DIY for the Weekend: Light Up Your Halloween Costume!

Okay, so Halloween is tomorrow and you still don’t have any really good ideas for a costume…

Want a costume that lights up? LED eyelashes? Or maybe a mask that will control your music wirelessly? We have the resources to help you turn your bright idea into the perfect costume.

You are a Super Hero and need to contact your Super Hero partner. Make: Wearable Electronics will help you learn the skills necessary to create your own super hero communicator cuffs. Each pair of cuffs has an electronic switch and when the wrists are crossed, a wireless signal is sent to your partner’s cuffs. The transmitted signal causes the cuffs to light up, letting your partner know you need them. Or maybe you want to let them know you found the best Halloween candy at the party….

"Dream Squawk" mask created by Amy Khoshbi.
“Dream Squawk” mask created by Amy Khoshbi.


Make: Wearable Electronics will help you learn Lilypad Arduino and Xbee – which are used to make the cuffs – and so much more.  Maybe you want to make a  “Dream Squawk” mask which allows you to control music and sound wirelessly. That could really amp up your party…..


"Tron: Quorra Costume" by Syuzi Pakchyan
“Tron: Quorra Costume” by Syuzi Pakchyan


How about Quorra from Tron: Legacy? This costume also uses LilyPad and Cool Neon‘s LED ribbon.  LilyPad was designed specifically for e-textiles and clothing and Make: Wearable Electronics provides experiments so you are able to try those new LilyPad skills.

Starboards are flexible circuits that can be sewn directly into garments. Creator Meredith Scheff also offers low resistance (2.5 ohms per yard) solderable conductive thread. It is a conductive thread that is also solderable and it strong enough to be used like regular sewing thread.


Space Face LED Galaxy Makeup
Space Face LED Galaxy Makeup

Wear Space Face Galaxy Light Up Makeup, inspired by the constellation Cassiopeia, and you could be the star of the evening. This spacey headpiece uses 5 FLORA NeoPixels. Make:Wearable Electronics has an example to help you get started using this versatile module. It is wearable, sewable, easily wired, individually addressable, ultra-bright, multicolored LEDs – what’s not to love?

Butterfly Dress designed by Alexander Reeder
Butterfly Dress designed by Alexander Reeder



Perhaps you are going dressed as a “social butterfly.” What could be better than a dress with butterflies that actually flap their wings? If you are interested in wearable tech that utilizes motors, both Make: Wearable Electronics and Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists can help you learn to do just that!



LED Eyelashes
LED Eyelashes by Soomi Park

How about LED eyelashes to go with your butterfly dress? Again, LillyPad is used to build those LED eyelashes that will brighten your eyes! Make: Wearable Electronics also also explains how to work with Aniomagic – an e-textile toolkit that is similar to LilyPad and FLORA. Use Aniomagic to create a light-up bracelet, belts and almost anything else you can dream up to go with those bright eyes and butterfly wings!
Want to have the brightest brain in the room? Create your own “Thinking Cap.” It is biometric-data-driven, and responds to fluctuations in EEG signals.



Whatever bright idea you have about a wearable tech costume – we’ve got the resources – information on everything from circuits and batteries to conductive materials and how to make your ideas wearable!

Happy Halloween!!!



Hartman, Kate. 2014. Make: wearable electronics. Sebastopol, CA : Maker Media. Engineering Library QA76.592 .H37 2014.

DIY: Superhero Communicator Cuffs. 2012. OCAD University.

Light Up Your Life With LEDs, Sewable Circuitry. May 29, 2011. Wired.

Roberts, Dustyn. 2011. Making things move: DIY mechanisms for inventors, hobbyists, and artists. New York : McGraw-Hill. Engineering Library TJ147 .R56 2011

XBee Buying Guide. Sparkfun Electronics. Accessed: Oct. 27, 2015

About LilyPad. LilyPad. Accessed: Oct. 27, 2015

Cool Neon Lighting. 2011. Cool Neon EL Wire.

SparkFun Inventor’s Kit. SparkFun Electronics. Accessed Oct. 27, 2015

How-To: Space Face LED Galaxy Makeup. Oct. 10, 2013.  Maker Media.

LED Galaxy Makeup – SPACE FACE. youtube. Oct. 9, 2013.


Other resources:

LED Eyelash_Soomi Park. youtube. July 20, 2009

Mom’s Homemade ‘Star Wars’ Costumes Will Blow You Away. Oct. 27, 2015. Yahoo! News. abc Good Morning America.

El Nino Costume with Lightning and Real Rain. Oct. 26, 2015.

Explore Our Library! Social Media!

Ever wonder about keeping up with everything we have going on her in the Engineering Library? It is easy – just follow us on social media!!

Follow us on Facebook and find out about special don’t-want-to-miss events – like Pi Day! On a weekly basis we “Spotlight” resources we have – you may discover lots of resources that you didn’t know we had – and maybe didn’t even know you needed!

like_us_fbWe also post “What will they think of next?” on a weekly basis. Find information on lots of new technology being developed and the resources we have that are directly related to these innovations. Resources that will help you learn more about the technology and give you the tools you need to be creative, explore and expand on that technology.

We also keep track of special “National Holidays” – like ‘clean your virtual desktop day,’ ‘Star Wars day,’ and ‘ chocolate day,’ to name just a few. And, yes, we do have resources about chocolate!!
Follow us on Twitter (@UIEngLib) and get brief updates on the latest happenings here at the library.  We do post “Spotlight,” “What will they think of next,” and national holidays here, too, like on we do on Facebook. But since Facebook is usually more in-depth, check Twitter for those quick updates!

There is something new on both Facebook and Twitter every day…don’t miss a day!

PinterestYou’ll want to check Pinterest, too! When we get new books, DVDs, or tools for the Tool Library, we post info on our Pinterest page! You’ll not only find images of the book and DVD covers and pictures of the tools, you’ll also find some brief information and the ability to link directly to the record in the libraries online catalog, InfoHawk.


And, don’t forget Instagram!  We are part of the University of Iowa Libraries Instagram account.Not only will you get interesting and (often fun!) photos from the Engineering Library, you’ll also be able to keep up on what the other libraries on campus are doing!

We also have a blog that you won’t want to miss! Once or twice a week (or more!) a new blog is posted on our homepage! “Explore our Library,” “DIY for the Weekend,” “Xpress Classes,” special events, information on specific resources or subject matter, are just some of the fascinating things that are covered! The links to our blogs are on the bottom left-side of our homepage under Engineering Library News.  The page with the latest blog has a list of archived blogs that are available – in case you’ve missed one!



So, click, like and follow us! You never know what you’ll find out!


DIY for the Weekend: Build Your Own BB-8!

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away….


Halloween is nearly here, The Force Awakens® is in the not too distant future – who doesn’t want a BB-8 to help celebrate?

If you’d like to make your own, working BB-8®Make: Technology On Your Time has all the info you need! Author Christian Poulsen, said “As I watched it [BB-8] roll around [at the Star Wars® Celebration], my only thought was, ‘Need!’ So, I made one.”

Issue 46 of Make provides 3 different approaches to building your own BB-8. The 1st is a DIY by Poulsen. The 2nd is by Kurt Zimmerman who shares the ups and downs of his BB-8 project, and the 3rd is written by Casey Kuhns and explores the way in which a team of engineers and artists created a BB-8 that looks and sounds like the real thing. The 3rd BB-8 design is all open source.

Embedding the magnet
Embedding the magnet


Poulsen estimates it will take one day to complete and cost somewhere between $150 and $200. Beginning with working with a Sphero toy, embedding the magnet, painting, and adding the magnets and felt, Poulsen walks you the process step-by-step. Each of the steps is accompanied by full-color photographs.


And if you really want to go all out with your Star Wars® costuming, MORE Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius has step-by-step instructions for making your own light saber!

Have fun making your own BB-8 and have a fun and safe Halloween!


Star Wars® BB-8 Droid made from a Sphero & Magnets


Make: Technology on Your Time
Make: Technology on Your Time

Poulsen, Christian. 2015: Aug/Sept. Building Your Own BB-8. Make: Technology On Your Time.  2015; pg. 58- 61

Make This Mini Star Wars BB-8 Ball Droid with a Hacked Sphero. 2015. Maker Media.

Iannini, Robert E. 2006. MORE electronic gadgets for the evil genius. New York : McGraw-Hill. Engineering Library TK9965 .I253 2006.



Other Resources:

Sphero. 2015. Sphero.

This is the Droid You’re Looking For.  Sphero. Date accessed October 22, 2015.

Progress Report: Secretive Club Designing, 3D Printing a Full-Size BB-8. Oct. 23, 2015. Maker Media.

Halloween costumes.

Explore Our Library: Media:Scape!

Working on a group project? Finding it difficult to find a space to collaborate? Need a space where it is easy to share your ideas and information from your laptop?

We have just the space you need! We have 2 group study pods – and pod 1 is equipped with media:scape!

Group Study Pod 1
Group Study Pod 1

Media:scape is designed for easy collaboration – your group may connect up to 6 electronic devices. Each device is then able to send the info on their screens to the large-screen monitor. This allows your group to share documents, images, videos, or websites instantly. Connection cords are located in the “well” in the center of the table and each connection cord has a “puck” which will glow when it is properly connected.  Once your device is connected, you simply tap the puck and the information from your laptop is instantly displayed on the monitor. Being able to share your information so quickly and easily has obvious advantages when you are working on a group project. Each person is able to work individually and immediately share with the rest of the group. Being able to view all the group members’ contributions can really enhance brainstorming and the the creative process.

The adapters which are needed to connect personal devices to the media:scape are available for check out at the circulation desk. A reservation sign-up sheet is posted on the window of each group study pod. Both group study pods are also equipped with a large whiteboard and dry erase markers are available at the circulation desk.

The combination of the media:scape and the whiteboard makes group study pod 1 the ideal space to work on that group project!




DIY for the Weekend: Build Your Own Trebuchet!!

A trebuchet is a medieval engine of war with a sling for hurling missiles. As Halloween comes around, wouldn’t you like to spend your weekend building your very own pumpkin-launching trebuchet?

Trebuchets have been around since the middle ages and were often used to throw objects at the enemy’s fortress. Usually it was large rocks, but often dead and rotting livestock were thrown. Depending on the size of the trebuchet you build, you will probably be throwing smaller objects, like tennis balls. Or pumpkins….

A trebuchet
A trebuchet

There is a difference between a trebuchet and a catapult. A trebuchet uses a sling and has a counter-weight which, as it is dropped, forces the long arm up to pull the sling and the projectile along a slide at the base. The counter-weight uses the pull of gravity to provide the force necessary for the arm to swing upwards. The sling increases the length of the arm and the performance. The catapult uses a leaf spring mechanism to release the long arm. A rope is wrapped around a rotating drum and when the spring mechanism is released, so is the arm and the projectile. A catapult has a cup at the end rather than a sling.

In 15 Dangerously Mad Projects for the Evil Genius, author Simon Monk says, “The trebuchet takes its energy from the weight that falls as the arm swings. The ‘potential’ energy is transferred to the arm and sling of the trebuchet and is released as kinetic energy in the tennis ball.”

When you know the energy stored in the weight and how far the projectile can be thrown, the energy going into the system and the energy released can be measured.  Input energy can be calculated using the formula: E=mgh where ‘m’ is the mass of the weight, ‘g’ is the gravitational acceleration on Earth (9.8) and ‘h’ is the height.  You can also calculate the amount of energy transferred to the tennis ball using the distance it traveled and its weight. E=1|2 mv2 where d=v2|g v2=dg. You can then calculate the efficiency of the catapult by dividing the energy transferred by the energy input.  From this, you are then able to calculate the efficiency of your trebuchet!

Model of the da Vinci catapult
Model of the da Vinci catapult

Sometime in the 1480s, Leonardo da Vinci drafted two designs that would improve on the catapult. There were drawbacks to each of the designs and included the considerable cost to produce the steel mechanism and the swing arm tension would have been tremendous. It is believed that neither of the catapults were built during his lifetime. However, if you’d like to see a life-size working model of his catapult check out the DVD Doing da Vinci from our DVD collection. In this 2-DVD collection, 4 builders and engineers tackle building some of da Vinci’s never-before-built designs.

Monk says, “It’s a simple design that should only take a few hours to construct and needs little in the way of special tools or equipment.” A list of materials needed is listed and instructions are clearly laid out, including how to make the weight from a plastic cereal container filled with wet sand. The sling is made with rope and a patch of square cloth. Monk also says, “A reasonably strong material like denim is ideal. The Evil Genius’ minions can often be found wearing jeans with large patches of cloth removed. The Evil Genius tells them that this is the latest fashion and the minions are pleased.” (pg. 20).

If you prefer a smaller, desk-top version, you can make one using popsicle sticks.

You have a couple of weeks to build and fine-tune your trebuchet before Halloween! Have a fun (and safe) one!


Video from


15 Dangerously Mad Projects for the Evil Genius. Engineering Library TK9965 .M66 2011
15 Dangerously Mad Projects for the Evil Genius. Engineering Library TK9965 .M66 2011

Doing da Vinci. 2010. [Silver Spring, MD : Discovery Channel : Louisville, CO : Gaiam Americas. Engineering Circulation Desk Video record 37148 DVD.

Monk, Simon. 2011. 15 dangerously mad projects for the evil genius. New York : McGraw Hill. Engineering Library TK9965 .M66 2011

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Life. Da Vinci’s Life. Date accessed, October 14, 2015.

Trebuchet. Date accessed Oct. 14, 2015

How to Build a Catapult – a Popsicle Stick Catapult. Date accessed Oct. 15, 2015

Other Resources:

Medieval Siege. 2004 [Boston] : WBBH Boston Video. Engineering Circulation Desk Video Record 39034 DVD

How to Build a Catapult. Storm the Date accessed Oct. 15, 2015.


DIY for the Weekend! Learn Game Development Programming!

Looking for a fun project for the weekend? How about learning Minecraft® mod development in 24 hours?


Sams Teach Yourself Minecraft Mod Development in 24 Hours will help you do just that! Each chapter is an “hour” and explains the entire process from “Setting up the Minecraft® development environment” to “What’s Next?” and all you need in between. At the end of each hour is a hands-on, try-it-yourself activity, workshops, and exercises which will help you hone your new skills writing mods. Java programming basics are explained as you move through each hour, making it a great way to learn to program.

Want to learn to make flaming cows, flying creepers or teleportation in Minecraft®Learn to Program with Minecraft Plugins can help you do that! This book also starts at the beginning as you learn to write a Java program. Besides Java, you’ll also learn to use CanaryMod and to backup your code using Git.

Interested in expanding your game programming skills beyond creating flaming cows?  Ready to design an entire game by yourself? Fundamentals of Game Design will walk you through the different types of games, design and development, how to make your game accessible to a variety of audiences and how to make money from the games you’ve created.  Have experience with HTML? Check out HTML5 Games: Creating Fun with HTML5, CSS3, and WebGL.

Another resource which will walk you through creating your own game – from beginning to end – is Game Development with Blender.  You will get an introduction to 3D computer graphics as well as Blender in general. There are chapters devoted to animation, graphics, Python scripting, and more.

If you are ready to move on to designing mobile games, check out Holistic Mobile Game Development with Unity. The principles of art, design and code are covered and you’ll gain the multidisciplinary skills you’ll need in the independent mobile games industry. You’ll learn the process for both iOS and Android mobile devices from design to publication in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Whatever your skill level or interest in designing and programming games – we have the resources you need!

Engineering Library QA76.73 .J38 H848 2014
Engineering Library QA76.73 .J38 H848 2014


Koene, Jimmy. 2015. Sams teach yourself Minecraft mod development in 24 hours. Indianapolis, Indiana : Sams. Engineering Library QA76.76 .C672 K64 2015

Seidelin, Jacob. 2014. HTML5 games: creating fun with HTML5, CSS3, and WebGL. Chichester, West Suxxex, United Kingdom : Wiley. Engineering Library QA76.76 .C672 S433 2014 

Adams, Ernest. 2014. Fundamentals of game design. [Berkeley, California] : New Riders. Engineering Library AQ76.76 C672 A322 2014 

Felinto, Dalai. 2014. Game development with Blender. Boston, MA : Cengage Learning PTR. Engineering Library QA76.76 .C672 F45 2014

Baillie-de Byl, Penny. 2014. Holistic mobile game development with Unity: an all-in-one guide to implementing mechanics, art design, and programming for iOS and Android mobile games. Burlington, MA : Focal Press. Engineering Library QA76.76 .C672 B336 2014.

Other Resources:

Thorn, Alan. 2015. How to cheat in Unity 5: tips and tricks for game development. Burlintong, MA : Focal Press. Electronic Library Resource.

Canary: Introducing Canary: the hMod Legacy. Minecraft Forum. 2005-2015.

Bunyan, Karl. 2015. Build an HTML5 game: a developer’s guide with CSS and JavaScript. San Francisco : No Starch Press. Engineering Library QA76.76 .C672 B856 2012

Okita, Alex. 2015. Learning C# programming with Unity 3D. Boca Raton : CRC Press. Engineering Library QA76.76 .C672 O43 2015.

Explore our Library! We Have Lots of Study Spaces!

Midterms are here….. (yes, already!)

What kind of study space do you need to ace those tests and projects?

Group Study Space? We have that!

Group Study Pod 1
Group Study Pod 1

Working on a group project and need that space to spread out and maybe even have a white board? We have 2 study pods – one of which has a Media:Scape. Both the Media:Scape cable ports and adapters and white board markers are available for check out at the circulation desk.  There is a sign-up sheet on the door of each pod. It is a 2-2-2- policy: 2 or more students, 2 hour time slots, and you may reserve your spot up to 2 days in advance. Besides the 2 group study pods we have four group tables which are another option for working together on a group project.

Quiet Study Space? We have that!

Need a quiet space away from roommates and other distractions? We have the perfect area! Our lower level is a dedicated quiet space. There are over 30 individual study carrels. If you are tired of sitting at a desk, we’ve got several easy chairs where you can sit back and relax while you cram for that midterm.

Gamer Chair in the Lower Level Quiet Study Space
Gamer Chair in the Lower Level Quiet Study Space

Bean Bag Chairs? Gamer Chairs? Yup, we have them!

Also in the lower level, we have comfortable bean bag chairs and gamer chairs. They are the perfect spot to catch up on that required reading you haven’t done yet….

Study Carrels? We have them!

Besides the study carrels in the lower level, there are 4 on the main level, too.  The upstairs study carrels are close to the printers and scanners so they are easily accessible.

Need an ITC computer? We have those!

We have 20 computers (plus new computers tables and chairs) on the main level, and 12 more in the multipurpose room.  Plenty of spaces where you can come to study!

Printers & Scanners? We have those, too!

All our computers and your laptops will print to the 2 print stations. We also have 2 scanners – so it is easy to scan documents and save to a thumb drive or email them – easy way to share information to project partners and keep an electronic copy!

Whenever you need a change of scenery from your dorm or apartment, come study with us! And good luck on those midterms!

New Exhibit: Creating a Terror-ific Halloween!

Halloween is coming up fast! (I know, scary, right?)

We have just the exhibit to get you in the mood!!

Engineering Library Halloween Exhibit
Engineering Library Halloween Exhibit

We have a series of books tailored for the “evil genius” in you. Including Holography Projects for the Evil Genius. You might just find the way to build the perfect hologram to scare your roommate.   Or how about a voice transmitter to “throw” your voice? More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius has all the info you need to make your own!

Interested in making your own Halloween costumes and scary decorations? Check out Make: Technology on Your Time, a journal that can help you do just that, and walk you through how to make your scary ideas come to life (so to speak….).  More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius will tell you how to make your own light saber and how about a Wookiee pumpkin to go along with that? The Star Wars Craft Book will show you how! (Don’t miss the tip on the bottom of page 72 – use a fake pumpkin and it won’t rot and you can use it for years!)

Or do you just want to know how those Gummi Worms are made? Check out How It’s Made and see how some of those Halloween staples are made – learn about special effects makeup, hard candy, holograms, chocolate, and gummie candy!

And since Halloween isn’t complete without a skeleton, we have a skeleton of a Macaque monkey on display!  Interested in the biomechanics of animal and human bodies? Biomechanics of the Musculo-skeletal System is a comprehensive resource!   A big thank you to the Museum of Natural History for the loan of the skeleton!

No matter how you plan to spend your Halloween, stop by our Terror-ific Halloween exhibit!


More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius. Engineering Library QP301 .B565 2007
More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius. Engineering Library QP301 .B565 2007

Iannini, Robert E. 2006. More electronic gadgets for the evil genius. New York : McGraw-Hill. Engineering Library TK9965 .I253 2006

Make. 2005 – . Make: technology on your time.  Sebastopol CA : O’Reilly Media. Engineering Library, no call number.

Burton, Bonnie. 2011. The Star Wars craft book. New York : Del Rey/Ballantine Books. Engineering Library TT157 .B87 2011.

How it’s made (Television Program). 2010. How it’s made. Seasons 1 and 2. [Silver Springs MD] : Discovery Communications. Engineering Circulation Desk Video Record 37144 DVD.

Biomechanics of the musculo-skeletal system. 2007. Chichester, West Sussex, England : Hoboken NJ : John Wiley & Sons. Engineering Library QP 301 .B565 2007.

More Resources:

Ultimate Fog Chiller. Date Accessed Sept. 25, 2015.

Make your own gummy worms. Todd’s Kitchen Date accessed Sept. 25, 2015.