Becky Stern, Content Creator at Instructables


Cool Tools Show 127: Becky Stern

Becky is a Content Creator at Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she’s created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts.

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Show notes:

Tinkercad Circuits
In addition to its free 3D modeling tools, Tinkercad now has a circuit simulator for prototyping with parts and code. I’ve been working with the Tinkercad team recently to help create and organize their Arduino curriculum, and I’m impressed with how useful it is as a teaching tool and how fun and fast it is to “wire up” a quick idea. Once you’re logged in to Tinkercad you can also follow along with my interactive lessons which guide you through using the editor and learning Arduino at the same time.

Parrot Teleprompter ($98) with Bluetooth remote ($20)
This thing attaches to the end of your camera lens and holds a phone running a teleprompter app. I drag my video scripts into a dropbox folder and they are automatically slurped into the Parrot app. The bluetooth remote makes it easy to redo a take or adjust the speed of the playback myself while recording. It dramatically decreases the time it takes to both film and edit scripted tutorial videos.

Silicone-tipped Solder Sucker ($24)
When I worked at Adafruit, I got to try out and show off new products of theirs all the time. One of my favorite new tools that I still use today is this Japanese solder sucker. I remember struggling to undo big soldering mistakes when I was first learning, melting the tips off the cheap RadioShack solder suckers and burning myself on copper braid. This sucker’s got a heat-resistant silicone tip that you can press right up against the hot soldering iron tip to get a good seal to slurp the solder once it’s molten. Also the sounds it makes are very satisfying. It may be more expensive than its alternatives but provides a big boost in performance and luxury handling. In that way it feels like driving a fancy car.

Many of my design grad students are able to catapult their single semester of simple Arduino into complex product prototype functionality by integrating IFTTT. I teach folks online how to use it with an ESP8266 microcontroller board and adafruit.io in my free Instructables Internet of Things class, but you can also use it with hardware from Particle, littleBits, Raspberry Pi as well as a handful of ‘single button’ devices you can find if you scroll through the expanded list of services on IFTTT’s site.

Also mentioned:
Becky Stern’s Maker videos on Youtube
I recently made a leather wallet, a foot pedal shutter remote for my camera, a humidity-controlled storage and dispenser box for 3D printer filament, and a bluetooth device for coaching your knife sharpening angle.

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