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    Hobby RC: Upgrading an RC Snow Toy

    I estimate that I'm about halfway through my first winter in Buffalo. And in this weather, I'm always on the lookout for RC gadgets that can thrive in the snow. My latest project began life as a toy-grade RC vehicle with a dubious reputation, but a few simple modifications turned it into a super snow machine. More-extensive tweaking made it even better!

    Terrain Twister

    The Terrain Twister is an RC toy that was previously sold by Mattel under both the Hot Wheels and Tyco RC labels. It's discontinued now, but new and used examples are readily available on the internet. What caught my attention is the Twister's really unique screw propulsion system. Rather than wheels or tank treads, this vehicle is motivated by a pair of counter-rotating cylindrical pontoons that have external threads like a screw.

    There have been a few examples of screw-propelled vehicles throughout history. The buoyancy of the rotating pontoons allows them to move across swampy or muddy terrain that would cause wheeled or tracked vehicles to get hopelessly stuck. Screw-propelled vehicles also excel in the snow.

    Online reviews of the Terrain Twister are all over the map. Some people love them, and lots of people despise them. A cursory analysis hinted that many of the haters had tried using the Terrain Twister on surfaces that it wasn't meant for. Spoiler: a screw-propelled toy is NOT going to work well on your concrete driveway or the tile floor of your kitchen. I eagerly pulled the trigger on a used unit I found on eBay…a whopping $5 investment (+$9 for shipping)!

    Quick Look at the Shaper Origin Handheld CNC!

    We have the new Shaper Origin CNC machine in our workshop! This is a handheld CNC that uses computer vision to align itself to the material you're routing, like plywood or MDF. We take it for a spin with a simple test project to show you the basics of how it works and the quirks of its operation.

    Tested in 2017: Adam Savage's Favorite Things!

    To wrap up the year, Adam shares a few of his favorite things he discovered this year, including a beautiful miniature cityscape model, a few tools, a Star Wars collectible, and a favorite jacket! Thanks for watching our videos and we'll see you in 2018. Happy new year!

    Our Favorite Projects with Frank Ippolito!

    Frank's up at the Tested office to wrap up the year with an announcement, and we look back at some of our favorite projects working with Frank and awesome his team at Thinergy. We can't believe how far we've come since first working together five years ago!

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 36: Best of VR Picks + Visit to Pixar!

    In our final episode of Projections for 2017, we look at the past two years of consumer virtual reality and share our favorite VR games, experiences, and innovations. From VR "classics" that nailed this new medium years ago to breakthrough experiences that changed how we understood presence, here's what new VR owners should try out. Plus, we visit Pixar Animation Studios to chat with the producer of Coco VR about Pixar's foray into virtual reality!

    Tested in 2017: Terry’s Favorite Things

    I was able to test a ton of new products during 2017. Here are a few things that stand out for me as I look back over the year. It's mostly RC stuff…but not all!

    Shrinking Multi-Rotors

    The science of designing FPV racing quads is far from stable. Power systems, batteries, and flight controllers are still on ever changing trajectories. It seems that your new quad is obsolete before you can even get it airborne. One of the trends I've noticed is that quad frames are getting ever smaller. Not so long ago, 250mm ships were the norm. A snapshot of the current quad market would show many options measuring 150mm or less.

    The Vortex 150 is my favorite racing quad of 2017. It's a prime example of the advantages that are offered by downsized birds.

    My first thought about smaller frames was that building them would be difficult. That was based on the difficulties that I had cramming all of the necessary gear into the 250mm racer I built a couple of years ago. The flip side is that all of the onboard electronics have become smaller as well. Perhaps my concern is unfounded. I hope to form an experience-based opinion by building a sub-100mm quad in the coming year.

    While I did not build a small race quad in 2017, I did test a few factory-built designs. My favorite was the Vortex 150 from Immersion RC. This 150mm quad yields nothing performance-wise to my larger racers. In fact, it is probably the fastest and most maneuverable ship in my multi-rotor fleet.

    One of the prime advantages of the smaller generation of quads is that you're dealing with less mass. Less mass means that you're not as likely to break something when you crash…and crashes are inevitable. Less mass also means that the aircraft is able to respond to quick changes in direction more quickly. That's definitely a bonus since the goal is often to dart about like a hummingbird.

    The Inductrix FPV is tiny but capable. It has opened the door to indoor FPV racing.

    A further benefit of the shrinking nature of multi-rotors is that truly great-flying indoor racers are now practical. Indoor FPV racing has become really popular, especially at this time of year. My favorite, and one of the most popular indoor racers is the Blade Inductrix FPV. It is tiny, agile, and tough. While my Inductrix FPV is still box stock, lots of people modify theirs (or build from scratch) with custom motors, flight controllers, frames…you name it. If you want to put your finger on the pulse of indoor quad racing trends, google "tiny whoop" and prepare to spend some time in the rabbit hole.

    Building a CNC Router and Plasma Machine!

    One of the newest tools in Frank's shop is a CNC Router Parts industrial-grade CNC cutting machine. This router and plasma cutter is actually a kit that you can put together, and we go through that process with the help of CNC Router Parts' Drew Cairns. During the assembly, we learn how this machine was designed and see its capabilities in the making of some cool furniture! Next up, plasma cutting!