How-To: Make a Gadget Charger Stash Box

It’s so fascinating how cultural vectors work, how things seem to happen in clusters, how ideas tend to emerge from indie sources simultaneous. Last year, I was looking at my ridiculous glut of charging bases, dongles, cables, and the like. I started thinking about ways to minimize, standardize, organize. Then I saw an item in a DIY magazine about making a cabinet to hide all of this mess, then a commercial carrying case/power bar to do the same, at home and in the car. Now I’m seeing solutions everywhere. This latest one is simple and easy to make.

[Via Make]


Street Techie in Upcoming Washington Art Celebration

Street Tech pal, cheerleader, and muse Alberto Gaitán got a nice shout-out in the Washington Post yesterday as part of a piece on the various exhibitions and events going on in DC this spring to celebrate the Washington Color School of color field painting. The Phillips, the Hirshhorn, the Corcoran, and other galleries and orgs are planning events. 18th St is going to be repainted in stripes to honor Gene Davis (as it was in 1987 after his death in ’85).

Alberto’s piece, called “Remembrancer,” will be at the Curator’s Office on 14th St. and involve three robots that will translate sensor input collected from around the gallery into a color field work robo-painted over the course of a month.


Jamming with Breadboards

While poking around the Web, I bumped into this site for an experimental Japanese group called The Breadboard Band. They use (you guessed it) breadboards and basic electronic components to improvise audio and video works. Most of the site is, unfortunately (for us), in Japanese, but the images look cool and you can see video of their performances. It’s more fun to watch and listen to than you might think, but probably a hell of a lot more fun to participate in.

The D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition 3.0

As many of you may already know, I’m a big fan of the HipsterPDA. I’ve been using one for the last year and a half and still love it. I’ve been using the D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA, a series of printable 3×5 card forms. I haven’t been back to their site in a while and just discovered there’s a new set of cards, Version 3, which includes tons of variations on the themes of Notes, Calendars, Contacts, Projects, and even includes cool new cards like Story Boards, MindMaps, and Plot/Character trackers (over 80 cards in all). They also have cover designs and OpenOffice templates for creating your own cool covers. Sweet!


Clockwork Trilobite and Steampunk Nixie Tube POV

Our new cyberpal Jake von Slatt (whom I profile in an upcoming MAKE) has moved from Electrolytic Etching, which we covered a while back, to Electrolytic Machining (i.e. instead of just etching images onto the surface, etching all the way through the brass). He’s put up a two-part tutorial detailing the process, first trying his hand at a three-layer “clockwork trilobite” (which turned out looking a little like the Antikythera Mechanism), then trying to make individual parts using a thinner brass stock.

Herr von Slatt is also responsible for sending Boing Boing the link to the Flickr set for jonny5rd’s awesome retro-chic Persistence of Vision (POV) viewer, built from a US$5 POV toy, an X-Acto knife case, and a few other misc parts. Very cool.


First Meeting of Athanasius Kircher Society

I was so wanting to make it to the Inaugural Meeting of the Athanasius Kircher Society, but wasn’t able to get it together. Phi Torrone of MAKE described is thusly: “What an exciting creepy cool evening New York city experienced!” Sounds like my idea of a good time! MAKE co-sponsored the event and is going to be sending to mag subscribers a copy of “Athanasius Kircher’s Magnetic Clock” book. Can’t wait. MAKE has a short piece on the event and some Flickr pics. If you haven’t bookmarked the Society’s website, check it out. It’s one of my new favorite sites.


Don’t Forget, Kids: It’s Learn to Solder Month!

Seems like we stumbled over some converging geek cultural vectors with our Thumbnail Guide to Soldering. It came out at the same time that Bre Pettis was working on MAKE’s solder how-to netcast. They made our Guide into a PDF to travel with the netcast and we’re still getting crazy links o’ love on the Web version. And now, Instructables has declared January “Learn to Solder Month.” They have a page on their site with soldering resources, links to beginner solder projects, and if you post an Instructable geared towards beginner solderers this month, they’ll send you an Instructables patch you can sew onto your Star Fleet uniform, Robot Wars team jumpsuit, or other geekly attire of choice.

But the important thing is to fire up that iron and start polluting the upper and lower atmospheres in earnest. And if you have any questions related to soldering, don’t be afraid to ask.

BTW: I’m working on our next Thumbnail Guide now. It’ll be on Breadboarding. Stay tuned…


How-To: Replace a PC Power Supply

I know plenty of PC users who have ventured as far inside the entrails of their machines as installing extra RAM, a new DVD drive, and maybe a graphics card, but who wouldn’t think of venturing further, to say, replace a motherboard or a fried power supply. These and other seemingly gnarly hardware upgrades are not that much more challenging, if you’re halfway sober when you’re doing it and you carefully follow decent instructions. Lifehacker’s Rick Broida offers such instruction for replacing a power supply in today’s Alpha Geek column.

He’s got some good tips in there, like taking “before” pics of the existing installation to make sure you hook everything up properly with the new power unit. Such uses for digital cameras can’t be stressed enough. We all have the damn things on our phones, on our belts, but rarely think to use them as a memory jogger/reference keeper (at least I don’t).


How-To: Build BEAM Vibrobots

Back in September, I wrote a piece on Zach Debord’s awesome Twin-Engine Solarroller which uses a variation on the Type 1 Solar Engine I’ve written about in my BEAM Robots series for MAKE. I asked Zach to collaborate with me on another Street Tech Feature, this one on Vibrobots, a type of BEAMbot that uses the same type of Solar Engine (with a Flashing LED as a voltage trigger), is easy to build, and really entertaining to watch. Enjoy…