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    Google AIY Kits for Experimenting with Artificial Intelligence

    We learn about Google's AIY voice and vision kits at this year's Maker Faire, and check out a few projects that make use of the kits' artificial intelligence capabilities. The vision kit, in particular, impressed us with its ability to recognize objects, faces, and even emotions.

    Awesome Fallout 4 and Warhammer Space Marine Armor!

    We catch up with prop and costume fabricator Shawn Thorsson, who unveils his latest Fallout 4 T-60 suit and Warhammer 40K armor builds. We learn how he made these larger-than-life costumes, how he blends hard armor parts with undersuits, and get up close to the beautiful paint and weathering detail of these suits!

    Transcript: Adam Savage's 2018 Bay Area Maker Faire Talk

    I've been thinking about what I was gonna say this morning for weeks. I wrote it down this morning. I didn't expect it to go where it went. Here we go.

    My life is centered around the stories that we tell each other. It is centered around the products of our making, and the stories that those objects bring with them, as well as the stories they tell.

    I have ignored sometimes a key aspect of what happens when we make. That aspect is generosity. Our making in and of itself is a radical and deeply generous human act. When we construct code, sew, or bake something new into existence, we are no longer passive observers or simple receivers of the realities around us. We declare ourselves participants. We are installing light on a path that others may choose to follow. Whenever we put something into the world that didn't exist, we're trying to solve a problem that we see.

    Towing Micro RC Gliders, Part 2: The Glider

    My goal for this project was to use a micro-sized RC model of the C-47 transport plane to tow a similarly-scaled down replica of the WACO CG-4A combat glider. I've been flying larger models of these iconic WWII airplanes for several years. Shrinking things down to micro-scale introduced several new challenges. I was able to overcome some of these hurdles, but continue to stumble over others.

    In part one of this series, I examined Flyzone's new micro C-47. My evaluation covered its performance as a standalone model as well as its potential as a glider tug. I thought that the overall flying qualities of the C-47 were pretty solid. However, I added static flaps, a tow hitch, and longer landing gear before attempting to tow with it.

    This time around, I will talk about how I built the tiny CG-4A gliders, explain the wild flight tests, and review the overall successes and failures of this project.

    Micro Glider – Take One

    My calculations indicated that a CG-4A in the same scale as the Flyzone C-47 (about 1/50) would have a wingspan of just over 20 inches. I scaled down my plans for a 65-inch WACO glider, printed a few templates and started building.

    Foam is my preferred material for prototyping because it is so easy to work with. That is especially true when dealing with boxy shapes like the CG-4A. The fuselage is made of .75"-thick blue foam from a home-improvement store. Two layers side-by-side were the perfect width, so I made right and left halves. Using a sanding drum in my Dremel tool, I hollowed out the inner side of each half to create space for the radio gear.

    The fuselage of my prototype glider has hollowed-out sides made of .75" foam

    Whenever I crash one of my store-bought micro models, I always make sure to salvage as many parts as I can. I pull the electronics, motor, carbon fiber bracing, control linkages…everything. The resulting stash of tiny parts always comes in handy for projects such as this. My prototype WACO used many of these bits, including a brick (integrated 4-channel receiver, brushed ESC, and two servos) from an old Flyzone Playmate.

    Kitbashing Model Spaceships with Snap Ships

    One of our favorite discoveries from this year's Maker Faire was Snap Ships, a construction kit for designing and building your own miniature space ships. We chat with Jeff from Snap Ships about how the parts connect, the types of ships you can make, and what it'll take to turn 3D-printed prototypes into a real product.

    Adam Savage's Maker Faire 2018 Talk!

    Adam Savage gives his annual Sunday sermon at the 2018 Bay Area Maker Faire. Adam talks about an essential aspect of making and maker culture: generosity and sharing. With examples from his own experiences and the world at large, Adam talks about why the more we share, the more we have.

    Paint Masking Using a Laser Cutter!

    Tested contributor Bill Doran (aka Punished Props) is in our shop this week and experiments using our Universal Laser Systems laser cutter to make a quick paint mask for a helmet. This can be done with standard painter's tape or a large sheet of masking tape, and we learn some lessons about masking complex curves.

    Adam Savage's New Warcraft Armor!

    Adam is obsessed with movie armor, and he finally has a full set of armor made by the incredible craftspeople of Weta Workshop. This Alliance Knight armor was made for the movie Warcraft, and is part of many pieces of armor and beautiful props going on auction. Adam is awestruck by the detail here!

    Hands-On with FPV Remote Controlled Cars!

    We check out the RXWave/RASKL, a system that pairs a standard PS4 dualshock controller with an FPV RC car. Using the same camera and transmitter technology we've seen in FPV racing quadcopters, this lets us zip around our home and office from the car's perspective, like a real-life video game. Here's how the prototypes work.

    Dave Goldberg's Studio Scale Y-Wing Model!

    In the making of Star Wars, there are few model miniatures more detailed and beautiful than the Y-Wing made by ILM. Modelmaker Dave Goldberg shares with us his masterful studio scale build of the rebel starfighter, alongside his builds of the Tantive IV escape pod and Tatooine moisture vaporators. Dave's scratch-built models are a true labor of love and a sight to behold!

    Simone's TED Talk: Why You Should Make Useless Things

    Simone's TED talk is online! "In this joyful, heartfelt talk featuring demos of her wonderfully wacky creations, Simone Giertz shares her craft: making useless robots. Her inventions -- designed to chop vegetables, cut hair, apply lipstick and more -- rarely (if ever) succeed, and that's the point."

    Building a Hobby RC Plane with Balsa Wood

    The vast majority of modern RC airplanes are factory-built to some degree. It is no longer mandatory to spend long hours cutting, gluing, and sanding pieces of balsa wood to create a flying model. But for many, the process of transforming lightweight lumber into a flying machine is their favorite aspect of the RC hobby. There is certainly an enhanced sense of pride when your hand-built creation takes to the skies.

    Building from kits is now a niche segment of aeromodeling. It was still the norm, however, when I got into the hobby as a kid in the 1980s. So, I learned basic building skills by necessity. I still use those skills today when building a modern kit or repairing a factory-built ship.

    Some aspects of building balsa models can appear rather intimidating. But don't worry. It's all pretty easy once you break it down. In this article, I will walk you through the basic elements of what is involved.

    About the ElectriCub II

    Like so many other aspects of RC, balsa kits have benefitted from new technologies. Most new airplane kits are designed with CAD software and manufactured by laser cutting. This produces clean, sharp edges and parts that fit together perfectly (well, usually).

    Not so long ago, kit components were produced by die-cutting. A cookie cutter-like tool would stamp the parts from balsa sheets. This process works fine so long as the die is sharp. But it was not uncommon to find parts with crushed or unfinished edges.

    Flying any RC airplane is fun. But there is a heightened sense of pride when you've built it yourself.

    The example kit here, a Great Planes ElectriCub II ($100), is a bit of a hybrid. The design dates back to the 1990s and it was originally produced as a die-cut kit. The version you can buy today has most of the legacy die-cut parts, along with some updated pieces that are laser-cut.

    Electric-powered models from the 90s are my favorite genre of airplanes to build. Power systems of the time used brushed motors and Ni-Cad batteries. The brushless motors and LiPo batteries of today can output significantly more power at far less weight. Upgrading to a modern power system often requires a few airframe modifications, but the performance boost makes it worthwhile.

    How Could Alien Communication Work? Offworld episode 6: Arrival

    This week on Offworld, we look at the science fiction film Arrival and its depiction of communication with alien life! Ariel is joined by cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Teon Brooks and Dr. Douglas Vakoch, President of METI (Messaging Extraterrestial Intelligence) to discuss how we might try to decipher verbal and visual language or alien origin.

    Adam Savage's One Day Builds: Snub-Nosed Blade Runner Blasters!

    Adam puts together a beautiful Blade Runner-inspired snub-nosed blaster kit! Both Norm and Adam both work on their kits, each taking a different approach to the paint and finish. Adam goes one step further by adding machined metal parts to his blaster, giving it a brilliant look and some real heft. The blasters turned out amazing!