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Collegiate Teams Compete at RC Airplane Heavy-Lift Challenge

Who knew that RC flying and weightlifting could be morphed together? All you have to do is omit the dumbbells and tight Lycra outfits of weightlifting. Then get rid of the aerobatics and crashes of RC flying. Oh, wait…keep the crashes. There are lots of those in RC heavy-lifting!

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has been hosting heavy-lift competitions for collegiate teams since the 1980s. It has grown to include two events each year, SAE Aero Design East and West. Not only is the competition fierce, just getting in can be a challenge. Spots fill up fast and many teams are pushed to a waiting list.

SAE Aero Design West for 2017 took place in Fort Worth, Texas during the second weekend in March. SAE and the Fort Worth Thunderbirds RC club hosted more than 70 teams from colleges and universities all over the world. Most of the teams had been preparing for months to get to this point. Some would find success as aerial pack mules. Others, well…not so much.

Mighty Micros

The event is divided into three distinct classes: Micro, Regular, and Advanced. While the overall goal for every team is to carry a relatively heavy load, each class has its own specific rules and objectives. In the Micro class, the airplanes could be disassembled into subcomponents. These pieces were stored in a tube no more than 6 inches (15.2 cm) in diameter. The length of the tube was not defined, but the overall weight of the loaded tube could not exceed 10 pounds (4.5 kg). The scoring system encouraged smaller tubes. Some teams managed to pack their model into tubes as short as 3.5 inches (8.9 cm)!

LEGO with Friends: Bucket Wheel Excavator, Part 5

Our special guest this week is Annalee Newitz, co-founder of io9 and Culture Editor for Arstechnica. Annalee visits the Tested office to help Norm and Kishore with the Bucket Excavator build--the baton last passed by Sean, Simone, and Angus MacLane. But first, we have to figure out where where we left off!

Inside Syfy's Cosplay Melee Workshop

Heads up: SyFy's new Cosplay Melee premieres tonight. It's a competition show, bringing four new contestants into a workshop each week to build original props and costumes in three days--and perform in them--for a chance to win $10,000. And while weekly theme challenges and the requirement to create characters not based on exisiting intellectual properties put the cosplayers on even footing for the competition, it's the time constraint of building a prop in eight hours and a full costume from scratch in two days that may make the show interesting to watch. Another factor is that the cosplayers are working in a space that's not their own, using tools and materials the showrunners supplied, set up and organized by the show's production design team.

Photo by: Dale Berman/Syfy

I chatted with Ian Mallahan, Cosplay Melee's Executive Producer, about the build out for the show's workspace and how contestants made use of the supplied tools for their builds. For Ian, who previously worked on American Chopper and Ellen's Design Challenge, cosplay required a different kind of workshop to fit the needs of different types of build styles. I started off by asking him how the production team chose what types of tools and materials to provide.

Ian Mallahan: I thought the best way was to go straight to the source, ask them what they used, and what their dream tools would be. Iltimately, we surveyed the contestants. We we started building out the workshop, we had just finished finals casting, and we had a really good pool of who we thought was going to be in the show. And what i wanted to do was provide them with a workshop that would cater to their specific needs.

If there was a top material and top tool, the top material was EVA foam, and top tool was the Dremel. If this was the wild west, the Dremel would be the six shooter. It's in play nearly constnatly in the workshop. And with eva foam, they're able to transform that humble material into costumes and characters that look like metal. It's unbelievable what they're able to do with that pedestian material.

What were the tools that ended up getting used the most? Did what you supplied inform what types of props and costumes could be made?

They were on the bandsaw quite a bit. Scroll saw was used quite a bit, and belt sanders got a lot of work too--useful for shaping insulation foam and aging soft materials, like fabrics. That kind of worn aged look was the difference between something looking like a halloween costume and the real authentic thing. All during produciton, heat guns were blazing. It sounded like a hair salon in there sometimes.

A Sense of Scale - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 3/21/17
Will and Norm record from the cave while Adam beams in from the Phantom Zone this week! Continuing with a recap of Adam's trip to Austin for SXSW, we discuss the scavenger hunt we organized with artist Jen Schacter, the workshops at CERN, and what it's like to stand in NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building.
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Bits to Atoms: Thermal Detonator, Part 1

For Sean and Jeremy's second project. they tackle a beloved hand prop from the Star Wars universe--the Thermal Detonator that appears in Return of the Jedi! Ambitions for this build are high, so the Bits to Atoms team brings in help from the rest of the Tested family, including Kishore, Frank, and Adam!