The MIT Hobby Shop and early signs of the maker movement

A look inside the history of the Hobby Shop.

The MIT Hobby Shop was founded 75 years ago by a group of students who wanted to make things, who wanted to bring their ideas into the real world. The Shop has changed considerably over the years, but it still relies heavily on peer-to-peer teaching and an interdepartmental approach.

In the 1937-38 academic year, Vannevar Bush, then Vice President of MIT, granted a group of 16 MIT students permission to use a room in the basement of building 2. With equipment they found around the Institute they set up a wood and metal shop in the 16-foot by 22-foot area. The club members chose the name “Hobby Shop” based on their belief in the philosophy that the well rounded individual pursued interests outside their profession – hobbies.

Read more about the history of the Hobby Shop on their site.

Via MAKE


Taylor Gilbert is a proponent of creative technology including Arduino, Processing, and repurposed hardware. Follow him @taylor_gilbert

Tap your foot to set a beat with drum effects using Arduino

You tap your foot, Arduino does the rest.

Beat Feet was concieved, designed, and prototyped in four days by a team participating in MIT Media Labs Design Innovation workshop at PESIT Bangalore. The project uses a sensor attached to the bottom of a shoe to control the tempo of MIDI drum affects. The idea is to allow musicians to add and control a background rhythm while continuing to play their instrument (presumably not a drum).
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A soft circuit textile interface using Arduino

The Nama, a textile-based instrument.

The Nama Instrument is a textile-based interface that uses a Lilypad Arduino and 5 Lilypad Accelerometers to wirelessly control custom software. The project was made by Luiz Zanotello for his BA graduation project in Design from Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil.

The software shown in the video demonstrations generate music and animation based on how the instrument is handled, but Zanotello proposes that input from the Nama could be used for other applications as well.
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A 3D printed, Raspberry Pi-powered, remote control snow blower

The Snow Droid X, in progress.

Technically speaking, winter is over, but someone forgot to tell the weather around here. If we’re going to keep having winter, we might as well enjoy it in true maker fashion with a Rasberry Pi-powered snow blower from Kris Kortright.

Unlike projects intended for use in the mild climate of a living room, the “Snow Droid” is designed to endure the slightly less hospitable environment of winter and all that entails. The camera and servos are all special watertight models, and the 3D printed head of the snow blower (shown in green) is designed to have water, wind, and impact resistance.

The first picture after the jump shows the unmodified Snapper 24″ Snow Blower used as the starting point of the project. The rest show details of the head and control system (being tested with an Arduino). As of the last update, this project was still in process, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on it.
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Opensource Craft Camera

Build your own DIY Arduino camera!

The Craft Camera is a collaboration by Coralie Gourguechon, electronics engineer Stéphane Delbruel, Graphic Designer Laura Messaglio, and maker-space Tetalab.
The project is based on the theme Low-Tech Vs. Hi-Tech, in response to in-built obselence in many consumer products to limit the product life-span to encourage consumers to continually upgrade. Rather,  the materials used and accessibility of open source design encourages Craft Camera users to repair and upgrade the camera themselves rather. (more…)

Connect your Arduino to the cellular network with the new GSM shield

Control and communicate with your next project with your cell phone.

Arduino has just released their new GSM shield that allows your Arduino to make and receive calls and text messages. You can even control specific functions of your project by text. Light up a LED, turn on a motor, all via cell phone. This isn’t the first time someone has figured out how to Arduino to the cellular network, but now it’s easier than ever before. This is very nearly a plug-and-play device.
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The ultimate Arduino-based cat litter box

The litter box of kings.

This litter box was made by Greg Leisure with the help of an Arduino. It is quite possibly the most elaborate cat litter box ever built. Even calling it a litter box seems disrespectful. It’s more like a litter house. Or a litter condo. It has it all, all the bells and whistles a cat or cat owner could want. Lights with motion sensors? Check. Both sound and smell dampeners? Check. Automatically-triggered fans? Naturally. Automatic Lysol dispensers? Of course.
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A DIY digital camera made with cardboard and an Arduino

A simple, open source camera you can make at home.

Photographer Product Designer Coralie Gourguechon made the Craft Camera as a way of countering the “planned obsolescence and complexity of electronic products.” All of the components are open source, and the design has a Creative Commons license.

The major components, in addition to an Arduino UNO, are a lithium battery pack, a Snootlab SD card Arduino shield, and a JPEG color camera TTL interface. The design for the case can be printed onto cardboard, cut out with a utility knife, and glued together. More detailed information is available on the project’s open source page, but the code and detailed plans are, unfortunately, not yet available. The site says they will be “released soon,” so be sure to check back later.
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A functional mini plotter made with cardboard, glue, wire, and tape

Mechanical inventiveness at its best.

If you want to see if you truly understand how a mechanical system works, try making it out of cardboard. Artist Niklas Roy led the construction of a series of cardboard computers, including this plotter, as part of an electronic media class at the School of Art and Design, Offenbach. Watch the video above to see the remarkable sophistication of this mechanical computer.
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The $250 Arduino-powered prosthetic hand made by a teen

Arduino, 3D printing, and clever engineering result in an affordable prosthesis.

Easton LaChappelle has made a series of continuously improving robotic hands. The first, which he made at age 14, won 3rd place at the Colorado state science fair, and the second, which we previously covered, won 2nd place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the top science fair in the USA. At the Colorado fair he met a little girl who wore an $80,000 prosthetic arm, and he was convinced he could do better.
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