Five Imaginative Inventions from The Great Create

Part of the spirit of The Great Create is improving upon existing technology to make something that is even better.  To paraphrase a TV show our younger readers have never heard of, “You have the technology. You can make things better than they were before. Better. Stronger. Faster.” And, if these projects are any indication, you can make something great from nearly nothing with significantly less than 6 million dollars.


Here are five of our favorite recent projects from

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Pinewood Derby Instant Replay System


Cub Scout Adam saw a problem with the time-honored tradition of the Pinewood Derby—the naked eye was subpar technology for determining race outcomes. So, with a webcam, an Arduino, a laptop and a photocell from RadioShack, Adam and his dad built an instant replay system to make sure the best-built car won every time.


Why We Love It: Adam gets a merit badge, the scouts get slow motion hold-your-breath replays and the world gets a next-generation Great Creator.


 BAWLS Bottle Night-light

Using 18-gauge wire, six high-output 5V LED bulbs, some heat shrink, a 12V toggle switch, an old cell phone charger and an empty bottle of BAWLS energy drink, this creator made a spooky-cool hall light. The color of the glass gives it an eerie blue glow and the grip control bumps throw some neat designs onto the wall. Not bad for something that usually ends up in the trash.

Why We Love It: We treasure the irony of a highly caffeinated beverage bottle being used as a night-light.

Dungeons & Dragons Dice Bracer

Level up your D&D party and get into your character like never before. This piece of wearable tech, complete with LilyPad Arduino board, replaces your whole bag of polyhedral dice and breathes life into your character at the same time. Instead of rolling, just punch the imaginary baddies or wave your imaginary sword and the accelerometer inside will randomly generate the numbers of your roll and display them on the serial display.

Why We Love It: In-game, we can call this the +5 Bracer of Imminent Hackitude.


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USB LED Lantern

This LED lantern began its life as a typical gas lantern, but it had lost its luster long ago. With a few LEDs, a new custom-built globe and a few parts, it now plugs into a USB port to give your desk a little ambiance. The old, rusted look definitely has more character than the endless rows of fluorescent lights at a typical office. Feel free to paint your old lantern green and wear a matching ring to live out your superhero fantasies.


Why We Love It: It lends a nice steampunk vibe to your desk AND the creator crafted his own globe out of an old lightbulb. Impressive.


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Traffic-Light Notifier

The crew at Isotope11 already had a server that monitored the status of their various software projects. It was fine, but it lacked that extra something to create the sense of dread when things were broken and the relief when things were running smoothly. So one day they popped over to the local RadioShack on a lunch break and bought some parts to hook this traffic light up to their server. If the light’s red, something is broken. If the yellow light’s flashing, a build is in progress. Once it’s green, everything is up and running again.


Why We Love It: It’s better to get bad news from a piece of cool office décor than hearing about it from an irate boss.


What great creations are you working on? 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 about what electronic devices you want to see brought to life.


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