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

5-Speed Upgrade

December 4th, 2005

getrag 245/5

Just as it is not uncommon to suffer “cascading failures” like the one where I recently broke a motor mount, and the resulting vibration was enough to cause the transmission mount to come loose, which allowed enough motion to break the exhaust hangers and destroy the muffler, it is also common to find yourself caught in the wallet-emptying cycle of “cascading enhancements” when working on cars.

You know, I was going to replace the cylinder head because it was cracked, but while I have the motor apart, I might as well rebuild the very tired top-end, and well, add higher compression pistons, and hmm… why not a cam! Let’s see, I’m really going to need a bigger carb to feed this setup… Of course I don’t want to take it apart again anytime soon, so I need a new clutch, and with all this new power, maybe I should upgrade the brakes, and suspension and… so it goes, on and on, you just have to stop yourself.

The Need for (5)Speed

With that being said, I couldn’t stop myself. You see, a while back I replaced my differential with one that had lower gearing (it went from 3:64 to 3:9 if that means anything to you). This change made the car pretty zippy around town, but the top speed was lowered significantly, and it was already pretty high-revving on the freeway as it was.

Well, I must admit that when I put that 3:9 rear-end in, I did it with the long term plan of replacing the stock and ill-shifting 4-speed transmission with a 5-speed overdrive unit from an early 80′s 320i, and yes indeed, yesterday I went to a junkyard and harvested a gen-you-ine Getrag 245/5 !

This transmission will pretty much bolt right up to my 1973 2002 motor with a few minor mods in shifter bracketry, and some judiciously inflicted blows with a sledge hammer to the tunnel. The drive shaft will need to be sent out to be shortend and ballanced, since the 320i gearbox is a bit longer than the original.

When I get my car back on the road, gearing should be ideal.

Meteorite or not?

December 2nd, 2005


Calling all Geology dorks.

When my younger brother and I were kids we used to stay up really late on clear summer nights and lay out on the front lawn and stare up at the stars waiting for meteors. Once in a while we would get lucky and there would be a meteor shower going, or we might just happen to see a few random big ones.

I always waited for the one that would come crashing down into the vacant lot next door, or if I was really lucky, through the neighbor’s roof or onto a parked car. But of course, I never got to see one hit. Ever since then I’ve wanted to have a meteorite specimen of my own sitting on my desk for contemplation. I just love the idea of having a chunk of extraterrestrial matter handy. But I’ve never found one.

My rock

Which brings me to the rock pictured above. Is this a stony meteorite, or just some chunk of volcanic rock?

I found this other-worldy looking rock in my yard the other day, and it seemed to have some of that “re-entry” melt texture that I have seen on some meteorites of the metalic variety. But this is not metalic. Still, I was hoping that it might be one of the “stoney” types. So, if any geologists out there happen to see this and can identify my rock, that would rock.

Harvesting Micrometeorites

While doing a Google search for meteorites, I came accross an interesting kids activity article that described how to collect meteorites in your own back yard. Meteorites are falling all the time, its just that most of them are microscopic and really more “space dust” than meteorites, but they are meteorites nonetheless.

To collect your own meteorites, just lay out a big tarp or sheet on your back lawn overnight. After a day or so, run a magnet over the sheet. All of those black specs that stick to the magnet are meteorites. Exciting, huh?

Cracked cylinder head

November 20th, 2005

BMW 2002 head

The BMW 2002 is the quintessential tinkerer’s car. These cars were pretty advanced for their day, but they are simple, spartan machines by todays standards. When you open the hood, you see an engine, not a sea of black plastic, cables and hoses. Almost everything in there is clearly identifiable to the novice mechanic, and feels quite “owner-servicable”.

So, this particular car has, over the eight years that I have owned it, invited me to learn quite a bit about shade-tree mechanix. I started out changing my oil, then advanced to installing a brake master cylinder, shoes, calipers, water pump, alternator, radiator, exhaust manifold, mffler, differential, axles, CV joints, distributor, Pertronix ignition, and adjusting my own valves.

Today, I made the boldest, most invasive dismantling that I have yet attempted. I pulled the cylinder head off in hopes of replacing a blown head-gasket and putting an end to the big puffy white plumes of steam that my car would spew out on cold startup, and dissapearing coolant, that the engine was drinking.

Unfortunately for me, when I got the head off, the gasket looked fine. this of course told me that the head casting itself was likely cracked, which in fact it was.

Component failure, an opportunity to upgrade.

So, since i have it all appart, and I have to get a new head built anyway, I might as well just take care of a few other details while all the parts are accessible. What the hell, might as well go for a 284 292 degree cam, bigger carb (38/38 downdraft), higher compression pistons, lightened flywheel. That ought to do it.

But I’m out of my leaugue now, so I am going to tow the car over to the shop a mechanic, who is going to let me work with him to build my new “stage 2″ performance engine. I’ve been looking forward to the day when I “had” to rebuild my engine for a long time and I’m excited.

Breathing easy

There are some things I can do at home in preparation for the shop work. The first thing that I will do is to “hog out” the intake manifold to allow for greater fuel/air flow in preparation for my new bigger carb and new fuel-sucking cam profile.

BMW 2002 intake manifolds

The manifold on the right is a stock 2 hole manifold. The one on the left has been opened up to accomodate a larger carburetor.

To be continued…

Build a Rocket Coaster

November 9th, 2005

rocket coaster

Think about whipping up one of these for your neighborhood’s next Soapbox Derby, or canyon-carving mission.

rocket coaster

From Popular Mechanics 1951

Winner in ketchup contest

October 31st, 2005


Grand Prize Winner

I‘m guessing that it’s not easy for some condiment upstart to muscle their way into the shelf space wars at the major grocers, but If I were going to try, I would want John Pszeniczny as Art Director in charge of packaging and identity. His designs were just so professional, commercial grade I’d say, with just the right mix of color, kitsch and simple bold stylish typography. And he went the extra mile by modeling the bottle in 3D, and mapping the label on there front and back. Nicely done John! You get first prize for your efforts, and will be receiving a George Nelson ball clock courtesy of Hive, a 20 stack of Jewelboxing Kings from Coudal Partners, and finkbuilt lab apron.

2nd Prize Winner

Choosing the second prize winner was extremely difficult work, so I made someone else do it.

The sheer volume of great entries was overwhelming in large part because of the generous donation of the Nelson clock by Patrick over at Hive, so I asked him choose the runner-up, and he decided to reward Jeff Anzulewicz for his bold design. Jeff approached the problem unencumbered by the shackles of traditional condiment branding, taking things in a fresh new direction with his tortoise and hare iconography and clean white layout. He also went the extra mile by printing out his label, applying it to the correct bottle, and photographing it in amoungst its condiment friends.

Jeff will be getting the $US7 in oddball currency and a $50.00 shopping spree at The3dStudio.com


Free Modern Art

October 30th, 2005

modern art

I moved my car out of the garage this morning to make some space to prep a wallpaper installation that I was doing. When I walked back into the garage, I noticed this abstract painting sitting right below where the leaking differential of my car used to be.

I hadn’t noticed it before, even though I had painted it just 12 hours earlier while turning a red, white, and blue bowling wrist brace into a black one in the course of assembling my Dick the Albino Bowler costume (thanks Ken), in preparation for attending Scott, Becky and Felix’s phenomenal fancy dress party.

Let me just say, this was far and away the best family-friendly halloween party that I have ever been to. Scott and Becky know how to entertain. Costumes were manditory, and there were some incredible ones there. Frylock and Pumpkin guts stand out in my mind. There was the best haunted carport you could imagine, complete with human barbecue and living portrait. There was a forest of booze bottles and mixers available to concoct whatever you might want to drink. There was even a performance by a Polynesian fire-dancer, swinging balls-o-fire on the end of strings. There was pinball, pumpkins, and spread of food that kept everyone going all night, and to top it all off, The Mercury Four showed up, opening their instrumental set with “Warewolf on Wheels”. All of this set in an architect-designed, mid-century modern house.

Like I said, Scott and Becky know how to throw a party.

Oh, yeah. Free modern art. I will mail this piece free of charge to the person gives the best critique of the painting, and seems to sincerely want to own it. If nobody meets those criteria, then I will put it back underneath my car.

Sinclair C5

October 22nd, 2005

sinclair C5

I stopped by my friend Adam’s house the other day and he showed me something quite cool. If you were aware of personal computers in the early 1980′s, you will probably remember Sinclair for their early PC’s and calculators, but did you know that they also made vehicles?

sinclair C5

The C5 was a Human-electric hybrid drive, recumbant trike that was going to revolutionize the urban transportation landscape. Unfortunately, the product flopped, nearly bringing sinclair down with it.

“Possibly Sinclair’s most famous product (albeit for quite the wrong reasons), the ill-conceived C5 “electric car” proved to be the point at which Sinclair Research’s wheels finally fell off. Attracting controversy and derision in equal measure, the C5 fiasco ended up having a catastrophic effect on Sinclair’s finances. Losses of up to £7 million eventually forced the company to sell its computer business to Amstrad.”

Read more at Planet Sinclair.

Ketchup Label Design Contest

September 24th, 2005

ketchup label design contest

You don’t have to be Malcom Gladwell to notice that in the mustard world, fads come and fads go, varietals and variants are tried and eventually embraced by consumers.

Ketchup always stays the same.

Here at Finkbuilt Labs, our plan is nothing less than to shake the world out of this condiment orthodoxy by introducing a NEW tomato ketchup. Change can be unsettling, but fear not, FINKZ Tomato Ketchup will do everything your old ketchup did, and more.

An open call to designers

Before FINKZ Tomato Ketchup can come to dominate the marketplace, as it inevitably will, it needs an identity. This is where YOU come in!

As the FINKZ Tomato Ketchup label designer, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something big. But since we know that while contributing to progress and meaningful change can be satisfying, it’s easy to put it off until later. That’s why this design contest is offering a generous incentive package of cash and prizes to the one who dreams up the winning label.

Grande Prize

First prize will be a George Nelson ball clock by Vitra in your choice of finishes generously donated by Finkbuilt booster Patrick Fisher proprietor of Portland’s premiere modern furniture retailer Hive, on the condition that I stop making ball clock-related posts on finkbuilt.
A $265.00 Value!

Thanks Patrick!

 nelson ball clock

finkbuilt apron

And as if that wasn’t enough, you will also be receiving an official Finkbuilt Labs Apron, a garment equally at home in the kitchen or shop.

Plus, you’ll be getting a 20 stack of Jewelboxing Kings, the super-slick CD/DVD packaging system from Coudal Partners. Thanks Jim!

In addition to all of this, you will receive a bottle of FINKZ Tomato Ketchup, sporting YOUR label, for your portfolio.

Second Prize

The runner up will be awarded a cash purse of $US7.00 paid out in the following oft-ignored demoninations:

ketchup label design contest

3 – $2 bills
1 – Kennedy $1 coin

And, you will be treated to a $50.00 shopping spree at The3dStudio.com, where you can get all sorts of models and images to spruce up your future designs. Thanks Matt!


The initial run of FINKZ Tomato Ketchup will be bottled using 100% recycled 9.5 FL OZ Starbucks frappuccino bottles, the pertinent dimensions of which are illustrated above. Check one out in the grocery store if you need to get a better feel for the bottle. Your label design will need to fit this bottle. Please reserve space for a Nutritional Information panel.

The labels will be printed on a color laser printer, so no foils will be possible. Neckbands, top cap labels, and odd shapes are welcome.

Feel free to add any zippy slogans, catch-phrases or pitches that you think appropriate.

If you know a stitch of HTML, you can make your submission by simply posting an img tag in a comment to this post. Images posted in comments must be no wider than 400 pixels. If you prefer, just email me your entry in any common graphic format and I will post it for you.

I will act as contest judge, and in the unlikely event that no entries are deemed appropriate, I will design an alternate label, and the winner will still receive the prizes (no longer applies).

You should retain your original design in a high-resolution file so that a quality print can be made, should your design be selected.

Deadlline for submissions is October 31, 2005.

Good luck!

Make a Ball Clock From Rubbish

September 17th, 2005

ball clock

A tin can , some minor doodads and an old clockworks can be made into one of those swank, wall clocks that sell for up to $30. Even if you buy a new clock mechanism, the job should cost you only a few dollars.

Most clockworks fit nicely inside a one-pound coffee can. Drill a 1/4” hole in the bottom for the shaft and mount the mofor inside with small stove bolts. If you use a spring-wind clock, no power cord will show.

Twelve arms, tipped with 1” cork balls, mark the hour positions. The balls are sold at hobby and fishing-tackle shops; they often come with 1/8” holes in them. If not drill the balls to fit on the 1/8” dowels that are used as arms.

Cut the hands from tin or balsa wood. The hands are 4 3/4″ and 6″ long. emove the old hands and solder or cement the new ones on top, then replace. We painted hands and arms black, housing gold.

– Ron Anderson, Minneapolis. From Popular Science, April 1956

ball clock
ball clock
ball clock

The Albino Bowler

September 9th, 2005

albino bowler

The legend began on a crisp October night in 1974, at a small 12-lane alley just outside of Roundlake, Illinois. League night was winding down and, as usual, some of the guys decided to stick around and roll a few games for money. About midway through the first game, the doors swung wide open and a pale figure with a bowling bag stood in the doorway. He walked in slowly, pointed at lanes nine and ten, then sat down to change his shoes. Read the entire legend of Dick

I’ve had my eye on Pietro Ramirez’s The Albino Bowler for several years now, and today, this glorious day, it became part of my permanent collection.

I like to duck into the Archie McPhee’s Store in Ballard whenever I get a chance. It’s impossible to go in there and not feel good. The store offers a bountiful harvest of kitsch, novelty and surplus items found nowhere else. They are also the sole distributors of the paintings of Pietro Ramirez.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the annex, where they keep a bunch of oversized and overstock items, and I noticed a “Last One!” sign below the display model of The Albino Bowler painting! I froze for a second, then got the hell out of there before I did something silly. I was supposed to be going to Dunn Lumber next door to spend $300 on cedar to build a fence, and dropping a $100 on a Ramirez painting would put me in a bit of a Jack and the Beanstock position. I tried to put it out of my mind, but owning a copy of The Albino Bowler was on my list of things to do, and with only one copy left, the plan was in serious joepardy.

Today, I somehow clicked over to the Archie McPhee’s website, and noticed that they were now selling a blue background/purple shirt version of The Albino Bowler! Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. I figured that I had missed my chance to own The Albino Bowler in its true and proper color scheme, green shirt with brilliant firey orange and red suburst background. I had no desire to own the new blue and purple version.

Well, I decided to stop by after work just to see if maybe the display model of the classic color scheme Albino Bowler had not been sold yet, and sure enough, there it was! I happily slapped down my C-note and walked out of there the grateful owner of The Albino Bowler #50/1000