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    Google's Project Wing Delivery Drone Prototype

    The type of consumer qudacopters designed for aerial photography and FPV racing aren't ideal for automated delivery--you can't just tie a string to a Phantom. At Maker Faire, we learn about Google's Project Wing prototype, which has a lightweight VTOL design that allows it to take off vertically and still fly long distances. It's even been tested in the field!

    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!

    SCAA 2015: The Chemistry of Coffee Brewing with Blossom One

    Making coffee is chemistry, and you want to have control of as many variables as you can. At this year's SCAA, we check out the Blossom One, a coffee machine that brews with precise temperature controls--keeping the brew at a single temp for any length of time. Having seen a prototype severals years back, we're happy to see the final Blossom machine up and running, and chat with its creator to learn about the chemistry of coffee.

    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!)

    Maker Faire 2015: The Denny Next-Gen Bicycle Concept

    What's the bicycle of the future look like? According to the designers at Teague, it'll have subtle differences from today's bikes that will add convenience to the riding experience. Their Denny bicycle won a recent design contest, and we inspect its many innovations. Automatic shifting with no bike chains--neat stuff. Handlebars that double as a bike lock--brilliant!

    The State of App and Game Backup on Android: Not Pretty

    Comparing the Android we have today to what was available several years back is stark not just in terms of UI. Google has addressed many pain points in the realm of usability and features over time. Many of the things we used to need root access to get done are now possible on completely stock devices, even on the stripped down Nexus variant of Android. One notable exception is the state of application backup on Android. It's an absolute mess, and Google has tried to fix it with little success. Let's go over your options and find out where things stand.

    What is app data?

    When people talk about app data, they are usually referring to the content stored under each application or game's folder in the system directory of Android. You can see how much data an app has accumulated by going into the application settings. Android gives you the option to delete this data, but that's all. If you do so, it reminds you that you're going to lose all your settings, accounts, and so on. That's what we're talking about -- your stuff.

    For an app, this directory might contain your account information for an app that needs you to log in. It also contains any data you've input into the app since you started using it. For example, a fitness tracker app will have all your workout records and history. If you delete the app or clear the data, that's all gone. The developer needs to specifically make allowances to back that data up in such instances (more on the alter). For games, the app data folder contains save games and settings. Again, if you delete the data or uninstall the game, your progress is gone with it.

    So why can't you simply copy the data from these directories and save it somewhere? App data is all in the system partition, meaning you need to have root access to do anything with it. That might seem like a kick in the pants, but it's a common security measure. You don't want one app being able to just snoop around in the data of another app. The only way to back up and restore app data is through rooting or a system component. Google has thus far really dropped the ball on the latter.

    SteamVR's "Lighthouse" for Virtual Reality and Beyond

    One of the most important aspects of virtual reality will be accurate positional tracking of the headset and user motion. Valve Software's SteamVR--the best virtual reality implementation we've tried so far--uses a beacon-based tracking system called Lighthouse. We chat with Lighthouse engineer Alan Yates about how Lighthouse and its components work, the technology's strengths and limitations, and how it could be used in other applications outside of VR.

    Tested Builds: ErgoDox Mechanical Keyboards, Part 1

    Time for another Tested Build series! All this week, Will and Norm are going to work on building their own mechanical keyboards, using parts sourced from the ErgoDox design. These split ergonomic keyboards can be customized to use your favorite mechanical key switches, with potential for modding. In this first episode, we go over all the components and start assembly! (Follow along the rest of this week of build by joining the Tested Premium member community here!)

    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!

    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.

    Big Boats, Big Airplanes: A History of Large Aircraft Flown from Carriers

    It was just a few years after the Wright Brother's historic 1903 flight when people began flying airplanes off of ships. By the start of World War I, rudimentary aircraft carriers were already being used. In those early years, the airplanes were hardly more than spindly collections of spruce, linen, and castor oil. Likewise, their host ships had been built for other duties and then hastily modified to include add-on flight decks.

    Aircraft carriers soon became purpose-built ships from the keel up. This set off a century-long evolution that would mold them into ever larger and more complex machines. The same is true of the airplanes they carried. You can begin to appreciate the scope of this change by comparing the 1,200 pound Sopwith Pup that flew from British ships in WWI to the 66,000 pound F/A-18E Super Hornet used by several modern navies.

    A left front view of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS AMERICA (CV 66).

    An overview of the airplanes that have operated from aircraft carriers reveals a handful of outliers that were exceptionally large and/or heavy for their time. Let's take a look at a few examples and see what made them so unique.

    1942 – B-25 Mitchell

    WWII was the conflict that first illustrated the immense offensive capabilities of aircraft carriers. A prime example is the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor – a raid carried out solely by aircraft launched from six Japanese carriers. Immediately after the raid, President Roosevelt desperately wanted to deliver a retaliatory blow.

    America's three Pacific-based aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbor during the attack and were thus still operational. Yet, short of staging a large (strategically risky) multi-carrier attack, the US had very little offensive muscle in the Far East.

    US Navy Captain Francis Low concocted the idea of flying twin-engine US Army Air Corps bombers from the deck of a carrier. These aircraft had a much greater bomb load and range than the Navy's single-engine carrier-based bombers and torpedo planes of the time. The army bombers would ride aboard a single carrier to deliver a one-time jab to the Japanese mainland. The idea quickly developed into the famous Doolittle Raid.

    A B-25 takes off from the USS Hornet on its way to Tokyo. After the Doolittle Raid, B-25s were never again flown from aircraft carriers. (US Navy photo)

    The aircraft carrier selected for the raid was the new USS Hornet. Mission commander Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his men flew in North American B-25 Mitchell bombers. Studies determined that B-25s with a 2,000 pound bomb load and sufficient fuel for a 2,000 mile trip could indeed takeoff from the Hornet's flight deck. After dropping their bombs on Tokyo, the planes would continue westward to land in China. So the B-25's inability to land aboard the carrier was not a concern.

    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.)

    SCAA 2015: Brewing Grit-Free Coffee with Espro Presses

    At this year's SCAA The Event coffee convention, we check in with Espro, the makers of our favorite French Press-style brewer to geek out over coffee! We chat about how to make grit-free French-press coffee, Espro's new travel press, and micro filtration for brewing tea.

    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!

    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!)