A DIY Disc Golf Basket

22.55.50 - Mark

A few years ago I really go into disc golf, it's fun and relaxing, but unless I want to bang the discs against trees it makes sense to go to an established course. The baskets are better targets than the trees, and usually you get some decent obstacles. Similar targets can be purchased, however as a being a frugal shopper and as someone who likes making things, I was always a bit drawn to building one myself. There are some people who sell plans online, blogs that post various kludges , as well as Instructables on baskets and youtube videos on how to make disc golf baskets. The two I linked to probably gave me the most information, and to quell my occasional urge to build something I started looking for low cost parts for my - as close to PDGA target standards as possible.

However I've learned some tricks well. The main pipe was to-be scrap when I took down an old fence, and thanks to the make your own basket video, parts of The Iron Giant, and a MAKE post on "Scrap-Fu" a few years ago, and I decided getting a couple of former fan guards from a scrapyard would be cheap and effective (it was). Walking though Lowes Hardware and I collected the 1/4" steel rods and some electrical conduit to act as a collet. The only remaining part, the chains, were the slowest to acquire, because metal chain is expensive. While I was hoping for 2/0 Single link chain, when I found 100 feet of 4/0 single link chain for $30 I ran with it.

Over time other tools need to be collected, a suitable hole saw and time with an angle grinder and a welder. While I know people and places where I can access that equipment, a mild bit of tool-mongering added to a bit of craigslist shopping. Bits and pieces started being assembled, but over Thanksgiving Weekend, I had enough time to put everything together.

All in all, it was a fun project (and with the left over parts may build a second) and while it may not have the quality of say Innova DISCatcher Pro, with its various hacks, a number of poor welds, and a few little flaws, my basket is fine at catching discs and at about $50 for materials I'm quite happy with my work.

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Relearning CAD

22.23.27 - Mark

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been knocking together a few tables. Nothing special, a few small workshop tables, a desk side table for a photo printer and scanner, and most recently a work bench for a local non-profit.

In a consumerist country, I absolutely could purchase all of those tables. Light weight, standard sizes, virtually no labor involved. However attractive folding tables are rare and subsequently tend to be expensive (if they’re even for sale) and the relatively weak commercial ones cost more than the lumber for a larger, stronger table that, if you have access to a few power tools, can be built in a few hours.

As someone who has a decent workshop, and a bit of a collection of nails, bolts, screws, and an assortment of other hardware my parents have amassed over a few decades, my only real costs was for lumber and my time.

While I didn’t dream up the plans on my own (I largely drew from The Wood Whisperer?s Outfeed Table video when I wasn’t reverse engineering an existing bench table) I did have to run out the math on my separate projects. Figure out the layout and assemble and figure out the cut list so I wouldn’t overstock myself.
Now, as much as I enjoy technology, on these projects I usually pick up a pad of Doane Paper (Grid + Line paper = Awesome) and draw out my plan. While I do take electronics into the work shop, next to a table saw or drill press, a good pencil and a pad of paper is both far safer and more user friendly than a laptop.

However after finishing the project, a couple people asked me about making more of them, and while I could redraw the plans or throw it on a copier, I decided to fire up SketchUp.

It’s been a few years since I last played with it, and what I remember about it was mostly not getting it to work well. 3D is nice, but my high school drafting class was basic 2D. However a few videos, a bit of playing, and a handful of restarts, I managed to draw out the plans. I doubt I’ll play with SketchUp enough to plan out masterpieces, but for the right job, it’s a decent (free) tool (once you figure out how to use it effectivly).

Parts List
Cut List

Hand drawn plans (JPG, 1910px x 1463px)
Rendered Plan (JPG, 1215px x 942px)
Table SketchUp File (67.9 kb)

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Intervalometer Version 1.3

16.44.40 - Mark

I've been working on my home made intervalometer on and off for well over a month now. I bought the parts for it in early April, bounced between building the original version based on it's schematic and reading up and learning how to actually use 555 ICs in mid April. Finally got the first working version packed into an Altoids sized tin in a frantic morning on April 20th (written inside the tin since I was pulling it off between going to a class then driving 6 hours to go camping for a weekend) About a week after finishing it I got around to putting together a semi-decent time lapse video.

Homemade Timelapse TriggerPart of the reason I had held off on the time lapse is because I wanted this to work as a wired remote for my camera, rather than having to carry around a couple candy tins with switches and cables attached. This however has been my big problem.

The original schematic calls for a NPN transistor to work as the switch for the shutter release. When it's base is getting power, the emitter and collector are bridged and the circuit for the shutter is closed. Since the manual switches are wired in parallel, they can't override a closed circuit and are blocked until the base looses power - be it the few moments the 555 drops power or when the battery is disconnected. If I had gone this way I probably wouldn't have had a problem using it as a wired remote, but it is mentioned as a glitch in the original write up.

In my build however I used a PNP transistor, originally for no reason other than I had a bunch more of them than NPNs and they worked in the breadboard prototype. It's emitter and collector are still the connections for the shutter release loop, but those points are only bridged when the base is grounded. Unfortunately this was a somewhat massive problem for me. It not only blocked me from using it as a wired remote when powered off, the second it was plugged into the camera was the second it would take the first exposure. I could jerry rig it into working in my favor, but I wanted full control all the time.

At that point I started thinking about how to get that control. I first thought of using multiple transistors, looking into Darlington transistors or Sziklai pair, even started thinking of Logic Gates and building them with transistors. All it needed to do would be isolate the transistor from the circuit when the power was off. As I got frustrated with the complex schemes of using transistors to control transistors, I started to rethink the simplest approach of isolating the key PNP transistor.

A quick test on the breadboarded version, and just unplugging the PNP's base made it work with the parallel switches when the power was off. While I could have wired in and mounted another switch, I preferred simplicity, and a DPST switch was purchased to replace the SPST power switch. One side still for power, the other between the 555 and the PNP base. It's a good fix, and I finally feel good documenting my version.

In addition to my use of a DPST switch and a PNP, there are a few other changes I made. The first is the different selection of resistors. While the potentiometer and paired 100k ohm resistors remain the same as the original, I changed the LED resistors to 10 ohm (I wanted some more light coming off the LEDs).

Since I wanted a time lapse mode faster than once every 30 seconds or so, the fastest given by the 220uF capacitor (up to about 4 and a half minutes as its slowest), so I used a SPDT switch and 22uF capacitor to add in a second mode that can shoot as fast as one exposure every 9 seconds (which goes up to ~30 seconds).

I also changed the .1uF with 33k Ohm resistor to a 10uF capacitor and 470k resistor. The original design didn't allow my Canon XSi enough time to run the shutter. This my change is a particularly long break for the shutter trigger, about a full second. While I originally only changed the resistor for a sufficient delay, I realized that the SPDT switch with the key capacitors, really had three positions.
Intravolimeter Schematic
This switch happens to have ON - OFF - ON positions. While I only cared about being able to switch the 2 key capacitors, when testing it I accidentally had it on the off position. When I powered it on it started running the shutter faster than once a second. While I may not be getting this right, when the one of the 2 larger capacitors are connected the circuit is monostable, a quick burst for the transistor, then starts over. When neither large capacitor is connected however, it starts running as a bistable, or flip-flow, circuit, opening the shutter loop for a second, then closing it for a second, with it's pace set by the small capacitor and resistor. While I have yet to find a real reason for this feature, I decided to take advantage of it and added the 10uF capacitor. So, if you follow this design, this gives the camera shutter a full second or so to run when it's in Monostable mode, and get an exposure every 2 seconds or so when in Bistable mode.

While I'm sure there are other changes that could be made, I think I'm done with this one (with the possible exception of designing a real circuit board for it). Between arduinos boards and the parts for building a Camera Axe, I think this will suit me well for a carry around wired remote and intervalometer.

If you want to build one for yourself, feel free to work off my schematic (image above, enlarged, or EAGLE Schematic) put it's still a good idea to refer to the article I worked from in Make Volume 15 or the extremely useful discusion thread on it's Instructables page.

The components are all from Mouser, but I got the perf board from Radio Shack. You can get all the parts there as well (in theory) but they charge a lot for the things they do stock, and sadly my local Radio Shack's component area is a sad disorganized mess. Of course Digikey is on par with Mouser (just a bit harder to navigate) and in this case everything you need (including perfboards) can be purchased at All Electronics (which just takes a good bit of hunting) It's worth nothing however that you can scrounge together a lot of these parts from old electronics.

555 Timer IC Based Intervalometer Part List
Part DescriptionPrice Per Part
11M Ohm Potentiometer$.80
1DPST Toggle Switch$1.24
1SPDT Slide Switch$.75
2Tactile Switches$.31
2Tactile Square Caps$.15
1220uf Capacitor$.14
122uf Capacitor$.10
110uf Capacitor$.06
1555 IC$.31
1PNP Transistor$.11
210ohm Resistor$.10
2100k ohm Resistors$.10
1470k Ohm Resistor$.10
12.5mm Stereo Plug$1.55
19v Battery Snap$.38
1Multipurpose PC Board$1.99
Hookup wire
Solder (you should have it)
Enclosure (I used an altoids sized tin)
Total:  $9.01 + taxes and shipping

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Bluecheese Burgers and 555 ICs

16.55.08 - Mark

Ah, the combination of technology and food.

Well sortof. After dusting off my Canon S3is for it's timelapse feature for Inkinga few weeks ago, and then in the same post complaining about not getting anything faster than 1 shot a minute out of it, I decided to try and make the 555 IC based camera trigger.
Homemade Timelapse Trigger
The version I build was covered in MAKE Magazine Issue 15, as well as a bit more detailed on it's Instructables page. When I described it as "crude" in the Inking rant, I was surprisingly accurate.

While I tried to follow the schematics exactly the first two attempts (the first soldering, the second by breadboarding) I still wasn't getting a working device. Perhaps by my mistakes, but perhaps by design flaws. However after going over it's comments on instructables, I managed to hack together a working solution as well as a couple upgrades to the original design. While it's a bit tempting to document my changes, I'll hold off until I either debug it or create another version.

However, after assembling the components, and shoehorning it into an altoids-esqe case, I wanted to use it. While I've come close to using it a few times over the last week or so, I finally used it last night when I made some Bluecheese Burgers.

The photo rate was about 1 exposure every 9 seconds, Canon XSi camera on tripod, lens set on manual focus but camera shooting in Program mode. I turned off the trigger a couple times (like when the burgers were on the grill) but the whole series works pretty well. And since it's food, written ingredients and instructions are included (both here and in the video)

Bluecheese Burgers

2 lbs Hamburger (85/15 lean or better)
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Red Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled Black Pepper
2-3 oz. Crumbled Bluecheese
Hot Grill
(All measurements approximate - Cook to your taste, not mine)

Mix all spices and hamburger together.
Divide hamburger and form 8 thin paddies.
Put crumbled blue cheese onto 4 paddies, leaving open space on the edges.
Place remaining paddies onto the blue cheese piles and "seal" the edges of the two paddies together.
Cook burgers on the grill to taste. Roughly 7-8 minutes per side for Medium

Bluecheese Burgers are great on their own, but I prefer them with some Red Onion, slice of Tomato, some Lettus, and a bit of Mayo, but enjoy it however you want to.

Bluecheese Burger Timelapse (2MB 320 x 480 H.264 Quicktime)

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

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Scrapheap Table

23.54.02 - Mark

The 'Scrapheap' Table I converted a shipping pallet intoWhile scraps of this post once made it into my facebook accoun, it feels more like a time to write up a real post. More than a year ago I saw a DIY table project link on MAKE that caught my attention. The Pallet Coffee Table article offers some good advice on converting the shipping pallet with some cheap wood and a bit of concrete.

I thought about it for a couple weeks, but since I needed another table then, already had a couple unused shipping pallets, some unused concrete mix, and enough time to play with it, I decided to attempt it. Unfortunately I didn't take work in progress photos, so this isn't a great instructions page. I didn't keep a log book either, and this project, which started sometime in December 2008, still isn't really "finished" yet (I need to find a decent looking stain for the drawers I made for it)

The basics start with the pallet I choose. The smallest one I owned had boards extending past the main rails on both sides. Works when used for shipping stuff, but not so much for a table so the first step was to trim then down with a jig saw, then sand down all the visible parts well. In the inspiring article they didn't sand it much, but since my primary pallet was well covered with old paint and I was loosely aiming for an unstained, unpainted finish I sanded them until they were smooth (excluding the assorted damage it had taken)

Once sanded down, I cut and attached strips of 1/8" board in the empty spaces on top of the pallet. These were a little shorter than the entire pallet since I wanted them to be hidden in the concrete. I also added larger pieces of 1/8" in between the 1" x 4" rails under the top boards to increase the strength of the strip boards I added, as well as limit the amount of concrete falling though a few remaining gaps (I'll point out however, that I have a tendency to over engineer)
Results of the first attempt at putting concrete into the empty spaces
While it was ready for concrete I decided to add legs first. I tore apart the other pallet I had to use it's 1" x 4" rails to make four legs and two cross beams. Sanding them down and sawed them to size, then used a router to round off the corners. The tops of the legs were then trimmed to fit into gaps between boards on the bottom of the pallet. Since I'm not a great woodworker, a few angle brackets were all I needed to keep them in place.

About that time I started reconsidering the finished look of the table. While I would have been wine with the bare wood alone, adding harker grey concrete wouldn't look so nice, so I browsed though the unused stains I had access to, and settled on an orange stain. As best as I can remember I didn't want to accidentally paint or stain the concrete, so choose to stain the wood before adding the concrete. This works, but you need to make it a point to clean up that concrete as fast as possible when adding it.

One of my favorite spots on the table topOnce it was all stained it was time to add the concrete. I use a couple table clamps some of the scraps from the other dissected pallet to cap the sides of the empty spaces, mixed up some concrete, and then packed it in.

The concrete was a little challenging. While I've worked with it some before, I needed to use a good amount of pressure to make it wasn't leaving air pockets and in there enough that it wouldn't come out when I smoothed it. Even with my best attempts at smoothing it out, some of the concrete I applied is still a little rough, not enough than I feel like redoing yet again, but it may be worth looking into mixing your own mortar than using a bag of quickcrete for this kind of project.

With the concrete added I just left the table alone for a couple weeks, letting the concrete cure as best as possible. Off to the side I used some more 1/8" board and square dowels to make some drawers that fit where the fork spacers.

When I was about to call it finished (minus the drawers) it was suggested to put a few coats of polyurethane. On wood alone it seals and protects it, but since the cement, even in it's best places, still felt a little rough, we tested it some (away from the table) and decided it would help smooth the table top. A few coats and it at least dissipated the worst places and blends the appearance with wood a little.

Overall it's a worthwhile project. Keep some stuff out of the junk yards, learn some new building techniques, come away with a one of a kind table you enjoy. I'm even playing with the idea of making a couple more furniture items out of wooden pallets and assorted leftovers.

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More is less

23.28.50 - Mark

Cost of 10 replacement bulbs for a stand of lights : $.97 at Walmart ($.097 per light)
Cost of a strand of 20 lights (plus some extra replacement bulbs) : $1.23 ($.062 per light)
Cost of a strand of 50 lights (plus some extra replacement bulbs) : $2.00 ($.04 per light)

I went with the strand of 20 over the replacement bulbs and transplanted them into the old long strand I was fixing up, but it feels weird from a Maker / Fix it point of view. I'm supporting a culture of throw away goods and the replace it over repair mindset in order to fix something.

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I'm on MAKE

18.28.34 - Mark

Clear Airport Basestation MAKE linked to one of my older hardware hacks today. Always cool to see a spike in traffic for a project page, especially the older ones. It looks like a number of the visiting Makers are exploring other pages too. Kind of wish I'd gotten around to updating those pages some. It's been a year or two since I really touched the homepage.mac.com/g3head stuff

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Blink on, Blink off

01.08.29 - Mark

3x3x3 LED cube powered by an Arduino board This afternoon / evening, after a great weekend of camping, I finished up the Arduino powered 3x3x3 LED Cube I started on last week. I ended up making a run out to the local Radio Shack to get some transistors since I was too lazy to try and re-purpose some from the junk pile, then ended up walking out of the store with a breadboard and a jumper wire kit. Spent more than I would have liked to but I think it will end up being a sanity preserver.

The way I ended up wiring it is each column of LEDs gets a connection to an output pin of the Arduino board, and each level shares a cathode connection. Each level has a transistor being used as a switch that controls if the circuit is closed.

Now I'm into the programming part of the project. I'm setting up simple animations and I'm slowly exploring the control structures. Arduino is C based, so I'm recognizing a lot of similar syntaxes to PHP, but I'm getting used to the forced camelCasing (which is something I hate)

As I get more ambitious with the programming I think I'm going to try and add some random functions to it and see about connecting a microphone to one of the analog inputs and make it more of a light organ. I want to get a few more animation sequences developed first.

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Enough electronics to be dangerous...

02.10.43 - Mark

I've been playing with my Arduino board this evening, and while I have gotten it to work with my Mac, I'm only slightly past the basic LED blinking stage. I need to crack down and read up on the Arduino language and syntax before I try and get into more advanced projects. Not having a lot of spare cash on hand after buying the replacement S3, I'm using materials on hand for my projects, which right now means lots of LEDs. A while back I bought a couple hundred blue LEDs off eBay and they've been sitting around collecting dust, but I pulled them out tonight and I've soldered together 5 LEDs for experimenting with persistence of vision and I'm in the process of finishing a 3x3x3 LED cube similar to this MAKE Weekend Project from a few weeks ago. Somehow I don't think programming it is going to be as easy as building the LED cube...

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00.53.58 - Mark

Cold opens suck, but I finally got around to buying a microcontoller, opting for an Arduino Diecimila. I've been wanting to play with microcontrollers for a while now, but I've never gotten to the point where I bought hardware to play with. I've been reading about Arduino boards though MAKE for a while now, and they seem really powerful. Given the cost ($37 shipped from adafruit) I figured it was time to bite the bullet and buy one.

Other than general experimenting, I'm probably going to try and connect it to the analog gauge I bought a couple weeks ago. I don't know what I'm going to measure, but I'll figure that out one it's in my hands and can experiment.

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00.15.50 - Mark

Steampunkish 1 Milliamp DC analog gauge I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but I picked up this beautiful steampunk-ish gauge Saturday at the Shelby Hamfest. MAKE has had a few digital signal to analog meter projects in the past, so I'll likely draw some inspiration from them to rig this up.

The other stuff includes a pair of DC motors that will likely see some use in a bike generator or some form of robotics project, two ridiculously cheap (~$16 each) DVD burners, a $20 car stereo that I'm probably going to install in my Mom's car, and a complete with keyboard and mouse indigo iMac that cost a mere $30. I think it's safe to say I have a few projects to work on.

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Unsafe at any Amperage?

22.54.58 - Mark

There's a neat round table discussion over at MAKE showing the thought process behind a decision to drop a high voltage project from the 9th issue. The project in question recommended using parts from an old CRT monitor to build a small levitation device.

I've seen these before, they're pretty neat and I can see building one. Even if I don't build it I want to see that article. However I also understand the issues at hand, I've been active on hardware hacking forums for years, and I've seen several dozen sides to the dangers of CRTs argument.

I will personally do some work in AIO macs and have taken apart a couple of monitors, but mucking about in a CRT monitor isn't my idea of a real good time. To date, I've never been shocked and I only have a few basic rules I go by (good insulated gloves, treat CRTs with respect, always have someone nearby in case the worst happens)

Getting to the point, I don't know if they were right or wrong in the decision to kill the article. I'm almost inclined to say they were wrong in cutting it. There are still mentions of the lifter project (page 54 - Electrogravitics), and there were at least two projects in the fringe issue that dealt with high voltage devices (page 66 - Kirlian Photography and page 138 - TV Set Salvage).

What I would probably do, especially where there doesn't seem to be any really solid resource on the threat posed by CRTs, is publish more safety information. Every single science textbook I've ever laid hands on had one of its first chapters dedicated to safety. A safety column or mini-poster in each issue wouldn't add too much cost, but add a good deal of value. Outline the dangers in that quarter's issue and run down the safety measures.

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Making iPod Accessories

15.23.47 - Mark

iPod Stand I saw this iPod stand on the web somewhere last week (the link with it was to a German forum), and since then I've been playing with the idea of doing sometime similar. I might try and do a charge/sync dock since it's possible to buy iPod conectors in small quantities. The brain storming begins...

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CVS Not So Disposable Camcorders

21.52.26 - Mark

While I'm not using it as much as my Canon SD300, I do like the CVS "Disposable" Camcorders, and have shot a few videos with it. Part of my facination with it is the sheer number of hacks being done to them, and I'm really tempted to grab another and do the night vision hack. I also might pick mine up a little more often since someone made an easy installer for the CVS Cam USB drive driver, as opposed to the original pureread app I have been using - I never could figure out how to install Ops for linux (which lets you have some more control over camera settings)

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LED Throwies

20.27.31 - Mark

I just put together an LED throwie. Ever since I first saw them last week I've been thinking about ordering up the parts and making myself a pile. Unfortunately I've got that student budget thing. However I'm a resourceful geek and managed to make one based on the things I had floating around the house (magnet from an old 40MB hard drive, backup battery from my graphing calculator, LEDs from a bulk lot of blue LEDs I got a while ago ) They are amazingly fun things, and pricing them I was able to beat the suggested price of $1 a throwie ($.80 for single LED, $1 for 2 LEDs) eBay is amazing. Even $80 is a little more than I really want to do on my own, but I'm letting one of my brothers take one to school. I might do it if I can get my final cost for tossable throwies under $.50 each.

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So what's in it?

22.04.05 - Mark

There's a Google hack out there called "Google Cooking" where you punch in everything you've got to cook with, and Google spits out a recipe. As a mild food geek in a house where there's never everything I need to make what I want, I've resorted to Google cooking more than once, and usually to decent results.

Recently I've been thinking about a way to document recipes that I like while being able to use the idea of Google Cooking. A quick easy way to sort recipes I like by what I have.

Like all good ideas, it seems like I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. Dave Slusher tossed out essentially the same idea for discussion on the uplifter blog, but for MAKE and DIY projects.

Coding a single user blog engine is one thing, Building a community driven site is another, but then again, I didn't know anything more than some elementary BASIC 9 months ago...

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In Awe

18.06.33 - Mark

I'm simply amazed by some of the stuff people are building, like this guy, who built an autonomous robot, or that anyone can describe installing MythTV as "easy" (I'm fighting with MythTV again, I'm still loosing).

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50,000 Gallons of Fun

21.40.06 - Mark

Some people have some deliciously weird hobbies, and though the wonder of the internet we can all share them.

Like Building 50,000 gallon fish tanks, building Bars out of Books, which would go lovely with some other book projects I've mentioned, building a table out of a pinball playfield, or wilderness engineering (which will be added to my feed collection shortly) I've done some good sized lashing projects (wish I had some photos), but that blog puts some of what I've worked on to shame.

While I'm not all that interested in building a monster fish tank, the book based furniture, table, and the rope and pole engineering are all fun.

Most of the Stuff found via MAKE, Extreme Fishtank, Rope and Pole Engineering, Book Bar, and Pinball Playfield Table

I really need to build something.

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