Saul Griffith: Lofty ideas from inventor with eco ideals

Inventor Saul Griffith sits down with CNN to discuss the environmental crisis, autonomous electricity generating kites and what inspires him.I don't think this has already been posted...unless this is much older than I thought...Via CNN

Posted by Lithium Rain 9 years ago


Squid Labs Co-founder Saul Griffith on Treehugger/good.is - interview about heirloom design

I found this article from yesterday through treehugger.com. It has an interview with Saul Griffith about heirloom design, designing products that last longer: http://www.good.is/post/built-to-last/ (sorry if this has already been posted, I had a quick look and couldn't see it)

Posted by Jayefuu 8 years ago


Saul Griffith awarded a MacArthur grant!

Saul Griffith from Squid Labs, Howtoons, Instructables, and other cool companies has been awarded the MacArthur "genius" grant. He gets $500k because he's so genius-y and it couldn't be going to a better guy. Saul Griffith is an inventor whose innovations span industrial design, technology, and science education. Through a variety of endeavors at MIT and as a principal in Squid Labs, Griffith demonstrates his boundless energy for inventing across diverse disciplines in the global public interest. While still a graduate student at MIT, he designed a unique membrane-based molding system that can produce a variety of common lenses from a single pair of flexible molding surfaces. This prototype has the potential to change the economics of corrective lenses in rural and underserved communities around the world and continues to be a major focus of research and development energy at Squid Labs. At MIT, Griffith co-founded Thinkcycle.org, a web community that has produced socially conscious engineering solutions, such as novel household water-treatment systems. Thinkcycle.org is the forerunner of Instructables.com, a remarkable do-it-yourself website driven by user contributions. He is also a creative force behind HowToons, an animated educational resource designed to engage children in hands-on science and engineering projects. Through the spin-off company Potenco, Griffith initiated the project design for a hand-held human-powered generator, which has the potential significantly to improve access to electronic devices such as laptops and water purifiers throughout the world. Though still quite young, he holds several patents in optics, textiles, and nanotechnology. In these engineering ventures as well as others yet to be imagined, Griffith is a prodigy of invention in service of the world community. Saul Griffith received a B.MET.E. (1997) from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, an M.E. (2000) from the University of Sydney, and an M.S. (2001) and Ph.D. (2004) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a co-founding partner of Squid Labs and serves as a technical advisor at Potenco in Alameda, California. full story

Posted by fungus amungus 10 years ago


Star Wars intro by Saul Bass

What if one movie intro was reimagined in the style of another artist? In this case it's the style of the late great Saul Bass who did many amazing title sequences like Vertigo or The Man with the Golden Arm.This is cooler than Episodes I, II, and III combined.via Drawn! And then there's the deluxe remix version as well.

Posted by fungus amungus 10 years ago


Climate Change Recalculated Talk with Saul Griffith

"It is not accurate to say we can still stop climate change," says Saul Griffith, the Bay Area inventor who received a MacArthur "genius" award in 2007. "We are now working to stop worse climate change or much-worse-than-worse climate change."Griffith has done the research and the math to figure out exactly what it will take for humanity to soften the impact of climate change in the next 25 years, and he lays it out in a dazzling presentation. It is horrifying news. The politics and technologies we have now are not up to the task.Friday, January 16, 2009Doors open 7:00pm, talk at 7:30pm lasting ~1.5 hoursLocated at Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CAhttp://www.longnow.org/

Posted by noahw 9 years ago


Gifts for the intelligent designer -- what do you want for the holidays?

PT over at Make asked a few people around Squid and Instructables what they would like to receive for the holidays. Check out Leah's, Saul's, and my gift lists, and tell us what you'd like.

Posted by ewilhelm 11 years ago


Concentrated Solar Power Hits Pop Culture in the Best Way

Check out this graphic of concentrated solar collectors on Saul's new skateboard. My first skateboard had a dragon sitting on top of a pile of human skulls. We've come along way, I guess.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Squid Labs video on the Disappearing Factory

Innovation Lab recently put together a conference and asked Squid Labs to start it off by talking about the disappearing factory. Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend, and so sent this video instead. In it, Saul, Tim, and I stare into a sunset and talk about what we think is the disappearing factory.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


New Howtoons Site!

You may have seen some of the awesome Howtoons comics up on Instructables; you may even have added a project to the Beta Howtoons group. Howtoons is the brainchild of our own Saul Griffith of Squid Labs, artist Nick Dragotta, and Joost Benson.We're happy to let you know that the official Howtoons site is now up- check daily for projects and updates. The first Howtoons book will be coming out in November.

Posted by canida 10 years ago


Instructables and Squid Labs featured in Tech Closeup's April 2007 Show

Tech Closeup interviewed me and took a tour of Instructables and Squid Labs for a segment on their April 2007 show. Check out the segment below to see our control tower and look for canida, dan, noahw, saul, TimAnderson, and Potenco's prototype generator.Also, they mention that the lens molding technology was sold to a company in San Jose. This is an error: Another Squid Labs spin-off company is developing that technology and we will share details as soon as possible.

Posted by ewilhelm 11 years ago


Green Gadgets Design Competition Winners

Core77's Greener Gadgets Design Competition wrapped up last Friday and the first prize went to a couple of friends of ours, Limor Fried from Adafruit Industries and Phillip Torrone from MAKE magazine! Their winning entry was the Tweet-a-Watt, A twittering power meter. Their prize was $3,000 which they donated to Engineers without Borders. Congratulations!To make the whole event even cooler, one of the three judges was Instructables co-founder Saul Griffith.It was a roller-coaster ride of a panel discussion at the Live Greener Gadgets Design Competition Judging at the close of Friday's Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City. After a 10-minute overview of some of the notable entries by moderator Allan Chochinov from Core77, the judges--Jeff Kapec of Tanaka Kapec Design Group, Jill Fehrenbacher of Inhabitat, and Saul Griffith of Makani Power--toured the audience through 13 of their favorite projects before deliberating to get things down to the Top 3 (In pre-judging sessions, they were unable to decide on a set of TOP 10). It was a difficult journey, with the audience ultimately chiming in with shout outs, criticisms, defenses, philosophical meanderings, and all the good stuff you would expect from a wonderful, engaged audience. Link

Posted by fungus amungus 9 years ago


How to make a super-lucky coin

Saul heard about this sweet idea at the G4G8 conference. It's perfect for an Instructable - hopefully someone is suitably inspired to do it.Take 40lb's of pennies. Drop them all (equivalent to tossing). Collect all those that were heads and put them back in the bucket. Drop them all again, again choose all those that land heads. Repeat until there is only one coin left. This is the luckiest coin in your bucket. Apparently, one guy got a coin that tossed 17 heads in a row...

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


The Oddity Fair... I Was There

Mutated Mini Fest performed by Les Claypool, Saul Williams, the Secret Cheif's 3, and Devotchka.The concert was at the Agora on the 22 in Cleveland and it cool AND weird at the same time. The songs that were on the PA as they were swaping things out were really weird. I took some videos while I was there of Les Claypool. Would you call Les Claypool Steampunk or not? Ask in Commments below.Mushroom Men- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBs3pGHmN6sRed State Girl- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDlIcDYvqUgUnknown- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDLKysO7RzI

Posted by Clayton H. 9 years ago


How To Fix The World & Grassroots Innovation Takes Root - Instructables in Forbes

Instructables, Squid Labs, Saul, and Eric are all in Forbes:Grassroots Innovation Takes Rootby Peter HoyThe next great wave of technology maybe something that you invent yourself. Really.Most of the big commercial technology companies do all they can to hide the complexity of their products under shiny tamper-proof surfaces. They believe consumers don't want to read manuals. The fewer buttons the better. Think Apple, automakers and most consumer electronics makers.But there's a subversive movement building, too, led by self-proclaimed do-it-youselfers. They want to reinvent the gadgets in their life, much like software hackers have reworked code. They don't all have expert technical skills, but they have a passionate desire to reshape technology in their own rough image.What makes their dreams possible is easy access to open-source software, cheap microchips and wide-open collaboration on the Web. It's the manufacturing-sector version of desktop publishing.How To Fix The World by Quentin HardySaul Griffith (above) is only 34 years old, but he's already helped create enough technologies and companies to last a lifetime. A short list includes a cheap way to prescribe and create corrective lenses in the developing world, a wind energy generation system using massive high-altitude kites and a human-powered energy project.His greatest creations, however, may be a popular comic book series called HowToons, designed to help kids think like inventors and, with Massachusetts Institute of Technology pal Eric Wilhelm, a Web site called Instructables, created to spur collaborative invention among adults. More news and press about Instructables here.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Help Build a Giant Inflatable Instructables Robot

Can you keep a secret?For the Austin Maker Faire in October, I'm hoping to build an 8-foot tall inflatable Instructables Robot. I want it to be easy to find the Instructables booth.For his wedding, Saul, built an inflatable elephant using many of the techniques from inflatable kite design and papercraft. There's a lot of CAD work required, and since I know there are some people here much better at Rhino and Blender than me, I'm asking for help. If we can pull it off, you'll get the joy of having something you designed be made very large.Here's the process and where you can help: 1) creating a model of the robot that is appropriate for cutting in fabric, sewing together, and inflating. chooseausername did a brilliant job here, but the model has too many polygons, and just reducing the number of polygons in his model results in something that doesn't quite work.So first, I need a model of the robot that is less than 1000 polygons while still retaining the robot's personality. Also, since it will be inflated, the robot's wheels should be retracted (its legs should just be cylinders of the same height as its legs plus wheels). We can print on the fabric, so the line on its belly doesn't need to be physical, but its buttons, eyes, ears, and antennae should stick out as they normally do; no need for individual fingers. Make sure all the normals point outward in the model.Saul isn't quite ready to share his CAD files, so I've included screenshots of his elephant as an example. The full grey elephant has 1000 polygons. 2) modifying the model to account for real-world limitations and to make it easy to import into Pepakura Designer. As the elephant is symmetrical, Saul cut it in half, split out various body parts -- ensuring that they exactly fit back together on the vertices of the polygons (seam lines for sewing), -- and made some part of the ears a single piece of fabric which would not inflate. In the robot's case, we would probably split the legs, body, head, and ear-and-antennae assemblies. The antennae will probably need to be a slight larger diameter than they normally are. Since the robot isn't symmetric, we'll keep it whole. 3) using Pepekura to create panels4) arranging the panels, adding seam allowances, and sewing instructions.5) repeating steps 1 - 4 to create the bladders for inflation with a model that's slightly bigger than the skin.6) getting a factory to cut and sew everything together.As you can see, step 1 is the most important part. If you'd like to help, create a model of the robot, and add it to a step of the collaboration I've started here (PM me for an invite):https://www.instructables.com/id/ETZ3QJSFKD1LWHU/We definitely have more than one person working, as I'm sure everyone will have something valuable to contribute.If you're interested in other giant inflatable creatures, leave a comment here. If we can streamline this process, we might make a complete zoo!

Posted by ewilhelm 9 years ago


I wonder who makes the best instructables...

Have you ever wondered who gets featured the most? Well here's the top 50!57 - [/member/canida canida] 51 - [/member/TimAnderson TimAnderson] 27 - [/member/ewilhelm ewilhelm] 25 - [/member/fungusamungus fungusamungus] 19 - [/member/trebuchet03 trebuchet03] 17 - [/member/randofo randofo] 17 - [/member/noahw noahw] 15 - [/member/ToolUsingAnimal ToolUsingAnimal] 15 - [/member/threadbanger threadbanger] 15 - [/member/samnoyoun samnoyoun] 15 - [/member/Kipkay Kipkay] 15 - [/member/Tetranitrate Tetranitrate] 14 - [/member/Kiteman Kiteman] 12 - [/member/msolek msolek] 11 - [/member/joe joe] 11 - [/member/RealSimple.com RealSimple.com] 10 - [/member/rachel rachel] 10 - [/member/indymogul indymogul] 10 - [/member/saul saul] 10 - [/member/dan dan] 9 - [/member/KaptinScarlet KaptinScarlet] 9 - [/member/zieak zieak] 9 - [/member/nativewater nativewater] 8 - [/member/neelandan neelandan] 8 - [/member/Honus Honus] 8 - [/member/Brennn10 Brennn10] 8 - [/member/babblin5 babblin5] 7 - [/member/iwilltry iwilltry] 7 - [/member/ian ian] 7 - [/member/T3h_Muffinator T3h_Muffinator] 7 - [/member/technoplastique technoplastique] 7 - [/member/bofthem bofthem] 7 - [/member/Senseless Senseless] 7 - [/member/jesse.hensel jesse.hensel] 6 - [/member/J_Hodgie J_Hodgie] 6 - [/member/matseng matseng] 6 - [/member/degroof degroof] 6 - [/member/radiorental radiorental] 5 - [/member/prank prank] 5 - [/member/nemomatic nemomatic] 5 - [/member/Mr.RigIt Mr.RigIt] 5 - [/member/stasterisk stasterisk] 5 - [/member/woofboy111 woofboy111] 5 - [/member/NK5 NK5] 5 - [/member/gmoon gmoon] 5 - [/member/leevonk leevonk] 5 - [/member/turkeytek turkeytek] 5 - [/member/nak nak] 5 - [/member/thecheatscalc thecheatscalc] 5 - [/member/syribia syribia] This is the "raw" data, I didn't take them away if they were contests, or if it was self-featured; in my opinion those count too.Have fun!

Posted by zachninme 10 years ago


Without Hot Air: Mackay's new Book on Global Warming

My friend told me about a new book by David Mackay. I've added screenshots of two of the really nice graphs he put together in his book. Says my friend:Forwarded Message:David Mackay, Cambridge U Physics Professor and a flat-out rockstar inthe field of statistical inference, has written a book on SustainableEnergy, which he is (as usual) giving away for free on his website. http://www.withouthotair.com/There's also a few slide decks for the overview: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/and a blog: http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/I'm not much through it yet, but the gist seems to be putting realnumbers on the size of the energy problem, much as Saul Griffith hasbeen doing. It's written in his usual style, which is to say it readslike common sense you feel you should have known all along.

Posted by nagutron 10 years ago


I wonder who makes the best instructables... redux

Wondering now who's the best [https://www.instructables.com/forum/I-wonder-who-makes-the-best-instructables.../ of the best]? Well, here are those 50 users sorted by highest ratio of featured instructables to total:Ratio (featured) - [user] 1.0000 ( 11 ) - [/member/RealSimple.com RealSimple.com] 1.0000 ( 5 ) - [/member/nemomatic nemomatic] 1.0000 ( 5 ) - [/member/unknownuser2007 unknownuser2007] 0.9000 ( 9 ) - [/member/nativewater nativewater] 0.8750 ( 7 ) - [/member/iwilltry iwilltry] 0.8571 ( 6 ) - [/member/J_Hodgie J_Hodgie] 0.8333 ( 5 ) - [/member/gmoon gmoon] 0.8333 ( 5 ) - [/member/fstedie fstedie] 0.7778 ( 7 ) - [/member/technoplastique technoplastique] 0.7500 ( 9 ) - [/member/KaptinScarlet KaptinScarlet] 0.7143 ( 5 ) - [/member/turkeytek turkeytek] 0.7000 ( 7 ) - [/member/jesse.hensel jesse.hensel] 0.6154 ( 8 ) - [/member/Honus Honus] 0.5769 ( 15 ) - [/member/Kipkay Kipkay] 0.5556 ( 5 ) - [/member/BicycleTutor BicycleTutor] 0.5556 ( 10 ) - [/member/rachel rachel] 0.5385 ( 7 ) - [/member/Senseless Senseless] 0.5294 ( 9 ) - [/member/zieak zieak] 0.5172 ( 15 ) - [/member/threadbanger threadbanger] 0.5000 ( 57 ) - [/member/canida canida] 0.5000 ( 5 ) - [/member/woofboy111 woofboy111] 0.5000 ( 8 ) - [/member/babblin5 babblin5] 0.5000 ( 10 ) - [/member/indymogul indymogul] 0.5000 ( 5 ) - [/member/jessyratfink jessyratfink] 0.4615 ( 12 ) - [/member/msolek msolek] 0.4615 ( 6 ) - [/member/degroof degroof] 0.4310 ( 25 ) - [/member/fungusamungus fungusamungus] 0.4286 ( 15 ) - [/member/Tetranitrate Tetranitrate] 0.4118 ( 7 ) - [/member/T3h_Muffinator T3h_Muffinator] 0.3864 ( 17 ) - [/member/randofo randofo] 0.3750 ( 15 ) - [/member/samnoyoun samnoyoun] 0.3684 ( 7 ) - [/member/bofthem bofthem] 0.3659 ( 15 ) - [/member/ToolUsingAnimal ToolUsingAnimal] 0.3617 ( 17 ) - [/member/noahw noahw] 0.3571 ( 5 ) - [/member/Mr.RigIt Mr.RigIt] 0.3493 ( 51 ) - [/member/TimAnderson TimAnderson] 0.3333 ( 6 ) - [/member/matseng matseng] 0.3182 ( 7 ) - [/member/ian ian] 0.3143 ( 11 ) - [/member/joe joe] 0.3125 ( 10 ) - [/member/dan dan] 0.2872 ( 27 ) - [/member/ewilhelm ewilhelm] 0.2857 ( 8 ) - [/member/neelandan neelandan] 0.2273 ( 5 ) - [/member/prank prank] 0.1860 ( 8 ) - [/member/Brennn10 Brennn10] 0.1707 ( 14 ) - [/member/Kiteman Kiteman] 0.1667 ( 6 ) - [/member/radiorental radiorental] 0.1638 ( 19 ) - [/member/trebuchet03 trebuchet03] 0.1613 ( 10 ) - [/member/saul saul] 0.1316 ( 5 ) - [/member/leevonk leevonk] 0.0676 ( 5 ) - [/member/stasterisk stasterisk] Now think about that!

Posted by zachninme 10 years ago


So you want to be a good instructlobian?

Here at Instructables, world HQ, we see lots of things... Some things turn into wonder... Wonder into speculation... And speculation into inadvertent competition. Here's a list of our top page hit getters - this is all public information, but it's much easier for me to get this information for you....A List of our Contributors Sorted by Page ViewsAs of 3:00pm PST: The Top 50User Total Page ViewsTetranitrate 792492 canida 739607TimAnderson 699021 dan 488883ewilhelm 430719fungus amungus 391384 Q-Branch 340777dorxincandeland 318958 trebuchet03 316255 saul 307682sam noyoun 305901 leevonk 248421noahw 246493Tool Using Animal 232492 nak 230538spankval 219371ladyada 212988randofo 197191MrMunki 193121joe 182863zieak 169041kingant 161334FrenchCrawler 159140 howtoons 155501delgaudm 154272 theRIAA 153803radiorental 152443 icecream_n_cake43 151424 Mr. Thrak 148180Honus 147501imanalchemist 144859 ian 142156for290 134192Andrew546 131513 AlexTheGreat 130861 fyrothepyro 128581 graphak 126120tracy_the_astonishing 124086 tm36usa 118860m_jake 109800argon 108351Kiteman 106832matt 106453westfw 103947lebowski 103486prank 101927FreakCitySF 100272 juliofo 96003VIRON 88903Zujus 88310If you want to get on this list... Get out there are make a great project! Just don't forget to document it with some great photos :)

Posted by trebuchet03 11 years ago


Davison and being an inventor

Last week a company called Davison was running targeted ads on Instructables through Google Adsense. Google Adsense typically places contextual-based ads on sites making connections between advertisers and publishers based on their search technology. However, advertisers can also work with Google to directly placed ads on specific sites. At first, we were flattered that Davison chose to target us, and further flattered that they were actually using our terminology in their ads. You may have seen "Cool Instructable?" or "Have an Instructable?" text ads running in our right sidebar.After checking out what Davison does, I decided they weren't a good fit with us and removed the ads. Normally, this would be no big deal, but because of the business Davison is in and the specifics of this case, I wanted to share my thinking.Davison solicits ideas from independent inventors, creates prototypes, markets potential products to manufacturers and distributors, and collects royalties. This is not worlds different from what we did at Squid Labs, except I would characterize Squid's activities as more technical and with the aim of creating sustainable businesses rather than exclusively creating products to be licensed.The rub comes in that Davison is not forthcoming with how they actually make money: high fees paid by the independent inventors. Here's a Forbes article that goes into greater depth, but for me, the important statistic is this: 37,000 or so people have contracted Davison Design's services in the last five years; but only eight of those who have signed up have realized royalties exceeding their fees to Davison.A 0.02% success rate is just awful, and clearly shows that they are preying upon people who don't know any better.The thing that personally put me over the edge was a section from their Questions and Myths:9. Can I tell people about my idea? We recommend that you do not publicly disclose your invention/idea to anyone (not even a friend or a family member), unless you have confidential documents in place to verify that you are the originator of the invention.Obviously, I have a conflict of interest, because I want you to share your initial ideas here in the forums and how you built your ideas into prototypes as Instructables to help me grow the site; however, the concept of absolute secrecy is anathema to me. Here at Squid Labs, we know of no one that has had their invention stolen by some big corporation (more on this at Saul's column in Makezine Vol. 9; full text available as an attached PDF, kindly permitted by Make). My experience has uniformly been that sharing yields stronger results than hiding. The person you share your ideas with might turn into a business partner and be instrumental in your shared success.Clearly there's demand for services to help inventors. Davison seems to have a nice facility at Invention Land; instead, why don't they invite the almost 8000 people per year that contact them to attend an "invention boot camp?" Attendees could learn some basic design, CAD, and machining skills, give mock presentations, and learn how to do a preliminary patent search. If Davison was doing a good job, they would start to see some success from their graduates, and companies looking for innovation would seek out the graduates or ask to attend the camp's final design reviews.Teaching people all these skills might sound impossible - like a full undergraduate and graduate series of degrees compressed into an 80-hour crash course. No course can cover everything- instead, it should give motivated people the basic skills and confidence to start doing it themselves, and teach them how to seek out the additional knowledge they need. It's surprising what motivated people can accomplish if you just get them started.In 2002 Saul and I taught a one-week class called Cyclomerisation where we taught a group of 12 people just enough bicycle design, CAD, and manufacturing to make them dangerous. Each person then designed their own custom bicycle using 8020 extruded aluminum and jet-machined connectors. We had telescoping unicycles, recumbent tricycles, and plenty of standard bikes; for example, check out Saul's 8020 Chopper. Half the participants were MIT students, half were not, and it made no difference -- everyone was motivated to learn something new and to put it into practice.If this idea isn't Davison's thing, then maybe I've found a project to work on after Instructables can run itself. In the meantime, I'm sharing the idea with all of you, because that's the best way to vet it, see if it has legs, and make it stronger.More pictures from Cyclomerisation here and here.

Posted by ewilhelm 11 years ago


Howtoons the Book Launches!

It's been a long journey since I first looked over Saul's shoulder in our shared 4th-floor MIT Media Lab office and saw the proto-sketches that would become Howtoons, but today the book finally launches! Here's the word directly from Saul:I along with my co-authors and illustrators, Nick Dragotta and Joost Bonsen are proud to announce that today is the official publication and release of our fully-illustrated, science-meets-adventure-and-mischief comic book, HOWTOONS ! The Possibilities are Endless. I know I personally am nervous, relieved, and all of the other things that a first time author can be. You can buy the book directly from AmazonAlthough all of the authors wish to compel you to walk, run, or ride a bike to your local book store and get one there (or demand that they carry copies!).We'd like to thank each and everyone on this email list for their moral and other support in the gestation of this exciting project. Thanks for loaning us your children, your ideas, your inspiration and your feedback. Hopefully we are now returning all of them to you in good healthy order and with interest on top!We'd love to encourage you all to buy hundreds and thousands of copies of this book for all of your favourite 4-94 year olds. The jacket copy says 8-12, but we know that our group of friends have nothing but the most intelligent children (hence extending the age range down to 4) as well as being fundamentally immature and appreciative of fart jokes (hence increasing it to 94).HOWTOONS seeks to put the joy, the story, the adventure, the free-spirit, the fun, the downright ridiculousness, and the real heroicism of science and engineering back into education. We do this through stories and illustrations designed to show children that science and engineering is not only one of the coolest possible things that you can study, but that it touches upon everything in modern life and can be found in the simple objects around you... One tag line we often like to associate with the book is: "See the world for what it can be, not for what it is." The world is increasingly technical, and many of the greatest challenges of the 21st century will require technically aware people whether they are working on science and engineering themselves, or whether they are the artists, writers, accountants, musicians, lawyers, politicians and educators who make the world a rich and interesting place to live. I believe the magnificent artwork of Nick also highlights that there is a genuine marriage between the arts and sciences and the oft cited tension between the two is un-necessary as both come from a desire to create and share new ideas and ways of representing them.You can see our new website, including many samples of HOWTOONS and a regularly updated blog at www.howtoons.com. We'd like to send an especially big thanks and shout out to Ryan McKinley for help with the website (if you don't know him you should! He's a programming powerhouse), and of course also to Phil Torrone, everyone's favourite blogger and DIY mastermind. We'd also love to thank all of the people at O'Reilly media, especially Dale Dougherty, Tim O'Reilly, Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair for including HOWTOONS in their fabulous magazines MAKE and CRAFT (www.makezine.com, www.craftzine.com). Also in the thank-you list should be Judith Regan who plucked us from obscurity to help us get started down the book-making path, and now the wonderful people of Harper Collins Children's Books for all of their help. We should include all of our apologies for editorial lateness!. Naturally we'd like to thank the people at Squid Labs and Eric and Christy of www.instructables.com fame for their support and work in bringing the make-it-yourself ethos to a much larger audience. MIT, MIT's media lab, and MITERS (MIT Electronic Research Society) are also to be whole-heartedly thanked for turning a blind eye to our insanity. The support of all these people and more (you) has been invaluable to us.Not to rest on our laurels — we are already working on a 2nd HOWTOONS book full of more wonderful projects and crazy storylines to encourage you to grab a 9-year-old and relive the joy of messing with world around you just because it's interesting, because rockets are cool, because bugs are fascinating, because flying is magnificent, because mechanisms are intriguing, because a sheet of paper isn't a sheet of paper, it's a work of origami art waiting to (un)fold.Furthermore, we are working on another book project, specifically a selection of DIY projects around the topic of renewable energy presented HOWTOONS-style, in order to encourage energy literacy and intuition amongst the next generation of engineers and scientists. Energy will be one of the key issues of this century and helping people understand all of the options and the promise and beauty of renewable energies is something we believe we can do to help.If you'd like to help support Howtoons in any way we'd love to hear from you; it is still a fledgling project in its infancy trying to wend its way towards fiscal sustainability. The biggest thing most of you can probably do to help is SPREAD THE WORD! Buy some books! Go out and give yourself the experience of reliving the joy of discovering the world by working on some Howtoons projects with your favourite kids (or even better, kids you don't know yet). If you have suggestions for future projects we'd love to hear about them. One of my favourite projects in HOWTOONS Book 1 is an open-source whooppee cushion that delighted my father (and haunted his teachers) when he was a 9-year-old and will hopefully induce raucous laughter everywhere.Again, thank you all.Saul Griffith, Nick Dragotta, Joost Bonsen,co-creators of HOWTOONS!www.howtoons.comPS. Finally, and most importantly I want to wholeheartedly thank my co-authors for their friendships, musings, and hard-work. It's tremendous to work with such great people at the top of their respective games.In case you don't know them (or me):Nick Dragotta first knew the power of comic art when he drew pictures of injuries on the blackboard at school that were so graphic that his fellow classmates had to leave the room to throw up. Since then he has tirelessly practiced the art of comics and researched the great artists of the field. Nick has drawn for Marvel and DC, including Spider-Man, X-men, Fantastic Four, and X-static titles. He is currently passionate about making more comic books for kids. Nick lives in a small apartment with walls lined by the shortened stubs of ruined pencils. He sleeps in a pile of eraser filings, drinks black ink, and exists on a diet of pureed superhero comic books.Joost Bonsen immigrated as a young boy to the United States from the Netherlands with his parents and his personal suitcase full of LEGOs. He grew up in Silicon Valley, California, immersed in that creative and entrepreneurial culture. While Joost was growing up, the vacant lot across the street from home served variously as play space, special effects set, race track, rocket launch pad and more as he and his friends made home movies, practiced being space explorers, and plotted space projects. Joost went to MIT for undergraduate studies in bio–electrical engineering and recently finished his graduate degree at the MIT Sloan School of Management looking at how labs are run, how research themes emerge, and how new technologies are commercialized.Saul Griffith grew up in Australia and his earliest memories of inventing things were of making grappling hooks for climbing trees and buildings. His childhood adventures included making his own rocket–powered toy cars, kites, and enormous puppets. He kept a diary of drawings of his inventions as a kid that included fantastic monorails and airplanes shaped like manta–rays. Saul ended up studying materials science—the structure of the materials we use every day—before going on to MIT to do a PhD in building self–replicating machines and a theory for folding 3–dimensional objects. He now works at Squid Labs in California inventing cool new things for making the world a better place. He still builds kites, they are just much, much bigger now.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Instructables in the New York Times - How to Improve it? Ask Those Who Use It

Instructables was mentioned in the New York Times article "How to Improve It? Ask Those Who Use It" about user-innovation. I know this might cause a stir, but specifically mentioned are the K'Nex guns. Here's the section of the article that mentions us directly:Even some of Mr. von Hippel's acolytes remain cautious. "A lot of this is still in the category of, , 'You could imagine this working out really well,' " says Saul T. Griffith, who as an M.I.T. engineering student was part of a group of kite-surfers who developed products for their sport that have since become commercialized. Mr. von Hippel wrote about Mr. Griffith in his 2005 book, "Democratizing Innovation."Still, Mr. Griffith can cite a long tradition of user design. One of his favorite examples comes from the title article in Tom Wolfe's 1965 book, "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby," which chronicled car customizers whose innovations -- tailfins, double headlights, low-slung bodies -- were later adopted by Detroit. Mr. Griffith says that even now, millions of people modify their cars, far more people than the world's automakers could ever employ in research and development.There is currently no effective way for companies to harness the ideas of those millions. But the Web -- itself created by Tim Berners-Lee, an Internet user looking to do something new -- seems to offer an excellent potential idea-gatherer. Mr. Griffith's industrial design firm, Squid Labs, last year spun off a do-it-yourself community site on the Web called the Instructables, which features items as diverse as the Minty Boost iPod power source, dachshund wheelchairs and guns made entirely of K'nex toys, along with detailed instructions on how to build them. The Instructables intends to offer software to companies that want to build communities of citizen product developers.Mr. von Hippel, who has spent 30 years waiting for his ideas to take hold, says that as user communities like the Instructables spread, they will dominate innovation. He calls them "the dark matter of innovation."

Posted by ewilhelm 11 years ago


Top 10 Back-to-School Instructables

Thanks to an idea from Labot2001, we've put together a list of some of our favorite back-to-school Instructables. Whether you're getting set for another year of school or helping to prepare someone else, these Instructables will help you get back into the classroom mindset in true DIY style. Floppy Disk Bag by Imanalchemist Floppy disks are now rarely used to carry information, but they can effectively carry all of your stuff. If you like this project, also check out Imanalchemists's Floppy Tote and Floppy Binder.   Eraser Flash Drive by fungus amungus Stealthily conceal your flash drive in the guise of a standard pink eraser.   Nintendo Lunchbox by fluctifragus Is that a sandwich in your Nintendo or are you just happy to have an awesome lunchbox?   Homemade Whiteboard by ausable An erasable whiteboard can help you keep all of your assignments organized amidst a busy schedule.   Circuit Board Binder by killrsheep A PCB binder will show all of the other regular, non-creative binders who's boss.   Make Your Own Notebook by chebang Create a personal notebook with an album cover and some basic bookbinding techniques.   Mont Blanc Pen Hack by kingant Nobody wants to throw down lots of money for writing utensils; luckily, with this method, you can cheaply recreate an expensive pen on the cheap.   Neoprene Laptop Bag by saul Pieces of Neoprene, the squishy material often used in wetsuits, can be sewn together to create a functional and comfortable laptop case.   Better Videotape the School Play by westfw A great videotape will help you remember your child's performance and much more effectively embarrass them when they're older.   How to Do Laundry by linuxmom While you may disagree, your roommate knows that doing your laundry every once in a while is necessary for college students. For those who need to learn, don't worry: linuxmom is here to rescue you!   There are also some other great Instructables that could help you in school--comment and share those below. From one person going back to school to another, best of luck and have a good year!

Posted by joshf 9 years ago


Fuel economy of the world's longest in-service ship

The Emma Maersk is the second longest ship in the world, and the longest currently in service. It's so large, it looks photoshopped into any picture it appears. Driving such a large ship requires a lot of power. From Wikipedia:The Emma Maersk is powered by a Wartsila-Sulzer 14RTFLEX96-C engine, currently the world's largest single diesel unit, weighing 2,300 tons and capable of 109,000 horsepower (82 MW). The ship has several features to protect the environment. This includes recycling the exhaust, mixed with fresh air, back into the engine for reuse. This not only increases efficiency by as much as 12% but also reduces engine emissions. Instead of biocides, used by much of the industry to keep barnacles off of the hull, a special silicone-based paint is used. This increases the ship's efficiency by reducing drag while also protecting the ocean from biocides that may leak. The silicone paint covering the part of the hull below the waterline is credited for lowering the water drag enough to save 1200 tons of fuel per year.We started talking about energy consumption after watching a practice version of Saul's upcoming E-Tech Keynote, Energy Literacy, and Dave Culp of Kiteship and Speed Sailing did a back-of-the-envelope MPG calculation for this ship:A few more facts about Emma Maersk:Running at her rated 80 Mw, her main engines burn 14 tons of residual fuel each hour. Annually, that's 97,400 tons of fuel. Her auxiliaries, delivering their full 30 Mw, burn an additional 6.6 tons/hour, for a total fuel burn of 20.6 tons/hour. Given 290 steaming days/year (80% capacity factor, which is conservative), this yields a total annual usage of 143,400 tons or about $64.5 million in annual fuel costs.Burning 20.6 tons/hour = 6724 gals/hour. At 31 kts/hour, this equals .0046 nautical miles/gallon. At 6076 ft/nautical mile, that's 28 feet/gallon of fuel burned.The 1200 tons saved by her "revolutionary" bottom paint represents a bit less than 1% of this cost, so increases her fuel mileage to 28.2 feet/gallon.Dave concludes:You gotta haul a lot of containers full of $7 tee shirts to make this profitable.28 feet/gallon!Images from jtashipphoto.dk and Wikipedia.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Yuri's Night 2008!

Calling all cosmonauts, inventors, dreamers, and explorers ...tickets for Yuri's Night Bay Area 2008 arenow on sale!http://yurisnightbayarea.netYuri's Night is back! We're bigger and better than everand we need your help to spread the word!Yuri's Night Bay Area2pm - 2am, April 12th, 2008NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CAThis year the San Francisco Bay Area will be home to the largest Yuri's Night celebration ever. At the NASA Ames Research Center over 8,000 people will join astronauts, artists, musicians, scientists and engineers to learn, celebrate, and pay tribute to our global space heritage; and to celebrate the anniversaries of the first human spaceflight and the first space shuttle mission. Yuri's Night Bay Area 2008 is a one-of-a-kind local community event: a perfect fusion of celebration and tribute, technology expo, Maker Faire, art exhibition, and music festival; all rolled into one. Yuri's Night Bay Area 2008 includes:- A mind-expanding series of speakers, including world-renowned video game designer WILL WRIGHT, creator of SimCity, SimEarth, The Sims, and many other games including his exciting upcoming game of life, evolution, and exploration: SPORE; NASA astrobiologist JONATHAN TRENT, leader of the new NASA G.R.E.E.N. team for green technology research; and SAUL GRIFFITH, head of an innovative new company seeking to harness high-altitude wind energy as a cheap alternative to coal: MAKANI POWER.- A TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE featuring leading Bay Area green technology companies including CALCARS and TESLA MOTORS. Plus, dozens of art and science installations spanning everything from NASA research ROBOTS to the unveiling of the newest fire sculpture by the FLAMING LOTUS GIRLS.- DISCUSSIONS and FORUMS where event attendees will get the chance to take on some big questions surrounding Space Exploration, Radical Sustainability, and the Future of Humanity in our Festival of Ideas.- A world-class lineup of musical artists, ranging from the electronic breakbeat sounds of AMON TOBIN, TIPPER, and JOHN TEJADA to rockin' live performances by FREEZEPOP, PARTICLE, and the very special debut of TELSTAR, featuring PHIL LESH of the Grateful Dead.- Live performances of all kinds, from dance and acrobatics by CAPACITOR (San Francisco's ground-breaking interdisciplinary dance company) to aerial demonstrations featuring Yuri-Gagarin-era AEROBATIC AIRCRAFT.- ...and much, much more! Browse the partial list below!Tickets are available on-line for $40 (plus applicable fees). A limited number of tickets may be available for $50 at the door -- check the website for status. If you are interested in helping out at the event, please fill out the volunteer form on our website.We hope to see you there!- The Yuri's Night Bay Area TeamYURI'S NIGHT 2008 LINE-UPTALKS AND INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCES- NASA SCIENTISTS and ASTRONAUTS- A do-it-yourself SHOW AND TELL by INSTRUCTABLES- WILL WRIGHT, creator of SimCity, SimEarth, and the forthcoming Spore- NASA astrobiologist JONATHAN TRENT, leader of the new NASA G.R.E.E.N. team for green technology research.- A CUSTOM MUSIC INTERFACE CONTEST by CreateDigitalMusic- Leading Bay Area minds including SAUL GRIFFITH, head of MAKANI POWER- ...and MUCH, MUCH MORE!ART AND SCIENCE INSTALLATIONS- The unveiling of the newest work by the FLAMING LOTUS GIRLS- A variety of NASA RESEARCH ROBOTS AND AIRCRAFT- MASSIVE SCULPTURE by MICHAEL CHRISTIAN- VIDEO PROJECTION by KOSHO, CELESTINE STAR, and many others- Amazing water vortex effects by SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY- Large-scale kinetic art by SWARM- An art in space, space science, and sustainablity-themed S.T.E.A.M. DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM- A space- and sustainablity-themed DOCUMENTARY SCREENING DOME- ...and MUCH, MUCH, MUCH MORE!LIVE PERFORMANCES AND DANCE- CAPACITOR: Live aerial performance and dance- BAD UNKL SISTA: breathtaking costumes and dance-inspired performance- THE VONSTILT FAMILY: Gravity-defying stilt performances- A LIVE AEROBATIC DEMONSTRATION, featuring three unique Yuri-era airplanes flown by three of the best aerobatic pilots in the world.- ...and more!LIVE INSTRUMENTAL AND VOCAL MUSIC- TELSTAR (feat. Phil Lesh, Steve Molitz, and John Molo)- FREEZEPOP (Boston): indie synthpop / new wave- PARTICLE: instrumental space-disco-dance- BLVD w/ SOULEYE: hip-hop, house, & breaks- ZOE KEATING: avant garde looping cello- MJ GREENMOUNTAIN vs. YOSSI FINE: global fusion and afro-tribal funk- CHRISTOPHER WILLITS (12k, Ghostly Intl.): processed guitar soundscapes- GAMELAN X: the intergalactic 17-member percussive melodic marching troupe- LULACRUZA: Argentinan percussion, guitar, and vocals- THE SWEET SNACKS: Ghettotech and big beatELECTRONIC MUSIC- AMON TOBIN (Ninja Tune/Montreal)- TIPPER (UK, special twilight downtempo set)- JOHN TEJADA (LA/palette recordings)- LUSINE (Ghostly Intl., Seattle) : live set- SCUBA (Hotflush Recordings, UK)- DIGITONAL vs. POSTHUMAN (UK): with live violin- [A]PENDICS.SHUFFLE (LA): live set- DERU (Merck, LA): live set- TYCHO (Ghostly, Merck): live set- RANDOM RAB (El Circo): live set- MR. PROJECTILE (Merck): live set- DR. TOAST (False Profit) vs. GANUCHEAU: live

Posted by fungus amungus 10 years ago


Green Science Fair Winners

Instructables and Discover Magazine are happy to announce the winners of the Discover Green Science Fair for a Better Planet Contest!We asked you to show us some great green ideas and you responded with a flood of them. Over 200 Instructables were submitted over the past few weeks and tons of useful information has been put out there to help others with their own green projects. You are all an inspiration, truly.Thank you for putting so much time and effort into these Instructables. As always, we wish we had more prizes to give out. Now, on with the winners! First 10 Entries For jumping into the contest early, the authors of these Instructables will receive a Discover Magazine t-shirt. Ways to be green How to get FREE 9 Volt Batteries Recycle plastic grocery bags into Loons! Tips on how to improve gas mileage All-Natural Incense Burner Science Fair Display Board How to recycle an old sweater How to Boycott the Bottle Easy Seed Starter Supercharged Lemon Runners-UpThe authors of these Instructables will each receive a copy of 20 Things You Didn't Know About Everything, a book from the Editors at Discover magazine. Mini Wooden Portable Compost Bin How to build a 72Volt electric motorcycle How to Make an Easy Inverted Planter £5 Japanese lamp from recycled materials Trickle charging auto-switching LED helmet Make your own plastic tote bag from recycled plastic bags From old Tourist Map to Gift Bag How to Make A Solar Powered Fan! solar lawn mower How To Smell Pollutants Third Prize The authors of these Instructables will each receive an Eton FR150 Microlink, a Solar-Powered, Crank-powered Portable Radio with Flashlight and Cell Phone Charger. Cheap solar tracker Organic planting pots from newspapers Bike Generator Recycled Denim Shopping Bag The Green Pail Retained Heat Cooker Second Prize The authors of these Instructables will each receive a Sansa Express 1GB MP3 player, Instructables Robot t-shirt, patch, and stickers. Solar Powered Trike Urban Homestead Garden (squarefoot gardening abridged) First Prize The author of this Instructable will receive a Celestron Skyscout that uses advanced GPS technology with point and click convenience to identify thousands of stars, planets, constellations and more. Plus Instructables Robot t-shirt, patch, and stickers. Make Your Own Biodiesel Processor Thank you to all of our judges for helping to choose the winners. Colin Bulthaup (CTO of Potenco, co-founder Squid Labs)Christy Canida (Instructables)Stephen Cass (Senior Editor at Discover Magazine) Saul Griffith (President of Makani Power, co-founder Squid Labs, MacArthur Fellow) Corwin Hardham (CTO of Makani Power, co-founder Squid Labs)Jeremy Jacquot (treehugger.com, USC student in environmental sciences) Tom Kostigen (co-author of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time)Ed Lewis (Instructables)Corey Powell (Executive Editor at Discover Magazine) Sarah Richardson (Senior Editor at Discover Magazine) Gemma Shusterman (Media Lab grad, Juror for the 2008 SIGGRAPH art gallery)Tyghe Trimble (News Editor at Discover Magazine)Eric Wilhelm (Instructables, co-founder Squid Labs) Daniel Wilson (Roboticist, author of How to Build a Robot Army) Laura Wright (Senior Editor of On Earth Magazine, published by the Natural Resources Defense Council)

Posted by fungus amungus 10 years ago


Laser Cutter Contest Winners!

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of the Laser Cutter Contest:Stuart.Mcfarlan for How to Make a Three Axis CNC Machine (Cheaply and Easily)Be sure to check out Stuart.Mcfarlan's plans for the Laser Cutter.Congratulations to all the finalists who will receive a Laser-etched Instructables Leatherman Juice S2 and an Instructables t-shirt for their simply amazing work:crabfu for Steam Turbine Tankdave spencer for erupting Volcano Birthday CakeHonus for How to make a Green Lantern ring- including a glowing version!jabroutin for personal powerPlantjeffkobi for Retro Hi-Fi ProjectKasey for Compubeaver --> How to case-mod a beaver - in 29 easy steps!lkrasnow for Precision Puzzlemaking Primer -- Volume 1mikejedw for Pringles Wind Turbine (Pleech) - Version One mydian_nightshade forFurniture grade cocktail arcade cabinetmzed for Low-cost Spherical Speaker Array nemomatic for Giant Squid kinetic sculpture from found materialsorthonormal_basis_of_evil for EMP shopping cart lockertalbotron22 for DIY Kitty Crack: ultra-potent catnip extract turkey tek for Interactive Multitouch DisplayWe had planned to select 20 second place winners, but just couldn't narrow the field, so we're awarding 25 second place winners, who will receive Instructables t-shirts! They are:$30 High-Speed PCB Drill Press by lancandy$60 Laser Engraver / Cutter by cgoshBreath powered USB charger by jmengelBuild a Tetris DVD (or book) shelf by odecom5Capture the Ethereal Beauty of Everyday Objects Using Polarized Light. by Tool Using AnimalCO2 laser that cuts sheet metal by owhiteCosmic Light With LEDs Embedded in Resin by technoplastiqueDuck Cam Decoy by RoadstarElectromagnetic Floater by J_HodgieFine Silver (99.9% pure) Popcorn Pendant! by roughtyperHan Solo in carbonite chocolate bar! by FreakCitySFLaptop Converted to 2nd Monitor by punish3rMake a wall avoiding Robot! a collaboration led by Brandon121233Make Conductive Glue and Glue a Circuit by mikey77Make rope out of dead plants -- with no tools a collaboration led by phyzomeMod a toaster and have retro art toast for breakfast by 5VoltMotherboard PCB Bracelet by llama13Portable Water resistant LED Picnic Blanket with hard center serving surface! by pointcloudStart a Guerrilla Drive-in by plusbryanThe Ice Bulb by mandrakeThe Intimate Video Light/ Handheld photograpy light. by curve12The One, The Only COTTON CANDY MACHINE! by T3h_MuffinatorTheater Effects: Gunshot Wounds by TrumpetNeelUse a Vacuum cleaner to build your own Skateboard by gregorylavoieWire Scorpion by OniToraAll the winners should watch for a personal message from us for prize claiming instructions.With so many excellent entries, and with each of them being at the top of their game in some different aspect, the judging was extremely difficult. We had help juding from a large number of users including 5Volt, african_andy187, Albetcha, BobbyMike, CameronSS, canida, daenris, drinkmorecoffee, ewilhelm, fungus amungus, herrozerro, ian, imanalchemist, J_Hodgie, jamesh, jesse.hensel, jessyratfink, jmengel, Kiteman, LasVegas, lebowski, lennyb, llama13, lothotrity, momo!, nagutron, nak, noahw, olddaddycrane, pt, Randofo, Robyntheslug, royalestel, ryzellon, Sam Noyoun, saul, Sedgewick17, sheekgeek, stasterisk, steven07, T3h_Muffinator, technick29, Tetranitrate, Tool Using Animal, trebuchet03, trialex, x9a, zieak, and Zujus. For more information on how we judged, check here.The entries submitted to this contest exceeded all of my expectations. They are totally amazing in their quality, instructional value, uniqueness, and pure brilliance. It is my hope that everyone had a blast entering the contest and learned something useful, fun, or both. To me, the value of posting an Instructable is when someone makes a comment saying that I taught them something new, changed the way they looked at things, or inspired them to make something themselves (even if it's something totally different than my Instructable). Looking through the Instructables submitted to the contest and comments on the finalists' forum posts, it's clear that this is happening all over, and it makes me smile every time. Congratulations to all the winners! And, thanks to everyone that entered. Even if your Instructable didn't win a prize, I'm sure it has had a positive impact on someone's life and will continue to do so.

Posted by ewilhelm 11 years ago


The Dream Factory - Squid Labs and Instructables in Wired September 2005

This was Instructables' big debut. The author, Clive Thompson, came and hung out at Squid Labs for a couple of days, and later on we had a hilarious half-day photoshoot where the photographers couldn't remember Dan's name and had to keep calling him "wrench."Wired 13.09 The Dream Factoryby Clive ThompsonThey're already living that future in a small warehouse in Emeryville, California. It's the headquarters of Squid Labs, run by a gang of five MIT alums who by day create prototypes of new technologies for outside firms - and by night fabricate weird gizmos just for fun."Everything I own is basically one of a kind," says a cheery Saul Griffith, one of the cofounders, as he crouches on the floor of his dust-covered workshop, rooting through an enormous bucket of metal brackets and bolts. A tall, shaggy Australian, he's wearing ragged flip-flops and a pair of cargo pants so stained with oil and grime that I can't determine their original color. Dozens of his group's inventions lie scattered about: a Frisbee embedded with microchip-driven LEDs, a set of robots precision-cut from plastic, a bunch of helmet-mounted laser-and-GPS sensors designed to help firefighters locate one another in a blazing house.Today, Griffith is building a "hybrid electric bicycle" with a hidden battery compartment inside the bike's 4-foot-long, chopper-style front forks. To hold the forks in place, he spent the morning designing a bracket, then cut out a flat template for it on Squid Labs' laser cutter. Now, with that template as a guide, he hacks the shape out of quarter-inch steel, using a terrifyingly loud metal cutter. "I'm really into this 'tractor' aesthetic, getting everything to look like industrial machinery!" he hollers over the cutter's shrieks, while a 3-foot cone of orange sparks flies up and ricochets off his face.Every few minutes, Griffith pauses to snap a photo of his progress. When done, he'll write up a comprehensive guide on how to build his project. This, he argues, is the next crucial step in fab culture: getting hobbyists to carefully document their plans and share them online. Squid Labs is hoping to kick-start such sharing this fall when it launches Instructables.com - an open database of interesting projects and fab techniques, "kind of like a Wikipedia for making stuff," Griffith explains. If people want to build his electric hybrid chopper bicycle, they'll be able to download the CorelDraw design of the bracket and send it someplace like eMachineShop to have their own copy printed."We got inspired when we looked at all these guys who'd engineered these incredible, modded parts for their Harleys. They'd have amazing photos of them, but they'd never post the CAD image," Griffith says. "We were like, Why not go open source?"Later that day, I get a taste of how weirdly transformative this idea is. I'm hanging out with Dan Goldwater - another Squid Labs cofounder - and admiring one of his inventions. It's a pair of plastic gears that sit on a bike pedal and power a tiny generator. As you ride, you can run LED lights or a radio. I tell him I'd love to have a version of it myself. So a couple of Squid Labs guys go over to the laser cutter, pull up the design, and a few minutes later hand me exact copies of Goldwater's gears. Design once, print often. "Pretty cool, eh?" Goldwater grins."Griffith imagines that fab tools could produce new economic models for creators. Suppose a hobbyist made a cool plastic exterior for an MP3 player. Suppose she put the design online, and 700 people downloaded the file and had it printed at eMachineShop. "At what point," he asks, "would a manufacturer say, Hey, there's a market here - and offer to buy the design from her?""So, sure, soon we'll be able to build anything. But should we? "Let's say everyone suddenly can make their own hood ornaments. What if they actually do that? The real world would look like the Internet in 1996, when people started making their own Web sites." Griffith shudders. "Remember those hideous-looking psychedelic backgrounds and stupid animations? And blinking tags?""Rainbow dividers," Goldwater adds.It's a good point - and it makes me anxious about my guitar. Sure, it looked fine onscreen. But what if it turns out to be a monstrosity in my hands? Recalling my decision to use clear acrylic for the body, I break into a nervous sweat. It's going to look like something from a mid-'80s, big-hair heavy-metal band! What the hell was I thinking?Griffith interrupts my panic to announce that his chopper is ready. He wheels it onto the street, all five Squid Labbers in tow. Eric Wilhelm, a lanky designer, offers to be the test pilot. He straps on a helmet and mounts the seat. "Does it have brakes?" he asks."Sort of," Griffith says."It's amazing how often brakes are an afterthought," Wilhelm sighs. Then he hits the electric starter and peels off.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Graffiti artists replicate The Matrix on Instructables.com--and win $15,000 Universal Laser Cutter!

Instructables and Universal Laser are happy to announce that the incredibly creative Instructable, How to Enter the Ghetto Matrix (DIY Bullet Time) has won the Grand Prize in the 2008 Instructables.com and Universal Laser Cutter Contest: a 40-watt VersaLaser laser cutter valued at over $15,000!Grand Prize Winner How to Enter the Ghetto Matrix (DIY Bullet Time) How to Enter the Ghetto Matrix (DIY Bullet Time) provides an extremely detailed Instructables tutorial on how to build a cheap, portable special-effects rig to create "bullet-time" animations--a technique, popularized in The Matrix movies, where the audience's point-of-view moves around the scene at normal speed while the action on screen is slowed down."We want to inspire great ideas and provide skills, tools, and shared know-how," Instructables CEO Eric Wilhelm explained. "This project represents exactly what we're trying to achieve with Instructables."The DIY Bullet Time Instructable was created and documented by the Graffiti Research Lab, an open-source urban art and communication collective supported by the Free Art & Technology Lab, a Brooklyn-based non-profit research lab creating work at the intersection of popular culture and the public domain."This will be the cornerstone of our new lab space," said GRL member fi5e. "A whole crew of creative people are really excited to put this thing to use! Thanks for helping us bring the VersaLaser to Brooklyn."The winner was chosen by votes from Instructables users and our panel of expert judges, who reviewed the 14 finalists drawn from a pool of over 600 entries. Congratulations to fi5e and everyone at the GRL - we know you'll really put the VersaLaser to work, and can't wait to see what great things you make! First Prize(in alphabetical order) Autonomous Foosball Table Blu-Ray Laser Phaser! Build a Greenland Kayak Build a Wind Harp! Build yourself a portable home - a mongolian yurt Extreme Business Cards Giant Fresnel Lens Deathray How I built a carbon bike frame at home (and a bamboo frame too) How to Make a TRON Style Lamp: The MADYLIGHT How to build a sit down driving arcade cabinet Laser cutter, start slicing stuff for under 50 dollars Laser Image Projector The Spiral Data Tato -- A Curiously Complex Origami CD Case Second Prize The authors of these Instructables win a robot t-shirt and a laser-etched plaque. Listed in alphabetical order. 30 minute USB microscope The Ambience Enhancer Autonomous, Wirelessly Controlled Hovercraft Conductive Glue And Conductive Thread: Make an LED Display and Fabric Circuit That Rolls Up. Cool Wave Ring Dollar Store Parabolic Mic Handcut inlay A Home Power Plant - Wind Power Generator Revised How to Make a Color-Changing Lighted Faux Fur Scarf How to make a pair of Angel Wings How to Make an OAWR (Obstacle Avoiding Walking Robot) Make DIY Vanilla Extract "Quicksilver" Retro-Future Scooter from appliances and scrap metal Solid Wood Digital Clock The Stirling Engine, absorb energy from candles, coffee, and more! Squishy Breast Stress Relief Toy TiggerBot II Robot Tube Amp Rebuild (and Mod) U-Disp - The Digg (tm) display (Open Source)Wooden Gear Clock Expert JudgesTo help us judge, we assembled an amazing team of expert designers, engineers, hackers, journalists, scientists, technologists, and other really smart people. They spent hours examining each of the finalists Instructables and helping us make a decision. We'd like to send a huge "Thank You" to each of our incredible judges. We couldn't have done it without you.Violet Blue (author, blogger, podcaster, columnist, and SRL vet)Gareth Branwyn (Contributing Editor, MAKE Magazine)Zoz Brooks (Host, of the upcoming TV Show Prototype This)Joe Brown (Editor, Wired Magazine)Colin Bulthaup (CTO of Potenco, co-founder Squid Labs) David Calkins (Co-founder of RoboGames) Julia Cosgrove (Deputy Editor, ReadyMade Magazine)Chris Csikszentmihalyi (Professor at the MIT Media Lab, Computing Culture Group)Simone Davalos (Co-founder of RoboGames) Lenore Edman (Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories)Dan Goldwater (Founder of monkeylectric, co-founder Squid Labs)Saul Griffith (President of Makani Power, co-founder Squid Labs, MacArthur Fellow)Duncan Haberly (Instructables)Matthew Hancher (NASA Researcher in the Intelligent Systems Division)Brian Lam (Editor, Gizmodo)Ed Lewis (Instructables)Jeffrey McGrew (Designer, Because We Can)Chuck Messer (Tackle Design, The Open Prosthetics Project, host of Discovery's Smash Lab)Megan Miller (Editor, PopSci)Jim Newton (Founder of TechShop)Quinn Norton (Journalist)Windell Oskay (Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories)David Pescovitz (BoingBoing, Institute for the Future, MAKE Magazine)Cloude Porteus (Instructables)Randy Sarafan (Instructables, Eyebeam Resident)Peter Semmelhack (Founder of Buglabs)Tyghe Trimble (News Editor, Discover Magazine)Noah Weinstein (Instructables)Eric Wilhelm (CEO of Instructables, co-founder Squid Labs)Dan Woods (Associate Publisher, MAKE Magazine) For the full information on how the winners were chosen, click here.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology - A nicer way to patent

Earlier this month, a group of 11 research institutions signed a pledge to take a different approach to licensing intellectual property, titled "Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology". My read of the whitepaper amounts to this: Universities are realizing that their aggressive licensing behavior comes at a cost, and they're toning it down. However, of the nine points, absent in my mind is consideration of the students involved in any licensing deal. For many, graduate school gives the first meaningful introduction to the patent system, and often the first introduction to the system of licensing intellectual property. When a research project turns into a patent, and a patent turns into a startup company with a student in a founding position, the alignment between the student and the university, particularly with what's often called the technology licensing or transfer office (TLO or TTO), ends. Knowing the high failure rate of startups, it's the TLO's job to immediately extract as much value from the startup as possible.During my time there, MIT was no different in this regard, and I went through this process personally with a company based on some of my research as well as seeing the same thing happen to friends. The TLO would approach the negotiations in the same way it would approach negotiations with an established IP giant, like IBM or Intel. The burdens placed on nascent companies were incredible, and included things such as direct cash payments -- things that can increase the chance of failure or require the founders to give up more control to VCs into return for badly needed cash. So, while the whitepaper discusses costs that are, in general, more societal, the aggressive behavior I've witnesses also comes at a cost. My propensity to give to the endowment has been severely impacted. The licensing offices must know that second-time entrepreneurs have a higher success rate, so maximizing the TLO's return comes at an overall cost to the university. My choices in what projects Squid Labs pursued were also impacted. Colin, Saul, and I were all in the same research group while at MIT, so one might think Squid Labs would have pursued projects in printed electronics -- something we spent a combined nine years working on. Not so. Knowing the roadblocks that the TLO would put in front of getting access to those patents, we intentionally went after ideas out of MIT's control. Good thing we did, otherwise I might not have a place to share these thoughts with you!Here's the original article, forwarded to me by my Mom, that brought this to my attention:A Nicer Way to PatentBy Eliot MarshallScienceNOW Daily News7 March 2007Universities have plumbed a rich source of cash in recent years by aggressively patenting and licensing faculty inventions, but some schools now want to set limits on the practice. An elite group--11 top research institutions and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)--have signed a pledge to take a kinder, gentler approach to licensing intellectual property. Yesterday, they released principles on the sharing of patented discoveries, urging other universities to follow their lead.The manifesto, drafted at a meeting last year at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, makes nine key points. First on the list is that universities should not agree to deals that would curtail access to new technology by researchers at nonprofit institutions. In the past, for example, biologists complained that Harvard University granted a company too much control over its patented "oncomouse," an animal designed to be cancer-prone (Science, 17 May 2002, p. 1212). This impeded its use in research, some claimed. In other points, the guidelines say that universities should steer clear of deals that give one licensee highly exclusive control of a discovery; that they should avoid making claims on "future improvements" of a discovery; and that they should take into consideration the special needs of "neglected patient populations or geographic areas." The specific issue that led to the drafting of these principles, according to physicist Arthur Bienenstock, former dean of research at Stanford and an organizer of the Palo Alto meeting, was a flurry of concerns about license restrictions on the use of human embryonic stem cells from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The university's technology manger, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) initially required some university-based researchers to take out a restrictive commercial license. After many objected, WARF dropped the policy (Science, 26 January 2007, p. 449).WARF's director, Carl Gulbrandsen, acknowledges that the stem cell licensing requirements caused a backlash. But he says Wisconsin has never sued a university or a researcher over a patent license disagreement. And he praises the new Palo Alto licensing guidelines--which WARF itself has endorsed--although he notes they are "very broad" and nonbinding. Gulbrandsen adds: "We have been following most if not all of these policies" for many years.What impact will the new document have? AAMC Senior Vice President David Korn, who helped draft it, concedes that the guidelines are "a bit arcane" but hopes they create "a buzz" among university patent officers at their annual meeting in San Francisco this week. Korn says the position statement will remind everyone that university licensing deals should "always be guided by the public interest."

Posted by ewilhelm 11 years ago