Latest StoriesHow-To
    How To Make a Silicone Brush-Up Mold

    We turn back the clock to before Comic-Con, as Frank and his team are prepping the Lich King armor made for Blizzard. Frank walks us through how to make a silicone brush-up mold of foam fabricated armor parts. These waste molds can be used to make clay castings to give costume parts additional sculptural detail!

    Action Camera Repairs and Upgrades for Hobby RC

    I have a motley collection of small action cameras. Most of the time, I use them to capture in-flight video with my RC aircraft. I stopped using some of these cameras as they developed problems and annoyances over time. I finally decided to address each of the issues and get all of my dusty gear up and running again. This required me to perform some repairs and a few upgrades. I'll show you how I cracked open these little cameras and got them back into service.

    Mobius Battery Replacement

    One of my Mobius cameras had developed very short battery life. A fully-charged battery would last only a few minutes. I opened up the case to have a look. The 2-piece case is attached with tiny Phillips screws in the front and plastic latches in the rear.

    The Mobius is powered by a single LiPo battery. Dead (or dying) LiPo cells will often swell up like a balloon, but this one had no obvious physical defects. I detached the power connector from the camera PCB and charged the battery on one of my hobby-grade LiPo chargers. This allowed me to rule out any problems with the camera's built-in USB charging circuitry. My run time results were still way below normal, so I was confident that I had a dud battery.

    I replaced the LiPo battery in this Mobius camera. It's a very simple process.

    I ordered a replacement battery from Buy Mobius for $7. Both of my Mobius cameras are from an early production batch and were equipped with 520mAh batteries. The factory later switched to 820mAh cells for longer run time. My replacement battery is the 820mAh variety. The newer battery has almost the exact same footprint as my original. It's just a little thicker.

    The stock battery was held in place with a small square of double-sided tape. I was able to pry up the battery with my finger using gentle pressure. Even the tape was salvageable. The new battery fit into the same spot without any modifications. Since the replacement battery has the appropriate power connector, I was able to simply plug it in and the swap was complete. This cheap, quick fix gave me a brand new battery with more than 50% greater capacity than the original. But I wasn't finished just yet.

    Pressure Casting a Glow-in-the-Dark Slimer Model

    Frank walks us through the casting of a special kit: a slimer by legendary effects artist Steve Johnson, the sculptor of the original slimer from Ghostbusters! We learn how Frank mixes up resin to make these glow in the dark and utilizes a pressure pot to eliminte air bubbles. These kits will be available at the Son of Monsterpalooza convention later this month!

    My Key to Organizing Small Allen Wrenches

    If you're like me, you have an unorganized bin of loose Allen wrenches in your workshop. SAE and metric sizes coexist is this microcosm without discrimination or prejudice. Maybe you call these tools hex keys. Whatever the case, they are a blessing and a curse. In larger sizes (bigger than 3/16" or 4.5mm), they are cheap, convenient, and robust tools. The smaller Allen wrenches, however, present several problems for me.

    First of all, the wrenches and the heads of the fasteners that they drive tend to strip easily. This is exaggerated by the fact that there are many different sizes which are indiscernible by eye. Selecting the correct wrench for an application can be challenging. Oh, did I mention that these wrenches are not even marked with their size?

    Despite their challenges, small Allen wrenches are a fact of life in the RC world. They are used in many, many applications across the RC spectrum. In fact, most of the smaller hex keys in my bin were included with RC products. Many of the larger tools can be traced to Ikea.

    Small Allen wrenches can be frustrating to use. So I came up with a simple system to manage these tools.

    I have a somewhat masochistic MO when I need to find a small Allen wrench. I reach into that disheveled bin and pull out a handful of tools that look to be about the right size. Then I go through the frustrating exercise of test fitting each wrench in the fastener until I find a good fit. If I'm lucky, I'll score a good wrench within the first five tries.

    After years of this inefficient approach, I finally decided to end the madness. I set out to find a simple means of organizing my small Allen wrenches. I decided that my system would have to be easy to understand, easy to implement, and easy to maintain.

    How To Use Spray-On Chrome on Resin Castings!

    For the towering Lich King armor made for Blizzard's Comic-Con event, Frank's team used a chemical spray-on chroming process that silvers resin parts wtihout plating them. Frank demonstrates this transformative process on a prepped casting of the Lich King helmet, explaining along the way how to get the best looking results.

    Shop Tips: Storing 3D Printer Filament

    Frank runs many 3D printers at his shop, and goes through a lot of filament for this big fabrication projects. But when using big filament spools, he needs to properly store and maintain print material to keep print quality consistent. Here are a few ways to do that.

    Making a Large Laser-Cut Dymaxion Globe

    We're enamored by this project by Make Magazine's Gavin Smith: a laser-cut dymaxion globe. After making our own small scale 20-sided globe, we tweak the files to scale up the build on our Universal Laser Systems laser cutter and test using transfer paper to protect our wood sheets from scorching. Find the files for this project on Make!

    This Old FX Shop: Painting a Latex Alien Mask

    For this week's visit to the FX shop, we geek out over a latex mask from talented sculptor Francisco Charlie Hernandez, whose work we've long admired on Instagram. This latex mask presents some interesting paint challenges, from its elongated form to smooth surfaces.

    Building an AMD Ryzen PC for Video Editing!

    Time to build a new PC! Our latest system build tests AMD's Ryzen series of CPUs, putting 8 core and 16 threads toward our video editing workloads. The 1700X processor impressed us for its $300 street price. Norm and Tested's video producer Gunther assemble the PC and put it to work at this year's Comic-Con.

    This Old FX Shop: Cold Casting Idols

    This week, Frank shows us how to cast resin with different metallic powders to give castings a beautiful finish right out of the mold. To test different cold casting techniques, we use a mold of a familiar movie prop!

    The Basics of RC Flying Etiquette

    The hobby of RC flying has been around for a long time. Over the years, certain informal rules of etiquette have evolved that help make the hobby safer and friendlier when flying with others. The only problem is that many of these guidelines are not intuitive to newcomers. Learning these "rules of the road" is typically an integral aspect of being trained to fly by an experienced hobbyist. However, the advent of GPS-equipped models and artificial stabilization devices has spawned a breed of self-taught RC pilots who may not have the benefit of etiquette mentoring. So here are a few basic tips to help us all share the sky in harmony.

    Toe the Line

    Whether flying at an RC club field or an informal gathering of modelers, you'll find that there are almost always specific areas designated as a no-fly zones. These restricted areas are there for a good reason. That's where people can park their cars, set up their gear, and watch all of the action without having to worry about dodging model aircraft. It's no fun to be unpacking your model and have a plane buzz by dangerously close.

    When you show up to a new flying spot, ask others what the layout is. You need to know where it is okay to fly and what areas you should avoid. Ignoring this fundamental tenet of RC piloting is a surefire way to garner negative attention from your peers and spoil a fun outing.

    The Best Unlocked and Carrier Android Smartphone (July 2017)

    Smartphones have become indispensable parts of daily life, offering on-demand access to all the world's information, turn-by-turn navigation, voice control, and more. This is one of the things it's okay to spend heavily on since you'll use it every day, but you should make sure you buy the right phone. Ideally, it'll last you a couple years without falling apart or falling behind on updates. There are a lot of phones out there, so let's take a look at the assortment of options available right now and see what the best bet is.

    Carrier phones: The Galaxy S8

    Buying phones from carriers used to be what you did because there were no reasonably priced unlocked options, but not it's the default option for most people because the carriers make it stupidly easy to get a new phone with payment plans, lease agreements, and various other deals. If you go this route, there are two solid choices right now, the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6. These are both good phones, and LG has improved since last year. Still, the Galaxy S8 is an overall better option for most people.

    The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch curved display, and you can't get a non-curved version this time. Both the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have have the curved design that minimizes the bezel. Samsung opted for this after seeing its curved phones selling much better than the flat ones. The GS8 Plus bumps the display size to 6.2-inches, but they both feel much smaller in the hand and have a resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels. The Plus variant is just a little too tall to be used comfortably in one hand. Samsung's AMOLED displays are still the best you can get, and DisplayMate confirms that Samsung's GS8 panel has the most accurate colors and highest brightness.

    This phone feels great in the hand with the symmetrically curved front and back glass, although the rounded glass frame means it's very exposed should you ever drop it. Broken Galaxy S8s are apparently common, and the glass picks up fingerprints like no one's business.

    This Old FX Shop: Alien Head Busts

    Frank and Norm tackle a new set of Alien head busts in this week's painting session. Using an art book for inspiration and reference for a paint pattern, we turn to a model that has smoother surfaces than the kits we've painted in the past for a new challenge.

    Tested's Media Management Workflow!

    In our latest behind the scenes video, Joey goes in-depth with his media management workflow for shooting and editing our Tested videos. Here's how Joey handles the gigabytes of data from memory cards to DAS systems to long-term archiving on a Synology DiskStation server.

    This Old FX Shop: Zombie Makeup Application!

    With the help of friend of Tested Gordon Tarpley, Frank shows us how to apply an ultra realistic zombie makeup using off-the-shelf prosthetics. Here's how to use glues and paint to make a prosthetic look like it's apart of someone's face!

    Customizing a Pelican Case with Our Laser Cutter

    Sean works on a quick project to improve our camera lens storage using the shop's Universal Laser Systems laser cutter. This custom Pelican Case storage topper helps label our gear and protect the breakout foam from wearing down over use!

    How Home Mesh Networks Beef Up Your Wi-Fi

    The devices we use today are reliant on wireless communications. Smartphones, computers, and even video game consoles all access the internet through signals known as Wi-Fi. However, due to the complexities of radio signals, a single access point for Wi-Fi doesn't cut it in some situations. Mesh networks provide more coverage while also maintaining speeds. They have been utilized in the enterprise space for years now, and this technology has finally made its way to the home.

    Wi-Fi

    In order to understand mesh networks and its importance we need to know what Wi-Fi itself is and how it works.

    The majority of wireless communications and data transfers are done via radio waves; a type of electromagnetic radiation that propagates in as many as three dimensions through the environment at the speed of light. Artificial radio waves can be tuned to a wide range of wavelengths and frequencies which are sectioned off for different purposes and regulated by government agencies and international groups of experts. Radio communications in their simplest form involves a source transmitting data and something tuned to the same radio wave specifications to receive the transmission.

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, typically pronounced "eye triple-e") is the body responsible for the 802.11 standards our Wi-Fi capable devices use. Most devices made today support the 802.11n revision at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, or the more recent 802.11ac revision which only operates at 5GHz. Each new version of the standard makes some sort of improvement, generally coming in the form of better throughput. The 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies are the radio bands that Wi-Fi is allowed to operate within, and is broken down further into channels that operate within tens of megahertz of the band.

    There are pros and cons to using Wi-Fi at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. Most channels for 2.4GHz overlap with one another, which can cause interference. And while 5GHz 802.11ac may be the new hotness, most devices still use 2.4GHz which causes more congestion. Then there's the fact that other technology, such as bluetooth and microwaves, operate at 2.4GHz as well, which causes interference. The 5GHz band tends to have much faster data speeds. However, due to the faster propagation of the wave it also breaks down faster, especially through solid objects, and so the 2.4GHz band has a longer range.

    For years there have been ways to mitigate the shortcomings of Wi-Fi signals.