Titans of Lego Architecture - Kennedy Space Center vs Allianz Arena

Who says bigger isn’t better?  At least in Legoland, that seems to be the truth.  With a little ingenuity and a LOT of patience and a ton of Legos, you too can have a Saturn 1B rocket (along with the space shuttle) and a German arena packed with 30,000 screaming fans… ok ok, maybe not screaming, they are just inanimate figs.  The NASA Space Center and the Alliance Arena are now the eptiome of the Lego superstucture.
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How To Make Instant “Hot Ice”

With some sodium acetate which you can buy on the internet, you can make instant hot ice.  Here’s a video that shows you how.  The cool part about this is that you can make funky sculptures with it, not just ice cubes.

This is obviously not something you want to drop in your drink, but the effect is definitely cool and worth doing when you’re bored.  Check out this video showing you how.  Props to Shootingeggs for the video.

Build Your Own 42 Inch HD-TV

42 Inch HDTVWe know, we know…you’re probably expecting one of those super-sketchy posts about those eBay “plans” that promise to turn your $99 RCA TV into a 120″ projection television using only a cardboard box and some duct tape. But that’s not what this is about. This is about really, truly building your own 42 inch flat panel HDTV. Actually, it’s BETTER than off-the-shelf LCDs, since this homebrew solution actually displays at 3,150 x 1,680 pixels.

We’re featuring the link to this Instructable not because it is particularly well-written, or because it features a full build log and detailed instructions. Nope. We’re featuring this project because of the slap-yourself-on-the-head factor that we love so much here at GiY…where often, the best solution is right in front of your face. After you’ve seen it, the solution is just too obvious. Rotate three LCD monitors, put ‘em next to each other, and viola. Instant high def goodness, without the hefty price tag. Check out the Instructable for the details and the parts list. Nice work, “acfou.”

Aaron Dunlap Transforms Self Into Company: Introducing Electroids

ElectroidsWe actually bought one of Aaron Dunlap’s excellent Altoids® Tin iPod rechargers a few months ago, with the intent of doing a proper review. Then, we moved and the kit got lost in the shuffle. No worries…we will be ordering a new one soon. In the meantime, here’s what we remember: Although shipping was a little slow (Aaron was just one man back then, after all), the kit itself was lovely. All parts were included, and the detailed plans made the construction of the charger seem dead-simple.

The grace of these kits caused Aaron to be written up in the likes of Make and Popular Science, and with good reason. Aaron singlehandedly took the same project that was making the rounds on the internet, ordered the parts in bulk, and packaged them in a beautiful, user-friendly little kit…all for less than $10 bucks each. There is no doubt that his hobby was suddenly making him a decent chunk of change.

Enter phase two, and boy, are we excited about the possibilities. Aaron has recently launched his new company and accompanying website, dubbed “Electroids.” The site makes brilliant use of tweaks on the Altoids theme, and is overall a lot of fun to just LOOK at. But don’t stop there. Aaron has even more tricks up his sleeve. From the website:

“Electroids Kits are fun, easy, and educational project kits that bring back the joy of hobby electronics. Each kit includes all the parts you need plus easy-to-understand, clearly written instructions.”

You guessed it. Will a new brand and a little capital mean that more project kits are on their way? We hope so. So far, Aaron has not expanded his offerings beyond the two original kits he had for sale under his own personal website…but we are excited for what the future holds, and we will definitely be keeping our eyes on Electroids.

The Device Patented Process Indicating Appartus

The DeviceIf you are a fan of the idea behind the Ambient Orb, but prefer a steampunk aesthetic to that weird iMac touchy-feely new age vibe, have we got the device for you. Dubbed “The Device Patented Process Indicating Apparatus,” this Victorian-designed cherry-and-brass machine features two big analog gauges and a mysterious glowing vial, that can keep track of anything from incoming email and processor loads, to terror threat levels and cooking time for your Thanksgiving turkey. We love the aesthetic these guys are pushing, and we love their “Electrotypset Inter-Network brochure.” Check ‘em out.

Build Your Own Beanbag Sofa

Beanbag SofaDan had a problem…he wanted a beanbag, but he wanted it BIG. Like, sofa-big. Check out his latest Instructable detailing the construction of this beast, including plans, photos, and…you guessed it…tons and tons of styrofoam “beans.” But why stop there? Why not built a whole beanbag ROOM? Or a beanbag HOUSE, where you just roll around all day?

Build Your Own Robotic Scribbler Machine

DrawbotFinkbuilt (one of our new favorite websites) has posted his plans for an easy-to-build robotic “drawbot,” using only a paper cup, a small motor, a weight, and some markers. In a nutshell, the small, oddly shaped weight is attached to the motor, and the whole thing is taped to an inverted cup. When turned on, the bot “walks” around on paper using its marker feet. The result? You won’t have to scribble yourself anymore, and you’ll get your kids interested in robotics. Check out Finkbuilt for the dead simple plans and a video of the robot in action.

Build Your Own Paper Plate Hovercraft

PlatercraftOkay GiYers, this one is dead simple. This project illustrates a way to make a dead-simple toy hovercraft using only a paper plate, an old PC case fan, and a few batteries. Cut plate, insert fan, and presto…a simple toy hovercraft that your kids (or you) are going to dig. It is amazing that the simple addition of a paper plate provides enough lift to make this thing hover, especially considering the weight of the attached batteries. But reports say the thing works…anyone care to make a video for extra credit? Post it somewhere, drop a link in our comment box, and we’ll send the producer of the best one a free t-shirt from SayingShirt or DroppedWear. You choose!

Build Your Own Profitable Hotel Wireless Internet Service Provider

EVDOHotels that charge a surcharge for wireless internet access are the worst, though this does seem to be currently the norm. You pay at least $100 a night for a room, and you’ve gotta slap another $20 bucks a day on top of that just for the privilege of checking your Gmail? Not to mention, goodness knows what is happening behind the scenes with your DHCP settings every time you have to punch in your credit card number on that bogus hotel login screen.

So here’s a thought…since we all agree that this is obnoxious, why not offset the $9 bag of cashews you ate from the minibar by setting up your own miniature, for-profit, wireless internet service provider, right from the comfort of your own hotel room?

The concept is pretty simple. Pair your Verizon Wireless or Sprint EVDO card with the amazing enterprise-grade TGMB-8000 wireless router, and boom, instant hotspot for your travelling neighbors. But oh no, you’re not doing this for charity. You’re doing it for pay. Simply set up your network with an SSID something along the lines of “$5_WIFI_ACCESS_646_555_0012,” and watch the hundreds of Internet hungry businessmen all around you come calling.

You could also consider posting your room number, but sooner or later someone from the hotel is going to sweep for available networks and will likely not be too excited about your little venture. Accept cash, or, if you want to keep it completely anonymous, set up a PayPal account so you can receive credit card payments. The TGMB-8000 router will support up to 10 user accounts with their own user IDs and passwords, so when the calls start coming in, give people their unique account info. Price it right, and you may find your hotel room paid for.

Of course, a few notes:

  1. This is likely wildly against the Terms of Service agreements you have with your wireless provider. I find it very unlikely they would figure it out, though, and even if they do? Pfff, there’s plenty of other providers out there. You’re not going to pay a contract termination fee if THEY kill YOUR account.
  2. The key to making this profitable is maximum exposure of your little SSID message. In this area, room choice is key. Try and get a room which faces a courtyard or other rooms, rather than the street or the pool.
  3. Want to make the whole thing completely automatic and anonymous? Direct your customers to a web page you have set up with a payment redirect option. The user punches in their credit card info, and is immediately redirected to a page with their login info. This can be very easily set up via PayPal, as well.

It’s just that simple! Sure, you may not cover the cost of your entire stay (unless you are staying at a Comfort Inn, but then those cheapskate other guests probably don’t have laptops or know what the Internet is), but if you can cut the bill in half while sticking it to The Man? Sounds like a win/win.

Build Your Own PC-Controlled R.O.B. Robot

R.O.B.Nintendo’s R.O.B., or Robotic Operating Buddy, was a delight to look at back in 1985. Somewhere between “Johnny 5″ of Short Circuit fame and our wildest dreams, R.O.B. sparked our imaginations. Unfortunately, all he was really good at was playing Gyromite, and even that is fairly debatable.

Until now. Check out this guide to making your R.O.B. controllable through a PC’s parellel port. There is full custom code and a pinout diagram for controlling R.O.B. yourself. While more details would have been nice, there is enough here to have R.O.B. obeying your commands in no time. Check it out.