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

Quickie Projection Screen

December 8th, 2007

So you’ve borrowed a video projector and you’re finally going to host that Don Knotts film festival that you’ve always talked about. Well, Cannonball Run II doesn’t look that great on a beige wall, and you don’t have any white sheets to hang. Rest easy, with a trip to the fabric store and a few spare hours, you can make yourself an admirable projection screen.

projector screen

Get some blackout cloth

What you are going to need is some drapery blackout fabric. This stuff is a lightweight, white fabric with a rubbery coating on the back. It is sold at most fabric stores and is normally used to make a light-proof backing for curtains. The rubber coating makes it super opaque, which is perfect for making a highly reflective projection screen.

projector screen

Build a frame

Figure out what aspect ratio and size screen that you would like, then build a frame to strech your blackout cloth over. I ripped down some 2×4′s that I had to make some 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch boards. I built a 90 inch diagonal 16:9 frame from these and added an extra cross member to the center for the sake of rigidity. I then cut some 12 inch gussets, screwing and gluing them in place to reinforce all corner joints. This made for a rather stiff and lightweight frame.

projector screen

Strech the screen

I used a staple gun to stretch the fabric over the frame. What you will end up with is a dirt cheap, lightweight, projection screen. If you ever upgrade to a retractable model with automatic masking, you can always use this thing as a painting canvas.

projector screen


November 3rd, 2007


I‘m kind of getting lightsabered out. I promise that this will be my last mention of them for a while.

But I did have some leftover lightsaber making supplies sitting around after Halloween, so I used them to build a “saber” that I could actually use. In place of the blade, I installed a 7 watt Luxeon LED and the pulse driver from a little tactical flashlight. I adapted the LED to the head of an old Mini-Mag flashlight, which is now held into the saber hilt with a set screw.

Now I can fondle that ultimate of nerd fetish items, the lightsaber, under the pretext of needing to use a flashlight!

Make Boots For Your Costume

October 27th, 2007

costume boots

A rebel x-wing pilot just doesn’t look right in tennis shoes. If your Halloween costume could benefit from a pair of jack boots, but you just don’t feel like forking over the $300, don’t despair. You can make a pair of decent-looking costume boot tops in pretty short order.

costume boots

Make A Pattern

While wearing the shoes that you will be using as the basis for your “boots”, wrap your leg in several layers of newspaper and tape. Use plenty of tape. Once you have this paper boot roughly the shape and size that you like, split it down the inside of the leg with a pair of scissors, and flatten it out. Use this pattern to cut out the material for your boot. I cut mine from a scrap of black vinyl that I got from an upholstery shop.

costume boots

Sew it up

Fold the top edge back and sew a small hem to make the boot stiffer and give it a finished look. Then simply sew the tube shut and turn it inside out.

costume boots
costume boots

For an extra stiffening and to maintain a smooth look, you can glue a sheet of stiff paper or light card stock to the inside of each calf. After slipping these tubes onto your legs, just put on the matching shoes and there you have them, boots!

How to Make Iron-on Letters

October 24th, 2007

You say you need a yellow G for your Speed Racer costume but you couldn’t sew a stitch if your life depended on it? Rest easy, you can make jiffy iron-on letters using some felt and your hot-glue gun.

iron on lettering

There is probably a pre-glued interfacing material made just for this purpose, but I didn’t know about it or have any, so I used paper and hot glue which worked great and was easy enough.

Design the Letter

Draw or print you letter (or other shape for that matter) onto a thin sheet of paper and cut it out with scissors.

Glue the First Side

Lay the shape right-reading on a piece of waxed paper and apply glue to the front side. Use the hot glue gun with light trigger pressure so that barely any glue comes out. Think of it as a pen and “draw” a thin film of hot glue over the entire face of the shape. Pay special attention to the edges.

Don’t use too much glue, or it might seep through the felt when you apply the final mounting heat.

iron on lettering

Place the letter on your felt with the glue side facing the material and apply enough heat with an iron to melt the glue to the felt.

iron on lettering

Glue the Other Side

Flip the felt over and apply glue to the other side of the paper.

iron on lettering


Trim the felt to the shape of the paper, and you’ve got yourself an iron-on.

iron on lettering

Lightsabers 2.0

October 13th, 2007

I think that I may have just out-nerded myself. You see, the 2-minute dueling sabers were fun for a couple of days, but they weren’t the most durable things in the world and were a bit lacking in the realism department. So I decided to build a nicer set of “elegant weapons from a more civilized time age”.

make a lightsaber

The Hilt

After researching lightsabers, I learned that the original lightsaber props were made from 1950′s vintage Graflex camera flash guns like might have been used on old press cameras. In fact, the Luke Skywalker saber was pretty much an unmodified flash handle. If you want a true replica of the Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader sabers, you can always get a Graflex flash on ebay but they do cary a stiff premium because every Star Wars geek has the same idea.

make a lightsaber

I opted to start from scratch, so I purchased some 1 3/16 o.d. (some schedule 40 size) aluminum tubing from a metals house. I chose this size because it looked about right to me and a “C” battery slid nicely inside with a little spare room for a wire. I bought a 2 ft length of the tubing and cut it in half at a 45 degree angle, and twisted it in some sandpaper to give it a nice machined look.

Reminder: You can cut aluminum no problem on your table saw with a carbide blade.

I had an old bicycle seat post that happened to fit perfectly inside the aluminum tubing that I bought, so I used that to make the bushings for the blades and the battery terminals. The rear battery terminal also serves as the end plug/battery retainer.

The Sith

For the Vader version, I cut a shroud from some PVC conduit and gave it a wrinkle finish to emulate the vintage camera equipment feel of the original. strips of rubber cut from an old auto floor mat make up the grip. The mythology says that the original propmaker used strips of windshield-wiper as the grip.

The Jedi

The Skywalker saber sports a spartan, gripless motif. I chopped up the heat-sink from an old pentium to form a cool space-age looking thing-a-module to adorn the top. Gold connectors from the edge of the circuit board finish it off.

make a lightsaber

make a lightsaber

The Blades

There are two popular ways to light up a saber. The first is EL, or electro-luminescent wire. This is a glowing wire that you power up with a high-voltage transformer. This technology provides a nice, bright even glow, and is probably the preferred method. The second common way is to use a single, 3-5 watt Luxeon high-output LED located in the hilt to light up the blade.

I used an alternate method that I learned from Instructables member jmumby. This method chains a bunch of bright LEDs wired in parallel to form the core of the blade. The result is an extremely bright blade. However, there is a slight “rope light” effect visible due to the individual points of light. This problem can be mostly mitigated through the use of a suitable diffuser.

Tip: When you order your LEDs, look for the brightest, but also look for the widest viewing angle that you can find. The wide-angle diodes look much brighter. Don’t forget resistors. Here is a neat calculator for finding the correct current-limiting resistors to match your LEDs.

Again – before you decide to build an LED blade, I would research EL wire as an alternate light source.

After soldering up the LED chain, I tied a thread to one end. Then I pulled the led array into a length of 1/2 inch o.d. milky polyethylene tubing, which I first sanded to increase it’s light diffusing properties. That tube then gets inserted into a 3/4 inch clear outer tube which received an interior sanding to further promote light diffusion.

If you plan to use your sabers for dueling, you will want to use polycarbonate tubing, as this stuff is nearly indestructible. If you don’t plan to whack anything with it, you can use the more commonly found acrylic tubing.

make a lightsaber

Wow, “the kids” really like them.

Related: The Flashlightsaber

make a lightsaber

Water Rocket Party

September 23rd, 2007

Getting tired of pin the tail on the donkey? Bowling alley booked? Well, we’ve found that newly-minted 5 year olds and friends like nothing more than to spend an hour decorating and launching their own water rockets.

We’ve thrown this party twice now, and it was blast both times.

water rockets

Make The Rockets

Making the rocket blanks for the little X-Prize hopefuls is pretty easy if somewhat tedious. I made 10 rockets in about 3 hours. The first thing you need to do is collect some 1 litre bottles. You want to use bottles that once held carbonated drinks. This type of bottle is built to withstand pressures of around 90psi. If you use plain water bottles, they will burst on the launch pad (more on the launcher later).

water rockets

I used hot glue to attach 3 cardboard fins to each bottle. I tried to emulate the fin design of the famous V2 rocket that the Nazis used to terrorize Europe during WWII, but feel free to succumb to the influence of your own favorite weapon of mass destruction.

Be sure to rough-up the surface of the bottle with some sandpaper where you attach the fins, that way the glue will stick.

water rockets

Next, I gave the rockets a quick shot of flat white spray paint. This will provide a nice blank canvas for your little Werner Von Braun’s to work with.

water rockets

I topped the rockets with nosecones made from some light card stock hot-glued into place.

water rockets


Turn the little rocketeers loose with pens, tape, stickers, paint, etc. for as long as they remain interested, then head outside and launch some rockets!

water rockets

The Launcher

Yeah, you’ll need a launcher. There are numerous launcher designs out there. A search will turn up many simple designs. I really liked the design of the Martinet Launcher, so I built one of those, but there are many other designs out there.

Launch ‘em

Whatever style of launcher you devise, the principal is the same. It’s just like a bigger and way better version of those little red plastic water rocket toys that you had as a kid. You’ll fill the bottle about 1/3 full with water, pressurize it with air, then realease it from the launcher. The air forces the water out through the nozzle, generating thrust and sending the rocket skyward.

See Make magazine vol. 5 for detailed instructions on building the launcher.

Trust me, this is on par with renting a bouncy-house, but a hell of a lot cheaper and more memorable.

2 Miniute Dueling Lightsabers

September 15th, 2007


Whip up an impromptu set of lightsabers and have your little Jedi’s learning the way of the Force in minutes. We made up this set of dueling sabers with some garbage and literally about 2 minutes of work.

The tubes that we used are the cores that are left over when the plotter at work runs out of paper. If you don’t use large rolls of plotter paper yourself, try hitting up your local Kinko’s, they probably throw these away every day.



  • 1 pair of red/blue 3D glasses
  • 2 plastic tubes
  • 2 flashlights
  • Some reflective material
  • Tape


Put them together

  1. Remove the red and blue filters from the 3D glasses, and tape one filter over the light-emitting end of each flashlight.
  2. Insert the flashlights into the tubes and secure with several tight windings of tape.
  3. Cap the other end of the tubes with a reflective cap of shiny material, with the shiny side facing inward (I used some scrap mylar duct insulation, taped over the end). This will illuminate the far end of the tube.


Now, use The Force.

CRANKbait! Lures of Distinction

September 5th, 2007


What is this about?

It’s about finding an answer to that age-old question, the one that we have all asked ourselves:

What would happen if you shipped 20 unassembled old-timey wooden fishing lure kits off to be finished by a bunch of artists?

It turns out that the answer is CRANKbait! Lures of Distinction, a group fishing lure art show that I am curating.

I hope that you enjoy the lures, and don’t be shy about adding some of this tackle to your own box.

Special Aknowlegement

In addition to all the great artists who submitted lures, I would like to thank Ragnar for doing the cool Crankbait logo illustration, which can be seen here in its original format. Thanks Coop, for posting your vintage lure collection to flickr which pushed me over the edge to lure madness. Mark, thanks for helping me rustle up great artists. Thanks Amy, for the wonderful Crehore Lure Freckled Bumblecat label original painting.

Opaque Projector

August 5th, 2007

opaque projector

Here it is. No. 2 in my BelAir series of retro-feel homebuilt AV equipment (see No.1). I used a surplus copy machine lens to make this opaque projector for use as a drawing aid. (See this post for background info and plans) .

opaque projector

The projector is essentially a wooden box with with a lens, internal lighting to illuminate reflective copy, and a mirror to flip and invert the image so that it is projected right-reading on the screen. These projectors are great tools for enlarging images when making paintings, posters or other such artwork.


I was able to use quite a bit of scrap and on-hand materials for this project, which is always satisfying. I made most of the box out of some nice 1/4 inch plywood that I had lying around. The front panel is 1/2 shop grade plywood, also scrap. The mirror has been kicking around the shop for years, as have the ceramic light sockets. I made the lens holder from an empty cocktail peanut can, epoxied into a hole cut in the front panel.

I purchased the two 23 watt fluorescent bulbs, which are supposed to have the same light output as 100 watt incandescents. I also had to purchase the chrome toggle switch, the wrinkle paint, and the stylistic embellishments.

opaque projector


I painted the cabinet with black wrinkle paint from Plasticote before installing the chrome (1966) BelAir script and ruby red Fender amp indicator jewel.

opaque projector

opaque projector

Focus is achieved by simply twisting and pulling the lens in and out.

I still need to paint the bottom edge of the cabinet and make some reflectors for the lamps.

opaque projector

I got rid of the dimestore mirror and installed a trapazoidal front-surface mirror. If I were just building an opaque projector I wouldn’t worry about the ghosting that you see with a rear surface mirror, but since I have video projection ambitions for this project, I went ahead and upgraded the mirror.

To get a nice snug fit inside the peanut can lens holder, I wrapped the lens with several turns of black yarn. This makes for a nice snug fit, and keeps any light from leaking through.

opaque projector


I’m pretty happy with it. I didn’t spend too much building it – less than I would have spent on a low-end commercial unit, which can typically only handle copy under 6 inches in size. The projector works great. The copier lens can take in really big copy. The BelAir handles 9 1/2 x 12 inch originals, looks cool, and was fun to make.


If I can find a cheap portable DVD player with an LCD monitor, I want to make this into a movie projector.


Following in the footsteps of Mr. Jalopy, I have spent lots of time on the immensely rich Lumenlab forum, and I am gathering parts to build the video projection base unit.

Hyperstereo Seattle

August 2nd, 2007

Here are 3 hyperstereo views of Seattle, taken from the observation deck of Smith Tower. These stereo pairs are set up for cross-eyed viewing.


Hyperstereograms are image pairs that are made using a larger than human interocular spacing. Huh? You know, the cameras are further apart than your eyes. The effect on a landscape is one of you being a giant.

Cross-Eyed Viewing Method

Some people can’t seem to do it, but practice a bit before you give up. Once you figure it out, the view is pretty stunning. To view the 3D image, cross you eyes until the 2 images converge into a “third” image which will appear in the center. Try to ignore the images in the periphery and concentrate on the center image. Relax your eyes and bring the middle (3D) image into focus. Practice on the small ones before trying the large versions. Keep your head level. If you still have trouble, try moving further away from the monitor.

Looking West

Looking Southeast

Looking North