Sunday, July 27, 2014

charge sculpture

I built a system out of Knex to charge my phone and headphones and also my mom's phone. I built it out of Knex because they are easy to use. I used legos to attach my phone charging dock. It keeps all the charging devices off the counter. It looks cooler this way. Mom was worried that it would fall off so I added 2 bars that hang over to prevent it from sliding. I have a power strip because I have too many devices for this outlet.

Top of top left picture: headphones charge with mini usb. 700 mA. Phone: micro usb, 850 mA.  Bottom right: anti  fall off and power system. Top right- anti fall off and keys (paperclips) to open my phone cover.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Super Snap Circuits

Griffin combined several projects to make this super circuit. Part A is the main Snap Circuits board. He also used an Elenco project board (Part C). There are capacitors on part A and C which power a yellow LED. The capacitors are charged with the batteries in part A, going through a meter. Then in Box B (wooden toy toolbox frrom Lowes) there is a speaker and 2 wires that lead back to an audio circuit. The speaker is from the Austin Mini Maker Faire booth where kids got to take apart computers. Griffin's Dad says the speaker works TOO well. There is a 4-conductor cable which connects Snap Circuits space war integrated circuit U3 to the speakers. Griffin found a whole roll of this cable in the creek behind our house but he only used 10 feet in this project. There are also 2 wires coming out of Box B, which if connected (even through your fingers) will trigger a sound to play. Griffin set this up in his room, with an arm made out of Erector Set parts, which are metal, so that if his door was opened or closed it would be an alarm. It didn't work very well because Box B kept getting moved or tripped over. Part D is a radio, similar to one that came with Snap Circuits. It was originally designed to run off AAA batteries, but Griffin used the battery eliminator from Snap Circuits Green, so that it uses the AA battery pack on the Snap Circuit board. The speaker (Part E) is a computer desk speaker, connected with an MP3 cable to the radio. Now he can listen to the radio while working on his circuit. Part F (not attached) is the super charger which he uses to charge AA batteries when the circuit runs out of power.

Monday, July 14, 2014

TV Remotes

When Grandma dropped a remote and the lens fell off, I found out that the lens that looks black is actually a very dark purple. Instead of taking the remotes apart, here I'm using an old camera with night vision to take pictures of the diodes in the remotes. On the right are the night shots, on the left are the regular pictures. The remotes work by sending flashes of ultraviolet light that are invisible to humans.  The white circles on the night shot pictures are the diodes that send out the flashes. The camera works by sending out a similar wavelength which penetrates the lens, bounces back, and is received by the camera. If I took a video of it, I would see fast flashes of light.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Griffin likes to set up chargers for his phone and kindle. He has a solar power pack that has a 5000 milliamp-hour lithium battery. Griffin read online on a RC car web page that you should never leave lithium polymer batteries in the sun, but his Dad says it won't get too hot just from charging. It would be good for camping out in the middle of nowhere(or just in the back yard). Griffin attached it to the window with suction cups and a gps holder so that it would get lots of power. Then he connected it to a charging mat that can have several devices connected at the same time. He has the mat and cords going across the sofa, but his Dad probably isn't going to like that.


I wanted to try woodburning because I tried it a long time ago. Now I'm old enough to do it safely. The tip I was using made a fish scale pattern but it broke off. Now it can only make donut shapes. I can also use it to burn in a dime image by heating it up.
To make a fish, I would draw an outline in pencil on the wood, make the fish scale pattern, and cut it with the scroll saw after it cools. I use reclaimed wood. It was dividers from large pallets of wood to prevent warping.

Magnets and Iron Filings

Griffin figured out that oxygen-absorbing packets, found in packages of food such as beef jerky to keep them fresh, contain iron filings. He cut several of them open and put the contents into a clear container with a lid. He showed his grandmother and cousins how you could attract the iron filings with a strong magnet on the outside of the container. This is a type of experiment that he has seen at several science museums, and is also the basis of the kids' toy where you use a magnet to make a mustache on a face. He recently tried salmon jerky from Trader Joe's, and he loved it. He says the salmon jerky had two oxygen-absorbing packets.

Woodworking with Grandad

Griffin had fun this summer when he visited his Grandad who has a great workshop with lots of tools. Here's what he says about the project they made together:
"It is a wooden box made with plywood on the bottom and solid wood on the sides. We used a pin nailer to hold on the slices of wood onto slats (like paint stirring sticks). The wood slices were made from tree branches that fell naturally and were slightly rotted. They were on the ground and they were going to be recycled but I reused them. Grandad said he didn't want to use his power saw because it could rust the blade. We used a tree trimming saw but and it was hard to saw by hand. Then the slat grid was screwed on using 3 screws.  I carved the patterns on the sides with a dremel tool. It was not cordless like the drill we used. Then I put white craft paint in the grooves. Grandad clear coated the wood slices."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lego Printing Press

Last weekend I made a Lego printing press. I used a lego board which had a space for an ink reservoir pre-molded on it. I originally designed it to work with silicone bracelets and print on the top but then I used rubber bands instead which print on the bottom. The paper is pulled through by a hand crank but I will try to make it motorized. The top wheel is just to press it down. It prints a stripe on the underside of the paper. Right now it has mostly water and green ink. I labelled all the parts on the picture.

Knitting Machine Monsters

One of Griffin's summer projects was making monsters. He bought a knitting machine at the thrift store (unfortunately there was no choice on the color). When Griffin saw the machine, he immediately knew what it was even though Mom didn't. He said that's because he watched the How It's Made episode about socks. The knitting machine worked well to make short knitted tubes. It did drop some stitches, and the holes gave him the idea to make monsters. Mom crocheted around the edges of the holes to keep them from unravelling further.
Griffin enjoyed experimenting with different colors and types of yarn. The knitting machine came with a ball of red yarn. He tried string, and the result looked kind of like chain mail. He tried variegated camo yarn, variegated rainbow yarn, slippery yarn, and fuzzy yarn. Then he tried fishing line, but when Mom tried to untangle it the yarn guide broke.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fountain Design

Griffin decided that the first 100 degree day of the summer would be a good time to build a fountain. We already had two fountain kits with pumps and sprayer attachments, as well as a metal bucket, pitcher, and saucers from the last time we built a fountain. Griffin reminded Mom that the pump from the old kit was not safe to use because the grounding prong from the plug had broken off and he didn't want to shock birds by accident.

Dad told Griffin that it was a good idea to make a temporary fountain setup. That way, if we ever figure out how to convert it to solar power, we can choose a better location that won't have to be so close to the back door. For the first configuration of the fountain, Griffin attached a length of clear tubing directly to the pump. With the tubing curved around the bottom of the metal tub and held in place by a brick, the water created a whirlpool. Griffin decided that he wanted the pump to be more hidden. Next, he stacked bricks inside the tub on either side of the pump and added a flat rock.  He threaded the clear tubing up through the hole in the bottom of the metal pitcher. It poured water directly onto the flat rock. Then he tried it with a metal saucer underneath. That was Mom's favorite design. We unplugged it overnight because we didn't want a raccoon to knock over the pitcher while the pump was on. The parts are not attached- just balanced so they can be moved around.

The next day, Griffin decided to take apart the fountain and redesign it. He added a splitter so that some of the water goes through the clear tube, and some of it goes up through a sprinkler attachment which sprays water in a dome shape. Griffin found that he could disrupt the smooth sheet of water by sticking his finger in the pathway. He aimed the jet of water from the clear tube so that it would disrupt the shape too. 

One fountain design that Griffin made a few years ago used pvc pipes and a lawn chair in a wading pool. He could sit in the lawn chair and the fountain would shower water on his head. It was a fun idea for a hot day, and he liked it because the recirculating fountain used less water than a lawn sprinkler.