Make: Volume 73 — Makers Combating Covid-19

The Covid-19 crisis has been a defining moment for the maker movement. Groups and individuals are designing and producing personal protective equipment like face shields and masks, forming grassroots organizations to deliver equipment to medical professionals, and engaging with doctors and nurses to improve the designs and materials they’re producing.

We’re calling this civic response from makers all over the world “Plan C,” the backup plan for the backup plan. In this issue we highlight the Plan C people and projects that have driven the maker response and saved lives, and show the DIY PPE you can make to help your community too.

We also showcase projects and tips to get you through shelter-in-place orders, like building a 20-second musical hand soap dispenser, transitioning to homeschooling, and delving into webcasting tech. And there are a few kid-friendly projects to help your parents keep your sanity.

Plus, over 39 projects including:

  • Build a mini jacob’s ladder
  • Make a fully functional cell phone with a rotary dial
  • Tell time with a unique “rewrite” clock using sequins
  • and much more! 

On the Cover: Physiotherapist Marine Sacco wears a snorkel mask modified with a 3D printed adapter to fit an air filter, while working in a Covid unit of a Belgian hospital. Credits: Albert De Beir–VUB/Brubotics, Adobe Stock–korkeng (background), and Mike Senese (cell phone).

Table of Contents


Reader Input

Notes from readers like you. Page 06

Welcome: Everything’s Changed

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all, and made us rethink this issue right before our deadline.Page 08

Made on Earth

Backyard builds from around the globe.Page 10


New Power Nation

How we’ll remake America’s infrastructure to electrify everything. Part 3 of the Fix Our Planet series.Page 16

Native Optimization

The Diné Maker Nation Maker Faire highlighted the high-tech future of the Navajo Nation. Page 22

Combating COVID-19

Makers: The Countermeasures for Covid-19

Self-organizing efforts and a widely distributed infrastructure provided for a unique civic response from makers to fight Covid-19. Here are the groups, people, and designs that are saving lives. Page 28

Homeschool How-To

A quick primer for families now educating their kids at home. Page 46

Community Broadcast Services

Watch and create your own virtual classes and webinars with these tech tools. Page 50

Homesteading Is the New Normal

Brush up on your self-sufficiency skills to overcome staple shortages.Page 54

Pump Up the Jams

Zap coronavirus with the Scrubber, a Spotify-playing, 20-second hand-wash timer. Page 56

Low Fidelity Prototyping Cart

Create a collection of common materials to help you keep on making while sheltered in place.Page 60

Family Maker Camp

Cooped Up With the Kids

Keep everyone engaged, entertained, and educated with Family Maker Camp, live now!Page 62

Easy Family Projects to Do at Home

A collection of past Make: projects you can probably make with stuff already lying around the house. Page 68


Digital Revolution

Take a break from your touchscreen and dial up your friends the traditional way on this rotary cell phone. Page 72

My Monkey Companion Bot

Build a fun robot monkey you can customize, wear with you on adventures, or use as an avatar. Page 78

Backyard Wind Power

Make a simple generator that powers your small projects from the breeze. .Page 84

Mini Jacob’s Ladder

This pocket-sized ladder is easy to make for just $20. You’ll be rewarded with a real high-voltage eye-catcher. Page 90


How one maker made a unique “rewrite” clock with Arduino, CNC, and sequins. Page 96

Comprehending Capacitors

A capacitor stores electricity, as you will see in this experiment from our book, Easy Electronics. Page 100

Pick and Pull PC Projects

Three fun projects you can build with salvaged computer parts. Page 104

Toy Inventor’s Notebook: Don’t Drop Your Bot!

High-tech fabrication meets low-tech play action. Page 110

1+2+3: Mini Ground Effect Vehicles

Experiment with the world’s lowest-flying aircraft. Page 112

Skill Builder

Green Grain Glazes

Study up on quality woodworking finishes that won’t destroy the world. Page 114

MIDI for Makers

The 38-year-old standard for musical instrument interfacing is still a useful tool for tunes and art alike. Page 118



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