Making stuff

Kids' Cajón

Cajon icon

The Cajón  that also doubles as a children's chair described below was a half-day project that I did together with my 3-year old twins. Obviously the kids can't be anywhere near a table saw, but they enjoyed listening to the loud noise from the garage from the safe distance of the room next door. And since this is a fairly simple project, cutting the pieces doesn't take long enought to bore them, nor long enough for them to run off and do mischief.

Recycling wood

A few months ago I discovered the wood scraps box at The Joinery, a local manufacturer of handcrafted solid wood furniture.  The Joinery makes the most beautiful high-quality furniture, but unfortunately it's pricey. The scap wood box is more in my price range: free.  Below are projects made from various wood scraps found in their box. (Not shown are the various pieces of cherry and oak that serve as building blocks for Eli and Ian.)

Repairing a Duplo train

Duplo train icon

My kids recently got a Duplo trainset (I think Set # 2933-1; second-hand), which they loved so much that the button that starts / stops the train got stuck within 20 minutes of playing. It looked like an easy fix, but the first (and hardest) hurdle was to actually open up the Duplo train.

Arduino + XBee AppleRemote prank

XBee icon

It's common knowledge that MacBooks and iMacs can be controlled with any Apple remote. This feature is turned on by default, so unless people manually disable remotes, or pair a specific remote to their computer, they are easy victims for a simple prank. You can control the volume, start/pause songs in iTunes, advance and go back a song in the library, and, most annoyingly, enter FrontRow by pressing the appropriate button on the remote. Of course, it would be nice not to actually have to approach the "prankee" with a conspicuous Apple remote. It would be far nicer to have a microcontroller mimic the IR codes and control everything remotely…

Conquering Mt. Rainier with Matlab and Meshlab

Thanks to Kevin Ford and Janneke Hille Ris Lambers at UW I recently had the opportunity to get access to a very good-looking LIDAR data set for the area around Mount Rainier, WA. They obtained a high-resolution LIDAR map of Mt. Rainier National Park from the Puget Sound Lidar Consortium. Kevin and Janneke approached me to ask whether it's possible to create a 3D print of Mount Rainier and, naturally, I was extremely intrigued by this idea.

Arduino - based camera trigger unit

Arduino logo

I developed the camera trigger unit in order to synchronize various events and actions during free-flight experiments with hawkmoths in the wind tunnel described in a previous post. More specifically, the goal was to trigger multiple high-speed cameras and have LEDs that indicate the exact timing of electrical stimuli delivered via a miniature stimulus chip carried by a hawkmoth. (Electric stimulation of the moth is also triggered by the unit.)