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    Izmojuki's Beautiful Urban Mech Model Kit

    We fell in love with this industrial mech design on display at New York Comic Con! And it turns out these intricate figures are going to be real toys, launched via Kickstarter. We chat wit Yuta Tobari, the design director for the Izmojuki mech line at Sen-ti-nel toys about how this design came about and what's in store for the model kit.

    The Design and Development of High-End Collectible Toys

    We meet Klim Kozinevich, who runs Bigshot Toyworks, a design firm that works with companies like Sideshow Collectibles, Mondo, and KidRobot to develop and produce high-end collectible figures. At New York Comic Con, we chat with Klim about what goes into the making of toys like Mondo's Iron Giant and Sideshow's StarCraft II Raynor figure.

    Adam Savage Chats Cosplay with Jay Justice

    Adam meets up with cosplayer Jay Justice at New York Comic Con to talk about comics fandom, inclusiveness and diversity in the cosplay community, and some of their favorite costumes from the convention.

    Adam Savage at The White House's South by South Lawn Festival!

    Working alongside 50 kids at a maker space in Baltimore, Adam helps build the official display sign for the first ever South by South Lawn. SXSL is a gathering of artists, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and makers at The White House's south lawn to share ideas, art, and action. And at the event, Adam meets and chats with some of the scientists, educators, and makers who are all working to make a positive impact in our shared future.

    Features Not Standard: Sous-Vide Ribs in a Truck!

    For the Tested team camping trip, Norm's responsibility was making the food. And as an enthusiast of sous-vide cooking, he decided to convert the Honda Ridgeline into a mobile sous-vide cooking station. And with Adam's guidance on the build, Norm's able to deliver mouth-watering ribs to the campout! #HondaRidgeline #featuresnotstandard #sponsored

    Phil Tippett's Film Props and Special Effects Ephemera

    We visit Prop Store to examine the items in the Phil Tippett auction, a collection of props, artwork, maquettes, and ephemera from a decades-long career in filmmaking. From original Star Wars concept drawings to Jurassic Park animatics and full-size Robocop puppets, we get up close with the stuff that made our favorite childhood films come to life!

    2001: A Space Odyssey 1/6th Scale Figures

    Discovery astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole finally get sixth scale interpretations in these deatiled figures from Executive Replicas. We chat with the company's co-founder to learn about the making of these space suits and figures, and the plans to make a full-size spacesuit replica for sale in the future.

    Toward the Unknown: The North American X-15

    This story originally appeared on The High Frontier and is republished here with permission.

    By any measure the North American X-15 was an amazing aircraft. By the end of the decade long, 199 flight programme the three aircraft had pushed airspeed and altitude records way beyond all previous marks. Many X-15 pilots qualified astronauts on their high altitude flights and the wealth of operational knowledge that was gained continues to influence aerospace programmes to this day.

    Yet for all this, the X-15 is often overshadowed by NASA's other activities during the 1960s and its legacy overlooked. It could never go as high or as fast as the capsules launched from the Cape, but the fact remains, at the time it was designed the X-15 looked like it would provide America's first forays in human spaceflight and as Tom Wolfe points out in The Right Stuff, they would FLY their vehicle there and back.

    The X-15 ready to go under the wing of the NB-52 (credit: NASA)

    Mach 1 and beyond

    The story of the X-15 really starts as an extension of the high speed research programs being carried out by the NACA, Air Force and Navy beginning at the end of World War 2. Following the advent of effective liquid-fuelled rocket propulsion, the development of the jet engine and advances in aerodynamics during that conflict, it became clear that aviation would be pushing into new flight regimes. Famously the Bell X-1 (originally the XS-1) marked the first in a long line of experimental aircraft constructed to explore these new regimes and gather data which could later be applied to the design of operational aircraft.

    Although research aircraft of the time were not exclusively concerned with high speed flight, many of the early X-planes such as the X-1 series and their Navy equivalents the Douglas Skystreak (D-558-1) and Skyrocket (D-558-2) were designed to examine the transonic and supersonic region. These designs tended to be purely functional and highly conservative serving to access a flight regime and gather the data safely while offering high margins of structural strength to cope with any unknowns that may be encountered. They weren't generally designed to act as prototypes for future operational types – their role was to gather data and extend knowledge. Very rapidly though, the contemporary fighter types of the late 1940s and early 1950s began to match and often exceed the performance of the early research aircraft calling their practicality into question, but while designs such as Kelly Johnson's F-104 Starfighter could now reach speeds in excess of Mach 2 on a routine basis, it was recognised that it would take a rocket powered research craft to probe speeds above Mach 3 and altitudes in excess of 100,000ft.

    Some of the early research planes at Edwards AFB including the X-1A, Skystreak and Skyrocket. (credit: NASA)

    The much delayed Bell X-2 was anticipated to provide valuable data in these areas, but this troubled aircraft didn't manage to make its first powered flight until 1955. On September 7th 1956, Air Force pilot Iven Kincheloe took the X-2 to a new altitude record of 126,200ft and it looked like the X-2 might start to make good on its promise, but on the very next flight just 20 days later, Milburn Apt was killed after reaching a speed in excess of Mach 3. Apt had fallen victim to a high speed aerodynamic phenomenon known as inertia coupling, where the aircraft's control surfaces lose their ability to counteract the inertia of the fuselage resulting in a loss of control and tumbling in all three axis. Chuck Yeager had managed to survive an encounter with inertia coupling after he exceeded Mach 2.5 in the X-1A, but although Apt was able to recover control and separate the X-2s escape capsule, he became incapacitated and was unable to parachute to safety.

    Although the X-2 had provided some data on high altitude flight and aerodynamic heating it was clear that much work remained for the next planned research vehicle.

    TIE Fighters, Night Flights, and More at The 2016 BEST RC Event

    One of my favorite RC events to attend is Best Electrics in South Texas (BEST). This annual meet for electric-powered models is held in New Waverly, Texas, about 50 miles north of downtown Houston. It always attracts a sizeable contingent of hobbyists from Dallas, Houston, and all points in between. When I lived in Houston, BEST was a never-miss appointment on my calendar. Now that I live 500 miles away in Lubbock, I've had to skip the previous three BESTs. This year was different. I managed to break free for a few days and make the southbound drive.

    BEST is a weekend occasion. The 2016 event it fell on October 1st and 2nd. Per my old routine, I camped at the Tri-County Barnstormer's field with my podcasting partners Lee Ray and Fitz Walker. We are always sure to arrange a camping spot close to our like-minded buddy from Fort Worth, Keith Sparks. We all arrived and set up camp a day early. The extra time provided an additional day of fun, and a chance for us to test fly our new and/or dusty models before the official start of the event.

    One of the reasons that I like BEST so much is that it falls in a very desirable sweet spot attendance-wise. With 50-60 registered pilots, you are guaranteed to see an eclectic display of models and flying skills. At the same time, it is not so crowded that it ever feels hectic. Goldilocks would approve.

    I did not originally plan to do a write-up of BEST. I went just to have fun. However, I saw several very cool and innovative things that I thought were worth sharing. I'll cover some of these noteworthy models and events that I witnessed over the weekend.

    Adam Savage Meets Mouse Guard Creator David Petersen!

    Adam Savage meets David Petersen, the creator, author, and artist behind the Mouse Guard comic series. Adam and David chat about David's use of self-made scale model miniatures in his art process, and how he builds a realistic world around his fictional and fantastical characters.

    Features Not Standard: Simone Giertz Builds a Bathtub in a Truck!

    Joining us on our first Tested campout is Simone Giertz, who dreams of bringing an essential amenity to the camp site: a bathtub! To fit this unique build inside the Honda Ridgeline, Simone consults with Adam and learns to use some woodworking tools at the cave. Hard work pays off when she's the one relaxing in a bubble bath in the great outdoors. #HondaRidgeline #featuresnotstandard #sponsored

    Aviation's Ridiculously Tiny Airplanes

    One of the big hurdles to owning an airplane is that most of the commercially-available options are relatively big machines. Even a modest 2-seater will likely have a 100-horsepower engine and wings spanning more than 30 feet. Sizeable portions of your budget must be allocated just to keeping the bird fueled and stored. The obvious solution is to create a smaller airplane – something like a moped of the skies. With that goal in mind, many cost-conscious aviators have designed a motley collection of impossibly small airplanes. Here are four examples of downsized birds that will make you thankful for the middle seat on your next airline flight.

    Flying Flea

    Frenchman Henri Mignet set out to design an airplane that would be as affordable and easy to operate as a Ford Model T car. Mignet wasn't afraid to try new ideas. His diminutive HM.14 Pou du Ciel (Louse of the Sky, aka Flying Flea) emerged in 1933 with a very unusual tandem wing configuration. The method for controlling the HM.14 was also unique. The entire forward wing was pivoted up or down to control the pitch of the airplane. Movement of the large rudder was accomplished through the control stick (rather than traditional rudder pedals) and there were no ailerons for roll control. The Pou du Ciel would roll into a turn naturally when rudder was applied due to the dihedral effect of the wings' upward curvature (when viewed from the front).

    The Pou du Ciel (Flying Flea) was intended as a low-cost option for people interested in owning an airplane

    Mignet self-published plans for his unusual design. With just a 20' (6.1m) wingspan, the Flying Flea could be built in a barn or garage. Numerous amateur builders throughout Europe and the US began doing just that. Problems started to arise, however, when builders made modifications to Mignet's original design. Some builders, ignorant of how the curvature of the wings was vital for the airplane's stability and control, assembled flat wings. Other builders utilized engines that were much more powerful than the 17-horsepower motorcycle engine originally used by Mignet. The higher speeds afforded by these engines sometimes caused control reversal situations. When this happened, pulling the control stick back to climb would actually cause the airplane to dive. The situation would quickly degrade from that point on…often ending in a crash.

    Oculus VR 'Santa Cruz' Prototype Impressions

    We go hands-on with Oculus' new 'Santa Cruz' standalone VR headset prototype, and share our thoughts and impressions from the demo. We also chat with Oculus' Nate Mitchell about the future of virtual reality and rate our favorite games from Oculus Connect!

    Simone Giertz's Coat Hanger for Coat Hangers

    Simone walks us through an idea she's had for a while to improve her new apartment: making a giant coat hanger to hang all of her other coat hangers. Building this coat hanger-coat hanger is also the perfect excuse for Simone to visit Shaper and test their Origin handheld CNC for this project.

    Features Not Standard: Turning a Truck into a Treehouse!

    For the first Tested team camping trip, Sean dreams up the idea of converting the Honda Ridgeline into a mobile treehouse. With some design help from Adam, Sean builds a versatile campout toolbox and makes modifications to the truck to support an elevated rooftop tent. Plus, Sean couldn't help but add some high-tech creature comforts! #HondaRidgeline #featuresnotstandard #sponsored

    Announcing Tested: The Show 2016!

    Hey everyone! We're excited to announce that we are going to have another live show this year as part of the Bay Area Science Festival--our third year in a row! As with previous years, our stage show will be an evening of talks, presentations, and demonstrations from members of the Tested team and our friends in the science and maker community. A lot has changed with Tested since last year, and the theme of this year's show is a reflection of that. We're calling it Journeys--a celebration of the travels, adventures, and evolutions we've gone through since we saw you last. From our travels to the High Arctic to explorations of virtual realms, we're going share how we've used a mix of technology and science to experience the world through unique perspectives. Plus, we'll also be recording a special episode of Still Untitled with Adam and Will.

    Photo credit: Dallis Willard

    Our live show is also an opportunity for us to meet you, the members of the community who've supported us throughout the years. It's a chance for you to meet and hang out with the Tested family like Frank, Sean, and Jeremy, and get up close to some of the projects we've been working on.

    Tickets are on sale now, and you can find them, along with some more info, here! Hope to see you there!