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Solderable conductive thread

I've been experimenting with materials for Etextiles for a long time, and one of the biggest issues is conductive thread. It's one of the most important parts of an Etextile project- but it's inevitable hard to work with, for several reasons. The thread by it's very nature is hard to sew and prone to fraying; and secondly the way it is produced leads it to having very high resistance, making lines more than a foot long very difficult to run power through. Lastly, since most of it is actually nylon (or some other synthetic) it's non-solderable, which leads to having to make knots to attach it to components.

So imagine my joy when I found this stuff! I found out about it through a friend who had gotten a sample, but he had written it off as unobtanium. I got it through almost a year of emailing back and forth with the company that makes it. They weren't keen on selling small amounts to an individual, but eventually I think they just sold me some to shut me up (this is a useful skill I've acquired). 

This stuff is great. It's actually extremely thin, flat strands of wire wrapped around a kevlar core- so It's solderable! The soldering melts the kevlar but the strands hold up nicely. It works OK in an industrial straight-stitch machine (what we have at Noisebridge) and I'm pretty sure It'd work OK in the bobbin of a home machine. The real kicker is that it has very low resistance- 2.5ohms a yard! 

Comparatively, Lamé Lifesaver (my former go-to for thread) has 36ohms a yard and AnioMagic (another good brand) is 24ohms a yard. It's making planning out things like dresses and skirts much easier, not having to figure in an extra couple hundred Ohms in the process. 

I have a bunch of 5 yard samples up for sale in my Etsy store. They're $5, but if you send me a really, really good story about what you're going to do with it and how it's going to be awesome and save the world, I'll send you one for the cost of shipping ($2). I'll only be doing 5 of these.


Handsome Nixie Tube Necklace

I spotted maker Tubetime wearing this beautiful DIY nixie tube necklace at Maker Faire. He made an interesting mechanism that enabled him to step up the voltage from a 3v coin cell battery to the 150v that the nixie needs to run(!). It's one of the most beautiful nixie projects I've seen. Great work- and check out the rest of his Flickr stream-  he's got some amazing projects, and he's a great photographer. 



Fanboy Confessional on SPACE TV covers Steampunk

Last year a film crew from Canada rode down to The Steampunk World's Fair with me in the bus. They spent the weekend documenting the event and the result is set to air in Canada on July 13 on SPACE channel.  It looks like a great show!

Old circuit board

I took this photo of an old hand-drawn circuit board today. I'm rather proud of how it came out. 


Game Save!

I know this is a bit out of the norm for this site, but as it IS building something outside standard systems, I suppose that's a sort of Steampunk, right? Just instead of atoms, we're using bits. - Willow

GameSave is a 5-week competition in which teams build a demo and working concept for a game which addresses disaster mitigation.

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about games and their meaning. Can games be art? Can games be educational? Are they merely escapist? Regardless of the manner in which these matters are debated, and the examples cited, it really comes down to one answer to all of these questions: It depends on the game.

Good is relative. Sometimes, it’s “good” if games can be used to teach maths to a child who is struggling at school. Sometimes it’s “good” if games can merely provide a bit of distraction for an overworked assistant.

But what if we could use a game to mitigate natural disasters?

To that end, GameSave!

. . . 

Seriously Gorgeous Steampunk Guitar

Phil writes:

Hi Jake

Just finished a sort of "future steampunk" guitar build here:


Lotsa pics on the last pages, thought you might like :-)


Oh yes! I like it A LOT! Two more shots after the cut but you should really follow Phil's link for the EPIC construction detail!  - Jake.


Meet the Makers video of yours truly

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Make Magazine's Brookelynn Morris to be part of a series of Meet the Makers videos they were doing. They've already covered some incredible cratspeople- instrument maker Sun Kim and motorcycle builder Satya Kraus have already been featured. I am completely honored to be a part of this series.

The Steampunk Bible

The Steampunk Bible is out! I helped connect Jeff and S.J. with people doing cool things in the movement and I wrote what I hope is the definitive candy tin etching how-to for this book. Our fashion editor Libby Bulloff also contirbuted articles and LOTS of shiny photography, including the best photo ever take of yours truly. 

The Steampunk Bible is the first compendium about the movement, tracing its roots in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells through its most recent expression in movies such as Sherlock Holmes. Its adherents celebrate the inventor as an artist and hero, re-envisioning and crafting retro technologies including antiquated airships and robots. A burgeoning DIY community has brought a distinctive Victorian-fantasy style to their crafts and art. Steampunk evokes a sense of adventure and discovery, and embraces extinct technologies as a way of talking about the future. This ultimate manual will appeal to aficionados and novices alike as author Jeff VanderMeer takes the reader on a wild ride through the clockwork corridors of Steampunk history.

Get your copy today!

Fantastically detailed Iron Man figurine

Jonathan Kuriscak of Packratstudios modded/created this amazingly detailed Iron Man figurine. He also made a matching little victorianized, moustachio'd Tony Stark to pilot it. 

The mod includes a flickering-fire like effect in the suit's 'furnace'. This is the kind of amazing, dedicated fine craftsmanship I love to see. I can only imagine how tiny his brushes are, and how far he must stay away from caffeine to wield them.



Steampunk Postcoloniality

My friend Jha Goh of Silver Goggles has a great guest posting over at STEAMED!

Steampunk, from the outside, looks like it’s all about Empire, you know? Charles Stross, famous very important science fiction literary figure, had a rant about it, which I think really points to two things: the ignorance of someone who’s not involved deeply in steampunk, and the impression steampunk is giving outsiders. 

The first is easily ignored, or would be, if it wasn’t for the fact that shit like Stross’ rant makes us look bad, no matter how into steampunk we are. Steampunks glorify Empire, and Stross has the clout to spread this impression far and wide. We should be concerned about this. 

We should also be concerned about the fact that this impression is one of the first that strangers and newcomers to steampunk get. Ask any one steampunk to define the genre, what do we get? Very often, the following words are part of the phrase: “19th century,” “Victorian,” “England.”

Read the rest here.


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