Latest Stories
Designing a 3D-Printed Prosthetic Arm

3D printing isn't just for prototyping or making toys--it can also be used to manufacture working prosthetic limbs. We're joined by designer Jacky Wan this week to learn about his work with the Enabling The Future, an organization developing a 3D-printable arm prosthetic. Jacky's design goes above and beyond the requirements of the project, and looks beautiful too!

"Frank on Frankenstein" - Episode 28 - 2/5/16
On this episode of CreatureGeek, it's a solecist with just Frank and Len. Frank wants to go on a rant. And rant he does! We chat about the classic monster Frankenstein in all his iterations including the book by Mary Shelley, the James Whale movie and the newer versions including Kenneth Branagh's 1993 version and the new I, Frankenstein and Victor Frankenstein. Support us on Patreon! Head on over to http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek and throw us a few bucks!
00:00:00 / 47:53
See the Bay Bridge Being Dismantled

My friend Robert Ikenberry -- California Engineering project manager and frequent MythBusters consultant -- has informed me that today crews will be lowering one of the final 504' truss spans of the old Bay Bridge. Preparations will take most of today, while the actual lowering is expected to mostly occur on Friday.

Better yet, the lowering will be live streamed!

Yerba Buena Island Camera - Camera 1

Bike Path Camera - Camera 2

This will be so cool! For those of you not in the Bay Area, there's a history of the Bay Bridge demolition project here. It's a fascinating project.

Adam Savage Meets the Original Blade Runner Blaster Prop!

One of the holy grail props in movie history is Deckard's PKD Blaster from Blade Runner. This iconic pistol has been intensely studied by replica prop builders, including Adam Savage. Adam finally meets the real hero prop--in the collection of Dan Lanigan--and bring his own storied replica to compare with the original!

Five Busted Android Devices that Were Canceled Before Launch

Nobody sets out to design a product that fails before it even launches, but it happens sometimes. With all the variation and freedom the Android platform affords device makers, people can just get carried away. Even otherwise very successful companies have screwed up by misreading the market or cutting corners in engineering. Let's look back at five Android devices that were so terrible or broken that they were never released.

Nexus Q

Google itself is not immune to poor decision making when it comes to Android hardware, and the Nexus Q (above) is the clearest example of that. This entirely in-house endeavor grew out of Google's Project Tungsten, an offshoot of Android@Home. The 2012 Nexus Q was supposed to be a set top box receiver for media beamed from your phone. Sound like anything you've heard of more recently? The Q was basically a Chromecast with fewer features and a $300 price tag.

The Nexus Q ran a heavily modified build of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to play content from YouTube, Play Music, and Play Movies. Notice anything missing? Yeah, it didn't even support Netflix. The hardware itself was high quality, with a spherical metal housing and powerful 25 watt stereo amplifier, but no one was going to pay $300 for the Nexus Q when a $100 Roku did so much more.

Free Nexus Q units were handed out at I/O 2012, but the initial response from reviewers was so negative that Google decided to pause the launch and reevaluate the feature set. The company also sent out free Nexus Qs to anyone who pre-ordered one. Apparently taking their money for something so fundamentally flawed was a non-starter. By early 2013, Google had scrubbed the Nexus Q from its site, indicating the device was never coming out. Several months later, it began shutting down the servers that handled streaming for the Q, rendering existing devices useless.

Testing Tactic’s License-Free FPV Video Transmitter

Most video transmission equipment used for First Person View (FPV) flying requires a FCC amateur radio license (aka "ham license") to operate legally. There is definitely good reason for that requirement and getting the license is not an overly complicated process. Even so, many people balk at the licensing obligation and either avoid FPV flying or do so illegally.

An alternative to getting a ham license (at least for US citizens) is to use non-licensed equipment--that is, devices that meet the FCC requirements for use without a license. Most of the common RF-transmitting devices in your home fall under that umbrella. That's why you don't need a ham license to operate your wireless router, cordless phone or remote garage door opener.

There are currently a handful of FPV video transmitters (VTX) that qualify for unlicensed use. By virtue of their certification, these transmitters have relatively low power output. Less power equals less range. But how much power is enough? I decided to test one of these systems to see if license-free FPV flight is practical.

Tactic FPV-T1

Tactic recently released a line of FPV gear that includes a camera, a 7" monitor with dual built-in 5.8GHz video receivers, and three 5.8GHz video transmitters. The VTX units are available in 25mW, 200mW, and 600mW models. It is the 25mW FPV-T1 ($45) that is license-free. The FPV-T1 is actually larger and heavier than the more powerful models. This, however, is a reflection of the plastic case that encloses the FPV-T1. The other units have a heatshrink casing. Even so, the FPV-T1 weighs less than 20 grams with the antenna.

The Tactic FPV-T1 is a 25mW FPV video transmitter that does not require an amateur radio license to operate legally.

There are 22 channel options within the 5.8GHz band for this VTX. The desired channel is selected by positioning a bank of five dip switches on the back of the unit. A chart in the manual illustrates the proper switch positions for each channel, so keep it handy.

One of the biggest factors that can determine the reception quality and range of a given set up is the antenna selection. The FPV-T1, like the Tactic FPV-RM1 receiver/monitor, includes a linear polarized whip antenna. While they work acceptably well, they are pretty much the bottom rung of the 5.8GHz FPV antenna ladder.

Tested In-Depth: Apple TV (4th Generation)

After living with the new 4th generation Apple TV for a month, Norm and Patrick Norton evaluate how this set-top box performs against its competition. There's a lot to like about its interface and implementation of video streaming apps, but a few things bug us about its remote design and consistency of voice-control. Here's why it's not the cord-cutting device for everyone.

The Best Android Smartphones for Your Network (February 2016)

We're on the verge of big things in the Android ecosystem. Well, you could make the argument that we always are, but this month in particular things are about to break loose. New phones from Samsung and LG are a lock for Mobile World Congress in a few weeks, but in the meantime there are still some excellent devices out there. Let's see what your options are, and when you should hold off.

Carrier-branded Phones

In recent months, I've cited the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 as the best devices you can get direct from your carrier. That's still true, but the Galaxy S7 and Lg G5 are only weeks away. Let's examine some of the rumors and compare that to what you can buy right now.

The GS6 has a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel, which continues to be one of the best screens available on a smartphone. It's 1440p and the colors are amazing. At 5.1-inches, it's actually comfortable to use one-handed too. The reasonably sized and fantastic screen continues to be one of the primary selling points of this phone. Based on what I've heard from reliable sources, the Galaxy S7 will have the same resolution and form factor. The screen's characteristics will probably be improved, but not dramatically.

The Galaxy S6 has an aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass front/rear panels, and the GS7 will be much the same. Samsung's phones feel solid, despite having glass rear panels. You can expect the GS7 to also have a non-removable battery like the GS6.

Samsung still has the best overall camera available on an Android smartphone. Even if you buy it now, you won't be disappointed. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 16MP shooter with optical image stabilization and an f/1.9 lens. The exposure quality and consistency are better than any other phone right now, even in low light. The GS7 will probably step down to a 12MP sensor, but with a much wider aperture for better low-light performance.

Inside, the Galaxy S6 has an octa-core Exynos chip with four faster Cortex-A57 cores and four light-duty A53s. This was a stopgap measure to counter Qualcomm's 810 overheating issues, but the Galaxy S7 will reportedly switch back to a Snapdragon chip, the 820. This is one of the big reasons you might want to wait -- the GS7 will be faster and more power-efficient.

The GS6 also has 3GB of RAM, 32/64/128GB of storage, and 2550mAh non-removable battery. It's very fast in daily use, but battery life is just average. I regularly see 4 hours of screen time in a single day, but some people are a little higher or lower. It's not going to make it through two full days, but a little more than one is feasible. The GS7 is said to have a larger battery, but the big improvement here is the addition of a microSD card slot. This isn't 100% yet, but it seems very likely.