Tag Archives: DIY



My direction in college (like most people, I find) has never pointed in the same direction for any great length of time. It’s still pointed in the same general direction (journalism), but all the little stuff usually shuffles around.

Recently, I decided to become a ceramics minor. I really love wheel-throwing, and I feel like I’m pretty good at it. And I’ve been crazy about handbuilding stuff ever since I saw the Claudel-Rodin exhibit at the DIA several years ago. I even thought about doing my AP Art portfolio with 3D work, though I wisely realized that 2D design was a better idea at the time.

Anyway, the volume of production that I’m working at right now makes it pretty easy to justify giving stuff away, but eventually I may try to sell some of the stuff. How? TEH INTERNETZ, OF COURSE!

Yesterday, at the Guerilla Media final class meeting, someone brought up the website Etsy as a way to buy handmade stuff. For me, it was a little bit of a “duh” moment, but there were a lot of people in the room that hadn’t heard of it, so I figured I’d share it here. If you hadn’t heard of it, don’t feel bad. I’m just a dork. Also, check it out. There’s lots of really good stuff on there, though there’s probably an equal amount of stuff that should be avoided.

Norwegian Recycling is the star of today’s music again, first with a video:

The direct-download link for the song is here. My favorite part is from 2:01- 2:30 with Akon. By far. Also, LOL to Green Day.

I’m not quite as pumped about this second track, but it’s still typically high-quality stuff.

This final track is produced out of its mind, but he does it so well!


Alt. Transportation 4


Now this is a transportation post that my mother could support.

Apparently, back in Europe during WWII, gasoline was scarce. Duh. What I didn’t know, however, was how they made up for that fact. Internal combustion engines are wonderful in that they don’t much care what you put through them, just as long as they explode at the right time and don’t gum up the valves. The Europeans exploited this by using gasification generators (pictured) to run their cars on hydrogen-based syngas. The technology is carbon-neutral, time-tested, and still available today!

The chemistry is fairly simple. Woodchips (or sawdust, or peanut shells, or really any other organic compounds) are burned in an oxygen-deprived environment, which doesn’t allow the hydrogen gas to be bonded with oxygen, creating the usual H2O byproduct of combustion. The hydrogen gas is then routed to the cylinders through the car’s fuel delivery system, and voila! It runs. I should mention, however, that this wouldn’t work on a Diesel engine, since those use pressure-ignition, rather than spark.

Instructables has a wonderful rundown of how to install this in a car and make it run, with this accompanying video of the generator in action:

I believe the correct term to use here is “do want.”

Now, while this isn’t technically steam-powered, I can’t help but see this being used to create some wonderful steampunk vehicles.

What I really envision, however, is fitting one of these bad-boys onto the back of a Delorean. Flux-Capacitor or no, it would be badass. And carbon neutral, to boot.


The future is cold. Air cold.

To the music!

Whether or not Britney has a future is another story, but she sounds good in this first track.

The “Futuresounds of London” apparently decided to immediately date themselves with their name, but they’re brought into the 21st century for this second track. Not my style, though.

“The Futureheads” probably didn’t sound as good before they were mashed with 50 Cent in tonight’s final track.

CMUN 297 Final Project


(If you didn’t notice, I took the weekend off from posting, this week. I find that people don’t really read the site often on weekends anyway, and the days/nights are so packed that I rarely have time to post something meaningful. It may become a trend. It may not. Anyway, to the post itself.)

The final project for Guerilla Media is fairly open-ended. Essentially, we’re challenged to either create or document one of the movements/products we’ve been studying. I toyed with the idea of making a mashup series, but decided that I don’t yet have the know-how.

Instead, Nicole and I have decided to document the DIY/Craft movement in Chicago. Video-style. Here’s the proposal we turned in:

For our final project, we are going to explore the DIY and craft movements in and around Chicago. The primary product of this exploration will be a digital video, though we may blog about our progress, as well. I, Nathan Bobinchak, will most likely include bits about the final project in my daily updates for this class’ blog at the very least. We will also explore distributing our final work to the places that we will be going to do interviews, especially if the final product is over 15 minutes or so long.
So far, we have mostly crafting and utilitarian DIY sources lined up. We’re going to be talking to a Loyola professor/artist about her pottery and why she and so many others create functional objects, even though the same thing can be purchased for very little money in a store. We’re also going to be talking to sewers and knitters on the same topic. The Chicago Craft Mafia and their Do It Your Own Damn Self exposition will contribute to that exploration, as well. The Old Town School of Folk runs a circuit-bending workshop that we hope to get some information from, but we’re also interested in exploring the DIY/traditional side of folk music. Finally, we will be analyzing the means of documentation for these movements, through places like Spudnik Press, the Alternative Press Center, and zine distributors like Quimby’s.

The following are our sources, so far:

Chicago Craft Mafia
Kate Biderbost  (potter)
Old Town School of Folk
Mess Hall in Rogers Park (art collective)
Third Coast Comics knitters
Renegade Craft Fair/Artists
Spudnik Press

I’ve already filmed at the “Do It Your Own Damn Self” craft fair (the header picture is the poster for it), and I’ll post some of the footage soon.

If you can think of anything else that we’re missing, please let me know! We want to get as broad a view of the DIY/Craft community as possible.

Instead of mashups today, here’s another cool bit of audio-witchery. From the Third Coast International Audio Festival:

If all of the millions of mp3s on the web were played at the same time, it would sound like a deafening cacophony. But composer and computer scientist Peter Traub has figured out a way to sift through this sonic detritus to create something beautiful. He created a computer program, called Bits & Pieces, which culls linked sound files from the web and then automatically blends them, generating compositions with the found sound. Bits & Pieces produces an original web song every 15 minutes.

You can listen to his installation here, or here (if you have slow internet). Since it always changes, it’s worth checking back on. You’ll need iTunes or the like to listen to it, mind you.




The telephones are still sitting on my living room floor. Don’t worry, mom, they’re staying in Chicago, just like you hope. As I’ve been looking through various instructions of things to do with them, I’ve been analyzing my ability to actually do the electronic work that is required. I took “electronics” class in high school, but my soldering skill is still… At the amateur level.

I really don’t want them to come to nought. Many projects like that do– including this diesel-punk headphone mod. The parts are all sitting in my bedroom, but instead of finishing it, I just bought a pair of Koss Porta-Pros. They sound great, if you’re wondering. In fact, some say they’re just about the best headphones you can get for under $100. 

So really, I’m a little disheartened by my lack of progress on this sort of thing. As much as I’d like to create, my ordinary banal life often gets in the way. But I was heartened to read this article on Wired (yes, I’ve been reading a lot of Wired. I’m probably going to take out a subscription):

“Why am I so inept? I used to do projects like this all the time when I was a kid. But in high school, I was carefully diverted from shop class when the administration decided I was college-bound. I stopped working with my hands and have barely touched a tool since.

As it turns out, this isn’t a problem just for me — it’s a problem for America. We’ve lost our Everyman ability to build, maintain, and repair the devices we rely on every day. And that’s making it harder to solve the country’s nastiest problems, like oil dependence, climate change, and global competitiveness.”

The author, Clive Thompson, goes on to explain that he gets better, and hopes that the rest of America does as well. The full article is here.

I’m keeping the post rather short tonight, as I have to get downtown to learn about web-design by 10:30 tomorrow morning. That’s precious few hours away. So here’s the music.

I don’t usually like the electronica-tuned mash-ups that I find. This first track is an exception, however.

Taking things a bit slower is this second track. Once you get past the opening, it really gets good.

Why not have Aaliyah again, right? Here she is, wrapping it up with this final track, for a third time.

Treasure Trove


I love… Things. Trinkets and gadgets, to be exact. My life is full of them– I have innumerable cameras and computers, with just as many radios and typewriters. I can’t help it. It’s the way I’ve always been. I don’t think it’s entirely my fault, however. My basement has always been full, literally full of old gizmos.

I went through a “deconstruction” phase in my pre-teen years where I destroyed many vintage electronics that were languishing in the basement, including several telephones and answering machines. I don’t know if my actions contributed to a greater knowledge of the way things work in general, but they certainly fostered a love for the sheer fact that they do work.

I recall a Christmas a few years ago which gave me one of my favorite presents of all time. My “big present” was something modern… Probably a Wii or something, but after all that was opened and enjoyed, I spied a beautiful but massive object hulking in the corner, with a bow somewhat awkwardly topping it. I hurried over, and discovered a four-foot-tall floor radio, its bakelite knobs gleaming from its first dusting in years.

The radio, unfortunately, didn’t work, but that didn’t stop me from loving the machine. In fact, it still sits at home, now host to the dining room telephone. Someday I plan to gut it and fix it, or do case-mod it into something crazy. Embedded in the center of the radio’s “forehead” is a special vacuum tube colloquially called a “magic eye,” an example of which is in the header photo of this post. It’s a signal tube, designed to do a number of things, in this case to indicate how closely a signal is tuned in. I know. You probably don’t care.

The point is, I love electronica. Especially if it’s defunct. Double that if it’s trash. Which brings me to the subject of this post in the first place: the treasure trove I happened upon this afternoon. Near the entrance to my apartment is a general area for recycling, and I found a couple of boxes full of… (drumroll)… Telephones! Not cool old rotary phones, but 70’s-era desk phones.

They’re now sitting on my living room floor, all thirteen of them. Ten are black, three are cream, and nine of them have handsets. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but the ideas are endless. My favorite one, however, is this one (which is available as an instructable somewhere on the interwebs). That doesn’t mean I can’t do other things, though– in reality, these will probably end up as an art project somewhere.

Nick and I are throwing around ideas, trying to figure out the best way to install these phones around the city where they won’t immediately be taken down, but I’m curious to see what YOU all think I should do. Keep in mind that I have a wealth of other electro-trash at home, as well as a store that sells the most wonderful things, if this is to become some epic project.

I hope it does. Meanwhile, here’s the music.

This treasure has me in a fantastic mood, so this first track is a happy tune, so you all can feel the same.

This second track isn’t quite as high-energy, but is still fun.

Ending on a silly note is this final track.

Oh how I wish you could all see these phones… Lined up like the brave forgotten soldiers of a bygone era, ready for new life as something wonderful!