Feed Your Inner Maker

I think we have all seen a TED Talk or three in our lifetime.  TED speakers are leaders in their respective fields and rarely fail to amuse and amaze.  These, in my opinion, are a few talks that are a must-see for builders, makers, and creatives of all kinds. Whether you need to find inspiration or you just need to be entertained you will find something in this list.

First, I have to mention is this talk about what we can learn from spaghetti sauce.  This was my introduction to Malcolm Gladwell and sent me down the rabbit hole.  This writer of “The Tipping Point”, “David and Goliath”, and “Outliers” gives several great talks but this is still my favorite. Continue reading

Rube Goldberg DoorBell Lives


I finally got my rube goldberg doorbell into an installable state. On the left is the door button detector. It is an ESP8266 ESP-07 making use of the U.FL connector to allow the WiFi signal to punch through from my basement to the 2nd floor where the router is located. On the right is another ESP8266 and a doorbell transformer. Just barely peaking out from under that module is an actual doorbell.

A key aspect of the system is that the door button module doesn’t communicate directly with the door bell module. Both modules log into a Mosquitto MQTT broker. The button module “publishes” events on the MQTT topic of “DoorBell” and the bell module subscribes to the MQTT topic of DoorBell. Later, I can split the topic names and have something like OpenHAB conditionally copy events from one topic to the other depending on the time of day. OpenHAB can also translate MQTT events to a service like Notify My Android so that my phone buzzes in response to a door button push.

I am excited to install this at home and see how it does!

Kids Make the Darndest Things

Our maker world is full of dangerous things like power tools, computers, and stuff that blows up to make awesome projects; things that no child should be using (normally), but that does not need to stop your child from working on a project of their own.  Here we will see examples of young makers and projects that us, more experienced makers, can do with them.  After all kids can make the darndest things.

My list for amazing kids is long and at the top is my very own nephew, Nate.  Endlessly fascinated by science and the human body he, with some help from his father, has started a podcast.  At the mature age of 5 he is interviewing scientists from all over the country.  Covering topics from cell biology to Santa, this small scientist will knock your socks off.  Each episode ends with him telling his dad he can stop the recording now and it’s the most adorable thing ever.

The Show About Science

Follow Nate on twitter


A great way to get your young scientist started is in the kitchen.  Your kitchen is the lab you use every day to change the state of things from liquid to gas, and excite molecules in all sorts of ways.  If you’re like me, you’ll want to brush up on your own kitchen science with a few episodes of Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats“.  Once that is done grab your mini lab partner and get cooking.  Here is a link to some fun experiments to get you started.

Kitchen Experiments


Projects for young makers don’t have to stay confined to the kitchen.  From electronics to kite building there are lots of ways to keep them in the shop and away from the television.  The best way is to start with the basics and learning  the hand full of essential skills every maker needs.  Here are a few helpful links for you and your small maker.

Skills Every Young Maker Needs

Projects for Young Makers


So get out there fellow makers and help make the next generation great while making great memories!

Maker Inspiration

Thinking about starting a new project?  Your going to need some motivation and inspiration to get started.  The problem is that the internet is a big place, and often makers ask where is a good site to find fun projects and inspiration.  These are a few of the spots I use regularly to find new approaches and techniques for my next project.  Everything from step by step guides which get the maker-juices flowing to TED talks that get me thinking different.

Make Magazine:

First lets talk about the elephant in the room; one of the largest resources for makers everywhere is Make magazine, which has been publishing articles in print and digital form since 2005. This gives them a solid name (and market) in the world of Making. Covering everything from wood working to Arduino programming you will find plenty of projects that will take you down the make-rabbit hole.  Their step by step guides are easy to follow and well written; including parts and tool lists to make sure you finish with something to show off to your friends and family.

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The nerd in me can’t write about maker project inspiration with out talking about Adafruit.  Adafruit is a distributor and creator of all things ardino and raspberry pi.  Not only can you find just about any component for your breadboard but they will also show you how to get started.  Learn.adafruit is full of videos and step by step guides to teach you how to add bluetooth, LED’s and more to your next build- big or small.  Each tutorial features links to parts right on one page, so getting started is easy.

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I consider my self to be an avid pinner.  It’s rare that I start or finish a project with out a few hours on Pinterest.  There is almost nothing you can’t find after using their search feature; amazing design and ingenuous engineering will quickly fill your pinning feed with tons of ideas.  The downside is that you will find less step by step guides and more general inspiration, though some pins will take you to the sites with simple to detailed directions – so clicking the link may be worth a try.  Woodturning, Metal Casting, and paper crafts are just some of the things you will find to get you started.

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There are countless podcasts about making things, some good and some dismal; however at the top of my list is a podcast on the TWIT network called “Know How”.  The two hosts are great and the production quality is second to none.  It’s more like a show on network television than a show you watch on your mobil device. You would be a ‘twit’ not to check them out when looking for inspiration.

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