Vol. 23: Reader Input

Rosy CupCakes, router safety, shocked kids, and pirate booms.

MAKE Volume 21 [Desktop Manufacturing] is brilliant — I’m subscribing. As an engineer in the mid-90s, I drove usage of tools like SLA, SLS, and NC machining to create rapid prototypes, and they quickly showed their benefit in lower cost, better and faster design iterations, and improved understanding of those designs. It’s awesome to see these tools getting to a broader community — it will allow more creativity, capability, and fun!

— Jeff Zemsky, Glenmont, N.Y.

“The Revolution Will Be Squirted” (Volume 21) was a bit too rosy about the CupCake CNC. The article does a good job of pointing out its major differences from commercial offerings, but not its shortcomings, such as the quality of the objects it outputs. The article does state that it uses a 0.3mm filament, but fails to show a close-up shot to reveal the coarseness and irregularity of the samples pictured.

Another shortcoming is repeatability. Running a print is hit-or-miss. A part can start fine and degenerate halfway through because the open-loop motion control is drifting or the filament’s properties have changed.

Hopefully this article will spur many readers to join the desktop manufacturing revolution. I just wish it didn’t sound so much like a promotional piece for MakerBot Industries.

— Charles Erignac, Seattle, Wash.

Editor’s reply: Thanks for the clarifications. We could have shown finer detail, but with its typical 0.37mm layer thickness, the CupCake CNC isn’t really about ultra-precise fabrication — it’s about rapid prototyping, invention, and fun.

MAKE has changed my life and the lives of my children — and a few hundred kids at their grade school. I built the electrostatic generator (“Remaking History,” Volume 21) and presented it at the school. You should have heard the kids gasp when just turning a PVC handle with some rabbit fur made a small piece of neon tubing light up. They couldn’t wait to line up and get shocked by the Leyden jar.

My kids can’t wait for Saturdays when we get to build. I’m ordering the Make: Electronics book with the idea of teaching a basic electronics course for 7th and 8th graders. Thank you so much for changing me and so many others.

— Ron White, Helena, Mt.

I found “Instant Paddle” (Volume 21) intriguing — to me it was a totally new and simple way to construct a paddle. However, as a woodworker I was shocked at the unsafe router technique shown.

When rounding over the corners of thin stock, the safe way is to securely mount the router in a router table, then mount a fence on the table. The fence guides your stock and also “hides” the majority of the router bit, keeping your fingers safe. The use of feather boards would make the procedure even safer.

I built a basic router table for about $20. Pat Warner’s website is dedicated to routing and router tables, Norm Abram built at least one on The New Yankee Workshop, and a Google search will produce dozens more.

— Art Mulder, contributing editor
Canadian Home Workshop magazine
London, Ontario

My student teams in the Destination ImagiNation program (idodi.org) have used MAKE’s ideas to help them succeed. They’ve built some items just as described in your magazine, and modified others to their needs.

In this YouTube video, one of my teams uses two “Boom Sticks” (Volume 13) to make loud cannon booms during their pirate skit.

— Jeff Harris, Delano, Minn.

I wanted to thank Make: television for offering great-quality, inspiring entertainment and ideas that are perfect for the whole family. My husband and I are in our forties and we have teenagers who seem uninspired. We reminisce of the days of homemade go-karts and backyard forts. The programs, stories, and events you promote will help many kids develop creative ideas.

— Meg Alexander, Franklin, Ohio

Editor’s note: You can watch or download the entire Emmy-nominated Make: television Season 1 at makezine.com/tv.


On our Traditional Cigar Box Guitar (Volume 21) the tuners were mounted upside down. Flip them so the string tension pulls the shaft toward the gear. Thanks to maker Bill Ludeman of Palatka, Fla., for spotting our error.

In the breadboard diagram for Motion-Sensitive Camera Trap (Volume 22), the LEDs should be wired to ground (not power), and the wire from Arduino pin 10 should meet its blue LED’s positive lead (it overshot by one hole). The corrected diagram is online at makezine.com/22/cameratrap. Also, 3 standoffs and 6 screws are needed to mount the Arduino.

In “Puzzle of the Crowned Pulleys” (Volume 22), Figure C was misinterpreted. In fact the upper edge of the cylindrical pulley (line b) is not parallel to line a, and line b is not perpendicular to the incoming portion of the belt. Thanks to reader Miguel Dimase of Buenos Aires, Argentina for catching our slip.

TIP: If your Solar Tracking Platform (Volume 22) doesn’t track accurately, the solar cell may be getting too much reflected light from low clouds or nearby buildings. Try painting the shade black underneath, or simply tape over unneeded portions of the cell.

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