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

Douglas C. Newell – In Stereo

May 7th, 2005

stereo camera

Put on your red and blue 3D glasses to view this image.

Standard photography is usualy a pretty good tool for visual communication, but once in a while you encounter a subject that can only be fully appreciated when viewed in eye-popping 3-D. Such was the case with my 1967 Douglas C. Newell, Oakland Tribune “Ace Dealer” award paperboy trophy.

In hopes that I could accomodate everyone’s viewing preference, I prepared 3 different easy-to-do stereoscopic formats – color anaglyph for red and blue glasses, stereo pair for cross-eyed viewing, and stereo pair for parallel viewing.

I got into stereo photography around 1995 when a friend showed me some incredible stereo slides that he had made with his 1950′s vintage Stereo Realist camera. I bought my own Realist, as well as a few other stereo cameras and slide mounting stuff and have made some really cool images with them, but you don’t need a stereo camera to start tinkering with 3-D photography.

stereo camera

Almost any camera will work for 3-D. As long as the subject is’t moving, you can capture a stereo pair simply by taking a picture, scooting the camera 70mm to the side and taking another picture.

You can make or purchase a camera slide-bar that will allow you to easilly reposition the camera perfectly for the second shot, but this is not essential to get started. I made this stereo pair by simply dragging the tripod a few inches to the left and taking the second shot. The important thing is to not tilt or pan the camera at all between shots. keep it on the same plane, but slide it to one side roughly the distance between your eyes. When you view these 2 images, one through each eye, your brain will re-assemble them into a 3-D image.

Cross-eyed viewing

cross-eyed viewing

To view this stereo pair, stare at the area between the 2 images and slowly cross your eyes until the 2 images converge in the center.

Parallel viewing

parallel viewing

To view a parallel pair,relax your eyes focus and try to look “through” your monitor, focusing on an imaginary spot in the distance. I can’t do this myself, but it is said to cause less ey strain than the cross-eyed method.

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

Anaglyphs are neat, but you will see a much nicer quality image if you employ one of the 2 free-viewing tchniques described above. If you can master parallel viewing, you will have the added benefit of being able to enjoy vintage stereopticon cards without the aid of a viewer.

Setting your pair up for cross-eyed or parallel viewing is simply a matter of placing the 2 images side-by-side. The cross-eyed setup has the left image on the right side and vice-versa, while the parallel arrangement is right on the right, left on the left. My Pentax Optio-s has a built in “3D” mode which will take two sucessive images and plop them together into one parallel file, so that you can print them right out, without any further manipulation, and view them with the little stereopticon type viewing lens that comes with the camera kit.

If you are able to free-view either of the side-by-side pairs on this page using the instructions below the image, then click on the pair for a larger version and witness, in stunning full-color 3D realism, the most glorious employee recognition award ever conceived of, the 1967 Douglas C. Newel, Oakland Tribune “Ace Dealer” paperboy trophy.

Riker mounts

April 30th, 2005

riker mount

With the addition of a riker mount, a packet of pills becomes a commentary on late 20th century excesses in cosmetic psychopharmacology.

They ‘re not just for butterflies anymore. Riker mounts are those black cardboard shadowbox type specimen display frames that you commonly see wrapped around a Zebra Swallowtail.

The riker mount consists of a shallow cardboard box wrapped in pleasing black leather grained paper with 2 large pins that hold the glass-windowed lid in place, and a piece of poly-fiber batting inside to hold the specimen gently against the glass and provide a light, non-distracting backdrop.

riker mount

This obsidian blade is not really circa 900-1200 BC. I made it myself in 1989. (See volume 01 of Make magazine for an interesting look at the state of flint knapping by Bruce Sterling).

I bought a bunch of the mounts at flea market one time. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with them, but they had that classic, why mess with success design that seems to have changed little in 100 years, and I couldn’t resist them.

From a design standpoint riker mounts are right up there with the parker ball-point pen, and the classic composition book. They have the warmth of something made from all organic materials, glass, paper, metal and cotton, but the the presentation is all business – very official, scientific, and institutional. You can put anything in a riker mount and it lends it instant authority.

riker mount

Make your own rings from coins.

I’ve started a little wall of riker mounted artifacts. I typed out descriptive labels for each object using my old typewriter just to help it feel a little more period-ambiguous. Gratuitous use of the word “circa” in the labels helps turn up the museum vibe a bit. Though the mounts themselves are inexpensive, anything that you put in there suddenly has implied value, since it is being protected and displayed with pride. You could scrape the all the junk from under your sofa cushions, riker mount it, type up “Couch debris, Chicago Hilton. 2005″ and it would suddenly be something that nobody would be able to throw away. Oh, they are also great for mounting your pet stick bug after it passes away.

Paint by numbers

April 27th, 2005


Have you made your concrete lightbulb yet? Once you do, you’re going to find that you need a 5 foot tall lightbulb oil painting to go with it. I know I did.

Now let me just make one thing clear, I am not a real artist, I just pretend to be one while I am at work. I mean, I’m horrible. I can’t draw for shit.

But I remembered a technique for rendering a somewhat reasonable scale image that I first learned of when I was 7 years old. I used to do those little scrambled picture puzzles in the saturday paper, where you start with a bunch of seemingly unrelated blobs, each with a number on it. you then draw each one in the appropriate square in a numbered grid and when you are done, you have a silhouette of Abe Lincoln or a kitten or something.

You can employ the same technique while resolving your own lack of giant oil painting dillemas.


I took a picture of a lightbulb, printed it out and drew a grid on it. Then I drew a grid of the same frequency onto my canvas. Index 2 sides of both your refernce and your canvas grids. From there its just like playing a game of Battleship. Sketch out each box at a time, and when you are done, you will have a nice scale proportional framework on which to start painting. You dont have to strive for Chuck Close style realism with your rendering, just draw what you see in each box, do some shading, add some paint. You’ll be surprised how well it turns out.

RIP – Lomo Kompakt Automat

April 21st, 2005

lomo LC-A

Some disturbing news is just now beginning to circulate on the internet. It appears as though beloved cult camera, the Lomo LC-A has gone out of production.

What is a Lomo LC-A?

The Lomo started production 1983 in the Communist-era Soviet Union. The story goes that the cheap but high quality Japanese pocket cameras that had started to proliferate in the early 1980′s inspired the Russians to come up with a “people’s camera”. Lomo Russian Arms and Optical Factory was tasked with producing a cheap but rugged and effective camera design with the high hopes that every self-respecting proletariat would be able to own one and snap shots to their heart’s content.

The resulting LC-A was a quite pocketable 35mm camera with a very high quality lens, and an unusual but effective auto-exposure system. It was made cheaply, but with a military sensibility that conveys quality despite it’s somewhat clunky design. The camera sold well and was popular. As Soviet Communism began to unwind at the end of the decade, cheaper better Japanese cameras flooded the market and the Lomo goes out of production.

In the early 90′s the camera is “discovered” by some vacationing Austrian artists, who document their vacation using a thrift-store Lomo, with fantastic results. Before you know it, every hipster in Vienna had become a “Lomographer”. The Lomo movement builds and the enterprising Austrians go to St Petersburg and talk the Lomo factory into putting the camera back into production. The group is awarded exclusive distributorship of the camera and forms the Lomographic Society International which becomes the hub of the lomo movement.

The camera produces images with a distinct vignetting and vibrant color rendition. The auto-exposure and distance range focusing lend themselves to shoot-from-the-hip photography, and some interesting low-light shooting opportunities.

jag in freemont

The LC-A’s defacto status as an “art camera” distributed by artists, for artists has been a sort of license, or even mandate to shoot unconventional compositions, subjects, and film stocks. Pick up a lomo and you are compelled to experiment. As a result, some really great images have passed through the beady little eye of this camera.

There are other Low-Fi and cult cameras out there such as the Holga plastic camera or the Polaroid SX-70, but there’s nothing quite like a Lomo for usability and consistently good results.

Get yours on eBay today, before they go from $100.00 to $300.00

lomo LC-A

If you have a lomo “wall” (that’s how lomographers refer to their galleries) that you would like to share, please post a link or img no larger than 400 pixels wide in the comments of this post to help memorialize the passing of this great little camera.


lomo lc-a

Rest easy lomo fans, the supply of LC-A’s isn’t likely to dry up anytime soon. Lomo.com has announced that they will be offering “refurbished” lomos. I’ts never easy to seperate fact from hype with these people, so the details are murky, but according to their sales pitch :

“Using contacts that we have made over the years, we’ll assemble an elite team of Russian camera engineers to check, repair, and refurbish the world’s existing stock of Lomo LC-A’s. We’ll start with the stock on-hand in our warehouse, and soon move to scour the world for every single available piece. With love, care, a little spit n’ oil, and a rock-solid international warranty we can ensure that a beautifully functional mass of Lomo’s can continue to snap away at any and all objects of the world’s Lomographic desire. Each unit is checked and verified by hand, and includes a 2-year international guarantee. Refurbished Lomo LC-A’s are available, right now, and for as long as humanly possible.”

Link via (Thanks Vladimir!)

iPod shuffle SPAM rosemary canape

April 18th, 2005

spam canape

Mike Davidson is giving away iPods via his ” Mike Industries iPod-A-Month Creativity Competition”.

This month’s challenge is to render an iPod Shuffle in food, and when I think of food, two things immediately come to mind: SPAM, and Jello. I have prepared a two course entry that starts you off with a SPAM and rosemary appetizer, followed by a pallette cleansing marshmallow-mint gelatin-cream dessert iPod. Wish me luck!

Lava Repair

April 16th, 2005


Flea markets and swap meets are my favorite commercial venues, but let’s face it, the treasures that you bring home are often in less than pristine condition. Such was the case with the flea market lava lamp that I received as a birthday gift one year.

It was more of a “magma” lamp, as when turned on and fully warmed up, it never actually erupted. The goo just sort of sat there in a ball at the bottom of the globe. I used it this way for a number of years, since it did emit a nice glow, and it a was Century model, the quintessential but now discontinued lava lamp.

Curiosity got the better of me one day, and I decided to open it up and try to figure out just what the stuff inside was, and see if I could get it to work again. Google eventually led me to oozingGoo.com where the serious lava lamp tinkerers hang. I spent some time on their Formulas message board, and decided to have a go at making some lava.

After some messing around, I ended up with my own successful recipe that is a variation of the “Retro Basic” formula that oozingGoo reccomends.

The ingredients are:

  • Water
  • 1 tsp. Perchloroethylene (brake cleaner)
  • Salt (non-iodized) or ethylene glycol
  • 1 cup Petroleum Jelly and/or Wax
  • Soap (surfactant)

The molten wax/petroleum jelly combo, and water are the two main fluids in the lamp. The “perc” is used to adjust the density of the waxy part, while the salt or ethylene glycol (either will work) are used to fine-tune the density of the water. The relative density (or is it specific gravity?) of the 2 parts has to be just right or, once up to full operating temperature, the lava will either float to the top and stay there, or sit at the bottom in a blob.

If the lava floats, you weigh it down by adding more perc. If your lava sinks, you make the water heavier by adding salt (the canning and pickling variety) or ethylene glycol.

A few drops of dish soap acts to break the surface tension of the wax so that it flows rather than remianing in a ball.

For more in-depth instructions on how to assemble your own goo, or to learn all you could ever want to know about liquid motion lamp theory, and lava lamp history, visit oozingGoo.com.

Hodgson-9 Radial Engine

April 14th, 2005

kurt Bjorn's radial 9

Tinkerer extrordonaire Kurt Bjorn built this miniature 9-cylinder radial engine from plans in his home machine shop. He thought of an improved cylinder head design that he wanted to try out, so he built a foundry furnace and taught himself metal casting in order to fabricate the heads.

Kurt has also built a miniature turbine engine complete with homebuilt ECU. He publishes serialized accounts of these and numerous other equally amazing acts of model engineering under the 5 Bears Research moniker.

I have been watching Kurt’s site for a few years and have been inspired to construct my own foundry furnace.

It’s your surveillance state

April 11th, 2005


Do you ever get the feeling that you’re always on camera? Well if you don’t, you should, because you are.

But before you get too worked up about it, set those fears of creeping fascism, and tinfoil hat conspiracy theories aside for a moment and put Big Brother to work for you.

Last month I got a call from a co-worker who was standing in the parking garage about a block away, where we both park our cars. ”Dude, I think somebody just nailed your car. Blue BMW 2002? Plate number blah blah blah?….Yeah…” By the time I had finished working on what I had to get done before I went home, I had already calmed down from my initial shock and anquish, and really just had a sort of morbid curiosity about the damage, along with some sadness for my car and myself, since I don’t carry collision insurance on that car, and it was likely to cost me alot of money.


Among the debris next to my car there was a hub cap. I didn’t recognize the logo on the hucap, but as I relayed the details of the event over IM, one friend told me that it was an early nineties Mazda, and another ponted me to the hubcaps.org site, where you can find every hubcap imaginable along with some useful meta data.

So, I knew that the slimy, piece of spineless, irresponsible scum, otherwise known as the hit and run driver, had a thing for the 93-97 Mazda MPV minivan.


The following day I printed out a picture of a typical 93-97 Mazda MPV, along the following report and gave a copy to both the parking garage management, and to the head of security in the office building where I work:

Incident Description:

March 9, 2005

Buttler Garage, 9th floor South.

My car was backed into a parking space, there was a dark colored vehicle backed into the space to the left of my car when I left it there at 12:00pm.

I got a call at about 5:15 pm from a friend who was leaving the garage and noticed that my car had been hit. Near my damaged car, I found a hubcap which is from a 95-97 Mazda MPV Minivan. The cap is definitely from the vehicle that hit my car.

The Mazda is Dark green, blue or black in color, as some of its paint was left on my car. The Mazda will be missing its right rear wheel cover, unless it has since been replaced. Some cars of this year and model had two-tone paint, with the lower panels being silver, some did not.

If you can find out any information about this vehicle by either reviewing you security tapes or reviewing the makes and models of cars that are associated with parking permits, please contact me.


Steve Lodefink
Walt Disney Internet Group
Smith Tower

office: 206 xxx xxxx
Home: 206 xxx xxxx

That description was enough to convince the security people at my office building to spend a little time going through the previous afternoon’s tape from the security camera that they have pointed over toward the entrance to the garage. Sure enough, a dark-colored MPV-looking minivan comes rolling out of the garage just before 3 pm, and it is missing the right rear hubcap ( top photo in post ).

That pinpointed the time that the minivan left the garage, which made the security person over at the garage much more willing to look at the previous day’s archives from their 2 cameras. I was able to get copies of all 3 videos. On one sequence, you could almost make out the license plate number of the van as it left the building. Using an advanced, multi-frame interpolation and analysis technique that I learned over at the NSA, ( in other words, I just squinted ) I was able to determine the license plate with a reasonable amount of certainty.



A check on the plate number did indeed reveal that it belonged to a dark green 1995 Mazda MPV.

The registered owners name, address and telephone number was appaently very usefull to my insurance company in tracking the driver down, because today they sent me a check for the full amount of the damages minus the $100 deductable for my uninsured motorist coverage.

Some confused readers have commented, so here is a slight clarification:

After several phone calls and attempted personal visits, I was not able to contact the owner, so I finally asked my insurance company to look up their insurance company, in order to determine if I would be eligable for compensation under my uninsured motorist coverage (get this if you dont have it, it is really cheap). I can only assume at this point that the Mazda driver did not have liability insurance, otherwise my insurance company would not have paid out for uninsured motorist damages.

That didn’t sound good.

April 9th, 2005

BMW 2002 spider gear

You know that sick feeling that you get in the bottom of your stomach when you realize that your car is having a major drivetrain failure? Yeah. It’s a one-two punch of “This is going to cost you a fortune” and “your wheels are about to lock up and everyone is going to die”.

My differential suffered a catastrophic failure recently while I was on my way to work. Now, I’ve been getting pretty adventuresome with my home mechanic routine lately. I recently figured out how to adjust my valve clearances, I changed out a water pump, an alternator, and even drilled a broken-off spark plug out of the cylinder head, but pulling the rear end out of the car was a bit intimidating to me. I called around, but it became evident that it was going to be tough to find someone who was interested in working on a 1973 BMW. I really don’t understand why shops are scared of them, as the 70′s BMW 2002 is about the simplest car to work on that you could imagine. So I realized that I would be the machanic again.

I visited the 2oo2faq message board to pick up a little advice. The BMW 2002 is major cult car. People love their 2002′s, and this board is full of active 2002 nuts. I found out that a differential failure in a 2002 is really viewed by the enthusiast as an almost welcome opportunity to upgrade. it turns out the rear-end from a 320i can easily be swapped into the 2002, and quite often is, in order to take advantage either the lower gear ratio, or the more prevailant limited slip differential that was optional on these cars. There are a bunch of ways to get the 320i diff to work in the 2002 using various combinations of CV joints, axles, and output flanges, or spacers. I did alot of research, and finally arrived at an understanding of what bits and pieces I needed. Now all I had to do was find the 320i limted slip diff.

I couldnt find a 320i LSD, so in the end I went with a 2002 diff, which saved me the trouble of adapting the 320i unit. I did manage to find one with the lower gear ratio however so although I wasn’t able to upgrade to limited slip, at least I still gained a little low-end torque. Next up: Installing a Weber 38/38 downdraft carb.

Nixie Tube Clock

April 7th, 2005

nixie clock

Nixie tubes were the state of the art in electronic numerical displays during the mid-twentieth century. By the 1970′s they were almost completely supplanted by the cheap, long lived, low power-consuming seven segment LED’s. The nixie is a neon tube, typically with 10 stacked cathodes, one for each arabic digit. I can remember seeing them is some electronic test equipment and old pinball machines as a kid, but I had long forgotton about their existence.

When my friend Danny over at Mavromatic showed me how some folks were putting these old tubes back to work as displays for clocks, I knew that i would be building at least one nixie clock, and as it turned out, two.

I love designing and building furniture and cabinetry, but circuit design has never really been my strong suit. Fortunately for me, there are several people offering up circuit board kits that you assemble to drive your tubes. I chose a board kit offered by david forbes from Cathode Corner to drive the German Z560M tubes that I bought on ebay.

nixie clock I made a simple rosewood enclosure with a brushed aluminum faceplate and neon colon seperators. I’m pleased with the way it turned out. I added a switch to the circuit that cuts out the high voltage to the display, but leaves the current to the PIC processor going so that I can turn the tubes off at night and on the weekends to extend tube life but not have to reset the clock all the time. I have a second clock in the works, which uses the beautifull and large Russian IN-18 side-view tubes. There is a highly rated IN-18 board kit available from Claus Urbach at Nixieclocks.de if you would like to have a go at putting together your own nixie clock. IN-18 tubes will cost about $25 each. End-view Z560M tubes are going for about 10 bucks a tube.