maker projects round up

Here’s a collection of some of the projects I worked on during my time at the Intel store with Maker Education Initiative.

December 30, 2013:

I spent today working on that circuit using some parts from a clock radio Emmanuel brought in and built a little Intel puppet with the audio synth as a voice.

December 28, 2013:

today I used one of the motor circuits I worked on yesterday, and, using a motor from a printer, a volume control from a cd player and an old cell phone power supply, I made a circuit to change the speed of a motor, and then attached a cute Hello Kitty balloon toy made by Shelley.

December 27, 2013:

Today I found a printer in the recycling bin and took it apart to see what I could find. I found a bunch of little components, 4 DC motors and a stepper motor. I built a new circuit based on some of the 555 timer stuff I’ve been looking at on Make Zine but burned out one of my 555s. Oops! Hopefully tomorrow I can make something cool with all those motors.


December 18, 2013:

A reindeer with salvaged motor control draw with the help of a couple of experience agents.

December 16 2013:

A speaker circuit made from salvaged cd discman and a printer mother board.

December 14, 2013:

A cupcake game made with the help of Mohammed, Alex, Milo and Noah.


maker ed audio synth workshop

I’m on the way back from a great experience at the artists residency at Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside in Troy NY, and finally getting a chance to write a recap of the workshop that I led at Intel on January 2nd.  I had spent a good amount of time working on different ideas for circuits using easily salvageable materials and simple analog circuits.  After working in the store for a month and interacting with different kinds of people in the store I had the thought that understanding simple analog circuits is a great way to get people interested in electronics and making.  Using more complex technology like Arduino and Raspberry Pi are really great, but there’s so much you can do without having to use expensive products or a computer, which are required for Arduino based projects.  Arduino is a great tool for prototyping ideas and making quick projects, but its an expensive thing to use for a project that you want to be permanent or need multiples of.  There are a lot of projects using Arduino that could just as easily be done with simple electronics and integrated chips.  I found the 555 timer chip to be really versatile and easily available at Radio shack (for two bucks) or online for cheaper.  So I experimented with many ideas, audio, motor control, as I will recap in another post, and eventually settled on audio circuits.  I felt that making a simple audio oscillator would really connect people to the physical properties of sound and have a very clear demonstration of how they can control electricity.  I had a great reaction when working with Coral, who at first was very confused by what we were building, but when she first heard the sound she immediately connected it to her interest in electronic music and had a real understanding of why the circuit was cool and how it relates to the music she likes.


The circuit I came up with was a modification of one that I found on, and had some similarities with things I’ve seen on Make Zine.  The parts, other than the 555 timer, were all things that I had salvaged at some point during my time in the Intel store.

Here’s a page with some notes that I created for the workshop, with more info.

On the day of the workshop there was a blizzard, the beginning of the storm called Hercules apparently, so the turn out for the workshop was a little lower than I had hoped.  I got enough materials for 10 people to make circuits, and ended up having 4 people who were there for the full workshop and built the full circuit, and a few more who passed through and listened.

The participants that did come, including some college and grad school buddies of mine, and a couple of Intel store regulars, were great though and I think they all had a fun time working on the project.

Here’s a close up of Jenny working on her circuit:



Jenny, Nick and Tak working:


Nick has finished his!


cupcake video game

Today at the Intel store there was a cupcake making event, and so I got help from a few kids who came through the story, Mohammed, Milo, Noah and Alex to make a little game using the Makey Makey.  Here’s a work video of our work:

It’s a little out of focus, and the cupcakes had all been eaten, but this is the basic idea.  Milo, Mohammed and Noah drew characters on some pieces of cardboard that were left over from the boxes the tools came in, and then cut out their characters.  We made image files and inserted them into a Processing sketch using the Makey Makey.  I grabbed some code from fellow tech disruptor @carlynorama Carlyn’s GitHub and we modified it so that we could move our characters around the screen and change character by pressing cupcake buttons connected to the Makey Makey.


There’s a shot Mark took of us from outside where Mohammed and Milo are helping me decide what interactions to give our characters.

Working on Processing with these guys was a lot of fun.  They picked up certain concepts very quickly, like variables (Milo was really excited about variables) and if then statements, which they helped me write.  At a certain point, when  we decided we wanted to switch characters, I realized we were going to have to make a character class, so I started explaining the idea of object oriented programming…. and then I lost them.  But I was able to get that done while they were making cupcakes and go back to fun variables and if then statements, so it turned out okay.  I remember it being pretty tricky to understand classes and objects when I was in CS101, so I don’t blame them for losing interest at that point.

Here are the characters, Milo, Mohammed and Angel Derp by Noah.

milo mohammed angelderp