BY MARK FRAUENFELDER
That’s How We Roll
I WAS IN THE SECOND GRADE WHEN MY
father built a go-kart for my cousin and me.
It was made from lumber and four new wheelbarrow tires. Steering was accomplished by
putting one foot on either end of the front
axle, which was connected to the go-kart’s
frame with a single large bolt. To slow down
while going downhill, all you had to do was
grab the wooden lever attached to the side of
the go-kart with another large bolt, pull back
on it, and let friction do its work as the wood
dug into the asphalt (we had to replace the
The go-kart was the hit of the neighborhood. All the kids wanted to ride it, and we’d
take turns weaving around the tin-can slalom
course we’d set up on a gently sloped road,
timing our runs with a stopwatch. Soon other
dads in the neighborhood built go-karts for
their kids and we’d race each other.
In time we graduated from go-karts to minibikes. These gasoline-powered two-wheelers
were a step up from gravity-powered vehicles.
The noise, smell, and power of the minibikes
intoxicated us for a few summers in our junior
high school years.
Those memories came flooding back when
we started creating the Karts and Wheels
package in this issue of MAKE. I hope the projects in these pages will help you rekindle some
of your own childhood memories, as well as
provide your kids with opportunities for fun,
adventure, and learning.
It probably goes without saying, but I’m
going to say it anyway: Wear a helmet! When
I was a kid, nobody wore helmets when they
rode bikes, skateboards, go-karts, or minibikes. Please don’t make that mistake today.
One spring day when I was 15 I rode my
skateboard down a steep hill, and the only
thing I remember from that afternoon is
waking up covered in blood in the back of an
ambulance. I broke my nose, lost some teeth,
received stitches for several cuts on my face,
and concussed my brain. Fortunately, I didn’t
suffer anything worse. Today, my kids put on
their helmets automatically whenever they
ride their bikes or skateboards.
If go-karts and minibikes aren’t your thing,
don’t despair — we have plenty of wonderful
projects in this issue. We’ll show you how to
make a Rubens tube that emits jets of flame
to display waveforms of any sound you play
through it. We’ll show you how to grow and
harvest your own delicious (really!) spirulina
in a modified aquarium. And we’ll show you
how to make a nifty self-contained electronic
sound effects box called the Luna Mod.
One more thing: I’d like to remind you
about Make: Projects, a terrific free service
we set up for anyone to write and publish
how-to projects. We recently ran a Karts and
Wheels contest — you’ll find winner Jeremy
Ashinghurst’s “Weekend Warrior” gravity
racer on page 60. Check makeprojects.com
for the upcoming robot competition! ;
Mark Frauenfelder is editor-in-chief of MAKE.
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