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Hands-On with DJI Mavic Foldable Quadcopter Drone!

We go hands-on with the DJI Mavic, a foldable drone that's half the size and weight of the Phantom 4 quadcopter. We take it for a test flight, check out its 4K video quality, and chat with DJI about its unique features, including a new computer vision tracking system and wi-fi transmitter control. Here's our hopes and fears for this new category of compact quads.

Tested in the High Arctic, Day 12

Nearing the end of our trip, we were given access to the lower decks and working areas of the ship. Today, the chief engineer of the Kaptian Khlebnikov gives us a tour of the engineering and engine rooms, showing us how the 24,000 horsepower icebreaker is powered. It's incredible!

How To Make A Custom Drone Landing Pad

Many of the sites I use for multi-rotor flying have very rough ground. This sometimes makes it tough to find a suitable spot for launching and landing. Even if I do uncover a patch of level ground, I'm sure to kick up a cloud of dusty West Texas topsoil as soon as the props start spinning. After years of improvising with cardboard boxes, beach towels, or whatever else I happened to have on hand, I finally decided to build a proper landing pad.

My Requirements

I looked for commercial options before deciding to build my own pad. There are numerous landing pads on the market, but none seem to fit my needs. First of all, most of them are smaller than I wanted. If I used a circular pad of just 16" (406mm) or 20" (508mm) diameter I would still create dust storms when I flew my larger ships. It also seems that most of the commercial offerings are not rigid. This would not help me deal with rough, uneven ground.

Once I had decided to build my own landing pad, I considered what material options I had available. I didn't really want to use any type of wood because I felt that the pad should be totally weatherproof. The solution presented itself during a recent trip to my local Tractor Supply Company store. One of the sale items stacked out front was a .5" (13mm)-thick rubber mat measuring 4' (1219mm) by 3' (914mm). I didn't want a pad quite that big, but I figured I could cut it down to the size I needed. For only $20, it was worth a shot.

The raw 4' x 3' rubber mat was larger than I needed and weighed almost 40 pounds. I cut it into three smaller sections using a utility knife.

When I picked up the mat, I wasn't quite ready for its nearly 40-pound weight. This is a substantial piece of recycled rubber! I just hoped that it wouldn't be too heavy to handle once I had cut it to size. Once I got the mat home, I decided that I could make three separate landing pads with it. I made one larger pad measuring 3' (914mm) by 2' (610mm), and two 2' (610mm) by 1.5' (457mm) pads. The large pad would be useful for my 350mm-class and larger multi-rotors at particularly rough sites. The small pads were intended for my racing quads, or even the larger ships when I fly from relatively smooth areas.

I made the two cuts using a regular utility knife. It took numerous swipes of the blade to cut all the way through the thick rubber, but it was not difficult to do. If you're a minimalist, you could actually be done with the project at this point. Turning a big mat into little mats is not very challenging or time consuming. I decided, however, that I wanted to personalize my new landing pads.

Tested in the High Arctic, Day 11

A brief update today as we reach our second northern-most point of our trip. Norm and Joey go for a hike in Tanquary Bay, surrounded by snow and sweeping mountains. After the hike, we make it back to the ship for a barbeque on the flight bridge!

Features Not Standard: Adam Savage's Portable Movie Theater

This summer, Adam Savage took the Tested team on a campout of a lifetime. To prepare for the trip, Adam and the team each took a Honda Ridgeline and modified the truck in unique builds to fulfill personal camping dreams. Adam's project: converting the truck into a mobile movie theater that packs up for travel and deploys on-site at the campground. Welcome to the Tested off-road screening room! #HondaRidgeline #featuresnotstandard #sponsored

How Google's Pixel Phones Can Succeed Where Nexus Failed

For nearly seven years, Google's Nexus program has been the showcase for Android in its purest form. There was some concern after the Nexus One flopped that Google wouldn't do another one, but every year since we've had at least one Nexus device—except this year. All signs point to the end of Nexus and the expansion of the Pixel brand. This is Google's chance to take what was great about the Nexus line and shake things up to push Android as a whole forward in new ways. Here's how that might go down.

Dual Pixels

Google seems set to launch two phones on October 4th, the Pixel and Pixel XL. Both will be manufactured by HTC, but there won't be the usual OEM branding as there always was on Nexus phones. The party line this time around is "Designed by Google." The Nexus program was about making Android look good, but Pixel is about Google.

Even by the most optimistic measurements, Nexus phones have been a niche product at best. Google has essentially been subsidizing the Nexus program to promote Android. Android has grown up now, so it doesn't need that kind of coddling. With the Pixel re-branding, Google may be looking to actually compete with OEMs. This is something Android enthusiasts have been hoping for all along. No more compromises, no more "good for the price" Nexus devices. These could be viable flagship-level devices.

A Tested Space Program - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 9/26/16
Early episode! We record the podcast this week from a very special location: inside a life-size replica of the NASA Lunar Excursion Module from Tom Sach's "Space Program: Europa" exhibit. Adam geeks out about this ship, the other pieces of the exhibit, and the recent mission he participated in at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
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Tested in the High Arctic, Day 9

You guys want to join us for an impromptu helicopter ride from the Kapitan Khlebnikov? Of course you do! Here's what it was like going on a sightseeing excursion to fly around the top of a glacier to grab some photos. We're joined by photographer Simone Bramante, who dares to stick hand and camera out of the copter to grab his shots.

Google Play App Roundup: Allo, The Bug Butcher, and Dog Sled Saga

You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That;s what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

Allo

After months of waiting, Google has finally released the much-anticipated Allo chat app. It was a surprised when Google announced Allo at I/O this year. It had been trying to merge its disparate chat platforms into a single entity in recent years, but Hangouts has become a lumbering behemoth because of it. Allo is a completely different—it's faster, simpler, and has Google AI built-in. Can you actually get people to use it, though?

Allo is based on your phone number, thus it's only for phones. That's the first major hurdle to switching, actually. Hangouts works on the web, on tablets, and on phones. With Allo, you register your phone number, then input a confirmation code that is delivered. After that's done, anyone that has your phone number you in their Allo contact list. It's a bit like WhatsApp.

The basic chatting features are fun. You can do things like make text larger or smaller to shout/whisper or send a huge number of stickers. Allo also offers smart replies based on the context of your conversations, which can help speed up idle chitchat. This is all part of the Google Assistant, which is manifested as a chatbot you can call upon at any time.

When you're chatting with someone else, you can use @google to issue commands to the bot. You can ask it for restaurant listings, directions, weather reports, and general search data. In these chats, both parties can see the responses from Google. There's also a dedicated Assistant chat where it's just you and the bot. This is handy if you want to have Google set calendar appointments or pull up your recent photos in private.

Speaking of private, Allo offers a truly private communication mode. If you start an Incognito chat in the app with one or more of your contacts, it will be end-to-end encrypted and the messages expire after a set amount of time. Because Google can't access the content of these chats, you won't have access to the Assistant.

Allo still feels a little early—it doesn't support SMS, except to send Allo invites to your contacts and relay messages across an awkward SMS relay. Then there's the single-device approach. Not only can you only use Allo on phones, but it only works on a single phone. That means if you get a new device or simply switch to another one, you have to re-register with Allo and all your chats, settings, and profile information are reset. It's a real pain if you switch devices.

Allo is definitely something to try, but it's only going to be useful if you can convince your friends to start using it. Right now, I don't think there's a compelling reason to stop using Hangouts, but Assistant has some potential.

Tested in the High Arctic: Greenlandic Life

Hope you guys are enjoying our daily video updates from our Arctic trip. We also shot a ton of other footage that we'll be compiling for separate Tested pieces in the coming weeks. And while we were on the ship, Joey cut together this preview piece with footage from the first week of our voyage. It's just a taste of an upcoming full show piece, and hope you enjoy it!