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

Draw Yourself a Cool Glass of Beer

August 27th, 2008

Mark Frauenfelder linked to a really tasty looking “how to illustrate a glass of beer” Photoshop tutorial by Eren Göksel at PSDTUTS the other day. It looked so good, I just had to give it a whirl. No matter how much you use Photoshop, you can always learn a new trick, and Eren has plenty of skills to share. Try it yourself, it’s a hoot! I’ll definitely be using some of these techniques again in my own original illustration attempts.

Purple Blown Motor in Stereo

August 26th, 2008

Stereo pair set up for Cross-Eyed viewing.

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk

June 14th, 2008

Taken – read Flickr notes.

”The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk is a progressive lending library of electronic components. An internet meme in physical form halfway between P2P zip-archive sharing and a flea market. It arrives full of wonderful (and possibly useless) components, but you will surely find some treasures to keep. You will be inspired look through your own piles, such as they are, and find more mysterious components that clearly need to be donated to the box before it is passed on again.”

Windell Oskay, the internet’s most EVIL Mad Scientist, has sent me TGIMBOEJ code named Frankfurt.
Added – read Flickr notes.

So, What Did I Take?

  • 3v batteries
  • Perf board
  • Green LED’s
  • Cool Breadboard jumpers
  • Pagermotor
  • Cool ancient microprocessor
  • Unknown 8-pin can-packaged thingy
  • LED Matrix

What Did I Add?

  • Some 74xx IC’s
  • Assorted other 16 pin IC’s
  • Sound recorder/playback module
  • IR sensor extension with miniplug
  • USBtinyISP AVR Programmer Kit
  • (not shown) 2 Pentium III processors with heat-sinks.

Fun times! And off it goes to the next recipient.

A Barbeque Waiting to Happen

June 2nd, 2008

slate patio

We Just finished applying a layer of 24” x 24” slate tiles to our back patio. It was a straight-forward enough tiling job, but the scale of it has me feeling like i just finished building the pyramids or something. But I think that it was worth the effort. Just had to show it to you.

Prior to laying the slate, we dug up some unwanted lawn, extended the existing slab and widened the staircase to provide some extra area for outdoor livin’.

Link to before and after photos on flickr.

Jarle Helland Needlecraft

May 16th, 2008

jarle helland

Jarle Helland came to the U.S. from Norway in 1920 after serving his compulsory stint in the Norwegian Army. To sample the New World, he purchased a Tin Lizzie and drove it across the continent at a time when (I would imagine) his route was scarcely paved.

Jarle was a tinkerer’s tinkerer. A master carpenter and mason, he built his own house in Bellingham, Washington – first constructing the garage, living and working there while he built the main house. By the time he was finished, the estate boasted 9 buildings. He built his own wooden boat, complete with windsheild salvaged from a ’55 Chevrolet. From what I can tell, he liked to keep a tool in his hand.

jarle helland

But he was also comfortable with an embroidery hoop in his lap.

Jarle Helland was my wife Linda’s Grandfather and she admired him immensely. She has a lot of grand-daughterly memories of her grandpa. He smoked a pipe, salted his bacon, spoke Norwegian and sweetened his coffee by keeping a sugar cube in his mouth while sipping his cup-o-joe. Whenever the grand kids would come to visit the house, they would rush to the bedroom nightstand where they would find a single candy corn waiting for them in a purple bowl. As was common with carpenters of his generation, Jarle was missing a good number of fingers by the time he retired.

Linda also remembers staring at this tapestry as a little girl, imagining herself as the girl in the boat, cruising around the Fjords.

jarle helland

Her grandfather embroidered this monumental (5 feet wide) piece of stitchery. Of course, I don’t know the exact circumstances, but I can imagine that he completed this over the course of a dreary Washington winter while listening the news on a wooden console radio, passing the time between trips to the basement to shovel lumps of coal into the furnace.

We just inherited this piece, which now hangs in in our laundry room, a nice reminder of a talented and crafty grandpa from Norway.


Linda’s cousin Erik says:

“Came across a great write-up about my grandfather and wanted to add a couple pics of his 1959 Norseman boat. Built by the Bellingham Boat Co, he purchased the rough and mostly incomplete hull. Suited him well as he was a Norwegian immigrant originally from the fjords of Norway. My dad swept floors there so grandpa received a 10% discount. A woodworker by profession and hobby, he went to work on completing the deck, interior, etc. Windshield compliments of a smashed 1955 Ford found in a junkyard! Since grandpa died, we’ve replaced the old 35 hp Evinrude with a 55 hp Suzuki and refinished all surfaces. Don’t worry, the old “Tee-Nee” trailer (shown) was also replaced with a solid EZ Loader a couple years back.”

norseman boat
norseman boat
norseman boat

Cuckoo For Cocopunk

April 9th, 2008


Although coconut shells do have some well established niche market uses such as novelty swimwear and small caged-pet shelters, I can’t help but to feel as though too many of them are going to waste.

The New Altoids Tin?

No I don’t mean as a mint holder, but as an improvised homebrew electronics project enclosure. The Altoids tin does make a nice project case. It has a hinged lid, giving you easy access to your business, a great pocketable form factor, and of course they are everywhere for free. But despite these merits, I think that the ubiquitous mint tin has been used to excess, and its use may be nearing the saturation point. I have a hunch that the coconut shell might just turn out to be the next big thing.

When I was recently trying find an enclosure for the ukulele amp that I was building, a coconut came to mind, and I don’t think that I could have found a better case. In addition to the obvious thematic tie-in with the ukulele, the coconut shell has a number of other redeeming qualities.

The shell is hard and durable, easily machined, has a pleasing organic texture which can be left hairy, sanded smooth, or anything in-between. The little brown dome of a half-shell is cute as a bug, bringing a smile to all who see it. The dome shape is extremely stable and tip resistant. I could go on all day.


Via Dinosaurs and Robots

New Blog – Dinosaurs and Robots

March 5th, 2008

dinosaurs and robots

Mark Frauenfelder and Mr. Jalopy have partnered up to write a new blog called Dinosaurs and Robots.

Mark is the founder of Boing Boing and the Editor in Chief of Make Magazine. Mr. Jalopy also writes for Make, and is a curator and purveyor of some of the great forgotten artifacts of the San Fernando Valley. The site is all about objects of extraordinary quality.

I am honored to have been invited to be the inaugural gest blogger!

Check it out: Dinosaurs and Robots.

Electronic Blaster Pistol Toy

February 2nd, 2008

star wars blaster

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid”.

I finished my LED blaster pistol build. You can read more about the project in this instructables post.

star wars blaster

555 One-Shot Timer Project

January 6th, 2008

555 timer

I suppose that if you set out to build a Blaster Pistol, you should expect that somewhere along the way you might be required to construct a Uranium PU-36 Space Modulator, but I wasn’t prepared to build a Oneshot Monostable Multivibrator.

When I first thought about adding light and sound to my raygun project, I really just envisioned using the gun’s trigger as a switch to turn on the sound and light effects – done. But I quickly realized that the effects would need to pulse in a consistent and controlled manner. With each trigger pull, you should get a pulse of light, and a blast sound. To seem convincing, the duration of the pulse should be the same each time and only happen once when you pull the trigger even if you were to keep the trigger switch closed. And you don’t want the sound effect looping over and over or getting cut short.

The 555 Timer IC

When I surveyed my expert sources for advice about how to better control my effects, the resounding answer was “use a 555 timer”.

I have built a lot of electronic kits in my day, but for some reason every time I try to tinker with building my own circuits from scratch, I fail miserably. I have tried a number of times to teach myself the fundamentals of electronics by getting some components and building a small amplifier or some such project, but it never seems to work out. This time I was determined to make it work, so I researched 555 timer circuits, bought a few of the IC’s and gave it another try. But before getting into it, I went to Ebay and bought a huge lot of resistors, capacitors, a breadboard, jumpers, and other components that someone else had cast off, probably after becoming frustrated with learning electronics. I remembered from my previous forays that one of the most frustrating things about experimenting was not having the right resistor or capacitor on hand and having to run to radio shack and pay $10.00 for .30 cents worth of parts and still not get what you need.

555 timer

Even with great determination and much time devoted to the project, it was still sort of frustrating. You see, the 555 has been in use since the early 1970′s and seems to have been the mainstay IC of homebrew electronics experimenters until PICs became ubiquitous. There are literally thousands of circuits out there that are built around the 555, and I found 5 or 6 that looked to be just what I needed. However, the first three designs that I tried all failed to work as advertised (if they did anything at all). I was remember why I had given up on circuit craft those other times.

Finally, over on Rob Paisley’s site I found a circuit that looked a little different than the standard 555 one-shot.

This one actually worked.

555 timer

555 timer

Once I had the timer pulsing an LED on the breadboard, I started adding the actual effects that I wanted to use in my project. I want the firing sequence to do 3 things:

1) Pulse a cluster of super bright red LEDs with a forward blast of light.
2) Shoot out a blast of red laser light that with project a nice red spot all the way across a well-lit room.
3) Make a nice laser gun sound that is synchronized with the lights.

I bought a little laser diode assembly on ebay that came with a focusable collimating lens, which allows you to spread the usual pinpoint laser dot out into a bigger red blob.

For the sound effect, I bought a Radio Shack recordable sound module. To get the sound onto the module, I cut of the microphone and clipped the leads to an RCA-to-mini stereo cable and plugged that into the headphone jack of my computer. By pushing the record button on the module and the play button on the computer at the same time I was able to load up a laser sound that I found somewhere on the web.

Adding Transistors

When I added the laser to the circuit, things stared going haywire. I guessed that the laser, LED, and sound board circuits would need to be isolated from each other, so I used the signal from the 555 to trigger an NPN transistor to switch on the LEDs. Then I ran a jumper from the emitter of the LED transistor to trigger the another transistor to turn on the laser.

Things were better but still erratic, so I added diodes to the transistor base connections, which fixed the problems. I removed the play button from the sound module and soldered on some wires in its place. I used a third transistor to trigger the sound board. I also had to add diodes to the sound board power leads, or it would cause the laser to put out only a faint glow. It’s all very mysterious.

Building The Circuit


Once I had all the bugs worked out, I dismantled the breadboard version and rebuilt the circuit on a piece of perforated circuit board. Even though I used the exact same components that I had used in the breadboard setup, it didn’t work quite right when I built it on the circuit board. I had to change the timing resistor to get the correct timer pulse, and use a different current limiting resistor to make the laser come on. Lots of trial and error, but I have a great sense of accomplishment for getting further than I have in my previous attempts at homebrew electronics.

555 timer


The final laser blast effect was leaving me a bit limp, so I decided to add a little motion in the form of a 10 LED chaser that will run down the side of the blaster as it fires.

The Chaser is supposed to be some sort of “pulse generator” ramping up to discharge a laser bolt.

You can see the effect in action In this YouTube video. Now THAT’s excitement!

Blaster Finished – You can see the finished gun in this Instructables Post.

Project Cornelius – Tunic Pattern

December 31st, 2007

Part 2 – Making the Chimp Tunic. »

Image Courtesy of Apemania.com.

I can ‘t think of a better way to ring in the new year than to start working on my 2008 Halloween costume.

It’s been just over a year since I got my sewing machine. When I first got it, I had ambitions of cranking out a whole closet full of custom shirts, perfectly fitted to me, styled in vintage fabrics and cut just the way I like ‘em. Well, as it would happen, having a better shirt just wasn’t enough to motivate me to take on the challenge of creating a garment from scratch. I did manage to do some alterations here and there, but it wasn’t until Halloween rolled around that I found the real killer app for sewing – Costumes!

Last year I sewed parts of the whole family’s costumes, which was really fun and satisfying. This year, I am going to take the opportunity to sew up a whole POTA chimp suit from the ground up and hopefully gain some new tailoring skills in the process. Yes indeed, the prospect of having my own chimp suit turned out to be a sufficiently powerful incentive to get me sewing in earnest.

I looked into getting started in latex mask making but decided to leave that for another time, and have already contracted with movie makeup artist and avid POTA collector Matt Sotis to make my chimp mask for me. Check out the amazing work that Matt did on this orangutan.


Finding a Pattern

Since I am just starting to sew, I really wanted to work from a pattern. Unfortunately, you can’t just purchase a Planet Of The Apes Adult Male Chimp Suit pattern at your local fabric store, so I started searching for “Tunic Shirt” patterns on ebay. I placed a bid on Simplicity 8177 which is a pattern for a sort of quasi-African grooovy shirt from the late 60′s which appeared to have pretty chimp-like proportions. The pattern was published in 1969, the year after the POTA movie came out. I was outbid on the auction, but while brooding over my loss, I noticed that the image of the pattern envelope had little icons representing the pieces that were included in the pattern.

The Blow-Up

Wondering if this preview could serve as a pattern, I blew up the image in Photoshop and traced outlines of the front and rear panels and the sleeve. I then printed this mini-pattern out on a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper, cut out the pieces and assembled them with tape. To my pleasure, the result did look sort of like a possible foundation for a chimp tunic.


I then put my opaque projector to it’s first practical test, using it to enlarge the pattern up to full scale. To determine the right size, I measured the width of one of my shirts and added a few inches for seam allowances and fitting.


After tracing the pattern onto a large sheet of paper and cutting the pieces out, I folded each panel in half bilaterally and trimmed them to restore their symmetry, which had been lost during this convoluted enlarging process.

Part 2 –
Making the Chimp Tunic.»