Scale model cockpit FPV

cool scale cockpit video

Funny Zoo Snap

man enjoys elephant My wife noticed this in the family archives.

RC Nitro motorcycle racing

rc motorcycle Motorcycle racing in Lilliput.

Manned RC Multicopter

manned multicopter
Here’s an RC multicopter big enough to ride on!

Make: Talk 004

make: Talk 004
I had a fun time talking to Mark Frauenfelder in episode 4 of his new podcast, Make: Talk!

One Man Basement Band

one man band
I feel like I could be getting more mileage out of my right foot.


liberty vintage motorcycles An Etsy portrait. Thanks, Danny.

Tequila Sleeve

tequila the champs
Champs sleeve

Wolf-Stelzer Book Lamp

Book Lamp
My friend Tess just made the cover of ReadyMade with her cool lamp design.

Tree Stump Bug

Can this be for real? The design is so awesomely Thunderbirds. Via

The Nothing Box

nothing box


Thunderbirds are go
Are Go!

Command Center

command center
Sweet assemblage spaceship’s bridge.

Four Drano’s

Watch the sink slowly, all but disappear from the design .

Toothpaste Aerosol

toothpaste aerosol
Aerosol toothpaste

BMW Back on the Road!

February 7th, 2006

bmw 2002 engine

My experiment in public transportation is over.

In a way I miss the bus. I have really come to love the reading time that the captivity of the bus commute afforded me. And just when I started to attempt Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near. Yowsa!

But the real point here is that my car is done. Or rather, my hot-rod motor build is done because you see, a 2002 is never really done. There is a continuous cycle of repairs and refurbishments taking place when you are using a car of this vintage on a daily basis.

I’m still getting it dialed in, trying to figure out the optimum carburetor jetting, but let me just say WOW! who knew? This thing pulls like all get out. I am going to get speeding tickets, I just know it. I just can’t not make it go fast. It’s silly.

Make 05 hits mail slots

February 6th, 2006

There are very few magazines that I feel compelled to keep around much longer than a month or so. Maybe certain design annuals, or cool graphics catalogs I might want to keep to cut up to make greeting cards or something, but not just because they are so damned good in their own right. Well, with the release of #5, my stack of Make issues is growing taller.

make magazine

make magazine

I hate to flog the dead horse of the Make to Old Popular Mechanics comparison, but there is a reason that to this day, you will still see boxes of the old mechanics and science mags at estate sales. Make has mixed up that same winning recipe for shelf life.

Speaking of Make mag, alot of people have asked me in recent months, “where are the new finkbuilt projects? Have you stopped tinkering?”

Hell No! I’ve been making stuff, ( in addition to the car restoration ) it’s just that much of it has been top-secret, black project work for Make that I haven’t felt at liberty to post about. In fact in the current issue, I show you how to make some cool water-powered rockets out of empty 2-litre pop bottles and some other miscellaneous debris.

Here is some video of the first launch:

Make is good for you

You will also learn about electric vehicles, and making homebuilt wind-turbine generators and jet engines. Of course there are always interviews with the really outstanding makers, inventors and tinkerers of today. It’s just plain good readin’.

You really do need to subscribe to Make. Just do it. Your grandchildren are going to love going through the old box of Make issues some day.

That German car smell

January 27th, 2006

bmw 2002 seats

You know that vintage German car smell?

I’ts a very complex, sort of musty but not unpleasant aroma, somewhat organic and entirely automotive. You smell it when you first get into an old VW, Mercedes or BMW, most noticeably on a warm day after the windows have been rolled up for a while.

One of the primary contributors to that distinctive smell, is the horsehair padding that was used in the seat cushions in these old cars. As it turs out, my horsehair had turned to a sort of horse dust.

bmw 2002 seats

The rest of the seats weren’t really in the best shape either so, as long as the car was going to be inoperable for a while longer, I fugured that I would take the opportunity to redo the seats.

bmw 2002 seats

In order to preserve the German car smell, and take advantage of what little utility was left in the horsehair, I agumented/ecapsulated it with some foam carpet pad material. This pink layer not only restores some lost bulk to the seats, but will prevent the brown stuff from raining down on the floor as it further deteriorates.

bmw 2002 seats

I then installed a pre-sewn upholstery kit from World Upholstery and Trim. The covers are really nicely sewn, fit perfectly, and match the factory upholstery really well.

bmw 2002 seats

bmw 2002 seats


January 24th, 2006


It just occured to me that it has been 20 years since Brazil was released, and that by now, there are probably lots of folks out there who may have somehow overlooked this masterpiece.

You see, after 20 years Brazil is still my favorite movie.

For those who may have missed it, Brazil is Terry Gilliam’s Orwellian, dystopic sci-fi flick, set in some retro-futuristic hyper-bureaucratic surveillance-state, where the threat of “terrorists” is used as an pretext for the government’s “Ministry of Information” to detain and torture it’s own citizens.

Kind of bleak, sure, but dont worry, there are some heroes in there. The film is masterfully styled and the set design and props alone are worth the rental. The setting has been described as “the entire last century crammed into a moment’s time”. Watch it.

I’m not sure why I thought of this film, hmm… perhaps it was something in the news recently. Anyway, I would like to move that we declare this national International “Watch Brazil” week. If you haven’t seen it before, well, you need to. Go rent it. Netflix it. If you have seen it, then you will acknowlege that it does indeed require multiple viewings to fully digest, and you will welcome the chance to see it again. So, go ahead, call some friends over for a Brazil watching party soon. You’ll be glad you did.

BMW Motor back together

January 18th, 2006

A short project 2002 pictorial update.

bmw pistons
bmw 2002 motor
bmw 2002 motor
bmw 2002 motor
bmw 2002 engine bay

Free Tarantulas

January 12th, 2006


For far too long now, the pet preference discussion has revolved around a couple of mammal groups. Are you a cat person, or a dog person? Well, it turns out that there is actually a third major sphere of animal people out there.

Tarantula people.

For evidence, just read through some of the threads over on the Arachnoboards forum. There you will find all sorts of usefull information relating to all aspects of tarantula husbandry, from proper housing and feeding to courtship and breeding. This is a devoted and growing bunch of spider nuts dedicated expanding understanding about an ever-increasing number of captive-bred tarantula species, preventing them from extinction, and making them available to the arachnophiles of the world.

Tarantulas are the future

Yes, it won’t be long now before everybody has a tarantula or two. I’m sure that it’s already big in Japan, so if you want to stay ahead of the curve, there is no better time than now to get in on the action. Yep, you’re going to need a tarantula soon.

Well as luck would have it, I am now accepting applications to adopt these 2 absolutely gorgeous unsexed, sub-adult tarantula specimens! That’s right, these 2 adorable, docile, fuzzy giant spiders are looking for a new home.

The spider at the top of the page is a Brachypelma albopilosum, also known as the curly-haired tarantula.

The bottom one is a Brachypelma vagans, a truly docile and lovely bug. You may have noticed that this spider only has 7 legs. Yes, it’s true. The leg was lost in a skin-shedding mishap, but rest-assured it the leg will regenerate, magically reappearing after the next molt.


Adopt a tarantula today

If you would like to adopt one of these fuzzy friends, just complete the following checklist, then leave a comment to this post that describes your interest in tarantulas, and affirms your desire to adopt one:

  • Research tarantulas and their care thoroughly.
  • Don’t be a creep who just wants to have a scary bug.
  • Be someone who is truly interested in these beautiful, interesting animals

That’s it!

Successfull candidates will need to payPal me a $20 USPS Express delivery charge. I would prefer to send them to the Western United States only, to reduce the chances of loss during transit. Shipping may be delayed for cold weather.

After a few weeks or so, depending on interest level, I will close comments to new applicants and send out spiders.

So, who wants a tarantula?

Update: Both spiders have been spoken for. Thank you Boing Boing!

Granite Countertops

January 5th, 2006

granite countertops

Poor man’s granite that is.

A few people have expressed an interest in the countertop treatment that appeared in my Make your own ketchup post. Well as luck would have it, I had the opportunity this weekend to replicate the countertop installation and snap a few photos, as I installed the last of our kitchen cabinets.

Now, as we all know there is just one phrase, this side of “Rich Corinthian Leather” that screams opulent, organic permanance, and that is “Granite Countertops”. But last time I checked, you could expect to spend about $10,000 to have a modest-sized kitchen outfitted with granite slab countertops.

Using granite floor tiles

A common way to get granite onto your coutertops without paying for a custom slab job, is to use 3/8″ thick, 12″ square granite flooring tiles, which you can install just like you would install any other tile:

  1. Install a layer of cement tile substrate such as Wonderboard, or Hardi-backer.
  2. Use a thinset mortar to set the tiles in place
  3. Apply grout to fill the gaps between tiles.
  4. Seal the stone/grout

But there are a few common mistakes to watch out for when using granite floor tiles on your countertop, Iv’e seen plenty of installations that looked a little, er, less than harmonious.

Some people might like the patchwork look, but if what you are looking for is a more seamless effect, there are a couple of things that you can do to help out:

  • Butt up the tiles to minimize the grout lines, and use a grout that is the same color as the tiles
  • Orient the grain. Even granite tiles that don’t seem to have an apparent grain actually do, and if you line them all up in the same direction, it looks much better.
  • Choose a stone without strong veins or lines.

granite countertops

Note: in these photographs, you don’t see the cement underlayment because, well, I didn’t use any for this little cabinet because I didnt feel like going to the store. But you MUST use it.


For the counter top edge, I found this 1/4 round extruded aluminum, (or aluminium for you Brits) edging material that I believe is intended for transitioning tile floors to carpet floors. This edging has a lip on one side that extends below the tile. Install this stuff with nails or screws all around the edges of the counter for a durable and handsome edge.

granite countertops

You can cover the exposed countertop sides with any standard bullnose molding. 1-1/2 inch wide hardwood with a chamfored top edge is nice, but I chose this extruded aluminum trim of the type used in commercial dining tables. When we had our dining booth made, the manufacturer was happy to sell me some of the material to use on my countertops.

granite countertops

This edging has a T profile, and installed by first cutting a slot around the edge of the countertop with a slot-cutting router bit, then pressing the molding into place.

granite countertops

Finally, install the tile with any thinset mortar, then grout. Apply an aqueous sealer to keep the stone from absorbing stains and such, and BAM! you have a nice granite kitchen, and you just saved $9,500.


Make Your Own Ketchup

December 28th, 2005


But please, do a better job than I did.

I was so looking forward to the DIY pride that I was going to feel, come spring when I served up some juicy, fresh-grilled burgers and a big basket of hot-from-the-oil, twice-cooked frits with mayonaise and my own homemade ketchup, complete with badass professionally-designed custom label by John Pszeniczny.

Well, I finally got around to making and canning the “ketchup”, but I’ve got to say, I am pretty dissapointed with the results. I should have done more research, maybe checked out some of those sites that tell you how to make your own authentic-tasting Twinkies, or believable knock-off of the Colonel’s chicken. Instead, I used the first random ketchup recipe that I stumbled upon, which happened to be this one from PickYourOwn.org.

I went out and bought 10 lbs of fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, brought them home and started in on the whole ketchp making rigmarole:

  • Boil the tomatoes for 30 seconds, then plunge them into an icewater bath
  • Remove the loosened skins
  • Manually remove all the seeds and water from the tomatoes
  • Stew the tomatos
  • Force the tomatoes through a mill or strainer
  • Steep some of the spices
  • Add the spices, sugar, vinegar etc, and stew them some more

Right about this time, I realized that he PickYourOwn recipe had turned out not to taste anything like ketchp. I suppose that it is a fine enough “spiced tomato condiment”, but I wanted to make ketchup, and this stuff tastes way to much like cloves and cinimon, not the ketchup that I know and love.

I thought about what to do, how I might salvage this mess that I had worked so hard to create.


With the addition of some horseradish, it might make a halfway decent shrimp cocktail sauce. Instead I added 4 cups of Worchestershire Sauce.

Ketchup + Worchestershire = Barbeque Suace.

So, my failed ketchup will have to serve as a base for barbeque sauce experiments instead. This stuff will come in handy for marinating spare ribs before they go into the smoker, making chili, and a for variety of barbeque uses.


Once your ketchup is done, you then need to preserve it as such:

  • Clean and sterilize your bottles and lids
  • Fill and cap the bottles
  • Process the bottles
  • Cool the bottles

So it seems that Heinz has dodged a bullet, for now.

BMW 2002 motor apart

December 22nd, 2005

bmw 2002
As you are aware, there are 2 basic kinds of people in this world, those who have pulled the motor out of a car, and those who have not.

Last week I crossed that demographic line, and joined the ranks of those who get to talk about “pulling their motor” and “dropping the tranny”. Yes, extracting the engine clean out the car is a tinkering accomplishment right up there with learning to weld. I have removed and replaced pretty much every part of this car that can be done with the motor in place, but actually removing the motor from the car remained for me one of those things that were done only in the secret back rooms of professional mechanic’s garages.

Well, last week the veils of secrecy came off, and I got to partake in this mechanical rite of passage.

bmw engine

Upon dismantling the engine, we found that 3 of the 4 pistons had broken compression rings. The cam chain guide rail had completely disintigrated, distributing little bits of plastic all through the motor, and the cylinder walls were very worn. None of this was really surprising for a motor with 200K mi on it.

Now, I wait while 4 different machine shops work on refurbing and improving various parts before reassembly can begin. One shop gets the block, where the cylinders will be bored out to return them to round. A second machine shop will resurface and lighten the flywheel, ballance all rotating parts; crank, pulleys, etc. and weight match the new pistons and the connecting rods. The driveshaft has gone out to a third shop, where it will be shortened and have the front piece of a 320i driveshaft grafted on, to allow the fitment of a 5-speed overdrive gearbox from a 320i donor car. The junkyard 5-speed transmission itself is off to a fourth shop to be gone through, and at the very least have new seals installed.

To be continued…

Handyman’s Book

December 6th, 2005

do it yourself

I found this great Better Homes and Gardens Handyman’s Book, which is really nicely adorned with some classic mid-century “optimistic style” illustrations. Unfortunately, the illustrator is not credited in the book.

do it yourself

This appears to be a “man’s” companion volume to the ubiquitous, red gingham motif, ring-bound Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that so many of us grew up with. Yes, mom was so happy with the jello-mold salads and rib-roasts that she was turning out, that Merideth Publishing thought that they’d better do something to help dad feel a little less intimidated about his new job of making that bare shell of a suburban-sprawl tract house into a home.

do it yourself

do it yourself

do it yourself

do it yourself