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Show and Tell: Rey's Blaster Replica Kit!

Prop maker Bill Doran (aka Punished Props) visits our office this week to share one of his recent builds: a replica of Rey's blaster from Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Bill shows how he designed the blaster to be assembled as a kit, and we put one together! (Find Bill's blueprints and other fabrication guides here!)

Google Play App Roundup: Screenshot Join, Redcon, and Warhammer Freeblade

Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

Screenshot Join

One of my favorite features Samsung built into its newer Galaxy phones is the scrolling screenshot. Whenever you take a screenshot, you have the option of automatically scrolling down and stitching the next screen onto it. Screenshot Join is a new app that gives you similar results on any Android phone. It's not quite as easy, but it seems to get the job done more easily than using a general photo editor.

To start, you'll need to snap all the screenshots you want to stitch together using your phone's native button combination. With that accomplished, it's time to open Screenshot Join. The app offers the option of exploring just the screenshot folder or using the Android file picker to see all recent images. Odds are the screenshot option will be easier.

After selecting the first and second photos, you'll be taken to an interface with a split screen allowing you to line up the spot where the images match. It's sort of like sliding the second pic under the first one until the stitch isn't visible anymore. Note, you can pick vertical or side-by-side orientation for the photos. Vertical will probably be more common.

So, that leaves you with two joined screenshots as one file. What if you want more? Just hit the arrow action button and you'll go back to the image selection interface with the new stitched image as the top photo. Add the next image in the series to the bottom and go through the process of lining it up again.

You can add as many images as you like to the final product before saving. It's a little more tedious than I'd like, and some sort of finer control while lining the images up would be appreciated. Still, Screenshot Join is faster at this than the alternatives and it's free. You will have to put up with a few ads when attaching images, though.

Tested: Eero Wi-Fi Router and Extender

We test a new router system that attempts to eliminate the worry of Wi-Fi dead spots by building a mesh network of hotspots that work together as one seamless wireless network. The Eero does what it promises, but may be too simple for power users who need to heavily configure their network settings.

A Seriously Awesome Sewing Table by John Calhoun

As I have written before, I'll be posting and commenting on the things you guys are making as a result of what you see on Tested. This one is from John Calhoun, who built a seriously utilitarian and excellent sewing table based on my own.

Photo credit: John Calhoun

There's no adornment at all, and that is its own kind of beautiful. When we make the objects we make with, we're engaging in a powerful dialog with the world and ourselves about what's possible.

Ask Adam Anything #7: Asking for Help

Adam answers a question this week about at which point of a project he thinks about asking for help. It's an important question, since asking for help is something Adam has been grappling with his entire life. How would you answer the same question? And of course, if you have a question or something you want to share with Adam, post in the comments below! We'll be back next week!

Testing: ProDRENALIN Video Stabilization

Shaky video is a fact of life when you work with small cameras. Whether you're using a handheld camcorder or an action camera mounted to some sort of vehicle, getting a steady picture is often challenging. Even using a brushless gimbal will not guarantee smooth video. While it certainly pays to make your raw footage as stable as possible, there are also ways to iron out rough spots in post-processing. I recently spent some time evaluating ProDRENALIN ($50), a budget software package with video stabilization features.

ProDRENALIN (PD) is not a full-blown video editing program. Rather, it provides a few different methods to optimize your raw footage before importing it into your usual video editor. The primary functions of PD are image stabilization and fisheye removal. There are also basic features for image orientation and color correction. PD is available for PC or Mac (using Wine virtual machine). I performed my testing on an aging Sony Vaio laptop (1.6GHz i7 CPU, 6GB RAM, integrated video) running Windows 7.

ProDRENALIN does a great job of removing camera shake from many types of video footage.

Using ProDRENALIN

With only a handful of specialized functions, PD is not a complex program to use. I watched a 15-minute tutorial video and it covered everything I've needed thus far. It is very straightforward. For instance, stabilization is either on or off. There are no adjustments to futz with. If your only goal is to stabilize a complete video, you simply load the video (drag and drop), enable stabilization, and then export the result.

There are options to work with only a selected time portion of a video if you want to chop up the raw footage into smaller clips or apply different effects to varied sections. As you're working with a video, you can choose to view the raw file, the modified file, or a split screen that allows you to compare both files. The split screen option can be divided vertically or horizontally.