3D Printed Dust Port Adapter

Here’s a quick guide to making a 3D printed adapter to connect your power tools to your shop vac if they’re not naturally compatible.

For this example, I’ll be using my Ryobi planer and sander and my Festool shop vac hose, but these general instructions should work for any two tubes that are close to the same size as each other.

For this project, you will need:

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Meow Meow Mini: First Look

Today I want to introduce you to a new board, the Meow Meow Mini. It’s basically a capacitive touch keyboard, which makes it easy to turn any almost anything into a controller for games and other apps.

Meow Meow is created by my friends at Electronic Cats, a Mexican open source hardware company headquartered in Aguascalientes.

Check out my friend Gus Merckel‘s Meow Meow Mini review video in Spanish.

Meow Meow Mini is a more compact, lower cost version of their larger board, but has the same 10 capacitive sensors and USB connection. The cute PCB is in the creative shape of a kitty face, with all the components and labels on one side. The sensors are the whiskers.

To get making with Meow Meow Mini, attach alligator clips to the through holes on the sturdy circuit board and connect the other ends to whatever material you’d like to try. It’s fun to experiment with what materials will work, since anything that’s even slightly conductive is fair game.

Connect the micro USB cable to your computer to use your new creation as a keyboard. Press the reset button to calibrate the sensors to the material you connected, and you’re good to go.

The ten keys are WASD, up down left right arrows, space bar, and left mouse click.

This kitten isn’t reprogrammable like it’s big brother, but it’s also only half the price, which makes it more accessible for educators and families doing STEAM projects with their kids. It’s a great companion to Scratch, as a controller for homemade games.

Meow Meow is similar to Makey Makey, which is a keyboard input board that uses resistive touch sensing. I think they are both awesome at helping kids and adults alike get a creative introduction to electronics that has lasting impact.

It’s cool to see Electronic Cats create and sell hardware in Mexico, where they are able to reach local communities more directly and without expensive import taxes, while also reaching the wider North American and global markets.

You can order a Meow Meow Mini right now on the Electronic Cats web store.

Here are some places I like to use my Meow Meow Mini:

Electronic Affirmation Mirror

Written for HackSpace magazine issue 30

When you look in the mirror, who couldn’t use a few words of encouragement? Build a display inside a mirror to scroll custom affirmations you can read over your own reflection. This polished project comes together easily with a store-bought shadow box frame and some see-through mirror material. You can build a simple version with a basic Arduino or compatible, or level it up using a NodeMCU (ESP8266 WiFi board) in order to add more positive quotes to the mirror over the internet.

For this project, you will need:

Read the full tutorial on HackSpace.

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Hakko Wire Strippers Review

Many pairs of wire strippers have come and gone in my life, but these wire strippers by Hakko has remained throughout. They’ve stayed sharp over years of frequent use, and this flared part of the handle makes them a joy to hold and use.

The rubber grips have a powder mixed into the rubber to give them a sturdy, really nice feeling grip, even if your hands are slippery with motor oil.

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Fabric Scissors (Watercolor Speedpaint 12)

The 11th watercolor in my Tools series in a pair of heavy duty scissors.

In case you are interested, I’ve made a post cataloging all the supplies I use to create watercolor paintings.

When I’m done painting, I scan it in, touch it up, and upload it to my print shop, in case you are interested in owning a copy of this design. I’ve also made a poster featuring all the tools in this series so far. You can get a discount to my print shop by signing up for my email newsletter or joining my Patreon.

Please enjoy the timelapse and let me know what else I should paint in a comment below.

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Heavy Duty Scissors (Watercolor Speedpaint 11)

The 11th watercolor in my Tools series in a pair of heavy duty scissors.

In case you are interested, I’ve made a post cataloging all the supplies I use to create watercolor paintings.

When I’m done painting, I scan it in, touch it up, and upload it to my print shop, in case you are interested in owning a copy of this design. I’ve also made a poster featuring all the tools in this series so far. You can get a discount to my print shop by signing up for my email newsletter or joining my Patreon.

Please enjoy the timelapse and let me know what else I should paint in a comment below.

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Olfa 5003 Ratchet-Lock Heavy-Duty Utility Knife Review

Every maker needs a reliable utility blade, and my favorite, my Old Faithful, is the Olfa 5003 ratchet-lock heavy-duty utility knife. It’s the most versatile option in a standard class of tool that includes these cheapo box cutters and these more industrial utility knives. Its biggest upside is the shaped metal blade holder at the tip, which keeps the blade from wobbling back and forth. When the ratchet mechanism is clamped in place, there is no play in the blade whatsoever.

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My Experience Getting Licensed in Ham Radio

I just got my ham radio license! I started studying for my ham radio test at the suggestion of my friend David, who was also studying for his first license at the time. He made a strong pitch to my technological curiosity and urban survivalist interests by suggesting we could potentially communicate with each other without the assistance of the power grid or cell tower networks.

I bought the spiral-bound Technician Class manual, and its corresponding question book, and began reading. Since I’m already familiar with basic electronics, some of the concepts were easy to grasp.

Other topics were completely new to me, like ham etiquette and the regulatory stuff. Wave behaviors stood out as particularly fun and novel to me– here’s an awesome video about wave behaviors that helps illuminate the subject beautifully:

I picked up a portable radio that I’ve seen commonly recommended as a first radio: it’s a BaoFeng UV-5R (3rd generation) (with an upgraded antenna). I looked up the times and frequencies of some nets in my local area and tuned my radio to listen in. I found it helpful to pick up a programming cable, so I could program my local repeaters and stations into my radio’s memory.

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Whisk (Watercolor Speedpaint 10)

The 10th watercolor in my Tools series in a whisk.

In case you are interested, I’ve made a post cataloging all the supplies I use to create watercolor paintings.

When I’m done painting, I scan it in, touch it up, and upload it to my print shop, in case you are interested in owning a copy of this design. I’ve also made a poster featuring all the tools in this series so far. You can get a discount to my print shop by signing up for my email newsletter or joining my Patreon.

Please enjoy the timelapse and let me know what else I should paint in a comment below.

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Retractable Tape Measure (Watercolor Speedpaint 09)

The 9th watercolor in my Tools series in a retractable tape measure.

In case you are interested, I’ve made a post cataloging all the supplies I use to create watercolor paintings.

When I’m done painting, I scan it in, touch it up, and upload it to my print shop, in case you are interested in owning a copy of this design. I’ve also made a poster featuring all the tools in this series so far. You can get a discount to my print shop by signing up for my email newsletter or joining my Patreon.

Please enjoy the timelapse and let me know what else I should paint in a comment below.

(more…)