Stuff Andy Makes - DIY, make, tinker, play

DIY Cornhole Game Set

For a luau-themed software launch party at meltmedia, we wanted to be able to play Cornhole. I don’t know that Cornhole is a regular game played at traditional luaus, but at meltmedia luaus it is. As I am the Chief Tinkerer (see proof on Instagram) at meltmedia, I volunteered to build the game parts for the festivities.

If you’re not familiar with Cornhole, it’s a very simple game: Toss little corn-feed-filled cloth bags at a 6″ hole in 24″ x 48″ board that’s about 30′ away from you. For all the official rules, go to (I’m not kidding, here) the Official Cornhole Rules page at the American Cornhole Association website. It’s hard not to giggle.

DIY Cornhole Game

DIY Cornhole game boards custom built for meltmedia

If you have even the most basic of woodworking skills and tools, you can do this. Here’s what you need:

  • Circular saw (optional, if you have a lumber supplier that will cut things for you)
  • Miter Saw (again, optional if the lumber yard will do it for you)
  • Drill and a bit (bit size to match bolt below)
  • Four bolts (any diameter you want, length that can make it through the ¾” side board and the 1½” legs)
  • Four nuts that fit bolts
  • Four lock washers that fit bolts
  • Eight fender washers that fit bolts
  • Faces: Two 24″ x 48″ pieces of 11/32″ plywood
  • Sides: Four 48″ pieces of ¾” x 3½” pine (¾” x 2″ if you want to be all official-n-stuff)
  • Sides: Four 22″ pieces of  ¾” x 3½” pine (¾” x 2″ if you want to be all official-n-stuff) (you can purchase SIX total 48″ pieces and cut two of them into 22½” lengths)
  • Legs: Four 1½” x 1½” x 11½” pine pine (I used poplar for some reason) (the length of 11½” is the longest length, there is a 10-ish° cut on that end that leaves a shorter length on the opposite side) (see CAD drawring)
  • Eight square duck cloth pouches filled with dry corn feed (I bought two sets of four at a local Walmart)

One thing I didn’t follow was the 2½” height rule for the front face of the board. You can see above (material list) and below (CAD) that I used ¾” x 3 ½” pine boards for the sides. So, I guess these aren’t fully official, but they’re perfect for your back yard, camping or at the office. Hopefully the ACA won’t hunt me down and pummel me with corn bags. When I was buying the wood, I think I saw the ¾” pine boards and figured they were close enough. Obviously, 2″ boards would be cheaper, so knock yourself out.

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Posted in Projects, Tips and Techniques, Woodworking/Shop Tagged with: , , ,

Foam Core Backdrop Support Frame

At the meltmedia office we’re making a video podcast once a week. Our design team made a cool backdrop for the little studio area we use. It’s a big-ass inkjet direct-print on a full 8′ by 4′ sheet of foam core. As you can guess, it was a bit floppy and needed some kind of support behind it.  It also needed to be lightweight because we wanted to be able to hang it on the whiteboard behind us so we could easily remove it and replace it when we needed the whiteboard.

I looked around the garage and all I had that was long enough was an 8′ 2×4. So, the entire frame is made from that single pine 2×4. I ripped three 1″ strips from it. to get the top, bottom and sides. The sides are just a long piece cut in half.

Large Foam Core Support Frame from Single 2x4

Large Foam Core Support Frame from Single 2×4

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Posted in Projects, Tips and Techniques, Woodworking/Shop Tagged with: , , ,

Office Chairiot Mark II – Progress Update

It’s been a little while since I posted an update on the latest version of the Office Chairiot motorized office chair (the, “Mark II”). I usually add little pieces of updates to the project site for it on Local Motors’ personal project website, since I plan on utilizing their facilities to push it to 11.

The Control Panel Enclosure

Right now, the control panel enclosure is being fabricated at a metal working place in Phoenix, AZ called Liquid Metal Concepts. They sent over Solid Works images of the enclosure before it was sent off to the laser cutter. Before that, though, I mocked it up in Blender 3D real quickly:

Office Chairiot Mk II Control Panel Mock-Up in Blender

Office Chairiot Mk II Control Panel Mock-Up in Blender

Office Chairiot Panel Enclosure in SolidWorks

Office Chairiot Panel Enclosure in SolidWorks

The engineer at Liquid Metal Concepts was fast and created those designs above in no time. I brought them the Ikea chair to discuss attachment hardware and I think we’ve come up with a pretty cool solution. Can’t wait to show everyone.

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Posted in Educational/Interesting, Electronics, Projects Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

June 18, 2014 is the National Day of Making

2014 National Day of Making Badge

2014 National Day of Making Badge

I found out late about this year’s National Day of Making, but I still managed to find somewhere to go and something to make: Local Motors down the road from me is doing an Arduino Build Night, Wednesday, June 18 from 6 PM to 9 PM in their Chandler, AZ lab. Here are links to the Facebook invite and the blog article:

Blog Article: Local Motors Arduino Build Night for National Day of Making 2014

On Facebook: RSVP for Local Motors National Day of Making Arduino Build Night

Arduino Yun

Arduino Yun

From the Facebook invite:

Learn to work with an Arduino, check out our Open Source Data Controller, and see the 3D Printed Car test mule up close. This is a FREE event at the Phoenix micro-factory.

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Posted in Educational/Interesting Tagged with: , , , ,

embedXcode: A Better Way to Develop for Arduino on the Mac using Xcode

If you are writing code for your Arduino on a Mac and you’ve previously written code using Apple’s FREE Xcode IDE, you know that the standard Arduino development environment is lacking in functionality, especially those which professional software developers have had in their IDEs for years. My personal favorite is Apple’s Xcode IDE, which is the primary IDE used in developing applications for the OS X on the Mac and for iOS applications on Apple’s mobile platforms (which are technically ALSO running Apple’s OS X operating system).

Arduino C++ development in Xcode on OS X

Arduino C++ development in Xcode on OS X using embedXcode+

To be clear, this article is NOT a knock on the Arduino environment. The Arduino IDE you download from arduino.cc is quite a capable little IDE for FREE. It’s got just what most people need to get up and running with their shiny new Arduino board. Therein lies the rub: It’s great for getting started. If you find yourself writing larger sketches (the term used by Arduino peeps for programs that run on Arduino board) and you’re maintaining more and more libraries, it’s easy to see the need for more advanced IDE features like code completion, live syntax checking, indexing and whole project management (to name a few). The Arduino IDE was not designed for large embedded development projects.

A very smart guy named Rei Vilo has written a plugin for Xcode called, “embedXcode” (and “embedXcode+“) which VERY EASILY allows you to build Arduino projects (among other development boards in a continuously growing list) in a very advanced and solid IDE. You can download the standard embedXcode plugin system for FREE or a donation (although, I suggest you don’t be a cheapskate and pony up something for his efforts). I donated at the professional level for about US$129 and got the embedXcode+ plugin. It was worth every penny. Xcode rocks. Arduino boards rock. Writing Arduino projects in Xcode super-double-rocks, thanks to Rei Vilo.

Also, coincidentally, as I was writing this I found a link to a podcast at the OpenSourceHardwareGroup.com website where they interviewed Rei about embedXcode. It’s a good listen:

http://opensourcehardwaregroup.com/oshgroup-040-use-embedxcode-to-program-multiple-development-boards-with-arduino-code/

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Posted in Educational/Interesting, Electronics, Programming/Computer, Projects, Tips and Techniques Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

The 2014 Southwest Maker Fest in Mesa, AZ

Southwest Maker Fest 2014 in Downtown Mesa, AZ

Southwest Maker Fest 2014 in Downtown Mesa, AZ

This past Saturday (March 22, 2014) I attended the 1st Annual Southwest Maker Fest in Mesa, AZ. It was very cool for a 1st annual version of a fest, I must say. I’ve officially been calling myself a, “maker” for about 5 years now and I had never been to a maker-anything to speak of. This was a lot of fun.

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Posted in Educational/Interesting, Miscellaneous Tagged with: , , , , ,

Introducing: The Office Chairiot Mark II – Labor In Motion Again

What is electric, goes somewhere between 15 and 20 miles per hour and has an Ikea chair on it?

Office Chairiot Mark II - Test Drive Ready

Office Chairiot Mark II – Test Drive Ready

The Office Chairiot Mark II is the second generation of motorized office chair brought to you by yours truly. Why motorize an office chair? That’s a silly question and I will not dignify it with an answer. Office chairs are boring. Plus, on a hot summer day, I walk too slowly between our office buildings in ARIZONA. The Office Chairiot Mark II can do it in a fraction of the time and I sweat far less driving it. Read more ›

Posted in Electronics, Programming/Computer, Projects, Woodworking/Shop Tagged with: , , , ,

Update on Backyard DIY LP Fire Pit

It’s been a while since I posted the article on building my backyard fire pit. A good portion of the traffic to this site is because of the fire pit, so I thought I’d post an update with some new photos and tips on how the fire pit has been improved since it was built.

Here is the completed fire pit sanctuary in the back yard, complete with 400-lb. steel pergola and new fire rocks:

Complete fire pit, paver and pergola setup

Complete fire pit, paver and pergola setup

The pergola comes from Lowe’s. I can’t find it on their website anymore, sorry. As you can see, the outhouse is still in one piece, even after several good parties and the Arizona weather being what it is, good and bad.

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Posted in Home Improvement, Projects, Tips and Techniques Tagged with: , , , , , ,

OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 Causes SSL Errors with Git and Bitbucket

I use git to protect myself from myself. When I write code for AVR, Arduino, iOS, OS X or even the web, I stick it in a git repository on bitbucket.org (it’s free to have many private repos, so check it out) (thank you, Atlassian!). At the meltmedia office, we use the gitflow process of source code management to manage our projects and it works wonderfully. So, between home and the office, I use both github and bitbucket.

Source code management (“SCM”) is s-m-r-t smart and easy as pie (assuming making pies is indeed easy) with git. If I mangle the source code in my project, I can roll it back to a working state. If I want to try something out that will require major fiddling with the code in a project, I branch and fiddle. If it works, I merge it back in. If the experiment fails, I dump the branch like it never happened.

This post is the quick story about a couple of hours I lost thanks to a recent update to OS X Mavericks 10.9.2. Perhaps it will save someone some headaches, especially if they overthink things like I tend to do. If you have an avocado handy, it won’t help much, but it won’t hurt, either.

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Posted in Educational/Interesting, Tips and Techniques Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

A Maker Review on Bluetooth Smart Beacons (or Apple iBeacons)

UPDATED!!! (as of 08-Feb-2014)

Lately, but not for very long (as of the writing of this article), there has been a bit of buzzy-buzzy around Apple’s iBeacon technology. It’s a mixture of software and hardware that allows iOS devices to receive one-way broadcasts from little Bluetooth “beacon” devices. It’s said to be the big “NFC killer” (NFC = Near Field Communications). I would add an asterisk to that statement: It’s an NFC killer as far as retail and point-of-purchase, but probably not as far as supply chain (container tracking), security (door fobs, badges) and other non-retail uses.

I didn’t think much about the technology at first. “NFC killer” seemed like a pretty bold statement. How can you beat the simplicity of just touching your phone to a thingie at the point-of-purchase (“PoP”)? It’s basically “tap-to-buy.” However, after some thought and discussions with business development peeps at the office, the possibilities beyond PoP started to become obvious. I started to realize just how flippin’ cool this unassuming technology really was. Lemme ‘splain…

What is (are) iBeacons?

iBeacons (the word or name) is a trademark of Apple (go figure, given the “i” in front of “Beacons”). As a side note, there’s also a “LIVE” trademark registration for the same name owned by a company in Canada, but for a slightly different concept. I don’t know if that trademark has been taken over by Apple or not. I’m not a patent/trademark attorney. It’s status is “live,” so I assume it is coexisting, at this point.

We first learned of iBeacons at the 2013 Apple World Wide Developer Conference. It was a little label on a slide during the keynote presentation that wasn’t really hyped at the time:

WWDC 2013 API Slide with iBeacons

WWDC 2013 API Slide with iBeacons

Developers who are under the usual Apple Developer NDA and who attended WWDC’13 got to see more about iBeacons technology in the CoreLocation session. The iOS CoreLocation framework makes it pretty easy to work with beacon devices and beacon regions, as I’ve found out experimenting with them. More on that later…
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Posted in Educational/Interesting, iOS/iPhone/iPad, Mac OS X, Objective-C/Apple Development Tagged with: , , , , , ,