Make: 72 – Lock it Down!

As devices get smarter, they — and the companies that created them — gather more and more data about you, the user: what you like, where you go, even listening to and recording conversations around the house. It’s easy to gloss over how much data is getting stored in “the cloud” everyday without you knowing, but with a little effort, you don’t have to trade privacy for functionality.

In this issue of Make:, we address this head-on. We’ll show you how to set up your own DIY voice assistants using free and private tools that keep your data local while performing your favorite tasks. You can even run one on a Raspberry Pi! Then, configure a WebThings gateway from Mozilla to keep your IoT gadgets connected but private. And if you still can’t give up Alexa’s bells and whistles, at least consider assembling the Alias Privacy Parasite, which lets you decide when Alexa gets to listen in.

The issue also continues our Fix the Planet series with a set of guidelines on effective ways to electrify your cars and homes to slash your carbon output (and save you money along the way). 

Plus, 17 exciting projects, including:

  • Convert any bike to electric with a front wheel motor kit
  • Make your needlework come alive with embroidery animation
  • Tips on converting a metal lathe to CNC with free software
  • Grow vegan leather for projects and cosplay
  • And much more!

On the Cover: Keep your voice assistant and smart home data to yourself with private-by-design tools.

Table of Contents


Reader Input

Notes from readers like you. Page 06

Welcome: Can’t Hide These Spyin’ Eyes

With ever-expanding layers of digital connectedness, privacy is increasingly an afterthought. Page 07

Made on Earth

Backyard builds from around the globe.Page 08


The Rebble Alliance

With server shutdowns looming, a group of Pebble enthusiasts battled to keep their beloved smartwatches operational.Page 26

Marvel of Miscellany

St. Louis’ City Museum is a hands-on, DIY wonderland for everyone.Page 32

Privacy by Design

The Cost of Convenience

Commercial voice assistants and smart homes log more personal data than you may realize. If you want ownership over your own info, you’ve got to DIY it.Page 36

Open Source Voice for Makers

Command your own voice assistant without Big Tech and data snoops listening in, using free and private tools.Page 38

Paralyzing Privacy Parasite

Plop it on top of Alexa or Google assistants to block their eavesdropping and custom-command all their functions.Page Tore Knudsen and Bjorn Karmann

Your Own Private Smart Home

Keep your IoT gadgets private and your data safe with a DIY Mozilla WebThings gateway on a Raspberry Pi.Page 50

Hey, Mycroft

Open source and private, this voice assistant works great on a Raspberry Pi.Page 58

Face Jam

Keep clear from facial recognition algorithms with these methods. Page 62


Boost That Bike!

Convert any bike to electric with an easy front wheel motor kit, then zip around practically carbon free.Page 64

The Modular Fiddle

3D-print a bright-sounding, go-anywhere acoustic violin, and experiment with instrument design. Page 72

Lathe Lessons Learned

Converting a Jet metal lathe to CNC with free software — and a few hardware misfires.Page 76

1+2+3: An Adordable Fuzzball

Help save the galaxy with this easy, pocket-sized Wookiee.Page 84

The Negotiator

Carry this fully functional arcade machine anywhere in its integrated, foldable case.Page 86

The Gift of Giving

Like its little-library cousin, a “give box” offers a spot to share and borrow items of all sorts.Page 92

Skill Builder

Growing Leather

Use kombucha to make this versatile vegan textile in your kitchen. Page 110

Get in Gear

Learn the options for transmitting movement in your mechanical projects.Page 116



Gear up with the latest tools and kits for makers. Page 122

Over the Top

Oklahoma, We Have a Problem

An abandoned cement mixer becomes space age art in this unique piece of roadside Americana.Page 128