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

Jumbo Ball Clock Complete

September 5th, 2005

lodefink ball clock

I finally made time to finish the jumbo ball clock. I decided not to remain faithfull to the George Nelson original with regard to the design of the clock dial and hands. I went with a 10-inch dial in Wenge with aluminum markers and hands.


Wenge is a really neat-looking, dense harwood with a disntinctly contrasting grain pattern. I cut out the round for the dial on the bandswaw before sanding it with 150, 220, 400, and 600 grit sandpaper. I finished it with a rubbing of Howard feed-n-wax.

lodefink ball clock

The dial markers are cut from some 8 guage aluminum wire, and de-burred with a file. I wet-sanded the markers with 1500 grit to give them an even aluminum lustre, and epoxied them into place.

lodefink ball clock

I painted the Rockler-obtained hands with an aluminum spray-paint, but in retrospect, I should have just stripped the hands to bare aluminum and given them the same treatment that the markers got.

lodefink ball clock

The steel frame received a dose of gloss black spray-paint before I attached to the dial with 4 screws and washers. I gave the balls a quick shot of clear laquer, epoxied them into place and called it a clock.

« Phase 1, Learning to Weld…

Erupting Volcano Cake

August 27th, 2005

volcano cake

2 mb Quicktime movie

Whether you’re having a groundbreaking celebration for the construction of your new subterranean evil lair, or throwing a 5 year-old a birthday party, an erupting volcano cake is always the perfect pastry choice.

The magic in this cake comes from 2 special effects:

The dry ice in the magma chamber, and the hard candy lava streaming down the sides of the volcano.

We constructed our volcano using 3 seperate cake sections:

  • Bundt cake base
  • Dome cake middle (baked in medium bowl)
  • Inverted cupcake peak

volcano cake

We used a small juice glass to first cut out the center of the middle layer before stacking it on top of the bundt cake base. Next, insert the glass into the cavity. This is your magma chamber.

Cut a vent through the center of the cupcake peak section. Frost both the main cake and the cupcake peak, but dont put the top on just yet.

volcano cake

To make the candy lava you’ll need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Karo syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Red food coloring

Combine these ingredients and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Heat to 300 deg F. Remove from heat. Pour candy lava into the desired shapes onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Allow to cool.

volcano cake

Just before you are ready to serve the cake, drop a chunk of dry-ice into the glass, and pour in some cold warm water. Put the top piece onto the volcano and arrange the candy lava on the sides.

If you want your cake to actually bubble over with oozing lava, then add sweetened, colored egg white to the dry ice in the magma chamber rather than water. We didn’t think that sounded very apetizing, but it sure would look cool. Here is the recipe for the oozing goo:

  • 1 egg white
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • food coloring

Dropping that into your volcano will result in a nice eruption that should last for a few minitues.

Finally, bask in your guest’s delight.

Build Your Own Diving Lung

August 24th, 2005

popular science

In 1953, the idea to put seat belts in cars hadn’t really occurred to anyone yet, and chances are your doctor had to put down his cigarette to ask you to turn your head and cough. People just weren’t that obsessed with safety.

So I guess that it should come as no surprise to find out that if you needed a set of SCUBA gear, well, you just strapped a couple of spent CO2 bottles to a piece of plywood, added a length of vacuum cleaner hose and called it good.

It’s not that I am praticularly risk averse, I ride motorcycles, and have even been known to pilot a gyroplane if given the chance. And I don’t exactly hide the fact that I like making my own stuff as much as the next guy (maybe even a bit more), but somehow it just strikes me as a bit sketchy to trust your life to an aqualung cobbled together from a bunch of refuse.

Those were adventuresome times, before the liability lawsuit ruled the nation, and everybody looked at you sideways if your child’s car booster seat lacked the latest 9-point harness.

scuba diving

That regulator wasn’t meant to go in the water? No Problem! Just slather a little rubber cement on there, it’ll hold for a while. C’mon, stop complaining! Get creative!

scuba diving

I jest, but the truth is, i am really excited that the DIY ethic seems to be returning in a big way right now. Magazines like Make and Readymade are going gangbusters, crafting and homebuilding are big, and crazy, dangerous robotics projects are no longer the exclusive domain of SRL.

Shooting Star

August 23rd, 2005

shooting star
Lynden fair, 2005.

Dr. Snip Vasectomy knife

August 15th, 2005


Finally , there is a product that appeals equally to zero population growth enthusiasts, and pocket knife collectors; The Vasectomy Clinic souvenir pocket snips.

This is by far the best piece of schwag that I have ever received. Don’t get me wrong, I love those little light-up superballs, folding binoculars and stress-reducers that you gather up at trade shows, but rarely do I feel compelled to show one to anybody once the event is over. This is schwag with content.


Obtaining your knife

As far as I know, to get a knife, you need to go under the knife. Although, I’m sure that if you went into the clinic and asked for one, they would oblige.

If you are thinking about getting snipped yourself, I would highly reccomend Dr. snip. He obviously loves his job, and really knows his stuff, and your stuff. Here is a teste-monial from another satisfied customer.

My own experience with Dr. Snip was surprisingly good. I was certainly a little nervous, I am not used to having a strange man handle my scrotum, let alone cut it open. Although he was quite willing to keep me informed of exactly what he was doing during the procedure, Now I am going to coterize your vas, you may smell something burning…, I chose to engage in small talk as a diversion instead. It turns out that the doc was a pilot, and he was very interested in the gyroplane fllight training that I was taking at the time.

Before I knew it, it was over. and No, my voice didn’t rise 2 octives as a result of the surgery.

The Monkey Paintings

August 8th, 2005

monkey painting

If you’re like me, and don’t have a rich record of your aristocratic, paternalist lineage to display in your foyer in the form of heirloom oils, you can still mock those who do with one of these super-cool “monkey paintings”. I know, chimpanzees aren’t monkeys they’re apes, and I cringe as much as anyone when I hear them belittled by the M-word, but “monkey painting” just rolls off the toungue so nicely.

monkey painting

It all started for me when this painting of a crowned “monkey-princess” popped up in the window of a frame shop near my office building. My friend Ken and I admired it for some time until one day Ken scooped it up!

Determined to get my own monkey painting, I hit ebay, where I found there was a fairly steady stream of this type of painting available. I bought this really nicely done Napoleonesque chimp in red military finery, and framed it up in a rather gaudy gold frame. He now guards our house from the red wall of our entry, letting all visitors know that we’re not your run-of-the-mill family, but one steeped in a history that leads right back to the banana revolution.

Popular Science – June 1953

August 3rd, 2005

popular science
Seattle’s Old Technology Shop on Aurora Avenue closed it doors earlier this year, after more than 30 years of supplying seattle crap-hounds with 8-track tape players, 16mm movie projectors, antique medical and scientific test equipment, knobs, tubes, vintage semiconductors, and all manner of technological debris.

I used to shop there occasionally, but more often than not I would just go in to salivate at the rich bounty of junk inside. Once as I was leaving the store, a guy came in lugging a big box of old magazines, hoping to sell them to the proprietor. The owner wasn’t interested, but when the guy saw my eyes bulging out of my head at the contents of the box, he asked me If I wanted them, and gave me the whole lot. I harvested nearly 60 copies of Popular Science, and Mechanics Illustrated from 1947-1959. I’m going to start posting the better covers, and select content.

This is sort of a tie-in with the publishing of my first article for O’Reilly’s Make magazine which shares not only the digest-sized format, but also the tinkerer, hacker, builder spirit of these old gems.

First up June, 1953. This outstanding cover features a woman admiring ‘The Fanciest Car you can buy” and a very nice illustration of some retro-futuristic, Michelin Tire man-looking astronauts doing a space-walk. Smack-dab in the middle is a bright orange burst touting the included science-fiction book digest, which was Arthur C. Clarke’s Island In The sky.

Nelson-Lodefink Ball clock Phase 1

July 28th, 2005

nelson ball clock

George Nelson recalled about the design of the Ball Clock:

“… there was one night when the ball clock got developed, which was one of the really funny evenings. Isamu Noguchi came by, and Bucky Fuller came by. I’d been seeing a lot of Bucky those days, and here was Irving and here was I, and Isamu, who can’t keep his hands off anything, you know- it is a marvelous, itchy thing he’s got- he saw we were working on clocks and he started making doodles. Then Bucky sort of brushed Isamu aside. He said, “This is a good way to do a clock,” and he made some utterly absurd thing. Everybody was taking a crack at this,…pushing each other aside and making scribbles.
At some point we left- we were suddenly all tired, and we’d had a little bit too much to drink- and the next morning I came back, and here was this roll (of drafting paper), and Irving and I looked at it, and somewhere in this roll there was a ball clock. I don’t know to this day who cooked it up. I know it wasn’t me. It might have been Irving, but he didn’t think so…(we) both guessed that Isamu had probably done it because (he) has a genius for doing two stupid things and making something extraordinary…out of the combination….(or) it could have been an additive thing, but, anyway, we never knew.”

(George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design; pp 111).

Hmm… I wonder what it would have been like to be in that little scribble session with those guys…

George Nelson vaguely recalls:

“I remember that at some point Steve Lodefink came over, and he had this weakness for absynth you see, and we had all been hitting it pretty hard all night, anyway Steve grabbed the pencil from Isamu, and slurring something about radiation from the Atomic tests mutating everything into huge manifestations of what they had been or some such nonsense, I don’t know, nobody really remembers much about that night. When I brought the drawings to Herman Miller the next day they immediately pointed to the huge, 27 inch welded-steel version of Noguchi’s idea….

…huh? oh, hi.

So, I have great peeps. This year for Father’s day, Linda gave me a welding class. It was absolutlely the prefect thing. I have always wanted to weld. I have had so many great hair-brained ideas that I never got to make the mistake of beginning, because they called for welding. The barrier to entry always seemed so great, the learning curve too high. The whole welding thing seemed a little too exotic, or hot and difficult, or something. My lack of welding always loomed in the background, a gaping hole in my tinkering palette.

Learning to weld

It turns out that welding is really quite accessible. With today’s 115v wire-feed MIG Welders, welding is really not much more involved than using a hot-glue gun. If you use flux-cored wire, you don’t need any gas bottles or regulators or welding rod. The welding machine itself looks sort of like a big power suppply or something with a gun on a cable and big clip attached to it. You pretty much just hold the tip up to your work, pull the trigger and you’re welding!

nelson ball clock

There are only 2 adjustments that you make; voltage, and wire feed rate. All Mig welders have a little chart that suggests a feed rate and voltage setting based on the thikness of material that you are welding. When you pull the trigger, the wire shoots out and contacts your work piece, which is grounded to the machine. When the wire hits the work, the circuit is completed and it arcs like mad, which melts the metal, and bingo! Welded.

nelson ball clock
My clumpy first welds.

The class I took was a Discover U, 2-day intro to MIG welding class called “Garden Art Welding”, but I pretended it was called “Intro to welding for Industrial Design”.

The night before the class I thought about what I could make. We live in a 1955 split-entry house that has this big sandstone chimney that divides the entry from the living room and I thought I could make some kind of Astro sculpture to add a little atomic pinache to the space.

I e-mailed the instructor to get a clearer understanding of the scope of project that we would be able to tackle, and it turned out that we were not going to have access to a plasma-cutter, and would pretty much be limited to small rod, wire, and bar stock materials for our projects, so I had to scale down my plans a bit.

I had always admired the Nelson ball clocks, but at 14 inches in diameter, they are a bit small for the space that I had in mind. So I hatched a plan to weld up a frame for a jumbo ball clock 27 inches in diameter to adorn the back-side of the fireplace.

nelson ball clock

I went to Rockler and purchased a dozen 2.25 inch maple balls, a quartz clock movement, and a packet of clock hands. I plan to make the clock dial out of ebony, but I havn’t priced it out yet, we’ll see.

nelson ball clock

I don’t really have all of the design details worked out for the dial yet, but I think that I will remain fairly faithfull to the original, only super-sized. Or maybe I will invite a bunch of people over to get drunk and we can start sketching and see what emerges.

Oh, and I am deffinately going to have to set myself up with a MIG welder at home! If you are interested in welding, don’t be shy about trying MIG.

Completing the clock »

Make a Stereoscopic VR object

July 22nd, 2005

Mouse over left, right or center to spin the robot.

When plain photography isn’t enough, sometimes I will resort to shooting stereo images, as was the case with my Douglas C. Newell Paperboy trophy. If you feel like really out-nerding yourself, you can apply the same camera-shifting stereo shooting technique to your VR object photography.

vr object tuntable

I made this simple turntable from some available particle board and a cheap lazy-susan bearing. I cut index marks into the side of one disk at 5 degree intervals, making every third cut a little wider so that I could easily identify the 15 degreee marks. 15 degrees of rotation between shots will yield a 24 frame sequence.

To create an anaglyphic VR object movie, shoot one one full rotation from your first camera position, then shift your camera 70mm and shoot another rotation.

stereo camera

Convert the resulting stereo image pairs into a series of anaglyphs. Making your own stereo anaglyphs (red/blue glasses images) is very simple:

1. Obtain your stereo pair (RGB)
2. Open both images in Photoshop
3. Copy the entire red channel from the left image
4. Paste that into the red channel of the right image
5. Repeat for each frame in the sequence.

Your anaglyph sequence can then be made into a VR object movie using Quicktime or some other method. I have always kind of wanted to try doing one in Flash, so I enlisted world-famous Flash-master Danny Mavromatis to write me a quick ActionScript to control the animation. Next I’d like to try a version for cross-eyed viewing.

Need Glasses? Order a sample-Pak from American Paper Optics

 3d glasses , or print your own frames from this pdf and make lenses from lighting gels.


Rapala floating minnow

July 15th, 2005

rapala floating minnow

Pleasing design pops up when you least expect it. In this case I found it in a bait and tackle shop in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

We just got back from our summer vacation, which was 3 days in a rented log cabin situated on 80 acres of campground surrounded by 3 lakes on an island. Our oldest son Ivan is 4 years old, and this was going to be our first time out doing the whole roast hotdogs on a stick over the campfire thing, and I had this fantasy in my mind that we would go fishing together and that I would get to see him catch his first fish and we would have this wonderfull Norman Rockwell moment together. This trip was the reason that I rushed the lacquer job on my ukulele project a bit, I really wanted to be able to sit around the campfire and strum the uke, while telling lies about the one that got away.

Iv’e never been too much into bloodsport, and we didn’t own any fishing gear, so in preparing for the trip, I bought a couple of cheap Zebco spin-cast packages that came complete with a little assortment of tackle. I figued as long as we had bobbers and hooks we would be all set, so I didnt buy any extra stuff. All you do is put a worm on a hook and reel ‘em in right? If worms don’t do the trick, then you just switch over to my father’s old tried and true bait, Velveeta cheese. Yep, we’d be pulling them in all morning, in fact, I was sort of thinking about how to handle it when we had 2 fish on at the same time.

Well, not so much as a nibble.

The next day when we ventured into to town, I ducked into a tackle shop and stood in front the wall of lures, plastic worms, jigs, rigs, spinners, bobbers, etc. I was kind of hoping to find some miracle fish pheramone bait or something to try. That’s when I spotted the Rapala.

The Rapala Original Foating Minnow immediately stood out from the rest of the products on that rack on a number of fronts. The design is sleek and minimal, with a form follows funtion aesthetic that would make Mies Van Der Rohe proud. Sure, it’s highly stylized fish, it doesn’t have any fins because it doesn’t need them. Yet, it still manages to look very much like an actual taxadermed fish, with its hand-sprayed airbrush paint job and big yellow eye with black pupil. When you look at this thing you feel like you are sitting in a Tiki bar drinking out of a coconut shell and looking up at the stuffed swordfish trophy on the wall. It’s just an appealing object.

When I noticed that the Rapala Floating Minnow was made in Finland, that sealed the deal. It turns out that the lure was designed in the 1930′s and although Rapala has added other products to their line over time, the original minnow has remained unchanged. I’m thinking of getting some more Rapalas just to display in Riker mounts.

Oh, yeah and they are great for fishing too. Ivan caught a largemouth bass 5 feet from the dock, and I got my Norman Rockwell scene.