Five Cool Contraptions from The Great Create

’Tis the season for solder and schematics. Whether you’re a DIY novice or a longtime pro, we think these excellent projects from The Great Create will inspire you to put a few extra parts on your wish list this year. Here are five of our favorite recent projects from


Open Your Garage With Your Smartphone

With one simple transistor from RadioShack, a Bluetooth earpiece and some ingenuity, you can open and close your garage door with your smartphone. Quickly connecting then disconnecting the Bluetooth device turns the internal audio amplifier on and off, sending a signal to the overhead garage door opener and triggering the appropriate response. This ingenious hack by Great Creator Lou Prado even has an app in the Android market to make the connect/disconnect of the earpiece even easier.


Why We Love It: The list of things smartphones can’t do just got smaller.

Stickbot Craft Stick Robot

Sometimes the coolest toys are the ones you make yourself. This DIYer used the traditional craft staples of sticks and pipe cleaners to make a homemade, creepy-crawly six-legged robot with his son. With a few spare electronics and a single motor, they brought it to life and now it can roam around the house untethered.


Why We Love It: The Great Create is being passed on to the next generation, and Dad’s working on a kit version for schools and other groups to use.


Arduino UNO Unattended Computer Locker


Ever been a victim of coworkers or friends messing with your unattended laptop? Same here. With the help of an Arduino, your computer can sense if you’ve left it at your desk and password-protect itself from prying eyes or pranksters. An ultrasonic transducer senses your presence within a defined distance. If that distance is not maintained for a given period of time, the computer assumes you’re gallivanting about and locks itself before any hijinks can take place. The maker of the project is also currently working on an enhancement using an RFID tag reader to automatically unlock the computer when your ID badge is within range.


Why We Love It: Every time we leave our desk for coffee or a bathroom break, we come back to inappropriate screen savers and desktop wallpapers.


Twitter-Controlled Switch

Using an Arduino, a Wi-Fi shield and a solid-state relay, this Great Creator made a switch that is turned on and off by tweets. The Arduino scans a designated Twitter account every 30 seconds and switches on or off if it detects a new tweet. The video shows how the switch can be used to turn on Christmas tree lights, but imagine the practical applications of tweeting the moment you wake up and having your coffeemaker, toaster or any other electric device turn on to start your day!


Why We Love It: It’s like the modern, mobile, Internet-obsessed version of The Clapper. We would love to turn on the TV with a tweet!

Matchstick Hero

While it may not have the graphics of a PlayStation 3 game, Matchstick Hero certainly looks fun and it has a very innovative way of inputting decisions into the game. The player follows the text-based, sparsely pixilated adventures of a man named John. Along his journey, John is faced with various decisions that influence the outcome of the game. To determine what action John will take, the player  places a red, green or blue card to a sensor that responds to color. Swipe a red card and John swashbuckles his way through danger. Swipe blue and he sneaks past enemies unseen.


Why We Love It: We never mastered the 20-sided dice in Dungeons and Dragons, but we can handle red, green and blue.


Are you in your garage tinkering with a transmogrifier? We love seeing new submissions, so head over to The Great Create page and upload your project. Got any suggestions for gadgets you’d like the DIY community to create? Leave us some comments to let us know.



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1 Comment

  • Mike P

    Does radio shack have any intention of announcing the Arduino challenge winner before Christmas?

    Woulda been nice to think about being able to spend that gift cert………