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 2000 Update

February 27th, 2009

nixie clock
Am I installing a Nixie clock in my car?


But I do like to sell off one hobby to finance another, and refurbishing and modding an old car can be a costly endeavor, so I am offering up this exquisite, Jumbo IN-18 Nixie tube clock for sale. I never got around to building an enclosure for it, and I’m not even sure that it needs one. It has been sitting in a box for the last several years. I’d like to turn it into car parts.

The proceeds will go toward the fabrication of a custom drive shaft that I need in order to facilitate the installation of a 5-speed manual transmission to replace the automatic that is currently in the car.



I rebuilt the front suspension, installing new ball joints, tie-rod ends, control arms, and control arms bushings. While not a huge fan of “dumped” 4-door sedans, these cars came from the factory with quite a tall ride-height. That’s just how they rolled back then. Reviewers at the time raved about the car’s amazing handling despite the huge amount of body roll that drivers of modern cars would perceive as quite mushy. So, I installed some anti-sway bars and lowered the ride-height by an inch in the front and 2 inches in the rear to bring it more in line with my aesthetic and performance preferences. I really like the new appearance and handling, but the ride is certainly not as plush as it used to be.


After re-installing the repaired dash, I replaced the front and rear windshield rubber seals and locking strips, and I also did some under-hood painting and detailing, and replaced some missing intake parts.

Next up: 5-speed installation.

Top Marmalade Label Selected

February 1st, 2009

Our discerning judge, Pat Fisher a.k.a. Archibald Drinkwater a.k.a. Vladimir Kerchenko has handed down his decision, and explains his methodology in the following edict:

Pat says:

We Have a Lucky Weiner !

it was extremely difficult to select a winner amongst the many many entries ( um, 13?) in the Fink’s Orange Marmalade label design contest, and we thank each of the entrants for their time and efforts.

tasked with the heavy responsibility of being the sole judge and arbiter of Good Taste in this endeavor, i wanted a process that would produce a clean and pure result without the corrupting influence of nepotism, bribes, or simply selecting the label designed by the person with the most arousing breasts.

so after locking myself within the confines of my swanky minimalist bachelor pad i embarked on the process which consisted of taking naps, listening to Tapes n Tapes, chasing my kat larry around the house so he would do power slides on the polished concrete floors, engaging in mystical and transformative bowel movements, until i soon realized that none of these methods were clearing my mind well enough to produce a clean result.

what to do ??

luckily i recalled when a new pope is chosen the shriveled old men of catholicism retreat to a sweat lodge and send a fart of smoke up into the air after days of deliberation signifying a new pope has been hatched.

absent a cadre of wise old shriveled men, i decided the most prudent thing to do would be to strip naked and enter my Finnish Sauna and sit in 160-180 degree heat and sweat the selection out of my pores………. after about 20 minutes it became clear: the winning entrant had appeared to me a few weeks before and i somehow knew any other entrant could not surpass the physical manifestation of Marmalade to such a degree as TOON did with his magical Marmalade Man !

Toon’s use of color, type style, verbiage and a charismatic humanoid orange was too much for the feeble competition….. CONGRATULATIONS TOON !

Please tell us to which zip-code in Mozambique we should ship your new ball clock.

Orange Marmalade Label

January 14th, 2009


With not much interest being shown in the design contest, I thought that I might just enter myself. I could really use that chair.

The contest is open for submissions until January 31st.

Cracked Dash Repair

December 30th, 2008

dash repair

Update: This did not turn out to be a lasting repair. after several months, the main crack started to re-emerge, and the truck bed lining started to blister in spots. Please do not expect this procedure to be anything more than a last resort option. If “dash caps” or replacement used dashboards are available to install, I would recommend that option first.

The 1969 BMW 2000 that I am refurbishing spent most of it’s life in a hot, dry climate which is why the body shell is in great shape and nearly rust free. However, spending 40 years baking in the sun was not so kind to the interior. This car suffered from a common malady, a badly cracked dash.

dash repair

The dashboards in these cars were made of foam and vinyl, molded together over a steel shell, and over the years, the material dries up and becomes brittle, shrinking and cracking as it ages. This one was in a bad way, cracked all over, with the shroud over the instrument cluster being particularly crusty and fragile.


The best course of action would be to fit a nice supple crack-free dash from a donor car, but unfortunately, due to the relative rarity of the model, there are none of those available to me. Another option would be to have the dash recovered in foam and vinyl or leather by an auto interior specialist, but this would be pretty expensive and would not really replicate the original molded vinyl dash very well, as there would have to be seams and stitching. It would look nice, but not very original.I opted to try to repair it myself.

Fill The Cracks

I filled in the cracks using a product by Permatex called Liquid Metal Filler, which is a one part cement that comes in a tube. It air dries, and is sandable. I applied 2 coats, sanding between.

dash repair


The “metal filler” alone seemed sufficient for the smaller cracks, but the shroud over the instrument pod was in particularly sorry shape. It had a big gaping crack, and the part that was not cracked was hard and brittle. I applied a patch of fiberglass cloth and resin to keep the pod from being crushed like an egg shell.

dash repair


Once the fiberglass resin had cured, I sanded down the high spots and filled in the gaps with good old-fashioned Bondo and sanded that smooth. I probably should have applied a second coat of Bondo, as there were some visible pits and glass cloth texture that showe through when the paint was applied.

dash repair


Now to cover up all the patch work. I found an article that described using Plasti-kote Truck Bed Coating spray to refinish an Alfa dash, and decided to give that a try.

The Truck Bed Coating went on fairly thick and spattery, which imparted a nice texture to the dash. It dried pretty hard yet resiliant and does not scratch easily with a fingernail, so maybe it will actually hold up for a while. As a topcoat, I applied 2 coats of Plasti-Kote flat black vinyl paint, which as far as I can tell, is the exact same product as the Truck Bed Coating but with a different label. I’m not totally sure of this, but before using these sprays, I did a test piece with both products applied side-by-side and I can not tell any difference between the two sides.

I am really happy with the way the vinyl paint turned out. I was worried that it would be too shiny, but the matte sheen is just right, closely resembling that of the original vinyl dash.

dash repair

All of the smaller cracks – the ones that did not get the fiberglass treatment – showed through after the final coating. I’m not really sure why.

dash repair

Overall, it’s a big improvement. It’s not perfect, but it will have to do until I stumble across that New Old Stock ’69 NK 2000 dash.

New in the Stable – 1969 BMW 2000

December 19th, 2008

bmw 2000

Ther’s a new obsession in my life, and believe me, I’m obsessive. Lately I’ve been spending all my free time, energy, and money refurbishing this “Neue Klasse” BMW.

An Unlikely Orphan

This car came to me in the most remarkable way.

My Friend Hugh, who is a fellow vintage BMW enthusiast was given this car by a co-worker, who had brought it up to Seattle from San Fransisco as a restoration project. When the resto plans went south, she passed the car along to Hugh, because she knew that he was passionate about these old gals. Well, after a summer of driving the 2000 around while his other resto project was in the paint shop, Hugh came to terms with the fact that he simply didn’t have the time or space for the project, and knowing how I would treat the car, gave it to me!

Here are some pictures that Hugh took when he got the car:

The Neue Klasse BMWs

Almost everyone knows about the sporty little 2 door 2002 which made a huge splash in the motoring press in 1969 and introduced the US market to the BMW marquee. Few however, know about or have ever seen an example of the 4 door predecessor to those cars, the “New Class” 1500, 1800, and 2000 sedans. This line of cars was a gamble that saved the company from bankruptcy, and defined the format for pretty much all BMWs to follow for many decades.

The 1500 4 door was the first car to use the M-10 Motor, which continued to be used in one form or another all the way into the 1990′s!

Have a look around this NK site to learn more about BMW’s “Neue Klasse” sedans.

Watch for updates

I will post updates as I work on the car. Here are some of my immediate plans for it:

  • Clean, clean, clean, clean – ongoing
  • Replace US DOT lights with Euro spec lights and grills – Done
  • Buff out oxidized paint -Done
  • Go through and upgrade/repair suspension and steering -in progress
  • Replace hard/leaky front and rear winshield seals and lock strips – Done
  • Replace all crusty door/window seals – ongoing
  • Repar cracked dash
  • Replace Auto Transmission with 320i 5 speed – saving up for clutch kit
  • Replace E30 wheels with stock ti steelies and hubcaps – in progress
  • Reupholster seats
  • Repair/recover cracked dash and rear parcel shelf
  • Refinish/replace interior wood trim
  • Repair rust area on front valance

Stay tuned.

Orange Marmalade Label Design Contest

December 19th, 2008

jelly jar

I had such a ball making grape jelly, that I decided to have a go at preserving some orange marmalade.

One thing that a lot of home bottlers forget is that, just because the jars have cooled and the big awkward pot is stowed, you’re not quite finished. That’s right, you need a label.

For me, affixing the label is the most satisfying part of any canning or bottling project, and with today’s image editing software, free fonts, and inkjet printers, you don’t really have an excuse for leaving your product sitting there without an identity.

nelson ball clock

Design My Label

You say you don’t make jelly? Don’t fret, you can still design a cool brand and label package for my orange marmalade!

Prizes! Prizes! Prizes!

Well ok, prize. Yes, my friend Pat, world’s most eligible bachelor and proprietor of Portland’s Hive Modern, has donated an authentic and iconic orange George Nelson ball clock to be awarded to whoever comes up with the best label design. Alright, you can choose whatever finish you prefer for the clock, but it would be cool if it were orange, you know, kind of a marmalade tie-in.

Prize Update:

If you come up with the best Fink’s Orange Marmalade label, but you are simply not in the market for a ball clock, you can opt to receive an Eames plastic side chair with wire base instead. Whoa baby!

How To Enter

The jars will be standard half pint Kerr mason jars which are 3 inches tall not including the lid. The final label dimension should be 2″ x 6″, but the actual viewable area will be around 2″ x 3″ because some of the label will wrap around the back of the jar, and not be visible as it sits on the shelf. (see jar photo for reference).

To enter, simply email your design to me at steve(at)finkbuilt.com and I gladly will post it for you.

If you need inspiration, you should check out the great design submissions from the Finkbuilt Ketchup label design contest from a few years back.


It’s pretty loose, just make the label fit the jar, and come up with the best design you can. Feel free to take liberties with the product name, branding approach, slogans, or catch phrases.

Submissions are due by midnight Friday, January 30th.

Pat will be judging this contest, so all bets are off! The winner will be announced here on Saturday, Jan 31st.

UPDATE - Chair prize only available to residents of the continental United States. Clock can be shipped Worldwide.

Good luck!

Grape Jelly

November 9th, 2008

grape jelly

This year, our third season grapevine finally yielded fruit. 7 lbs! I picked them all at one go, and decided to have my hand at canning.

I followed the first grape jelly recipe that I found on the internet, which basically said to peel the grapes, cook the grapes for a few minutes, set aside a small amount of the fruit, add 4 cups of sugar, boil the rest for 15 minutes, then reintroduce the set-aside portion and hot-process into sterile jars.


I peeled about 2 grapes before I realized that unless I was in front of a pharaoh who was threatening to make me a eunuch if I didn’t peel 7lbs of grapes for him, there was no way. So, I just crushed them and left the skins on.

grape jelly

I pretty much followed the rest of the recipe as written. The 7 lbs of what I believe to be Concord grapes filled 12 half pint jars. When the concoction had cooled, I opened a jar and found that rather than jelly, what had was essentially grape syrup. I decided to open them up and reprocess them, this time adding a packet of fruit pectin.

grape jelly

Once again, after cooling, I found that the “jelly” still had not jelled. I conceded that if was not destined to be real jelly after all and just accepted it as runny grape jam, or grape ice cream topping. But after a week or so, I couldn’t stand the defeat any longer and opened all of the jars (except the 2 that I had already given away), poured them back into the pot, added another packet of pectin and boiled the goo for another 20 minutes. After processing and cooling, I found that it still was runny. Now I could give up knowing that I had given it an honest try, having processed the jars 3 times in pursuit of jell.

Well, today – about 1 month after the last canning – i noticed that the stuff had finally jelled. It seems that the jellyfication of jelly can take up to 3 weeks!

Man, typing this post has made me hungry, I’m going to make myself a PB&J on white.

DIY Fog Screen

November 5th, 2008

If you’ve ever ridden latest iteration of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, you will remember how, right before you hit the first drop, you are greeted with the ghostly image of the tentacle-faced Davey Jones creature warning you that “dead men tell no tales”. I certainly did.

The effect uses rear-projection video, shined onto a screen of water vapor created by ultasonic atomization, that is sandwiched between 2 laminar airflows, which keep the sheet of fog contained. The commercial Fog Screen that spits out this screen costs tens of thousands of dollars for the small one.

fog screen

I attempted to create my own cheap version of this system using a wooden box, a window fan, some drinking straws, and a cheap fog machine. I almost succeeded.

The original idea was to mimic the commercial unit, and sandwich the fog between 2 sheets of air. Unfortunately, I had problems delivering the fog to the center chamber of the box. As I was building this rig as an effect for a haunted house, Halloween crept up on me and I ran out of tinkering time, so I just decided to block off one side of the box and pump the fog and the air together into the chamber, letting it exit together out of just one of the vents. This actually worked out fairly well, but I do plan to work out the bugs for a future version. I think that if the fog and “plain” air are sandwiched, the screen will remain coherent for quite a bit longer, and make for a much nicer screen effect.

I have no idea how the commercial fog screen makes those glass-smooth sheets of air, but all I could think of was to shoot the air through some drinking straws. I made a little box-jig and hot-glued up some bricks of 2 inch straw sections. I then chained those bricks together into long vents. It does straighten out the airflow quite a bit, but certainly does not produce a laminar flow. Oh well.

fog screen

One thing to consider whenever you are using a glycol fogger, as this design does, is that these units use a heating element and a high-pressure pump to create the fog, which comes out hot and therefore rises, filling the room, or drifting away into the night. In order to keep the fog dense, and clinging eerily to the ground, you will want to employ a fog chiller.

fog screen

I made my fog chiller with a 25 foot length of dryer duct coiled inside a garbage can. The garbage can is filled with ice, and the fog chills out while making its way through the pipe. The fogger sits on top of the garbage can lid and enters the chiller through the curved upper pipe.

fog screen

The biggest hangup with this rig, was the intermittent nature of the fog. Cheap glycol foggers will only spit out fog for about 20 seconds at a time before pausing to reaheat before the next burst. Mine is off more than it is on.

Thoughts on further development:

If I can gather up enough muffin fans and ultrasonic misters, look for a much improved fog screen next Halloween.

This year, I showed Mark Gervais’s “The Eye” animation on the fog. Next Halloween I think that I will show a live feed of my green-lit self on a black background, that way I can talk to the trick-or-treaters from the fog.

fog screen

Here are some more build photos.

More Ape Suit Progress

October 29th, 2008

planet of the apes

Possible new career direction, Simian Cobbler.

planet of the apes

Continuing my adventure in threadcraft, I hand-stitched together these chimp shoes for my halloween costume.

To construct the shoes, I laminated up some 1/8 inch medium density foam and a sheet of the same leather that I had used for my tunic sleeves. From that, I cut out the thumbed soles. Next, I added some carved foam toes in the appropriate places. To make the uppers, I cut some 12×24 inch rectangles from the same fabric that I used for the tunic and pants. I first added some pleats to delineate the toe area. Then I started stitching the upper to the sole, marking and fitting to my foot as I worked my way around the sole of the shoe. Then I cut out and hole-punched the lace-up area and sewed that to the top of the shoe.

planet of the apes

To make the knit sleeve extensions/cuffs, I had originally planned to find a sweater and cut off the sleeves, but I couldn’t find the right sweater at the right price, so I buckled down and learned how to knit. This stitchery business is kind of satisfying. I cant wait to try some embroidery!

Full costume photo to follow…..

POTA Chimp Costume Update

September 26th, 2008

« Part 1 – Making the Tunic Pattern

planet of the apes
Here is my chimp tunic.
When I first got my sewing machine, I had visions of making my own custom shirts. But buying shirts was so easy, I just never did make the time to start sewing my own. However, when I decided that I needed a Planet Of The Apes male chimpanzee uniform, I was faced with either taking out a second mortgage to buy one, or getting down to sewing in earnest.

planet of the apes

I started working on the costume shortly after last Halloween, by making a paper pattern, but I set the project aside for the following 9 months or so. But with Halloween creeping up, I thought that I’d better haul it out and work on it again.

I got some fabric on sale at Wall-Mart Wal*Mart for $1/yard and dyed it green. Then I cut out and stitched together the front and back panels to form the torso. I sliced the sleeve pattern into 3 strips in order to form the 3 panel sleeves that are customary for chimpanzees. I spaced out the 3 pattern pieces to account for seam allowances before I traced and cut out the 3 sleeve pieces.

planet of the apes

I picked up some brown and green leather upholstery scraps on ebay and fashioned the “bib” and sleeve patches and attached those before assembling and attaching the sleeves. The glyphs on the chest panel and sleeves are cast latex rubber, and were made by Matt Sotis, who is also the creator of my chimp mask.

Yeah, I am making this for Halloween, but in the meantime, I’m really tempted to just start wearing it around (without the mask) and see what kind of reaction I get on the street. I feel like I could probably peddle quite a few Dianetics books wearing this garment.

Next, I will try to learn how to knit in order to make the sleeve cuffs/extensions.

« Part 1 – Making the Tunic Pattern