Make: Volume 87 — Beasty Boards

Boards are back and more powerful than ever! With fresh offerings from Arduino and Raspberry Pi and powerhouse boards like DFRobot’s LattePanda Sigma and Nvidia’s Jetson Orin Nano, it’s easier than ever to put epic computing power for your next project in the palm of your hand.

In this issue of Make: we track new trends in microcontrollers and single board computers, and show you the ones we’re most excited about. And if you still can’t find the right board for you, we show you how to design and manufacture your own custom chips for cheap! Next, use machine learning and Particle to automagically unmute your mic when someone says “You’re muted!” Then, use a Waveshare RP2040 board to build a mini oscilloscope for your workbench for about $25.

Annual Boards Guide: Meet the hottest new boards, and compare specs for 80+ microcontrollers and single board computers in our annual comparison guide

Plus, 31 projects:

  • Craft an illuminated, animated, tessellated tote bag using LED pebble lights and 3D-printed fabric
  • Build an optical transmitter for covert communication
  • Sew a soft touch panel matrix for wearable electronics
  • Super-size classic wooden Froebel blocks for a fun playground experience
  • Harvest disposable vape batteries and give e-waste a 2nd life
  • Build a metal detector circuit, 3D print a Kirby fume extractor, or laser-cut an emoji fortune teller
  • And much more!

Table of Contents


From the Editor’s Desk

Tips, tributes, tidings, and tweets from readers like you and members of our worldwide community.Page 06

Welcome: Reaping the Fields of Ingenuity

What a difference a year has made. Almost 200 boards were vying for a spot in our new 2024 guide.Page 08

Made on Earth

Backyard builds from around the globe.Page 10


A Model Modern Makerspace

How Vienna’s thriving Happylab is helping other makerspaces succeed.Page 10


The Briefcase of a Laser Spy

Amateur scientist Forrest Mims recounts his laser eavesdropping adventures with the National Enquirer.Page 20

Disarm a Drone

Invasive drones are snooping everywhere. Here’s how they can be defeated.Page 26

Hiding in Plain Sight

Send secret messages invisibly over light waves with your own optical covert channel.Page 30

Raspberry Spy Streamer Cam

Surveil your domain and stream it to Twitch, YouTube, or a private RTMP server.Page 36

The Art of Surveillance

Provocative tech artist Dries Depoorter exposes the many ways you’re being watched.Page 42

Beasty Boards

Boards Are Back

With shortages behind us, behold a new ecosystem of go-to gadgets, specialized boards, all-in-one hybrids, and high-power beasts!Page 46

DIY Silicon!

Yes, now you can design and manufacture your own custom chips — for cheap.Page 50

“You’re Muted”

Oops! Use machine learning to automagically unmute your mic when anyone utters the immortal phrase.Page 54


Build a useful mini oscilloscope for about 25 bucks!Page 58

Make: Guide to Boards 2024

Check out specs and hands-on reviews of the latest microcontrollers and single-board computers. 80+ boards for you to compare!Page


Bag to the Future

Build an illuminated, animated, tessellated tote using LED pebble lights and 3D-printed fabric.Page 66

Ginormous Froebel Blocks

Super-size a classic teaching toy and put the play back in playground.Page 76

Join the Air Movement!

Build your own “Corsi box” air purifiers to battle viruses, wildfire smoke, and indoor air pollution.Page 82

Squishy Tech: The Soft Matrix

Make soft touch pads and panels in conductive fabric to control wearables, LEDs, and more.Page 88

Electronic Fun & Fundamentals: Change Sensor

Find lost coins and other treasures by building this DIY metal detector circuit.Page 94

Very Sucky

Print a portable mini fume extractor, and solder more safely anywhere. (Kirby optional.)Page 98

Hack Your Toothbrush

Part 1: Salvage tiny motors from discarded electric toothbrushes and use them for fun projects!Page 102

Harvest Disposable Vape Batteries

Give these trendy products destined for e-waste a second life to power your projects.Page 106

Toy Inventor’s Notebook: Mystic Emoji Fortune Teller

Make this pocket-sized prognosticator and ask away!Page 110

Skill Builder

Tiles and Tessellations

Want to design interlocking geometric surfaces? A little trigonometry has you covered.Page 112

Serious Soldering

Banish bad habits and solder like a boss with an inexpensive temperature-controlled iron.Page 118



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

Over the Top

To the Stars and Back

A secret manned mission to Mars was lost to space in 1969. Or was it?Page 128