A Clothespin Piano

Hey there, it’s another project! This one (like many others) can be found in the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database. This is a piano (another one) but instead of buttons we’ve assembled our own “keys” using clothespins. It’s a Clothespin Piano! They’ve already got springs to snap back to a “closed/off” position, so adding a little bit of Maker Tape was easy. (And yes, we had lots of clothespins around from the Simple Coin Cell Battery Testers that we make.)

Here’s a nice illustration to show the connections and how to assemble it. You could print this page and use it as a guide, and we’ve also got a PDF that can be used with just the outline of the clothespins and and tape. (I actually laser etched some cardboard for my version, which made lining things up very easy.)

We used 1/4″ Maker Tape and 1/8″ Maker Tape. The former for the clothespins, just to get better surface contact, and the latter for the Crazy Circuits connections.

Worth noting is that these are “Normally Closed” switches (or “NC”) instead of “Normally Open” (or “NO”) switches, so we’ve reversed the logic in the code to handle that. (Also fun, if you disconnect all the keys it’ll just play notes all the time.)


UFO Badge

Hey, it’s time for another badge! This time we’ve got a UFO Badge. It’s another Brown Dog Gadgets project that’s a great example of using Maker Tape.

The PDF file contains two pages you can print onto cardstock and then cut up and make into the badge. (Full instructions are in the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database.)

These badges are fun, cheap, and easy-to-make wearables. They feature simple circuitry that requires no soldering, just a few components and some conductive tape.

(Note: This one doesn’t actually blink, but you can use whatever LEDs you like. The 10mm Jumbo LEDs at Brown Dog Gadgets have built-in resistors, which make them great for simple projects like this.)


Making Food

Since March and the “Stay at Home” orders due to the global pandemic we’ve rarely gone out for food, and for a while we were trying to order food for pickup at least once a week, partly to support local businesses we love, and partly for variety.

(Astute followers will also be aware of my #BurritoEverything campaign, but that’s another post.)

Due to changes in work and life and finances I’ve been trying more and more to create good/new meals at home. I’ve tried a lot of new recipes, some of them turned out great, by the way… I also started making bread again, which I tend to mainly use for French toast (AKA “eggy bread”) and I’ve realized… this is my MAKING now.

Don’t get me wrong, I still do some making activities, but not as much as I used to, so filling in the gaps with making meals, treats, snacks, food, whatever… has been nice. There have been some clunkers, but overall I’ve make some delicious creations!

My only regret is that I don’t have any events to bring tasty stuff to. Maybe by 2021 that will change. Until then, keep on bAKING!


Classic Mac Paper Bot

You might remember my Rockin’ Amp Vibrobot. Well, I thought it would be fun to make a old Mac, since they were iconic and sort of cube-shaped.

This is another project for Brown Dog Gadgets and you can grab the Classic Mac template if you want to make your own. As always, we recommend Maker Tape for this project because copper tape suuuuuuuuucks!

Inspiration (and files) came from SVGRepo, where I found the front view of a Mac and a floppy disk. Light editing was involved, as well as creating the other five sides of the Mac, the tabs, slots, etc. (This follows the same basic template of the Rockin’ Amp.)

We usually make a small non-descript “key switch” that slides into a slot to turn on our vibrobot friend, but I couldn’t resist make a tiny floppy to do the honors.

Oh, and Josh recommended we add the 3mm LED to the front. Tiny LED to go with Tiny computer and floppy disk!

Welcome to Macintosh!


Bear Notes

I’ve been using Evernote for years, and while Evernote has a ton of features, what I was really after was a way to have my notes available on my computers (multiple desktops and laptops) as well as on my mobile devices (phones and tablets) and the ability to log into with a browser to see my notes was a nice bonus.

I avoided things like storing web clippings, rich media, or even images (beyond a simple sketch on occasion) within Evernote because I didn’t want to get too entrenched in their offering, in case I’d need to move in the future. Looks like a safe bet now.

Months ago I toyed with the idea of just using text files and a private GitHub repo to store my notes, but I didn’t really have a good way to do it on mobile. Part of the thinking around that was that I was using Markdown more and more for work projects and systems, so using Markdown in my notes made a lot of sense…

Enter Bear, which works on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Yeah, no Windows or Android, but I’m really not using those platforms much these days. On occasion I’d use the browser version of Evernote but honestly, if I am anywhere, my phone is probably with me. Also, there may be some options to get the note data from Bear via SQLite.

Bear comes in at about 1/4th the price of Evernote… I’m still not a fan of subscriptions, but it’s just the way things are now. Part of the cheaper price might be that there is no front-end web interface to the notes. Evernote kept going up in price and limiting the lower tiers. I think they completely did away with the tier I had and raised the price even more. For what I use it for, it’s just not worth it.

So far I’m loving Bear. It’s not perfect, but between Markdown, multiple themes, the clean interface, and other features, I like it. It does use tags instead of notebooks, but honestly I was able to transfer to that method very quickly. Tags also let you easily group notes that are in different “categories” into their own separate category. It’s nice. Oh, you can also link to other notes! That’s something I really wanted in Evernote. Now I’ve got it in Bear. You can also encrypt notes, which I haven’t played with yet, but seems like a nice feature.

If you’re sick of Evernote, and use a MacOS/iOS, and like Markdown, tags, themes, a clean interface, etc… Give Bear a look.