Multi-Mode, Rubber Band-Powered Roller

Multi-Mode Rubber Band-Powered Roller (Parts and Tools)

Back in 2011 an 8-year-old neighbor kid showed me a book with about a dozen small Lego projects. The book had a kind of “blister pack” attached at the bottom, containing the Lego parts needed to make all of the projects. He proudly flipped through the book, showing me the projects he had made so far (just about ALL of them).

One page showed a sophisticated plastic version of something I recognized from my childhood … a simple toy made from a wooden spool, a couple matchsticks, a piece of candle wax or soap, and a rubber band. Here is the version from the old World Book / Childcraft Make and Do book that we had growing up:

Spool Tractor – Childcraft

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Double-Take Keepsake Box

It’s been a while since I’ve done much woodturning/woodworking, but one of my original goals for this blog was to collect various projects that I’ve documented elsewhere. I wrote about this first one on the Family Woodworking forum back in April 2011.

The project below came straight out of an article in the September 2003 issue of WOOD magazine (pages 70-73) called Double-Take Keepsake Box.

The idea is to create what appears, at first glance, to be a one-piece hollow vessel…

Southern Vessel Box – Assembled

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Holding a token…

About 7 years ago a customer sent me an RSA token to use when logging into their network.

RSA SecurID Token

For some 1,700 workdays I struggled to position the token at a “good” angle. If I stood it on edge I couldn’t read the numbers at all. If I laid it flat — same problem. For a while I was able to lean it up against one of my monitor stands, but it inevitably slipped and fell over.

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Swiping passwords

Today I ran across an interesting MakeZine project article that shows how to use an Arduino Leonardo and an RFID card reader to make a custom password entry gadget. According to the article, the cost was about $75.

$75?! I accomplished the same thing last year for about $16 … with no soldering and without modifying or damaging any hardware. (You can get the same parts today for closer to $11.)

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I’m a little robot, short and stout. What is my handle? Just call me Spout.

A couple months ago I spent several hours (over a period of days) on the Khan Academy site, reviewing and practicing topics in Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry and Precalculus. (Why?  Well, that’s just the kind of guy I am….)

A couple days ago I logged back in to see what other kinds of topics I could learn about. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across a video series on Robots! (See At the present time, the series shows how to assemble 3 different robot designs.  In order of increasing complexity, they’re called

  • Spout
  • Spider
  • Bit-zee Bot

Spout consists of batteries, motors, switches, wires and paperclips (and optional LED “eyes”) and is held together by solder and hot glue. (A “no solder” version of the bot is also covered.) I had all the necessary parts, so I decided to build my own variant of Spout yesterday.

Homemade robot "Spout" - inspired by Khan Academy project

Homemade robot “Spout” – inspired by Khan Academy project

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