Author: Ryan Barnes

Recycling Electronics!

This last week, we worked on all sorts of projects. From the good ol’ squishy circuits and paper circuits, to our new impromptu project of the week; re-using a trashed Guitar Hero controller to use with a Makey Makey. We took a look at the circuit board, and reverse engineered the circuit so that we could wire the switches in the controller to a Makey Makey.

Along the way, I was able to visit some of the other space and see what they were up to. I’ll be posting a large post of tons of photos from the spaces, but for today, there a few teasers from a couple of quick soldeirng lessons and the like.

Next week we’ll be showing off our completed hovercraft, rocking out on our completed Makey Makey Guitar Hero controller and start rolling on the Connected Messages mural! Looking forward to it!

Arcade Games and Nerf Guns: Making with Toys

Last week we broke out some toys and started to make! Inspired by some of the kids who were running around the neighborhood, playing with nerf guns, but with no darts, I broke out some of my very first making projects.

Back when I was much younger, many a weekend evening was spend modifying nerf guns, making darts and battling it out with my friends. In fact, early in the days of Instructables, I wrote an how-to guide of my old hobby. When I saw the kids, it brought it all back to me, and I realized how important nerf guns were to me becoming the maker that I am.

So I broke out some of my old guns, and we set off to making some darts. After we were up and running, I decided I needed to break out something a bit more technical and set off to make an Arduino powered target board. Using a few 2″x2″ FSR sensors, we built the frame and began to program the Arduino. As we were soon to find out, the clocking speed of the Arduino was simply too slow to detect the instanteous contact of the dart, and so the project was scrapped for the day. However, returning and attempting to code in C or assembly will speed up the clocking and should make it work perfectly!

We also broke out another gem of my early years; the control panel to an arcade cabinet I made many years ago. Rather than using the old board that had once powered it, I opted to have the kids wire it to the Makey Makey and pull up some games to play on it. The kids loved playing on the arcade controls, but we need to find a better set of games to play!

Next week we’ll play around more with our control panel, and start exploring the large scale hovercraft…that I have yet to tell the kids about, saving the reveal for the moment it carries one of the kids off on a pocket of frictionless air!

Balloon Zipline: The Numbers and Details

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Last week, my students and myself built a balloon zipline. This turned out to be an awesome project that the kids had a blast with. However, being committing to tricking kids into doing math and science, I challenged the kids to measure the speed. Coaching them along, we were able to come up with some reasonable numbers in a few different ways.

Because we had such a good time with the project, I wanted to share the detailed breakdown of what we did and how we did it.

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Balloons are in!

Last week at Heavenly Hall, we dove into a new subject of material: balloons.

We spent time building a balloon zipline, then measuring the speed using good old fashioned stopwatches (or stopwatch apps if you will.). We then used video to analyze the speed, by using software to view the video frame by frame. See the pictures for more details!

Next we began building CD balloon hovercrafts, using a CD and a pop-top lid to act as a valve. Letting the air flow creates a pocket of air for the CDs to float around, free of friction!

Next week, we’ll be taking our CDs to full scale as we attempt to build a leafblower powered hovercraft, capable of propelling our brave pilots around on a pocket of air! Perhaps even a set of comically oversized bowling pins, and we’ll be set to have a blast floating around!

The Schools Are Out: Release the Children!

 

The schools are closed, and the kids are out and about. Here at Heavenly Hall, the kids are out in full force, and plenty excited to be free for the summer! Over the week, at least 25 kids have spent time with me, working on projects such as Paper Towers, Paper Circuits, Squishy Circuits, and everything else in between.

Next week begins our more exciting large scale projects, where the kids will be working on building things like gardening robots and basketball arcade games. We’ll start from the bottom with designing the systems, up through small scale prototyping to full scale builds, and by the end of the summer, have some awesome projects to show off!

I’m looking forward to getting the ball rolling on the big projects, and to see what awesome stuff the kids can make. If the last week is any indication, we should have some amazing stuff in no time!