Adam's an unabashed fan of the Onewheel electric skateboard--he's owned every model and uses it to get around San Francisco. To learn more about how the Onewheel is designed and built, Adam visits the factory in the Bay Area where they're built and assembles his own XR board!
I like going to RC swap meets because I can almost always find some rare and unusual models--my favorite kinds of flying machines! I'm pretty sure that sellers are also happy when I arrive. That is because I tend to be lured by the hopeless wrecks that no one else gives a second glance. I'm sort of like a cat lady for model airplanes. My most recent swap meet find is a good example.
As I perused the aisles at the Sky Chiefs Swap Meet in Canandagua, New York, I spotted an awkward-looking biplane tucked under some larger models. Despite the significant dust and grime that covered the airplane, I recognized it as a Great Planes Wright Flyer. This little electric-powered park flyer was released about 15 years ago, near the 100th anniversary of the Wright brother's historic first flight. The model is a very rare find these days.
I ignored the filth and gave the airplane a quick inspection. While some foam components were damaged and others were missing, all of the plastic framework appeared to be present and in relatively good condition. I also noticed that it had both motors, the gearboxes, propellers, an Electronic Speed Control (ESC) and two Futaba micro servos. The servos alone made it worth the model's $10 price tag. I didn't even haggle.
My favorite genre of RC models to restore are those from the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was the time period when electric-powered models were just beginning to get popular. Most of the kits from this era were designed to perform well with relatively inefficient brushed motors and heavy NiCad batteries. There is often a significant improvement in performance when these planes are retrofitted with modern brushless motors and LiPo batteries. That was my intent for the Wright Flyer, although I did make some adjustments to this plan along the way.
Inspired by a Blade Runner blaster stand that came with a kit, Bill Doran walks us through the simple process of designing and laser-cutting an acrylic stand for your hand props. In this case, a lightsaber! We take our quick design to our shop's Universal Laser Systems laser cutter and piece together a stand in less than 10 minutes.
We put together a 180-piece laser-cut model kit inspired by the 1980s Honda Motocompo folding scooter. This awesome model was designed and manufactured by Kirk Shinmoto as his first garage kit with his Glowforge laser cutter. Great job, Kirk! Find this kit here.
At this year's E3, we check out some of the props and collectibles for Fallout 76, including the sold-out T-51 Power Armor helmet that comes with the special collector's edition box. Chronicle Collectibles' Paul Francis walks us through the details of this helmet and the other props he worked on for the game.
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.)
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!
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 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.
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.
We meet the bay area chapter of European Train Enthusiasts, modelmakers who have been making HO-scale european trains, tracks, and landscapes for over 25 years. These beautiful and densly detailed dioramas can be arranged in any configuration, and it's stunning to see 28 of them connected with multiple trains running at once!
Bill Doran of Punished Props (and Tested contributor!) stops by the studio to share a personal project modding an airsoft model into a Destiny-inspired prop! Bill talks about how he modeled a 3D-printed shell to fit the prop, which can be used for cosplay photo ops and fan films.
We catch up with Josef Prusa at Maker Faire to learn how the latest multi-material upgrade to the Prusa i3 Mk3 is a big improvement over last year's multi-material design. We also check out the new build platforms for the Mk3, which make removing prints a snap!
Projections is back! Jeremy and Norm go on location to test an indoor skydiving experience that makes use of VR video for added immersion. We also talk about Rec Room's latest addition: a battle royale-style multiplayer mode.
We meet the Bay Area Garden Railway Society, a group of model train builders who build scale steam engines that actually run on tiny pieces of burning coal! During a water break for one engine, we chat with one of the builders about what it takes to make these beautiful trains work.
We get a demo of Prothesis, the exoskeleton mech suit designed by Jonathan Tippett and his team. This 8000 pound mech is directly controlled by Jonathan using his arms and legs, without any stabilizing gimbals or gyros. Jonathan explains how he has to essentially relearn to crawl in the Prosthesis, and we see and hear this massive machine lumber across a parking lot.
We play TapGlo, a custom-built ping pong table that's like the intersection of table tennis and the videogame Breakout. The maker of this striking light-up table explains how TapGlo is able to detect where ping pong balls land, and how the panels light up and animate in spectacular fashion.
We check out Dremel's new DigiLab hobby laser cutter, their first forray into the personal laser cutter space. This device is Dremel's take on the Full Spectrum Laser Muse cutter, with their own software, testing, and support. We take a look at its operation, cooling unit, and chat about concerns like laser lifespan and safety.