I like to make stuff. Or as my wife says, I like to plan to make stuff, occasionally buy stuff to make stuff with but never really make stuff. Of course, she’s correct in her analysis.
So when I get down to planning to not make stuff, I look to my old friend the World Wide Web for ideas and inspiration. Let me share with you a few of my favourites sites. Once you have a look through these sites, you’ll never see a broken vacuum cleaner or left-over rebar the same way again!
This site is responsible for many a sleepless night as it sparked an idea for my next million-dollar invention. I use the word ‘next’ loosely as I never got around to the first one. Make: has a great layout, good organization and projects ranging from simple “science-fair” to “you-need-an-engineering-degree-and-a-good-burn-kit” complexity. At the time of writing, the front page of Make: is featuring a video for making slippers from duct tape and an article on using an Arduino microcontroller on a robot. I’m guessing the latter is for the engineering types.
If you can’t find a project at Make: then Instructables is the place to go. Again, the projects run the gamut from something you can do with the kids like, How To Sew A Bag For Mothers’ Day, to things you really shouldn’t do with the kids like how to make a Coilgun Handgun. I suppose you could do that with the kids, if they’re Klingons!
One of the differentiating details between Instructables and Make: is that Instuctables has more craft-like how-to’s as well as recipes. Both are great though.
Instructables is also home to the guru known as Kipkay, whose awesome tutorials are found all over the web and have landed him a show on Science Channel TV.
It should be noted that a registering for a free account is necessary to make full use of the site i.e download the Instructables PDF file and to view the images at a larger size.
Really, with a name like that you just HAVE to go to the site. This is a must when science fair season rolls around. Let’s face it, not all kids make the honour roll or have access to oscilloscopes and soldering iron, so if they need a kick – this is the place.
Each activity really does have a lesson to teach about science and they are all fun! I know it’s really simple but I like the Dancing Raisins or Mothballs one. Some stuff are just cool. The option to go a little high-tech is here too, but I don’t recommend making a Tesla Coil, or as Nikolai Tesla himself called it, ‘My Coil’, without the aid of an electrical engineer and the fire department standing by.
There is a tremendous amount of content at eHow, however not all of it is about making stuff. You need to sift through the mass of pop-psychology articles or Cosmo-like cliched articles. I particularly liked the article on How To Make a Haunted House, but don’t worry, it doesn’t feature a murder-suicide as one of the steps. That would make it haunted for certain! Where are the Winchesters when you need them?
Do keep in mind that a lot of the technical advice a little dated. There are articles on how to select camera film, or change the stylus on a record player.
An old-time favourite of mine and many other hackers. Now, when I use hackers in this sense, I’m talking about guys who do stuff with things for which they may not have been originally intended. Not in an evil or malicious way, but just because they can. Take for example, making a large-screen TV into a huge Etch-a-Sketch. Now you can make stairs and Aztec pyramids all day long! I’m not very artistic, though.
Have you built something cool and documented it to share? Why not share it here? Got an idea for making something neat? Where would you normally post it? Let’s talk about it in the comments.