Latest StoriesMakers
    The Anatomy of an R2-D2 Astromech Droid

    What makes up an R2-D2 Astromech? We chat with members of the R2 Builders club to learn about the process of building your own droid--the materials, power systems, and electronics needed to get started. Chris James of the Bay Area club chapter opens up his own R2 and shares the custom controls and components he's designed to make his droid come alive!

    Google Research's Projects at Maker Faire 2015

    Google had a big presence at this year's Maker Faire, bring several of their research projects to share with makers--including a giant knife-wielding robot! We chat with Chris DiBona, Google's director of Making Science, about experiments in imagery, 3D printing, robotics, and aerial Wi-Fi.

    Maker Faire 2015: MegaBots' Giant Fighting Robot

    We ran into a giant mech at Maker Faire! MegaBots' creators constructed this massive concept robot in hopes of building a league of combat bots for spectators. Their fighting robots would be piloted by teams of drivers, and use massive hand-made paintballs to knock armor and other pieces off of their opponents. We enter the cockpit of this robot and check out its controls!

    Maker Faire 2015: Looking Glass 8x8x8 LED Cube

    Building an 8x8x8 LED cube may sound daunting, but this kit we found at Maker Faire simplifies the process with a clever design. We chat with Looking Glass' CTO about the idea of volumetric imagery, and how they've experimented in creating floating images with both 3D prints and RGB LED light matrices. What kind of images and animations can you create with just 512 points? Apparently, a lot--think of it as Hologram 1.0.

    Rick Baker's Men in Black Puppets and Animatronics

    Some of effects legend Rick Baker's most memorable work was in the Men in Black series, where his studio designed and created the fantastic alien creatures featured in the films. We chat with Rick about the practical fabrication of the memorable worm aliens, and a giant bug animatronic that never made it to screen--all going on auction. So many wonderful stories! (For a chance to win a prop from this collection, just post in the comments what from the auction you'd love to have!)

    How To Get into Hobby RC: Short Course Trucks

    'Short Course Trucks' are currently some of the most popular vehicles for RC racing. There are several reasons for the popularity of these designs. First of all, they replicate the full-scale short course racers that compete at outdoor tracks and stadiums all over the US. Perhaps a more significant aspect is that short course trucks are exciting to drive. Many short course designs are close adaptations of the top-tier 2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive buggies that are at the cutting edge of RC off-road design.

    RC short course trucks are not only for racing; they are also well suited to bashing. Their wide tires let them run on a variety of surfaces. It also helps that they have meaty bumpers and full-fendered bodies covering the tires. These help to keep the truck right side up when knocking into things like curbs and other vehicles.

    The Cutback

    My first short course truck is the Tower Hobbies Cutback. Although it has some race-ready features (brushless motor, full ball bearings), the Cutback is primarily meant for bashing. That works out great for me since I haven't raced in years. That being said, the Cutback might be competitive at some local-level tracks.

    This truck arrives fully assembled, with a painted body and a 2-channel 2.4GHz pistol-grip radio. I had to provide four AA batteries for the transmitter and onboard batteries to run the truck. I'll talk more about those batteries in a bit.

    Short Course Trucks are a popular aspect of RC for both racing and bashing. The vehicles emulate full-scale off-road racers.

    This is a four-wheel-drive truck with three gear-type differentials, one on the front end, one on the rear end, and one on the drive shaft. The core of the chassis is a 3mm-thick aluminum plate. Attached to this plate is a nylon tub that houses the electronics and drive components. Other parts such as the suspension arms, bumpers and spur gear are made of molded nylon as well. Interestingly, all of these plastic parts are covered by a 1-year warranty with free replacement.

    Photo Gallery: Rick Baker's 'Monster Maker' Auction Collection

    Check out some photos from our recent visit to Prop Store's Rick Baker 'Monster Maker' auction collection. The warehouse was like the storage facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark--a treasure trove of effects artifacts and iconic creatures from Baker's filmography. The detail in some of these props and animatronics was stunning--I personally gravitated toward the Men in Black aisle to get up close to the worm guys. We'll have more videos from our visit this week and next on the site. Until then, find out more about this historic May 29th auction at www.propstore.com/rickbaker

    Rick Baker's Gremlins 2 Puppets and Animatronics

    We're extremely privileged to visit the collection of special effects legend Rick Baker, whose make up and creature designs have appeared in films like an American Werewolf in London, Planet of the Apes, and the Men in Black series. While previewing an upcoming auction of his works, we chat with Baker about his work on Gremlins 2 and get up close to the spectacular puppets and animatronics his studio made for the production. More videos from our visit coming soon!

    Roman Mars' TED Talk: City Flag Design

    How about a little bit of vexillology to end your day? Flag design is the topic of Roman Mars' TED Talk, a version of the presentation he also gave at our live show last October. If you're unfamiliar with Mars' work, he's the creator and host of 99 Percent Invisible, a podcast about the history and origins of the unnoticed designed world. I spoke to Roman last year about his love for design and his approach to podcasting.

    Photo Gallery: Building Adam's Star Trek Captain's Chair

    Here are some behind the scenes photos of Adam's Star Trek Captain's Chair build, in which he works with Jeremy Williams to install lights, sounds, and switches into the replica. Get a close-up view of some of those custom electronics! This was a build that required a fair amount of problem solving, and these photos show the team thinking through troubleshooting.

    One Day Builds: Adam Savage's Star Trek Captain's Chair

    We're in for a treat today--Adam shares the story of his Star Trek Captain's Chair, which he became obsessed with building from scratch after acquiring an insufficient replica. With the help of friend Jeremy Williams, Adam spends a day wiring in the electronics to bring his new Enterprise command chair to life. After much problem solving and troubleshooting, the effort pays off in a big way!

    Making Needle Felted Star Wars Characters

    We meet Holman Wang, who along with his brother recently published the Star Wars Epic Yarns book series featuring needle felted interpretations of iconic Star Wars scenes. Holman shares with us his self-taught process of crafting the detailed felt characters, and we join him for a workshop to learn how to make our own felt Jawa! Find the instructions here. (Star Wars characters © Lucasfilm Ltd. Star Wars is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd.)

    The Sound Design and Sci-Fi UI of Avengers 2

    Note: Some plot spoilers in these videos. Now that Avengers: Age of Ultron has been out for a week, I feel comfortable sharing some behind-the-scenes videos that have been produced to promote the film. First up is the SoundWorks Collection interview with sound designer Christopher Boyes, who talks about the making of Quicksilver's audio cues, Ultron's robot-crunching sounds, Hulk's big setpiece, and other effects for the film. This second video is a showreel for Territory Studio, the effects house in charge of designing the computer screens that appear on Tony Stark's tech, the Quinjet, and the medical lab. I'm sure we'll see it referenced on the Sci-Fi interfaces blog in the future! (h/t Gizmodo)

    In Brief: Taking Apart LED Bulbs and Comparing Build Materials

    LED light bulbs are getting cheaper, and there are many more of them on the market--we'll actually be talking about them in-depth this week in a video. Features like the ability to use them with dimmers are one differentiator, but so is expected lifespan. Sparkfun founder Nate Seidle bought three 60W LED bulbs at his local Home Depot and took them apart to figure out why the cheapest model was only a fourth the cost as the most expensive one. What compromises are made for a $2.50 LED bulb? (h/t Chris Anderson)

    Norman 1
    Show and Tell: Convention Art Sculpts

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm shares some of his favorite art sculpts that he's found while travelling to conventions this year. Shows like Monsterpalooza and WonderCon host awesome sculptors in their artist alleys, where you can find unique pieces hand casted and painted by the artist themselves. Here are two recent favorites! (Thanks to B&H for providing the One Man Crew system for this video. Find out more about it here!)

    Tested Mailbag: New Furry Friend!

    Time to open another mailbag from a Tested reader! This week's package comes from overseas, with many delights within. Will and Norm struggle with pronouncing simple European city names, and gasp when they see what's in the box. Thanks so much, Sam! You rock!

    Clayhead Stop-Motion Clay Sculpture

    Isak Åkerlund, a toy designer and animator, experiments with sculpture, stop-motion, and skulls in this surreal short film. More sculptors should document their work and through this animation format--stop-motion is ripe for it! (h/t The Creator's Project)

    In Brief: Scratch Built TIE Bomber Model with 3D Printing

    RPF member mikoyan99 (Matt) is getting some well-deserved attention this week from 3D printing websites for a replica TIE Bomber project he actually completed a year ago. Because no one has a released a studio scale model kit for the ship, Matt made his replica using parts from a Darth Vader TIE advanced model kit and scratch building the two fuselages with 3D prints and aluminum tubing. The finished ship is lovely, and is currently being used for a Star Wars fanfilm. You can find more of Matt's scratch build projects on his DeviantArt page.

    Making Realistic Vulcan or Elf Ear Prosthetics

    Effects artist Frank Ippolito joins us once again for a make-up project tutorial and demonstration. For this year's WonderCon, Norm wanted to go as a Vulcan with authentic ear prosthetics. Using techniques we've shown before like lifecasting, sculpting, mold-making, and casting, Frank builds up a lifelike appliance and shows us how to apply it. Watching this video would be most logical! (This video was brought to you by Premium memberships on Tested. Learn more about how you can support us by joining the Tested Premium community!)