Monthly Archives: May 2007

Indoor Radio-Controlled Plane

Some of you may remember my post last year on the “Butterfly” living room flier from Plantraco Hobbies. Technology is marching on though, with new composite materials and ever more integrated electronics in smaller and smaller packages. Witness the latest in living room RC technology, the Carbon Butterfly. (you can purchase one at the previous link complete with controller and padded carrying case for $299) (hint…hint…anyone planning ahead for my 2007 Birthday/Christmas season…)

Carbon Butterfly
(Check out videos of the Carbon Butterfly in flight here.)

The new version above weighs in at a scarce 3 grams including all of the receiver, rudder actuator, and prop motor hardware despite the addition of the new landing gear. Smaller carbon fiber rods and a redesigned mylar-coated wing comprise the major advances. Here’s the older version for comparison (at 3.6 grams):

The new Carbon Butterfly sports a fully proportional 2-channel controller for both the throttle speed and the rudder actuator, and a nice light gear reduction to drive the prop.

Better-yet, the founder of the indoor flyer community, Michael Hendricksen, has started an indoor flier blog showing how you can make your own miniature actuators with simple coils and magnets!

Blog Image

Blog Image

Blog Image

and the Plantraco Micro-RC web site has all the supplies and components you could need to build your own miniature airplanes and helicopters and indoor flying pleasure. These sorts of things are great starter projects to get kids excited about electronics, mechanical design, and aeronautics, all at once!

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Filed under Electronics, Toys

Rube Goldberg Machines From Japan

The best collection I’ve seen so far made with ordinary household objects.

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Prefab Treehouse Artistry

It figures that as soon as I set up a play structure for the kids, I discover the real artists of the playground world. Check out Daniel’s Wood Land.

My one consolation is that while incredibly cool, they look out of my price range….well, that and the hopes that the kids won’t be jaded by the Disney Land quality gear when we actually make it to SoCal.

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Water Baloon Popping In Slow Motion

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Filed under Photography, Science

Leonardo, A Social Robot

One of my grad school friends turned MIT professor, Cynthia Breazeal, has teamed up with Stan Winston Studios of animatronic movie robot fame to create an astounding new robot named Leonardo.

Photographs, copyright Sam Ogden

This little artificial creature was not designed to move around or navigate, but rather to interact socially with humans. 61 different motors (32 in the face alone) articulate its limbs, hands, digits, expressive facial features, eyelids, and ears so that it can communicate its artificial feelings.

Photograph, copyright Sam Ogden

The software driving the robot is also interesting, and designed to learn by visual and verbal example, just as humans do. The video available through the preceding link is a little spooky in that regard. You can also check out the technical paper here, C. Breazeal, G. Hoffman, and A. Lockerd (2004). “Teaching and Working with Robots as a Collaboration.”

Be sure to hunt around the main Leonardo web site for more movies foretelling our robotic future.

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Filed under Robotics

A Mathematical Mazda

Check out the model number on this bad boy.

Yes, it’s Pi to 27 digits. From techEblog.

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Filed under Humor, Math

Paper Star Wars Models

Print a few copies. Build them. Annex your living room for the galactic empire.

More models at Papercraft.

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Filed under Models