Latest Stories
Custom Keyboard Spotlight: Massdrop Laser ALT keyboard

Buying a fancy custom mechanical keyboard is often a multi-step process that involves selecting hardware and keycaps, then waiting months for everything to show up. Massdrop has an interesting deal right now that includes a custom board and a hot keycap set: the Laser ALT keyboard. There's just shy of a week left for this drop, and it includes everything you need. There's still a wait, but at least everything will arrive at the same time.

The ALT first showed up on Massdrop a few weeks ago as a rather dull silver keyboard. This second drop is themed to match the GMK Laser keycap set, which Massdrop sold several months ago. A new round of keycaps is being produced specifically for this keyboard, which comes in either purple or pink.

I've talked about GMK keycaps in the past—they're double-shot ABS with thick walls that make them feel solid, and the legends are sharp. Laser has a "Cyberpunk" theme with purple, blue, and hot pink. You don't have to purchase the keycap add-on with the Laser ALT, but it seems like kind of a shame to skip it. It's just a $70 upgrade to get the caps, but you only get the caps to cover this small-ish 65% board.

The layout of this board is very similar to the Input Club WhiteFox. So, you don't have a dedicated f-key row or a number pad. This keyboard isn't a kit like many others, so it's ready to use out of the box. There's still plenty of opportunity to customize it, though. The ALT uses Kaihua hot-swap switch sockets, which I've used on a few other keyboards. You can pull out a switch and plug in a different one in just a few seconds. Yes, that means no soldering required.

The keyboard accepts and Cherry-style switch with a "plate mount" housing. That just means there aren't stabilizing pins on the bottom. If you do have those on a switch, you can clip them off without damaging the switch.

Mind-Controlled Plumbob Crystal from the Sims 4!

In partnership with EA, we made a pair of Sims 4 plumbobs that change colors based on your thoughts! Jeremy walks us through the design of these brainwave-reading devices, and how he hacked them to light up a 3D-printed plumbob. We're going to take these to this weekend's EA Play and have some fun! (This video was sponsored by Electronic Arts.)

Ask Adam Anything: Home Improvements

Every week, Adam takes a question from the comments section below or on social media (tagged #AskAdamSavage) and answer them for the Tested member community. This week, Adam answers a question about his personal home improvement projects.

PROJECTIONS, Episode 50: Varjo Bionic Display and Echo Combat Hands-On!

We go hands-on with a prototype of the Varjo virtual reality headset with "Bionic display", a hybrid system that combines a high-end display panel with an ultra-high resolution OLED panel for the center of your field of view. It's unlike anything we've seen before, and we chat with Varjo's CEO about how this technology works. Plus, Jeremy plays in the beta for Echo Combat!

Adam Savage's One Day Builds: 1000 Shot Nerf Blaster!

Adam picks up a Nerf Rival blaster, and upgrades it with a custom magazine to hold a THOUSAND soft plastic Nerf balls. Watch as Adam builds the new magazine from scratch, uses kit-bashing to detail the blaster, and adds more upgrades like the bi-pod and laser. And to test this massive rig, Adam sets his sights on some prehistoric prey! Life finds a way!

Hobby RC: Defying Standard Model Airplane Designs

One of the most enjoyable aspects of aeromodeling is exploring how far I can twist the common perceptions of aircraft design. Whether through radical asymmetry, cartoonish caricatures, or outlandish adaptations, my experiments often reveal that the limits of "airworthy" stretch far beyond what we are used to.

My tests usually only serve to satisfy my own curiosity. Yet, unusual design traits can sometimes provide unique benefits. For instance, I've heard that builders of pylon racers will occasionally configure their models with only a single aileron for roll control. It may sound trivial, but that is a radical departure from the norm. The vast majority of RC models have two ailerons - one on each wing, moving in opposite directions.

Like full-scale air racers, RC pylon racers fly at top speed in a counter-clockwise path marked by tall pylons. Although I've never actually seen a pylon racer with just one aileron, I've heard that this set-up provides adequate roll authority while making the airplane simpler and lighter (i.e. faster). Some even say that the adverse yaw caused by having an aileron on only the starboard wing actually makes these racers track through those continuous left turns better. [Adverse yaw occurs when unequal aerodynamic drag of the deflected aileron(s) makes the airplane yaw opposite the direction of roll…usually an undesired effect.]

While I do not often fly pylon racers, the potential weight, simplicity, and cost benefits of a single aileron set-up in a sport plane intrigued me. I decided to build an airplane with just one aileron to see how it would perform. Coincidentally, my model would have the aileron in the racer-preferred starboard wing. However, I would be asking my model to turn both left and right!

The Parallax

The model that I chose to build is the Parallax, an asymmetric park flyer I designed a few years ago. I already had a partially-completed example on my workbench. Most of the airframe was built, but the ailerons were not yet configured. So I knew that it would be a perfect candidate for my one-aileron experiment.

The unusual, asymmetric layout of the Parallax makes it ideally suited for experimenting with single-aileron flight controls.

As expected, omitting the port aileron provided the obvious benefits of not having to purchase or install a second aileron servo, the necessary extension wire, or the relevant control linkages. Granted, the cost savings is not huge. Yet, when viewed as a percentage of my overall investment in the model, it's significant. The same can be said of the weight savings. This was my seventh Parallax build, and the lightest by more than an ounce…thanks in part to the omitted aileron.

When discussing the center of gravity (CG) for airplanes, we tend to focus solely on the fore-aft balance point. Yet, on an asymmetric model such as the Parallax, lateral balance is also an important consideration. The model is not any more sensitive than "normal" airplanes to lateral imbalance, but the unusual distribution of components means that good lateral balance can never be assumed. So I was attuned to the potential lateral balance effects of the absent aileron servo and kept everything in check.

Model Behavior: Bug Boy Model Kit!

This week, Kayte and Norm put together a model kit purchased at this year's Monsterpalooza convention, and attempt to replicate a paint finish of the kit we saw at the show. This delightfully unsettling bug boy kit was sculpted by Andrew Martin (Monster Caesar Studios), and we loved putting it together and experimenting with painting it!