Roller coaster I’m not riding

We went to the Mall of America this morning for a location shoot. At least I think that’s what it’s called — I don’t really know any TV lingo. The Mall has four roller coaster in it. How many does yours have? Mine has none, but I think that’s because it never gets cold in Los Angeles, so we leave ours outside.

We were there to film me pulling low-grade g-forces on the turns and hills. I don’t like huge coasters (OK, I’m a total wimp) but they assured me it would be a dinky little one. Note for the future: always go on high alert when people “assure” you of things. You can see where this is going. I arrived with the executive producer and the rest of the crew were already there, standing in front of a fairly scary looking coaster with big vertical drops, loops, corkscrews, the works. I’m starting to feel a bit uneasy (read: terrified) as they’re figuring out how to get a camera man, sound guy and me on this thing and film the segment while we’re all white-knuckling it and screaming our innards out.

Thankfully, we all decided (I begged) it was going to be too violent a ride for us and we downgraded to a happy little regular coaster for lightweights like me. The slap in the face: all of the teenage girl extras went on the scary one anyway just for fun.

Hotel prototyping workshop


How do I relax after a day of scripting/rehearsing an episode of Make: television? By working on an Arduino demo project in my hotel room! You end up doing a good bit of improvising when you’ve got limited tools and components. Right now I’m eyeing the little bent acrylic no-smoking sign to mount some switches…

Ruggedized Danger Shield

My friend Tod and I were agreeing that everything in life should be in a Pelican case. He suggested that we try to get them to sponsor the Make: tv show.
I’m using some in an upcoming project on the show, as well as shipping a bunch of electronics in them. Here’s a Danger Shield in a clear 1020 case. It’s just too dangerous to be out in the open!

Make: television preview II

Here’s a new preview of the show. This one shows a taste of a few of the Maker Profiles, and they are just wonderful. Chris Benton’s kite photography is incredible. Please let me know what you think.

I’m flying out on Friday to shoot the last three episodes. The projects will be a cigar box guitar with an amp, small robots, and an Arduino/Wii nunchuck controller-based G-force flight recorder. Wish me luck!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2037634&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
make tv preview ii from make magazine on Vimeo.

Espresso machine operational again


Since Silvia asked me for an update, here it is: I fixed the boiler problems on my espresso machine. Fixed is a pretty misleading word, actually. I turned it off, let it cool, removed the vacuum breaker valve and saw that the boiler was overly full. This means that the water level sensor wasn’t telling the pump relay when to stop filling properly.
To “fix” it, I drained the boiler back down to 3/4 full (the top quarter is for steam), jiggled the water level sensor (this may have dislodged a piece of grit or something), put the vacuum breaker back, and fired it up. Behold, it works!