Category Archives: toys

A child of the 80s

Sometimes I wonder if the 11-year-old is too retro. His current hobby is playing an emulated version of Street Fighter 2 on his PC. And now that a vintage-gaming store has opened in the next town over, he pretty much … Continue reading

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cleaning out the basement one bright idea at a time

When we were making new year’s resolutions last month, mine was to, y’know, build some of the cool kits and kit-like part collections I’ve acquired over the years. First up: Solarbotics marble machine. Cute, simple, less than an hour build … Continue reading

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Pinbox 3000!

Arrived just in time for the 11-year-old’s birthday. Delightful. He’s been wanting one of his own ever since he got to play with some of the early prototypes. Takes about an hour and a half for a kid to build … Continue reading

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True North

Well, except for declination error and any nearby metal objects, and within the resolution of the stepper motor… Ingredients: Adafruit 9-degree-of-freedom accelerometer/gyro/magnetometer, wired through a slip ring to an Arduino clone with lots of spare 5-volt power, driving one of … Continue reading

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The Roombaphone

It might not be the most over-engineered way to make low-quality 8-bit sounds ever, but I think it’s in the running. This is what comes of allowing a 10-year-old access to the basement. My mother-in-law got a Roomba for christmas … Continue reading

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Clearing the deck

Back in my misspent youth, I was a stage lighting geek. Lots of time on ladders with a speed wrench, hours poring over swatches of filters with names like “Surprise Pink” and “1/4 CT Blue”. So years later, when I … Continue reading

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Retrobotics

The 10-year-old has been getting into my old Mindstorms RCX stuff. I wrote an article about back when it was cutting-edge, and it’s been sitting mostly idle ever since. The laptop he’s using (the only one in the house that … Continue reading

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