Boing Boing Weekend of Wonder slideshow

The Boing Boing Weekend of Wonder was delightful. Star Foreman’s LA Weekly slideshow is a nice glimpse into the activities.

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The above photos Star shot capture a few of my activities during the event: a talk on creative making featuring Chauncey the flower care robot, workshops I taught on lock picking, and an impromptu human body tricks performance during a talent show one evening.

Cord Wrapping Method of the Gods

Oh how total is the pain and suffering of coiling a long extension cord for storage, only to have it twist and snag and tangle upon uncoiling for later use. I have a 100′ long power cord that I often dread using for this reason.

Please, then, understand my utter joy and excitement upon learning this superior method as taught by Dirt Farmer Jay.

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Thanks, Dirt Farmer Jay!

Practice Locks for Boing Boing’s Weekend of Wonder


Have you heard about Boing Boing’s Weekend of Wonder? It’s a three-day festival coming this September 18-20, 2015 at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, where you will “learn about exciting new DIY technologies, make cool stuff, immerse yourself in an alternate reality adventure, hang out with nerd superstars*, and be surprised by cool special events you’ll never forget.”


I’ll be one of the event’s special guests, there to present nifty stuff and teach interesting skills. I’m currently planning a few workshops on locks — how they work, how to open them in unconventional ways, and how to make your own associated tools.


These are just a few example locks I’ll be bringing to help people learn and practice their new skills. These represent a variety of common wafer locks, pin tumbler locks, warded locks, and combination locks that you may encounter in the course of daily life/secret operations/ninja-ing around.

Hope to see you there!


*My first time being called a “nerd superstar”. And I kinda like it.

Dieselpunk bicycle fender

My daughter loves her new bike. My daughter loves wearing skirts over bicycle shorts. My daughter’s skirts touch the rear wheel and get dirty. I built a rear fender for her bike.

I used aluminum flashing, overlapping three sheets.

I attempted to spot weld them together, but this was too powerful. Mostly, I melted holes through the flashing.

This turned out to be a good way to “drill” holes.

Which I then bored out with an awl and used pop rivets to fasten.

Continue reading

Custom Car Door Pull Strap

Sunny Los Angeles is hell on plastic car parts. Sure, nothing rusts, which is nice, but my fifteen year old VW Passat is crumbling, bit by bit. The latest piece to go was the interior front passenger door pull handle.


Rather than hit the salvage yard or eBay for a proper part, I decided to replace it with a leather strap. I cut a scrap down to size, punched holes in the ends and screwed them in. I had lost one of the stock handle screws, and oddly enough the first proper sized screw I came across in my workshop was the quick-release wheel screw assembly from an old French bicycle. So, that’s why you’ll see a little aluminum cam handle peeking out.


The longer I keep this car, the more it will look like a pirate ship.

Drill Roast coffee roaster

Here’s a bit of info on my previous coffee roasting rig from a few years ago. It started life as a steel popcorn popping pot, which is just like a stovetop cooking pot, but has a hinged lid and handle mounted hand crank mechanism to turn a paddle at the bottom of the pot and agitate the beans.


I drilled a small hole in the lid and fed in a thermocouple probe from my multimeter to measure temperature. I used the gas side burner on my outdoor grill for roasting — there is simply too much smoke to roast this way indoors.

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This worked well, but I wanted to make the 15-20 minute process less physically taxing! So, I took apart the hand crank mechanism and I grafted a power drill directly onto the shaft of the pot’s paddle. By wiring down the trigger at a slow speed, I could sit back and enjoy watching the coffee roast itself.

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Ultimately, this method still produces quite a bit of unevenness in the roast, so I eventually abandoned it for a purpose-built home roasting machine, the Behmor 1600. But, it was a fun period in the evolution of my coffee roasting process that I wanted to share.

Dangerous power adapter

From the this-is-a-terrible-idea-but-I’m-going-to-do-it-anyway department:


I’m in Zürich this week visiting the Disney Research lab and I forgot to bring plug adapters for my Macbook. No problem, this is why I carry thick vague copper wire in my bag and check a multitool in my luggage.

Please don’t try this at home. Or in a hotel.