Author: Mark Frauenfelder
Publisher: , 2010
Aimed at: DIY and electronics enthusiasts
Pros: Lots of ideas and motivation
Cons: Would have liked more explanation in places
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
I've been a fan of the Make website and the Make-related books for quite some time so perhaps getting to grips with an actual edition of the actual magazine might be seen as well overdue - so I was pleased to be asked to review Volume 24.
I'd always assumed that the magazine was where everything happened with the website being just a taster. But as I soon found out the magazine content wasn't very different to the sort of thing you can find on the website. Not entirely unpredictable, but I'd assumed that the magazine would go a lot further and somehow be more practical.
The headline projects in this issue are "10 Space projects" - so was I expecting to build a full sized rocket or perhaps launch a satellite? What is surprising is that the actual projects described are quite close to these expectations. However before moving on to describe the projects I need to say that the biggest surprise was that there was far more general discussion and articles showing what other people were up to than projects.
The "Made on Earth" section simply showcased some projects without really enough info to actually do anything about them. The article by Forest Mims III will be welcome by anyone who was brought up on the sort of electronics books he writes - the article has an actual circuit diagram!
Next up is a major article on cargo bikes - not how to build them, just pictures and a discussion followed by an article on a workshop that builds bamboo bikes. The Make Space section has some things you can build, a yagi array aerial, and listen to, some satellites for example. It's an inspiring article but a little on the basic side. Then we move on to sending your own cameras up to the edge of space using weather balloon, an article on the people building private rockets and a collection of generally interesting articles on space. All a fun but apart from the DIY spectroscope not particularly project-oriented.
Next we come to the part of the magazine that is dedicated to nothing but projects and it occupies about half of the total pages. The big projects in this issue are a helium balloon imaging "satellite", a mechanical stroboscope and a wonderful electromagnetic aluminum levitator. The magazine closes with some smaller projects including "craft" items such as home made seed starters, a tool belt and so on. There is a fun kids section, some electronics and some tech reviews to finish off.
So to the verdict....
not as good as I was hoping for. However, you have to take into account that I was hoping for a lot and reading it still turned out to be fun. Realistically the magazine can't really live up to my hard core expectations on every page - it really is crammed with a very wide range of topics and for this it has to be praised. It is also very enthusiastic and inspirational - even if you don't build the projects the text makes you want to!
Personally I'd like a little more on making use of the end product of the build. For example after spending so long building a spectroscope some ideas of what it could be used for would be good - forensics, geology, chemistry, astronomy - but perhaps articles in later magazines will deal with the omission.
Overall - yes it's great value for money and well worth subscribing to.