Royal Institute Christmas Lectures: How to Hack Your Home

The Royal Institute Christmas Lectures are all about inspiring children, as they are the future scientists, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs.  This year the lectures are titled Sparks Will Fly: How to hack your home. This evening was the first of the 2014 series of lectures.  This one was about lightbulbs and showing how these can be combined to create screens:

Danielle George looks at the light bulb to show how to hack, adapt and transform technologies found in the home to have fun and make a difference to the world.

If you missed tonight’s episode, you can still watch it again on BBC iPlayer:

There are two more episodes in the series:

30/12/2014Danielle George looks at how to hack, adapt and transform using a phone’s technology.

31/12/2014Danielle George attempts to use simple motors to construct the greatest robot orchestra.


Sea Glass Jewelry?

Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve been thinking about getting outside in the fresh air. However, I’m not normally in the habit of doing something without a good reason to do it.  So I had to come up with a reason for going outside.  With Guernsey being surrounded by the sea I figured I’d head out to the beaches and see what I could find in the way of sea glass.

Sea glass are bottles, jars, etc. that have been discarded into the sea and have been broken and smoothed by the action of waves on stones and sand.  The following pictures show what I was able to find on just two trips:


I’m not really an artistic person, so I’m unlikely to use it myself.  I’ll probably donate it to people that come along to Make Space once it’s set up.  If you want to get your hands on it, sign up to the newsletter.  I would love for an artist to be able to make something beautiful from these items which someone else considered to be junk.

3D Printing Artificial Blood Vessels

Did you think that 3D printing was all about hobbyists sat at home in their garages printing out poor quality models and toys in plastic?  Well think again!

Makers around the world have been taking designs for open source 3D printers and adapting them to print with pretty much any paste substance.  Want to print ceramics? You got it! Icing sugar? Of course you can! What about silicone? Easy peasy!

Of course, being able to print with these substances is only the first step. Once that’s possible is then a case of re-imagining what these can be used for.

Take the example of printing with sugar.  Scientists in the USA dared to think the impossible and tried to have a go at printing artificial blood vessels.  The sugar is printed in a lattice network which is then immersed in a gel enriched with liver cells. Once the gel is set the sugar lattice is washed away with water to produce the vessels through the gel through which oxygen and nutrient enriched fluid is pumped.

Now that’s thinking outside the box!

123D Circuits from Autodesk

I’ve been reading the (audio) book The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch.  This book is pretty much a blueprint for workshop that we’re in the process of setting up in Guernsey.  Many of the case studies are taken from Techshop, a chain of maker workshops across the USA, of which he is CEO. Throughout the book he makes reference to Autodesk software, which is used for designing products to be machined on CNC and laser cutter machines, etc.

My experience of Autodesk is of AutoCAD and, at £1500, isn’t really designed for the hobbyist maker.  However, what I was reading indicated that Autodesk may have a range of software aimed at makers.  That’s exactly what I found in the 123D apps.

This evening I’ve been playing around with 123D Circuits.  This is a web app that allows you to build virtual electronics circuits.  It’s even got support for Arduino boards!  To test this out, I took a simple example project for Arduino, an electronic die, and tried to build it in 123D Circuits.  This is the result:

This is a really great way to get started with Arduino, without having to spend a penny on buying one for yourself.

Rest assured, once Make Space is up and running, we’ll have Arduinos available for playing and prototyping.  So get a head start with testing out your ideas in 123D Circuits now!

Makey Makey: An Invention Kit for Everyone

Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World.

Banana Piano
Makey Makey: Banana Piano

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween:

Hack a Banana, Make a Keyboard!

Why can’t two slices of pizza be used as a slide clicker? Why shouldn’t you make music with ketchup? In this charming talk, inventor Jay Silver talks about the urge to play with the world around you. He shares some of his messiest inventions, and demos MaKey MaKey, a kit for hacking everyday objects.