.Page 28

DIY Conductive Ink

Mix up a homemade batch using some basic chemistry skills.Page 30

Body Boards

Overview of wearable microcontrollers.Page 35

Projects on the Runway

This is what happens when Make: hosts a fashion show in New York.Page 36

What to Sense

How to select and use sensors in wearable electronics. Page 38

4 Fun Flora Projects

Bring your sci-fi fantasies to life with this sewable board. Page 42

Helping Hands

Nicolas Huchet created a 3D-printed robotic prosthetic hand — for himself.Page 48


Subdermal devices are the cutting edge in wearables.Page 53

Open-Source Smartwatch

Build a connected watch from off-the-shelf components and breakout boards.Page 54

Captivating Couture

From mood-sensing displays to stunning light shows, the future of fashion is here.Page 56

Mind-Reading Beanie

Make an EEG hat that translates your brainwaves into colored light.Page 60

Get Your GIF On

Download animated GIFs to a 16×16 LED matrix and wear your favorites. Page 61


DIY “Magic Shell” Chocolate Dip

Magically hardens in seconds — easy to make in minutes!Page 65

Dirty Dish Detector

Use real-time computer vision software to track dish pile-ups.Page 66

Maker Trainer R/C Airplanes

Build easy R/C airplanes with this video tutorial series.Page 68

Smart Rat Trap

Arduino + desperation = 21-stcentury rodent control.Page 72

Build-a-Bin Customizable Picking Bins

Design custom-sized bins, then cut them by laser or by hand. Page 78

3 Fun Things to CNC

The folks from Othermill give us their fave projects to route.Page 79

Remaking History

Use safe, common chemicals to make DIY fire retardants.Page 84

When Projects Fail

How a project gone wrong led to a career in science and tech.Page 86

Sure-Fire Projects for Young Makers

How to make full-body stop-motion animation. Page 88

3D Printer Hacks and Mods

Get the most from your 3D printer.Page 92

Toy Inventorʼs Notebook

Make a magic, moving Valentine’s Day card. Page 93


Digital Potentiometer

Create patterns in light and sound — no microcontroller necessary.Page 94

Extreme Zoom

Capture stunning close-ups with a microscope and phone.Page 98

How to Use a Breadboard

An illustrated guide.Page 100


Tool Reviews

Recommendations for unique and useful maker tools, toys, and materials.Page 102

New Maker Tech

On the horizon for electronic accessories.Page 105


Text tools for your bench or bedside table.Page 106