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    Jamie Hyneman's High-Pressure Air Gun

    We stop by Jamie's shop to learn about his newest tool: a high-pressure air gun that can fire less-than-lethal rubber shots for riot control. It's like a really powerful paintball gun. Jamie demonstrates the cannon's various settings, and then tests it with a different kind of ammunition.

    Papercraft Formula 1 Scale Model Builder

    This guy is my hero. Paul Bischof, a UK-based modelmaker and Formula 1 enthusiast, painstakingly builds 1/10th scale model race cars out of nothing more than cut and painted pieces of cereal boxes and biscuit wrappers. One of his scale models can be composed of over 6,000 pieces of paper, detailing everything from oil pumps in the engine to straps in the bucket seats (made from Christmas present ribbons). Bischof now works for Red Bull Racing, designing components for real Formula 1 cars. You can see more of his model work at his blog, as well as on his Facebook page.

    In Brief: Designing the Ultimate Toy Gun

    Ever wonder how the research and development divisions of massive toy companies operate? This FastCo Design profile of Mattel's new BOOMco line of toy guns details the three-year process Mattel researchers and prototypers journeyed to produce a product line to challenge Habro's Nerf (that design story told here by Wired). Mattel, known for its Hot Wheels cars and Barbie dolls, wants a share of the estimated $500 million toy blaster market (they already bought LEGO competitor Mega to fight in the building-block front). Their toy makers claim that BOOMco blasters were engineered to have six advantages over NERF, including darts that fly straighter and stick better. One innovation to improve the stickiness of its plastic dart tips--formulating not only a new material for the dart, but the targets as well.

    Norman
    Show and Tell: BioShock's Motorized Patriot (in LEGO!)

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm brings a new collectible figure produced by the toy company NECA. It's the Motorized Patriot, from the game BioShock Infinite, and a wonderful toy sculpt. Norm is also joined by Carl Merriam who has his own Motorized Patriot to share, in LEGO form!

    Almost Human: Trauma Mannequins for Medic Training

    They breathe and they bleed, but they're not real human beings. These robots, built by the especial effects and fabrication experts at Kernerworks, are incredibly lifelike trauma mannequins used by the military to train field medics. We visit Kernerworks' workshop to learn how these robots are built and get a demo of their trauma simulation capabilities. See photos from our visit here.

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Car Basics and Monster Truckin'

    After a few months of lightly tapping, it’s finally time to pound the drum about RC cars. Of course, there are countless styles of cars that you can get into. For now, I will focus on the type of cars that I recommended for beginners in the first article of this series: 2-wheel-drive, electric-powered, monster trucks.

    Just like every other facet of RC, cars have benefited from recent advancements in radio, motor and battery technology. As I looked over my aging collection of well-used cars, I realized that none in my fleet reflected any of these modern advancements. So I took a two-pronged approach. I procured a new monster truck and I also modernized one of my older cars. Between this guide and a follow-up next week, I will cover my experiences with both projects.

    The Case for RC Cars

    I received my first RC car, a Kyosho Ultima, when I was in middle school. I really just wanted something to play with, but the Ultima turned out to be much more than a toy. Hobby-grade cars like the Ultima are meant to be worked on, and actually require some maintenance. As time went on, I found that I enjoyed wrenching on the car as much as driving it. It was also fascinating to make adjustments to the car and see how they affected its performance. That poor car endured countless modifications at my hand. Some ideas worked, but many didn’t. The Ultima always emerged relatively unscathed, and I got a little smarter each time. More than 25 years later, I still have most of the parts for that Ultima (in working order).

    If a chemistry set is an ideal toy for aspiring chemists, then RC cars will cultivate the minds budding engineers.

    If a chemistry set is an ideal toy for aspiring chemists, then RC cars will cultivate the minds budding engineers. Sure, they can teach you many lessons that carry over to full-size cars, but there is so much more. I learned about 2-stroke engines, electric motors, batteries, gearing, torque, and above all: the value of working with my hands. Countless times while working on space hardware in my professional career, I was able to apply a lesson learned from that Ultima. If, like me, you have a young tinkerer in your house, RC cars may be just the thing to let them explore relatively risk free.

    The Zoidberg Project, Part 10: Mold Finishing and Foam Latex

    The primary mold for the Zoidberg sculpture is complete, but there are still a few things to do to make this mold functional for casting masks. The first thing I need to do is to drill the bolt holes and add T-nuts to the flange of the mold (the flat parts around the outside that connect the two halves together). Because of the rigidity of the flange, I don't need to put a gajillion bolts in it to keep the mold stable. I start by drilling in a few typical places: near the bottom at the end of the flange, in the middle (corner of the neck) and up at the top of the head (one on either side of the large registration key).

    When I'm placing my bolt holes, I need to pay attention to how close/far away from the sculpture they are. I like getting them as close to the sculpture as possible to keep the mold tight, but keeping in mind the outside of the mold--meaning that if I put the hole too close to the sculpture, I won't be able to get a bolt through the flange. This usually ends up being about an inch or inch and a half from the sculpture. Sometimes, my process leaves a bunch of extra land on the flange, but I like having that extra land for when I'm prying the molds open. If the flange is too short, you can barely get a pry bar or screwdriver in between them to get any leverage for prying. It's all about finding happy mediums.

    To make the mold easier to open and close, I love using T-Nuts. These are little nuts with a flat flange and teeth on them. This makes it so I can glass them onto the outside of the mold and then they won't spin. Since I don't have to fumble with the nuts when bolting and un-bolting the mold, I have the t-nuts permanently attached on the back side. To do this, first I brush a little wax onto the bolt (just to ease the removal) and tighten the T-nut onto it. I cut small squares of the glass cloth and mix up a small amount of freefrom air dough. By spreading the weave a tiny bit in the center of the square, I can push it over the T-nut and laminate it onto the flange with a little Epoxamite 102. Then I'll take a tiny bit of dough and put it around the T-nut and laminate one more square of glass to sandwich it all together. Once this is set up, I'll trim any glass that might be hanging over the edge, and back the bolts out and sand off any glass or resin that is still sticking up where the bolt used to be.

    Imogen Heap's Electronic Gesture Gloves

    Musician Imogen Heap demonstrates electronic gloves that she developed for interacting with her computer's music programs during live performances. The gloves, which she has now launched a Kickstarter to produce, have sensors placed over the knuckles so that Heap can gesture with arm, hand, and finger movements to cue up different sounds. The gloves have accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers for detecting orientation and hand postures. Heap has been working on the musical gloves with the University of Western England since 2011. Each single "Mi.Mu Glove" will cost £1200, via the Kickstarter, and you can read more about the project here.

    Inside Adam Savage's Cave: Gladiator Armor

    Adam geeks out over some new costume armor he just received: a movie-quality replica of Russell Crowe's costume from his final fight in the movie Gladiator. The convention-ready costume was fabricated by Todd Coyle, who also made Adam's Indiana Jones jacket that he's worn on Mythbusters.

    Bits to Atoms: Designing and 3D-Printing Tested Nametags

    Sometimes a project pops into your head and keeps popping up--on the subway, at work, during meetings, while making dinner, laying in bed trying sleep, etc., until you just have to do it in order to purge it. It occurred to me that the Tested logo would be perfect for a 3D print! With its simple geometric parts as well as the opportunity to demonstrate a variety of printing techniques, I couldn’t resist. I had made name badges before for my booth at Maker Faire and thought it was a good idea for the Tested logo--the guys need to represent!

    The first step was to simply sketch out how the logo would break down into parts for printing. Since the Tested logo is made up of simple shapes the break down and modeling were relatively simple.

    In the TARDIS article I mentioned using a backdrop picture to build on top of and Norm supplied me with some Tested logos files, not knowing what purposes they would be used for! A dimmed down version of the logo was used in the top view and the geometry was built right on top of it. Since mechanical precision wasn’t needed, a simple cube was stretched out and modified by eye to match up with each piece.

    The ‘Tested’ text could easily be built from scratch since it’s so blocky, but there’s an even easier option if you can find the actual font, which is free at one of my favorite sources, dafont. Most modeling programs will have a text tool that will allow the letters to be extruded into 3D models which saves a ton of time.

    In Brief: Download these Open Access Maps

    Late last week, the New York Public Library announced that its Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division was releasing over 20,000 cartographic works from its archives as high-resolution downloads. These historic maps are offered with no copyright restrictions, and the NYPL is distributing them under a Creative Commons Universal Public Domain Dedication. They are completely in the public domain. The collection of New York and Mid-Atlantic maps can be viewed on the NYPL's Digital Collections site. I also want to use this opportunity to call out another one of my favorite maps resources (I love cartographic art), the David Rumsey Map Collection. This collection includes maps of the San Francisco Bay Area currently on display at the SFO International Airport, Terminal 2, and are all available for download at very high resolution. There are so many wonderful finds in this database; it's easy to lose an afternoon just browsing. One recent favorite of mine: a photo of Bett's Portable Terrestrial Globe, circa 1852.

    Norman
    Kevin Tong's "Wall-E" Poster Design Process

    Kevin Tong is an amazing artist who designs screenprinted posters for bands and movies, often collaborating with the Mondo Gallery in Austin. You may have recognized his work from our videos--he's the one who responsible for the ISS Cupula poster we have hanging in our studio set, as well as the Avengers Iron Man print I have in my garage. For the recent Mondo/Disney art show that premiered during SXSW (that we attended!), Kevin created two beautiful posters for Up and Wall-E. He documented the design of both of these posters in YouTube videos; you can find the one for his 'Up' poster here.

    Show and Tell: Custom LEGO Creations

    For this week's Show and Tell, we're joined by special guest Carl Merriam, and professional LEGO builder who shares several of his most recent creations. Carl talks about competing in the "Iron Builder" challenge, and announces an awesome new job. Check out more of Carl's work here!

    Teaching Hollywood How To Hack

    It took a police raid in 1987 to finally scare Dave Buchwald straight. Well, mostly straight. He wouldn't claim after to have completely reformed after the incident – remaining hatless, his words – but he certainly wasn't interested in ever going to jail.

    As a member of the hacker group Legion of Doom in his late teens, the raid was meant to scare him. It was a warning, a slap on the wrist. But while Buchwald was never actually charged, others weren't so lucky. The Chicago Tribune the following year reported on a hacker named Shadow Hawk who was alleged to have stolen "an artificial intelligence program that had not even hit the market." It reads today like something out of a William Gibson novel.

    Shadow Hawk pleaded guilty. He was fined and served his time. Being a hacker in the eyes of the government, especially as the 1980s drew to a close, wasn't exactly something that earned you a gold star. But for a young screenwriter named Rafael Moreu, that animosity was exactly what made the misunderstood community that Buchwald and others were a part of a story he wanted to tell.

    By the early 1990s, Buchwald was working for a private investigator, using the skills he picked up hacking in a more, let’s say, constructive way. He was attending monthly hacker meetings, organized by Emmanuel Goldstein, co-founder of a hacker quarterly magazine called 2600. And it was there that Buchwald met Moreu. Buchwald, it just so happened, was looking for consulting gigs, and Moreu happened to have some work.

    When the film Hackers was released in 1995 – an oddball tale of a still-nascent net, starring a then-unknown Angelina Jolie in one of her first Hollywood films – Hacking Consultant was Buchwald's credit on the film.

    Contrary to what the quality of popular film and television might have you think, yes, these people do exist. They are people, like Buchwald, who have worked behind the scenes to ensure that Hollywood gets its depiction of hackers, computers and cybersecurity mostly right – to translate the technical complexity of science and technology into something that casual audiences can understand.

    And it's a good thing, too, because there are countless memorable cases where film and television get things so terribly wrong.

    Jamie Hyneman's Hitchhiking Survival Story

    Recently, Jamie did an AMA on Reddit. There were some good questions left over, so he picked a few to give video answers to over the next several weeks. This week, he answers a question from user fivesienta: "How did you survive on your own when you left home to hitchhike across the country when you 14?"

    Photo Gallery: Star Wars Prop and Costume Exhibition

    Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination is a traveling exhibition organized by Boston's Museum of Science and Lucasfilm. It opened in 2005, and houses props and costumes from all of the Star Wars films, but also emphasizes new areas of research in science and technology as seen through the lens of Star Wars. The exhibit has been traveling around the world since 2006, and made its final stop at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose last October, finishing a 20-venue tour this past weekend. I took a bunch of photos during my visit, which I wanted to share with you guys.

    Inside MIT's Tangible Media Group

    Science Friday visits MIT's Tangible Media Group to get a better look at two projects being developed by PhD candidates at the school. We first heard about the inFORM project last November, but this is the best look we've had of how it works so far. A second project, "jamSheets," uses pneumatic pumps to change the hardness and texture of paper and fabric surfaces.

    Exhibit Design at The Tech Museum of Innovation

    Some time ago on the podcast, I mentioned how unimpressed I was the last time I went to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. I'm a big fan of visiting science and technology museums in every new city I visit (The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, OMSI in Portland, and EMP Museum in Seattle are a few of my favorites), but have noticed that some of these museums share similar (and occasionally dated) exhibits. San Francisco's Exploratorium was one of the nation's first interactive science museums, and its exhibit designers published "cookbooks" for other science museums that followed to build their own exhibits. That lead to many of these museums opening up galleries that shared similar exhibit concepts: model planes to illustrate flight dynamics or a large-scale model of a DNA double-helix, for example. That's what I remembered of The Tech when I went there back in high school.

    That's why I was extremely impressed when I revisited it last summer and again this past weekend (in part for the special Star Wars travelling exhibition). Exhibit prototyper Dan Streelman, a reader of Tested, invited me down to the museum last year to show me what he and his team of exhibit designers have been working on. They've built out a large workshop space, dubbed the Tech Studio, where prototypers fabricate new exhibits in clear view of visitors, using the latest in CNC machines. There's nothing that gets both kids and adults excited faster than a 3D printer at work, Dan told me.

    Because the exhibits are designed and built in-house, it doesn't take long for them to make their way from a CAD program to the museum floor. When I visited, Dan was working on prototyping a concept called "Social Robots"--a custom modular robotics system that lets visits build their own robots and learn the basics of circuits and programming. When I came by again this past weekend, there were dozens of parents and their kids building these robots, clearly engaged with the exhibit. These visitors are getting pretty cutting-edge technology to play with, not exhibits designed decades ago. And The Tech is filled with plenty of these projects, like Google's Liquid Galaxy Project, Kinect-activated LED walls, and awesome displays showing the guts of robot toys like the Pleo and Furby.

    So I humbly take back my dismissal of The Tech--it's definitely on my list of places to recommend for anyone new to the Bay Area. And thanks to Dan for reaching out to show me their modern approach to designing exhibits for today's science geeks. I took a few photos of my visit there, which you can find below.