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Hardware Hacking

O'Reilly's New Magazine for DIY Tech Projects 207

Posted by michael
from the stay-alert-and-keep-your-soldering-iron-handy dept.
sargon writes "O'Reilly will begin publishing a new magazine, 'Make,' in early 2005 which is aimed at the do-it-yourself crowd. To quote the home page: 'Make brings the do-it-yourself mindset to all the technology in your life. Make is loaded with exciting projects that help you make the most of your technology at home and away from home. This is a magazine that celebrates your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your own will.' The first issue will focus on kite aerial photography." Any suggestions for what they should cover?
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O'Reilly's New Magazine for DIY Tech Projects

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:08PM (#10291881)
    The problem here is its such a broad topic. People's interest diverge so far that it's really a much more suitable topic for a generalized search engine Google rather than a magazine format. While some people will tend to think that stuff in the kitchen is cool, others will think it should include coding. Others will want automotive and others will prefer architecture or explosives or metalwork or hide tanning or alternative energy. The Foxfire series tried to do something similar, but they also had a theme beyond just doing it yourself which was doing it the old fashioned way. That only appealed to a certain set. Coming at it from the opposite, doing it yourself and doing in the new way doesn't really seem to work as a theme.
    I think the real question is, do we still need magazines?
  • DIY Tricorder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:10PM (#10291893)
    Using Pic and BasicX microcontrollers and various sensors (RF, Chem, Rad, etc.). Add a nice graphics LCD, and a SD memory slot. (All of this is available now)

    My "Mark I" should be operational soon. Maybe I will do a write up for "Make"...

  • by brxndxn (461473) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:41PM (#10292039)
    My buddy and I build a HT subwoofer on our own and it turned out pretty amazing. It was very powerful and very tight. We paid about $200 for the materials and it turned out about as good as a $1000 subwoofer.

    There are lots of ways to build speakers, but they are more complicated because the sound quality depends a lot about the box that they're in. Perhaps this magazine can have a few DIY templates for speakers boxes, crossover wiring, and things like that.

  • DIY CAM Lathe! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carcosa30 (235579) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:41PM (#10292040)
    O'Reilly-- you must cover the Gingery Lathe!

    Gingery lathes are professional quality machine tools you make yourself. Not from parts. You build a furnace out of concrete and sand, you melt the aluminum, you sand-cast the basic parts. Then you use the skeleton of the lathe to machine the rest of the parts out of steel.

    There are also people out there who have turned-- no pun intended-- turned gingery lathes into CAM gingery lathes.

    BTW if gingery lathes have not been on slashdot before, they certainly deserve to be. More than, say, the Japanese guy who made his own Battle Angel Alita realdoll out of sushi-rice. IMO.
  • Steve Ciarcia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:45PM (#10292066) Homepage Journal
    This kind of reminds me of the Circuit Cellar articles that used to appear in Byte and have since become a full magazine. I know that Steve has long since left control, but last I checked, and since I am off doing other things I do not read it regularly, it still seems to a good magazine to get project ideas.

    Of course these articles appeared in the day when it made much more sense to build your own IC board, solder your own components, and build your own cable. Today one 'builds' a computer by plugging off the shelf components together and downloaded software and drivers. If the current complaints from the DIY crowd are any indications, few people even think to write their own drivers. I wonder if the articles in Make will teach the readers interesting concepts and techniques, or merely provide a step by step on making cool toys.

    So my questions for this magazine are two. First, given that Steve Ciarcia showing us how to build cool technology 20 years ago, how is Make the First. For instance, the current issue og Circuit Cellar talks about building a rover. Second, O'Reilly has wonderful editors that keep errors to below industry average, but the quality of the authors vary widely. For books that is fine. One can pick a choose. But a magazine requires a much tighter control. Can O'Reilly find enough authors and good ideas?

  • by syukton (256348) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:46PM (#10292076)
    Well, magazines have some stuff going for them that other mediums do not.

    The weekly newspaper covers a broad range of topics, and these topics are easily diveded into sections. I do not see any reason to prevent the collection of various projects under an arbitrary set of "topics" in order to sequester the attention of those interested in, say, mechanical engineering, to only the brown-tabbed pages. Just because it's all bound up together doesn't mean that you can't divide it up.

    But the question is: do you want to divide it up?

    It depends on what you're making. I've always wanted to know how to get the iron out of iron ores. I could search it up on wikipedia, but what if I'm on a bus on my way across the country and don't have access to the handy-dandy wikipedia? It would be nice if it were in a magazine that I could fit in my backpack. But what use is knowing about smelting if you can't build your own smelter? Once you know how to refine iron and make steel (in your own smelter!), what use is it unless you're making things with these materials, from scratch? Sandcasting is a great way to make objects from molten metals; you could find yourself making all kinds of things. As an aside, possessing this kind of DIY know-how would make for much more interesting episodes of DIY-theme gameshows.

    You need to make the information accessible, is the thing. The internet is great and all, but it's nothing for disseminating information like a magazine. For about 8 to 14 hours a day while the sun is up, you can read any book or magazine you like. The internet is down when my cable modem is out, when there's a hurricane, when I'm not at the computer. I can't pass my computer to the person next to me and say "read this article" without first presuming that they know how to use my computer. But with a magazine or a book, you hand it over, you point your finger on the place that they should begin reading, and whammo! Your information has been shared!

    Mentioning hurricanes in my previous paragraph prompted this perfect example: There's nothing but junk all over the southeast right now. Knowing how to turn junk into things like nails and hammerheads and axe blades and so forth is fairly valuable knowledge in the midst of a terrible disaster, no?

    just my $0.02.
  • by BoldAC (735721) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:46PM (#10292077)
    Both of them are confusing sometimes...
    Both of them are popular...

    Just for reference, we are talking about this O'Reilly [oreilly.com], not this O'Reilly. [billoreilly.com]

    (grin)

    Really though, get your boss to get you a subscription to Safari O'Reilly. [oreilly.com] You get access to any 10 O'Reilly books you want each month for less than $20. We've quit buying dead trees... and we just all use this now as our library.
  • Re:DIY Tricorder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Simonetta (207550) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:48PM (#10292089)
    This is not exactly sardonic. The microcontroller performance/price ratio has risen greatly over the past few years. But it hasn't risen as fast as the cost of medical equipment.
    It's not uncommon to have 100-to-1 ratios between the price of the electonic parts and sensors and the retail price of specialized medical equipment. It comes from an environment of predatory lawsuits and cost-is-no-object medical insurance coverage. Health care costs are rising insanely in the USA. The only way employers are dealing with it is by not offering medical insurance benefits to their employees, which is not dealing with the issue at all. The Republican/Democrat lawmakers are bought off by the HMOs and the drug companies, and will continue to only vote for legisation that directly benefit the HMOs and drug companies.

    When people like you will need medical care in America in the future, the options will be to take a trip to another country and buy treatment at a much less cost than America, or use black-market treatments, medicines, and medical equipment that has not passed US FDA certification. DIY stuff.

    Black market medical equipment will be one hot fast-growing market for electronic developers and technicians in the next twenty years, simply due to the tens of millions of people thrown off the health insurance rolls. It will be necessary to develop an illegal, but parallel, FDA to ensure that this black-market equipment is reasonablely safe and reliable.

    Networks in medical electronic schematics, software, sensors, and parts will spring up in P2P formats. Like the P2P music file-sharers, they will be completely illegal. And, like the music sharers, they will be completely necessary and fill the vital social function of providing a market for industries that have painted themselves into a corner through their own greed and stupidity.
  • Headphone Amplifiers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HeelToe (615905) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:56PM (#10292117) Homepage
    Ok, maybe this is over the top geeky, but I built a solid state headphone amp for http://www.headwize.com/ has tons of info, but it would be neat to see this geeky pursuit put in print with good research and recommendations.

    Anyway, it's amazing what a difference in sound quality a headphone amp can make. As a magazine wanting to help you get the most out of your tech at home and elsewhere, I think headphone amps qualify.

  • Re:Steve Ciarcia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @02:58PM (#10292125) Homepage
    I miss Byte, I really do. When I was but a spotty student at RGIT, I used to spend hours in the library reading very old back issues of Byte (going back to the late 70s IIRC). Whole articles devoted to building your own 32x24 character tv display, and stuff. Brilliant.


    There used to be a few good magazines like Hobby Electronics, and Electronics Today International, but HE folded and the last issue of ETI I saw was ages ago, when the "construction" articles were pretty much all about plugging *this* ready-made microcontroller development board into *that* ready-made LCD controller, then programming it from your Windows PC. Dull dull dull. All this from the same magazine that published a 4-part article on constructing a very nice little analogue monosynth, in the late 70s. Shame really.

  • Suggestion Box (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mod_parent_down (692943) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:01PM (#10292142)
    I've been wanting to build my own compiler-farm using Linux boxes and distcc [samba.org]. Now that computers are so silly cheap [pricewatch.com], it's looks like a good idea, and probably other people around here have had the same inkling.

    But it's still too much money for me to be the one to go make all the first-timer mistakes and discover all the hidden costs. I guess that's precisely the reason most DIYers would buy a magazine like this.

  • Re:Interest High (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jeff Duntemann (20005) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:02PM (#10292144) Homepage
    As I understand it, "mooks" fall somewhere between the book and magazine business model. (I'm curious where Borders will shelve them!) Print magazines are supported almost entirely by advertising revenue, and thus advertisers have almost literally the power of life and death over them. (I have edited several tech magazines in my career, and lordy, do I understand this or what?) Subscribers have been trained not to pay for print magazines by ridiculous "six free issues!" pitches, so in truth, subscriber revenue can't cover but a fraction of what the magazine costs.

    My guess is that Make will come out twice a year and be much thicker than a typical print magazine. It will probably be a thinnish book, and may cost as much as $12 or $15.

    As for advertisers, figure the people who sell the raw materials for tinkering: Radio Shack, mail order electronics parts houses, tech book publishers like Lindsay Books, and so on. The revenue from advertisers will bring the retail cover price down below what you'd expect for a tech book.

    These are guesses on my part; I have no inside information. But if I were to go back into magazine publishing again, this is how I would do it.

    I wish Tim the best of luck, and perhaps I'll be able to contribute articles.

    --73--

    --Jeff Duntemann K7JPD
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:11PM (#10292196) Homepage Journal
    Remember the 1970's (and earlier)? People were into all sorts of geek DIY activities. Building your own electronic devices, photography with home darkrooms, mechanical stuff, theater/stage tech ... there were a lot of hobbies that are now a shadow of their former selves because the advent of personal computing sucked up all the mindshare.

    That trend almost reversed itself in the 1990's, when computers became boring. A vast wasteland of Intel and Microsoft. Nothing fun there. But then Linux and Open Source came along and re-kindled geeks' love for computing again. There's undeniable geek fun in the DIY aspect of open source hacking. (And it's great that we also have non-DIY products available now for the non-geeks.)

    My prediction (which I hope never comes true) is that if Microsoft's DRM dystopia becomes reality and we can't do open source anymore, geeks will scramble away from computing in large numbers, and we'll see a resurgence of interest in DIY hobbies.
  • connect my house (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bvdbos (724595) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:12PM (#10292197)
    There's tons of things i'd like to do if only i'd know how, for instance:

    * connect my thermostate to my server so I can turn the heating on when I leave work

    * feed my rabbits through a remote system (so I can go on holiday and feed them by browsing to their own server)

    * create a grey-water system which tracks and records waterusage, rainfall, humidity of the gardensoil etc

    * remote-control the lights in house

    * remote-control my vcr/tivo

    * put solar-energy panels on my roof and track and record energy-usage and delivered energy

    * program my coffee-machine so there is coffee when I wake up or arrive home

    mainly, connect everything in my house to a server with a web-interface and voicerecognition, come to think about it

  • Re:DIY Tricorder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skaffen42 (579313) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:20PM (#10292257)
    Fuck, can't figure out if that was a very insightfull comment or if you have been reading too much William Gibson...

    Unfortunately I suspect you might be right. I have considered medical tourism a couple of times, and actually know a couple who fly from Seattle to South Africa for any serious medical/dental work. Even with the cost of the flights, they still save money, have excellent medical care and get to have a vacation at the same time.

    I guess this should also serve as a wakeup call for all the guys in the medical profession. It isn't just IT jobs that can be outsourced...

  • by shadowkoder (707230) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:45PM (#10292379)
    I just went to that link, and I noticed in the top right corner it said "Welcome Rochester Institute of Technology" (my univ). Umm ... wow. If I understand this right, RIT pays for this service so I do not have to buy a book from them if I'm willing to forgo the benefits of the dead-tree version. I wonder how many other univ's have deal like this (and students who dont know about it) ?
  • Disclaimer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by *Pres* (114530) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:52PM (#10292415) Journal
    Very important: they should put a huge disclaimer on the first page about voiding warranties, stuff blowing up, no guarantees, etc.
  • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @03:54PM (#10292422) Journal
    I would see this as a great way to find out if there really are any user serviceable parts within that "No user serviceable parts" item. Motors, cuircit boards, etc... I hope they have an entire section dedicated to letting you know what is in diffrent electronic devices that can be gutted and used in something else.

  • Perhaps not (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @04:00PM (#10292452)
    Popular Mechanics in the 1960s etc was very much an interesting HOW-TO type mag, unlike the glossy car-wax-commercial thing it is now. Many people browse these mags on an infomercial basis, just interested in how stuff works and what they can do with things without actually ever getting around to do stuff oneself.

    Sign me up!

  • by HeyLaughingBoy (182206) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @05:04PM (#10292811)
    Knowing how to turn junk into things like nails and hammerheads and axe blades and so forth is fairly valuable knowledge in the midst of a terrible disaster, no?

    No, because it's still easier to go to the next county/state and find a hardware store ... and that is why I think the magazine will fail.

    I just surfed over here from Nuts & Volts (interested parties can figure out the URL and hopefully avoid the /. effect without a link). N&V is a hardware hobbyist magazine that's beginner oriented. At the other end of the scale is Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar (of Byte mag fame). At one time or another I have subscribed to both and read many more. But they are just about the only hardware hobby magazines left. Why? The market is shrinking faster and faster. It is now so easy to get interesting things off the shelf cheaply that formerly were expensive or had to be custom built that there is little incentive for the average curious person to even become interested in building things.The barrier to entry has become so high that most won't bother when they can go write code instead.

    Same reason Heathkit went out of business: the things they offered as kits became cheaper to buy complete and with warranty at the local Circuit City.

    I like the concept of experimentation and building my own stuff -- that's why I have a basement full of electronics parts and tools, but I don't think this new magazine is going to last more than a year or so.
  • DIY Silicon! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jamie Lokier (104820) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @08:45PM (#10294065) Homepage

    Yup, it's a dream but some of us are working on making it real: Semiconductor devices made on an individual or small community scale. We're aiming for full-on complex circuits but we'll be very happy when the first transistor works.

    One of the stages is indeed a home-made lathe and milling machine, to make some of the vacuum chambers and chemical vessels. Fun stuff :) By the way, thanks Slashdot for pointing me at these books. (This isn't the first article whose comments recommend them).

    Is anyone else working on home made silicon? Anyone like the project enough to fund it? :) Go on, you know you want to see Free / Open Source Hardware succeed :-)

    -- Jamie

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