Author Archives: Chris Connors

About Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

Didgeridoo Mouthpiece ReDo

Recently, I’ve had a chance to take another go at making didgeridoo mouthpieces. A friend gave me her candle making gear, which included a bunch of wax from candles, and an electric hot pot. The hot pot is great, because you don’t have to keep replacing the hot water of the double boiler to maintain the molten wax. Above, you can see the new video, with a demonstration of the techniques for applying the wax to the mouthpiece. Continue reading

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Solar Experimentation

Garden lights have an interesting circuit. When you buy them in the store, they may turn on their LED when light hits the solar cells as they did for me. After you pull the tab out, and connect the battery to the circuit, they only light the LED when the solar cell is in the dark. Inside the housing of the walkway lantern is a small circuit board between the solar cell and the battery. This circuit keeps the LED from using up the electricity from the solar cell during the day, and when the input voltage falls below a threshold, the electricity stored in the battery is sent out to do the work of lighting the LED. Continue reading

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Hello VinylCutter

Recently, the tool fairy brought me a consumer grade vinyl cutter.A feature that attracted me to this model is that it can cut paper. Making intricate cuts in paper is much easier with a tool like this, and much less expensive than with a laser cutter. The Silhouette Cameo is an interesting machine. It’s extremely affordable, and probably best for light personal use. As a classroom tool, it might not be durable enough. It definitely isn’t made for commercial use, but there appear to be plenty of things you can do with it. Continue reading

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Makey Makey Arrow Controller

In this project, I made a few arrow controllers out of a file folder, some 3″x5″ cards, craft sticks and aluminum tape. The first idea I had turned out not to work as good as I originally thought it would, so I tried it again (a couple of times). It would be fun to create a game controller that is themed on the games a player might enjoy, or to make one that uses all of the controls built into the Makey Makey.
Working with this controller in combination with writing computer programs would also open up a lot of really amazing options.
Continue reading

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TapeTricity Cards

TapeTricity is quite possibly the simplest way to introduce electricity to people. THere were kids as young as three or four who made their own working circuits (the younger ones got some parental help). This project was fun, because people got a chance to make a drawing, which they then picked out some places for LEDs. Next, they built a simple circuit out of tape, batteries and LEDs. It is a fairly quick project, and costs about a quarter per person. Continue reading

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10 Dollar Stomp Rocket Launcher

Stomp rockets are a great way to introduce flight, pneumatics, and energy transfer through hands-on learning. Paper rockets are very easy to make, and use “virtually free” materials. This will help encourage multiple iterations and exploration of rocket design. You should be able to focus on the important aspects of building and redesigning the rockets. The rockets themselves are very inexpensive, and there are lots of options for their redesign. Continue reading

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BrushBots and CupBots

Recently, I helped out at the local library makerspace on a workshop for teens. We started with the BrushBots kit and project from Maker Shed. We used the BrushBots Party Pack.

The PHILS is an after school group that has been meeting at the library for a while, starting out as a philosophy discussion group. They are now exploring and demonstrating their philosophy with lots of hands-on learning. This week, they started building things that use electricity. Continue reading

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Replacing a Smartphone Screen

When my phone slipped out of my pocket and landed on brick, the shiny touch screen shattered instantly. In a second, it gained new textures. I got sad. I got even sadder when I remembered that I had rejected the broken screen coverage offered by my carrier.

Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world to break the screen on a phone, for a few reasons:
The screen replacement coverage seems to have a deductible, of perhaps $100 (Since I didn’t have the coverage, I didn’t look into it too carefully)
Taking the phone to a store and having it done would cost about $100, and would take a day or two for it to be returned.
Buying a replacement screen online is possible, at a fraction of the replacement service cost.
Replacing the screen yourself is possible, at a cost of $0 Continue reading

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4 Drawer Resistor Storage

Storing resistors can be a little bit of a pain. If you just drop them all in the same bin, you won’t be able to find the correct value when you need it. Many electronics benches dedicate a lot of space to storing each resistor value in its own drawer. This can be a challenge if you only have a few of a particular value, or if you need to add to the system after the drawers have been ordered.

I’ve been using a simple drawer system for storing resistors, and this has worked for me over at least a decade of experimenting in several different spaces. Continue reading

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Grocery Feedbag

Making a grocery bag out of this ‘plastic burlap’ material was pretty easy, and took a bit more than an hour. The design of the bag includes a square, flat bottom. Sewing this panel on was fairly challenging. It would probably be much easier to turn the material inside out, and sew the bottom in one straight line. The bag wouldn’t sit flat on the floor as easily as it does not, but the bag would be much simpler to sew.
Bags like this would be good to use as a fundraiser, and people who are interested in horses would find lots of uses for such a sturdy bag Continue reading

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