September 3

DIY Ambilight: Because your TV isn’t big enough already

You’d think that a 55-inch, full-HD LCD television with surround sound system connected to an enormous media pc, XBox 360 and a PS3 would be enough for a man who actually mostly plays PC games in a different room and watches TV on his phone on the train trip to work. But you’d be wrong.

Dave of DaveNewson.com is the latest of major nerdy tinkerers to take on the DIY challenge of Ambilight – a TV enhancement where the colours from your TV are projected onto the wall behind it. There are some sane reasons for doing this – improved immersion and less eye-strain when watching in the dark being the main ones. But mostly, Dave did it because it looks “cool as hell”. Click here to see it in action.

Enhance your TV with LEDs!

Want your own Ambilight system? There are a few different ways of setting this up apparently, but essentially you will need a strip of colour-changing LEDs, a micro controller, a PC to play media from, a 5 volt power supply, a TV, and a way better understanding of electronics than me. Click here to read the really quite detailed How-To on DaveNewson.com.

August 17

Tony Stark Would Approve

“This was a real launch of a life-sized duct-tape iron man at Leonardo’s Basement.” I just wish I could find more information about this online, so I can give credit where credit is due.

iron man rocket

Leonardo’s Basement is a one-of-a-kind creative learning environment for kids of all ages to design and build from their imagination. Since 1998, Leonardo’s Basement has worked to inspire over 9,000 people to learn critical thinking & technical skills and to become enthusiastic, creative problem solvers.

July 30

PixelBrite: Programmable Pixel Light Panels

PixelBrite by LeoneLabs

I’m getting used to being in total awe of some of the creativity, innovation, and pure genius displayed by people all over the Internet. The Geek collective especially seems to be amply blessed in all three departments, and this Instructable inspired by the wonderful Close Encounters of the Third Kind, posted by LeoneLabs, is no exception.

Admittedly, this isn’t your easy-to-recreate kind of geekcraft. You’ll need to get your head around electronics, microcontrollers, a bit of code, and it looks like you’d need a fair bit of patience to do all of the optimising and stuff that LeoneLabs goes into in the later steps. The components and materials also cost in the region of $550, but when you look at the results (and there are more awesome images to drool over if you follow the link), it looks like $550 well spent!

Personally, I have nothing further than GCSE (10th grade) electronics knowledge, and probably even less experience wth microcontrollers. So I will just sit back and marvel at the greatness that is PixelBrite, and wish I had one. Or four.

June 22

A Barrel of Kong

ArcadeControls user griffindodd made this sweet Donkey Cong cocktail-style cabinet using a old wine barrel! Now, who’s ready to roll this bad boy around an abandoned construction site?

download

“Every time friends or family see my builds they always say the same thing “Oh you should make these and sell them”, to which my answer is always the same “It’s just not worth the man hours for what I could charge”. With that being said there are people quite successfully making bar tops and selling them on a regular basis, and, I assume, turning a profit of some kind,” griffondodd wrote.

Here’s his breakdown of the project:
Costs so far
Used Oak Wine Barrel – $87.00
17″ 4:3 Monitor – $25.00 (Craigslist)
Craftymech SLG Scanline generator – $23
Power Strip – $6
Amplifier – $19
Power Socket – $5
4x PCB Feet – $2
Power Supply – $18
2x long shaft zippy sticks – $16
Jamma Wiring Harness – $10
4x Regular Buttons& Switch – $4
3x Player Start Buttons – $3
Speakers – $15
1/2″ Bevelled Glass – $84.00
Laminated Control Panel art – $38
Bezel Artwork – $22
Paint – $6
Stain – $13
Shipping to date – $19.00

Total Build Cost – $415

Hours Spent Total – Approx 20 hours
Sourcing/Ordering Parts – 2 Hours
Vector Artwork Barrel Top – 1 Hour
Wood cut templates – 1.5 hours
Build in general – 15 hours

April 28

COSPLAY: Build Your Own Borg

Borg cosplay

Featured recently on StarTrek.com was a guest poster, Eric Hall, who detailed the process he went through to create his elaborate Borg costume. He’s apparently won numerous costume contests with his, and thousands in prizes. You can easily see why – this costume is crazy detail-oriented.

I love that he “thought like a Borg” and used found items from thrift shops, surplus stores, and yard sales, and just keeps adding to it. For instance, the left arm includes a large tube from a leaf blower, and a toy robot claw — the claw even opens and closes. He also added a small push-button motor from a toy so he makes a motorized sound when he walks.

I can imagine the stares he draws at cons – I know I’d give him a clear berth!

What’s the most elaborate costume you’ve seen at a con?