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

Vintage paperback trading card swap

June 1st, 2005

vintage paperback cover art

I got hooked on collecting vintage paperback books in the early 90′s. At that time, you could still walk into a thrift store, or crusty bookshop and had a pretty decent chance of finding something cool.

Around 1995 I scanned some favorite covers form my collection and published a short run of trading cards as poject for a class that I was taking on how to operate a printing press. With the help of some publicity (blurb in ID magazine) I sold almost all 500 sets from the run in a few months. However, I ran out of labels before I ran out of cards, and about 50 sets of cards remained unsold due to insufficient packaging, and languished in deep storage for the next 10 years before being unearthed during a recent move.

vintage paperback cover art

The packaging for the cards was inspired by that of fireworks. Each pack is wrapped in red tissue paper, and a paper label (derived from a book cover of course) is applied to the front. The result feels like a 50 pack of Black Cats. Each card pack contains 12 different cards. Some of the covers depicted feature art by notable cover atists like Earl Bergey, and Rudolph Belarski. Others are just great covers or oddball books.

I have recreated the depleted package label, and will now be offering up 10 sets of trading cards to finkbuilt readers. Also included (outside the pack) will be 3 “doubles” for trading stock. Although the card project was successfull, I always felt a bit disappointed that due to the short press run, limited interest and distrubution, the trading cards would never actually be traded. So if you would like a set, I am now offering the cards not for sale, but for trade.

The rules of the trade:

Using the comments of this post, make me an offer to trade. Just post an actual photograph (photo required) — exactly 4oo 300 pixels square — and description of the item (or whatever) that you would like to trade for one (1) pack of vintage paperback trading cards. At the end of June, I will choose 10 traders and we can make the swap. Postage to be paid by the respective senders.

If you need help posting an img tag, or need hosting for your image, just email me and I will be glad to help you out.


Who wants a set of cards?

Early winner in Keene giveaway

May 31st, 2005

Admittedly, the ground rules of the Finkbuilt fine art giveaway were vague and ill-defined:

Using the comments in a blog post, appear as though you “seem to want the painting the most”. I hadn’t anticipated so much interest, and probably should have been more creative.

Nonetheless, there were were some really compelling posts employing a varietey of strategies. There were accounts of decrepit, artless living and working environments, long lost artist parents and grandparents, a good deal of student poverty, and some really nicely composed descriptions of ones’ magnitude of desire for the painting. There was reverse psychology, poetry, Shakespere, fantasy, Dada, sex and frustration.

Lou — cuddled a warm bottle of pee in his cold aluminum foil clad truck canopy home.

chris bellerose — couldn’t wait for the contest to end, so he painted his own version.

matt — and I played a show together the week I got the painting.

KaiBeezy — wrote some really nice stuff.

Heidi — had “huge tits” (self described).

Mark Breakspear — denounced his candidacy.

In the end Tom Raywood used a combination of sheer tenacity, poetry, painting analysis and a strict interpretation of the contest mandate to convince me that he wanted it the most. Due to overwhelming response, I have decided to end the contest at the “end of the month” rather than “after one month’s time”

Enjoy the painting Tom.


Flower smells like rotting corpse

May 28th, 2005

corpse flower

While the other fowers are fighting it out in the highly competitive market for pollinating insects by emitting sweet fragrances to advertise their delicious nectars, this flower tempts unemployed flesh-eating beetles and maggot-bearing flies by smelling like a putrid rotting corpse.
After we recently moved to a new house, some “friends” presented us with a couple of exotic flower bulbs as a housewarming gift. When I saw the little picture on the bag that held the bulbs, I was excited to get these things into the ground. This was a really neat flower.

Well, today was the big day, the flower opened up for the first time. Indeed, the Dracunculus vulgaris is a handsome bloom, about 13 inches in length with a giant “triceritops horn” sticking out of it. Very striking blossom, but the thing is, it makes the backyard smell like a decomposing bison during a windless, sweltering heatwave.

I had to cut it down because were were having guests over for an outside dinner about 4 feet from where the flower was growing and the smell clashed with the wine, but there is another one in the yard that looks as though it should bloom in a week or so. If you live in Seattle and were recently dumped hard, swindled, or cheated on, and are still feeling bitter, I’ve got a flower that you might want to consider using as the centerpiece for a little bouquet for that someone special. I hate to see something like this go to waste. ipod ipod

Get your smoker under control

May 27th, 2005

smoker thermostat

Most of the people who’s opinions I care about are left-leaning liberals who have great respect for the rights and freedoms of others, and tend quite often to extend that respect to our four-legged friends by not killing and eating them. So, it’s no surpise that I don’t often shout it out, but can I just say it now?

I love meat

I love good old-fashioned, succulent, smoke-cooked, barbecued meat, so when I saw a floor model electric “bullet” smoker going for a song, I snatched it up and started tinkering with smoking meats. My first attempts to turn out a fork-tender briskit were rather discouraging. After installing a thermometer in the lid of the smoker, it became apparent that the thing was running way too hot.

The problem with inexpensive electric smokers is that they don’t have any control. The electric element is always on when the unit is plugged in. The temperature is pre-callibrated to produce acceptable results at average ambiant temperatures, but if the weather is on the hot or cold side, the smoker will run correspondingly hot or cold.

smoker thermostat
My solution was to install a bulb and capillary type thermostat. Most oven thermostats will cover the temperature range that you need for smoking. I found a surplus thermostat on ebay for around $10. I used sheetmetal screws to attach 2 metal electrical recepticle boxes to the outside of the smoker body. Inside one, I mounted the thermostat control, and in the other I mounted a grounded electrical outlet. The thermostat probe is mounted mid-level inside the smoker.

smoker thermostat

The heating element gets plugged into the outlet, which is wired into the thermostat switch, so when the smoker gets up to the preset temperature, it shuts off juice to the outlet. This arrangement also provides for a “quick-disconnect” to allow easy transport of the smoker body seperately from the base.

Now I can dial in 130 F and not have it jump up to 300 F when the clouds burn off, turning my dinner into shoe-leather.

Update! Now you can order up a genuine Finkbuilt BBQ Apron to wear while you’re basting your pork shoulder!

Build a car out of foam

May 26th, 2005


Robert Q. Riley has been designing, prototyping and selling DIY plans for innovative Build-it-yourself vehicles since the mid-1970′s.

The Tri-Magnum is a 3-wheeled car with a motorcycle in the back, a VW axle up front and body built by sculpting the car ouf of foam sheeting and applying a fiberglass skin. The car originally appeared in Mechanix Illustrated magazine, February 1983.

Riley’s fiberglass Over Urethane Foam contruction method works much like building a model boat or airplane, with the basic shape fist being defined by formers and stringers, then skinned in foam and covered in fiberglass. You get to choose the donor motorcycle based on availability, or to achieve specific perfomance or fuel economy levels.

If the Tri-Magnum is’t up your alley, you can also get plans for electric cars, hovercraft, RV’s, personal watercraft, whacky bicycles, submarines, and all sorts of good stuff. Link

Slot cars from static models

May 21st, 2005

slot cars

Trendy fads in entertainment come and go. One week it’s movies, the next week it’s the Internet. But anyone paying attention to the big picture will tell you that there is one thing that you can always count on being there for you, and that is slot car racing.

I’ll have to agree. For my money, there is no better Saturday night than the one spent down at the basement track with my boys, a couple of beers and stack of Wailers records. When you make the logical and inevitable leap from static car modeling to slots, fear not. You will be able to easily convert your models into slot cars.

Any 1:32 scale model car kit like the ones available from Airfix, Lindburg, Monogram or Revell can be made into a slot car with the addition of some simple parts and fabrication.

slot cars

You will need the following parts to slotify your car:

  • Small 12 volt Mabuchi or Johnson type can motor (or suitable slot car motor)
  • Wheels and tires
  • Axles / bushings
  • Pinion gear
  • Crown gear
  • Guide flag

slot cars

Depending on how the model is designed, you may or may not have to fabricate a chassis. Some models have a “clamshell” design that will allow you to simply cut openings in the bottom half for the motor and gears. For models with more elaborate or otherwise unsuiltable undercarriages, you will need to make a chassis. I have made tubular “space frame” chassis’ before by soldering together brass tubing, but the quickest, easiest method is to make it out of a flat piece of Plastruct sheeting. Cut an opening to serve as a “motor mount”. For these quick and dirty slot cars, I have just epoxied the motors into the openings. This will make replacing a failed motor difficult, but I don’t plan on replacing any motors. You also need to provide a place to mount the axles. A simple Plastruct box arount the gear, or even just 2 walls for the axles to ride in will work just fine.

slot cars

Short lengths of Plastruct tubing epoxied to the inside of the body shell will provide sturdy mounting points for the chassis.

slot cars

Axles can be made for pennies from 1/8 o.d. steel rod. Bush the axles with short lengths of 1/8 i.d. brass tubing. I got some motors for a few bucks each from an electronics surplus house but with the rising popularity of 1:32 scale slots, there are lots of compnents available. If you don’t have a big hobby shop in your area, you can order parts from places like Fantasy World Toy and Hobby. You will deffinately want to purchase your crown and pinion gears. You can buy wheels and tires as well, but since I like to make things, I decided to make my own.

For the wheels and tires, I used a silicone mold making compound in conjunction with a plastic casting resin. Both products are from Smooth-on. One of the model kits that I had, came with some nice wheels withe seperate hard rubber tires that fit over the rims just like slot car tires, so I used those as donors to make my molds.

slot cars

To make the wheel mold, I built a box out of acrylic and drilled holes through the bottom to hold some axles. I then placed the donor wheels onto the axles and filled the box with silicone mold compound. Once that cures, you can remove the donor wheel, and you have a mold from which you can cast as many wheels as you need.

slot cars

To make a set of wheels, just put some axle rod in place, and pour in some casting resin.

You can use the same materials and technique to make tires, but you will use the compounds in reverse. Make the mold out of the resin, and cast the part (tire) out of the silicone compound. Silicone makes great tires, very sticky.

slot cars

For the tire mold, you will mount the whole donor wheel/tire set onto the stub axles and pour casting resin around them. When the resin cures, remove the wheels and tires. To cast a set of tires, put just the wheels and axles in place, pour in some silicone and allow it to fully cure. Be sure to use a release compound on your mold to insure that you will be able to remove the parts undamaged.

slot cars

slot cars

This is a one-piece mold, so the wheels and tires will have one irregular, unfinished side, but not to worry, this will be on the inside and it won’t show.

slot cars

If all of this DIY is too much, but you still want to join in the fun, you can buy some incredible scale detailed slot cars, ready to run from manufacturers like Fly, Ninco, Scalextric, and Pink Kar. If you want to build it yourself, but not make it all yourself, you can buy some cool vintage kits from EJ’s Hobbies. This fella puts together some interesting “homologation specials” by combining various NOS bodies, chassies and components and offering them as kits. Also be sure and stop by the “scale stuff” area of the Old Wierd Herald to see some great car and track building articles.

Whacked by a musical baton

May 18th, 2005

baton records label

Mike Davidson has handed me the baton in a social-networking type, musical relay among web publishers. Here goes:

Total volume of music files on my computer:

12.5 GB– All from actual Purchased CD’s. It’s not that I’m opposed to P2P sharing, I just never did it. I got lazy about encoding, and still have a lot left to import.

The last CD I bought:
Goin’ Through the Changes by Zumpano

Song playing right now:
None, but since I am at work, I think that I will put on The Biz by The Sea And Cake. This is music to write HTML by. Unobtrusive and keeps you zippin’ right along.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
(really, I just thought of some songs that I like)

  1. Be My Wife — from David Bowie’s amazing Low album.
    Glitter of love — Versus.
  2. I am a Tree — Guided by Voices.
  3. 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six – Tom Waits.
    A Testament to Youth In Verse — New Pornographers
  4. Buick MacKane — T.Rex
  5. Atomic Kid — Versus

For a more complete picture, here is everything on my hard drive at work today.

Just missing the cut: The Big Banana from The Price is Right Game show. Pretty swingin’ stuff. (Thanks Mike)

I want to hand this baton to some friends who are really into music and have been influential to the formation of my own aesthetic, but it seems that none of them are maintianing blogs. So I will bother some strangers:


Multi-purpose incubator

May 16th, 2005

Juvenile Acanthoscurria geniculata

Tarantula spiderlings find the temperature in my Seattle basement just a tad on the chilly side. To keep them active and growing through the winter, I needed to add a heat source. Pet stores offer up some cheap little “resistance-wire” type heating pads intended for reptiles, but the ones that I saw lacked any type of control, and I read that they tend to be hot and unpredictable. I tried a medical type heating pad which had a rheostat, but it ran pretty hot even on the lowest setting.

I remembered reading about people incubating bird’s eggs by placing a one gallon jar full of water with an aquarim heater in it, into a box containing the eggs. An aquarium heater makes a great tarantula warmer, since it has a thermostat that quite effectively regulates temperature right in the range that tropical animals like. I elaborated on the design slightly and came up with my spider warmer.

I had all of this stuff lying around from various projects, so this is what I worked with:

  • 1 – 150 watt submersible aquarium heater
  • 1 – aquarim filter pump
  • 1 – plastic tub
  • 1 – 12 x12 slate tile
  • 1 – 12×12 square mylar insulation
  • 15 ft 1/4 in o.d. copper tubing
  • 8ft 1/4 in i.d. vinyl tubing
  • 1 – 5 gal. bucket w/lid

The heater and the pump go inside the plastic bucket, which is full of water. The pump circulates the heated water through the copper tube, which is coiled and sandwiched between a sheet of mylar insulation and a slate tile in the bottom of the plastic tub. The tile keeps the heat nice and even and buffers it a bit. I then put all of the containers full of adorable little arachnids into the tub.

So far, my spiders seem to be liking it. This heat transfer concept could be applied to terrariums or other tropical animal or plant habitats, but keep in mind that if the heat-exchanger is going to come into direct contact with the animals or their substrate, avoid using copper tubing, as copper is poisonous to most critters.

Finkbuilt Fine Art Givaway!

May 13th, 2005


Congratulations Tom Raywood.

Steve Keene is a Brooklyn artist who paints assembly line style, turning out walls of multiples of each composition. After earning a Fine Arts degree from Yale, Keene soon developed the SK Art model, bringing original works to the masses by painting in Bulk.

In the beginning, Steve would sell his paintings mostly at rock shows in the NY area. His friendship and admiration for musicians was central to the evolution of his whole approach to painting and distribution. His work can be seen on album covers for Silver Jews, Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, Soul Coughing and others. You can read more about Steve and his work on his website, or at NPR.

In 1996 I was playing drums in a band called Incredible Force of Junior. We were driving around the Northeast and Southeast playing shows. One of the shows on this tour took place in what is one of the coolest venues imaginable, the belly of a formerly sunken ship called the Frying Pan. The Frying Pan was a “Lightship” built in 1929. At some point, the ship fell into abandonment and sank, but it was later salvaged. The outside and upper half was cleaned up and painted, but the inside of the hull was left with its its rusty, barnacle encrusted, sunken-ship motif in tact. Down in the belly is where the bands played. It was amazing.

Up on deck there was an old homebuilt helicopter powered by a motorcycle engine, and a self-service SK art gallery where you could drop $3 into an oil drum and take any painting that you wanted. I took a copy of “Detroit”.

That’s how I got the painting.

I am now giving the painting away to the Finkbuilt reader who seems to want it the most. Using the comments for this post, just tell me why you want the painting. At the end of one month’s time At the end of June, I will ship the painting to whoever seems to want it the most. Good Luck!

Update: I will ship the painting at no cost to the lucky winner if they happen to live in the contuguous 48 US states. International winners will recieve a $US 10.00 discount off the actual shipping cost.

Pirated Ephemera

May 10th, 2005

In the spirit of Pirated-sites.com, I present some pirated commercial illustration from 1950.

I found this tattered packet of sapce-age Japanese sewing needles at a thrift store several years ago and kept it because, well, just look at it. I have had it in a small frame in our bedroom for years, and tonight while I was going through some old magazines I came accross this Oldsmobile ad from a 1950 Rocket 88 campaign.

Now I have to find a bigger frame.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for appropriation when done judiciously. Just have a look at the Finkbuilt logo and typography, which was lifted straight out of an early 50′s Evinrude spot. But the graphic designers who produced these 2 pieces were contemporaries, working in the same medium. This needle package is a perfect example of Japanese industry’s early post-war strategy of shameless mimickry. Japan in the 1950′s produced some really cool knock-offs.