Archive for the 'Nonsense' Category

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The Mega Claw – Concepts and Experiments (2 of 9)

Here’s a little sketch of the original idea for the Mega Claw. Build a big frame, make a slide go back and forth left and right and drop a claw. Easy right?
Continue reading ‘The Mega Claw – Concepts and Experiments (2 of 9)’

The Mega Claw – Logistics (1 of 9)

So we gave a lot of thought on what we would bring to Maker Faire NYC 2010. It needed to be fun to build, challenging to design and fun for non-makers to see. We wanted to keep it low cost or it needed to be marketable. Also it should be something we can upgrade every year. A mega sized claw was the best idea we had. It needed to be the biggest in existence, modular and transportable in a van, and just thinking about it brought nostalgia of childhood. The first thing we decided on was the size, it had to have a 10′x10′ footprint. It’s the maximum length we could fit in our cars and the maximum length any hardware store sells. The next thing we figured out was how many prizes we would need to stuff into this to make it look awesome. We figured the best way to fill the machine was to use balloons so it would look like a giant ball pit. The balloons would all represent a prize of some sort and be easier for the player to grab. A little math in the excel sheet below and we figured it would take close to 1000 balloons and take 1 person about 8hrs+ to fill it all up. Yikes! Also we started playing around with some numbers and we figured the project would cost us around $2000. It was too awesome an idea to pass up, no matter the cost. So we all committed and started chugging away at concepts and mini experiments.

Cost Estimate

Maker Faire 2010

Table of contents

The Mega Claw – Intro (Splash)

The Mega Claw – Logistics (1 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Concepts and Experiments (2 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Claaaaw (3 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Joystick (4 of 9)

The Mega Claw – The Frame (5 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Electronics & Software (6 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Prizes (7 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Maker Faire (8 of 9)

The Mega Claw – Summary (9 of 9)

Halloween 2009

Pumpkin 2009 (resized)
This weekend I was carving pumpkins with my girlfriend. Pumpkin carving, a soothing time to bond, relax, and justify having power tools. Rather than hacking away at a pumpkin with a dinner blade, my trusty jigsaw and dremel did most of the cuts and an exacto knife detailed. It was much less effort and the pumpkins came out great.

Being me, I wasn’t settled with a mildly dangerous tea candle. I upgraded the wick by adding part of a regular candle. This made the pumpkin burn with a much more ominous glow (Harzard +1).

It was good, but not great. I went down to the shop and bore a hole into the back of the pumpkin. Add one spray can and that brought the pumpkin from seasonal fire hazard to double fisted spray can/fire extiguisher dangerous (Harzard +3 Safety +2).

In hind sight I should have bore the hole larger. Why? Well the fuel I’m spraying there tended to puddle up in the opening and set the pumpkin on fire, thankfully the pumpkin was fresh and still moist.

More photos after the break
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Saw Dust Cannon

Sawdust Cannon. from Ben Stone on Vimeo.

Hehe, now someone go build a rapid fire version.

Dyson Air Multiplier (seriously it’s a fan)

No it’s not a stargate, believe it or not it’s a bladeless fan. This fan blows a stream out of the blue ring. The blue ring has a special airfoil shape that can magnify the airflow up to 15x. Since it involves no blades this stream is uninterrupted. This fan seems pretty cool (if $300 means nothing to you,) if you ask me I’ll stick to my propellor style fan. Mine comes with soothing fan noises and doubles as a sound effect generator.

It certainly has the wow factor, but pointed out it probably has blades in the bottom to push air into the ring. Perhaps not the same traditional style but blades still. This design is very novel, so as far as the user is concerned it’s bladeless. It’s like buying a Roomba and realizing it needs to be emptied every once and a while.

Dyson also developed the Airblade hand dryer (the funny looking one you place your hand into and pull out slowly.) Plenty of videos on their site.

[via Toolmonger]
[via HackaDay]

Tron the Movie

Yes they made a movie out of it. I gotta say I do like my dystopian societies.
Fellow geeks commence drooling.

Thanks andiE for finding it.

Big Bad Wolf, Vortex Cannon Style

Chris linked me to this video, it’s a vortex cannon on steroids. When a spherical mass of a fast moving fluid moves through the air,  it can form torroid shaped vortex rings, similar to blowing smoke rings. This helps the mass stay together as it moves through the air so its almost like an invisible ball of air.

Want your own? You can always buy the Airzooka

Iron Man Gauntlet

Ilya, (one of the other editors) informed me the other day of how he found my Spanish clone. Turns out somewhere in Canada there is an electrical engineer named Carlos who hosts a pretty cool project blog A lot of his hardware projects match ones I’ve done in the past.

I’m particularly a fan of his Iron Man repulsor gauntlet. It allows a lot of freedom in motion and it lights up as he bends his wrist. He has really good pictures and a video of it here.

I have my own side project replicating the Iron Man Wrist Rocket. Its on/off because I’m using CO2 cartridges to fuel it and I’ve shot them all. :-)   Perhaps if I ask nicely, Carlos will want to collaborate. We can use his for the left arm and mine for the right… now all we need is an arc reactor…



Party with Air Cannons

Air Cannon

Air Cannon

Air Cannons are amazingly fun to play with at BBQs. Its really just my adult Nerf gun. You just fill the pressure chamber with a compressor and then hit the valve and watch the thing go. My normal projectiles are confetti, fruits, stale dinner rolls and glow sticks. I usually fire a couple shots of water to clean the cannon. The water shots make a really cool rain effect and feels great in the summer.

What about Explosive Cannons?

I used to build spud cannons powered by hairspray and starter fluid when I was in boy scouts. They are definitely more portable because you don’t need an air compressor and it’s a faster reload than a bicycle pump. They are half the cost too.

I finally got sick of the inconsistencies and went air powered. With gas powered some would never fire, some would fall short, some would even ignite the PVC on fire. Air powered gave me a measurable force and the extra cost was well worth it.

This video is NOT MINE! It does display the reason why I don’t like Combustion Cannons

Is it Safe?

If you know what you are doing Air Cannons made from PVC pipes are generally unsafe.  If you don’t know what you are doing, then well, adios, nice knowing ya. PVC by any respected engineer is not a good pressure vessel, it’s easily damaged when dropped, brittle in the winter, and if it does not  fail, it becomes a pipe bomb with PVC shards with you right next to it.  Schedule 40 pipe can be rated around 200+psi. As a safety margin I usually pressurize my cannons around 75 psi. I used a tire valve stem to pump air in and it tends to leak at higher pressures so I don’t wish to break it. At 75 psi my cannon turns a solid apple projectile into pure sauce.

My Portable Party Cannon

I made a smaller version of the big one for parties. It’s the same cost as the big one ~$36, but the benefit is that it can be powered by a bicycle pump rather than a full compressor. I also added a solenoid sprinkler so I can add a remote in the future. Below are some photos.

Confetti Cannon
This one is the miniaturized version, instead of using a 1″ manual valve. I used a sprinkler valve from Home Depot. I am hoping to one day build some electronics for this and make it remote. I built it in an hour for parties to launch confetti.
That black electrical tape is to hold three sections of pvc around the cannon as a tripod. Air goes in from a bicycle pump from the tire valve stem on the right. It takes about 20 pumps to hit 35psi for confetti.

Streamers are usually inexpensive ($1 a roll) and they are fire retartant. It takes 1/3 of a roll to fill the barrel. I cut the streamers into 1″ x 0.5″ sections of confetti and cram them down the barrel. If you make it too small it becomes a  mess to clean up.


The barrel on my design screws off so I can load multiple barrels and the change the size.

This manual bypass on the solenoid valve works well enough till I rig up a remote system.

How to Build One

There are some really complex designs out there, but if all you want is a big BOOM!, smirk and “Holy Crap that’s Awesome!” I recommend a compressed Air Cannon with a simple 1″ valve.

(SpudFiles) has plenty of research and forums on the topics, so there is no need for me to reinvent the wheel. also sells a lot of the parts you wont find in Home Depot, like clear PVC and 125psi safety valves.

Other People’s Videos

I’m crazy about not having accidents with my cannon, but I can’t say the rest of the internet is. Here are some fun videos of people without the same philosophy.

Yes it Hurts

Cannon Backfires and Pipe Ignites

Steampunk Jewelry

I’ve always been into unconventional things.  So when I came across this website selling the most unusual jewelry I was in love.

The creator of these unique designs,  who goes by the name edmdesigns, has chosen to brand the  art as the “Tiffany’s of Steampunk.” Influenced by the craftsmanship and vintage artistry of the Victorian era, edmdesigns reanimates those same designs for us.

Although other items are up for sale as well, but as I am a girl, naturally I am more attracted to the jewelry, most notably rings.