Unlimited-class air racers are truly awesome machines. This brand of racing is dominated by privately-owned 70-year-old fighter planes. The most successful racers abandon the historical significance of their steed, replacing drab military colors with dazzling paint jobs and spending countless hours (and dollars) massaging every part for minimum aerodynamic drag. The souped-up engines in these racers are often just as old as the airplanes themselves. Yet, they are routinely pushed to crank out as much as double power that they were originally designed for.
It takes a lot of fuel to feed these antique, gargantuan engines as they belch out 3,000-4,000 horsepower. In fact, the average unlimited racer will burn a gallon of super-high-octane, race-blend AvGas every 8.5 seconds. The only way that these engines are able to sustain such high power output over the entire span of an 8-minute race is to consume another vital liquid in even larger quantities. So what is this top-secret, go-fast, miracle concoction? Water!
To put the 7-gallon-per-minute fuel consumption of a racing engine into perspective, I measured the flow rate of my ¾"-diameter garden hose. It could do no better than 6 gallons per minute. While a racer's fuel tanks are practically hemorrhaging their highly-refined life blood, water tanks on the airplane are draining even faster--nearly 12 gallons per minute! The water is pumped to destinations both outside and inside the engine's combustion chambers. Without an ample flow of this most basic of liquids, unlimited racers would not be able to skim the desert outside Reno, Nevada at nearly 500 miles per hour…not even close.
We're on location at Thunderhill Raceway Park, the location of the first Autonomous Vehicle Track Day. Hackers making their own self-driving cars brought their vehicles, sensors, and software to test on a race course, experimenting with autonomous driving at high speeds. We chat with the event organizer and several builders to learn about the future of self racing cars.
More tiny computers! This week, Patrick Norton stops by the Tested office to review the Odroid C2, a tiny ARM-based computer that can run Linux and has several advantages over the Raspberry Pi 3. We talk about the importance of USB and Ethernet throughput for these computers, and what projects you can use them for.
There was a time when HTC was the top Android OEM -- in fact, it was the first Android OEM too. Its fortunes changed after several disappointing release cycles, and now the future of HTC is uncertain. The company needed a hit in 2016, a device that proves it deserves to remain in the top tier of Android OEMs. Its best shot is the HTC 10. This phone is make or break for HTC, so let's find out which it is.
Aluminum unibody designs have been HTC's hallmark for several generations, but if you ask fans of the One series, they'll often say that the M7 was HTC's best chassis. It was a little more rough around the edges, but the design was sleek, angular, and clean. The more rounded body of the M8 and M9 were a step backward in my eyes, but the HTC 10 returns HTC's aluminum design to greatness.
The HTC 10 body is milled from a solid piece of aluminum with a glass front that blends smoothly into the metal edges. I was admittedly worried about the giant chamfer that encircles the rear panel of this phone. However, it gives the frame a distinctive shape and actually makes it very comfortable in the hand. It's a heavy, dense phone, but only a little more so than the Samsung Galaxy S7. The HTC 10 looks and feels like an expensive piece of technology.
You will probably notice that HTC's obsession with front-facing speakers appears to be over. The A9 didn't have them, and neither does the HTC 10. There are actually two speakers, though. One is in the earpiece and the other is on the bottom edge of the phone. The stereo sound this phone produces isn't as good as older HTC phones (tinnier and less power in the lows), but it's better than phones that only have one bottom-firing speaker.
To 3D print in multiple colors, most FDM printers need a separate print head/extruder for each filament. The Palette accessory combines four different filaments into one line that feeds into a standard 3D printer, and the multi-color results we saw at Maker Faire looked great. We chat with its inventor to learn how it works.
We take a look at the Flux Delta all-in-one machine at Maker Faire 2016. This device is a 3D printer, but you can swap out its print head to make it a model scanner, laser etcher, or plotter. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, it's finally shipping to backers.
A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.
It always strikes me as weird that there are so many apps out there that seek to improve on Android's notification system. At every stage of the game, it's been the best notification scheme of any platform, but there are always edge cases that encourage someone to try something different. Sometimes it's even a cool addition, as in the case of Boomerang. It turns your notifications into recurring reminders and archives them for you.
Boomerang plugs into the Android notification listener service, so you'll be asked to enable that during setup. All modern Android phones have this feature, and it's used by a lot of apps. It uses this access to read and save the text from your notifications, but not all notifications. Boomerang makes the most sense when you choose specific apps for it to manage. These will probably be the apps you get the most notifications from like Gmail, your messaging app of choice, and social apps.
Once you've selected active apps in the list, Boomerang will monitor for those notifications. When you swipe away a notification, Boomerang will pop up a notification asking you if you want to save it for later (this will go away on its own after a few seconds). You can also choose to add a reminder in addition to saving. This is the "boomerang" part of the app -- it comes back to you. There's also a persistent notification for Boomerang that shows you the current number of saved notifications you have. I'm not crazy about persistent notifications, but this is the sort of app that really needs one to make sure it operates as intended.
When you open Boomerang from the notification or shortcut, it shows you the saved notifications. Tapping on them launches as if you'd tapped on the original notification, and a long press lets you set a reminder. This can be handy in the event you need to reply to someone later, but you don't want to deal with it at that moment. Boomerang saves you from messing around with launching other apps just to set reminders about a notification. This is just one step.
Boomerang Notifications is free, which is a little surprising. I would have at least expected some sort of premium version in-app purchase. There's no reason not to at least give this a shot.
We were mesmerized by the motions of this Rubik's cube-solving machine we saw at this year's Maker Faire! What it do its one not-so-simple job!
We check out Kniterate a CNC knitting machine at Maker Faire that can turn designed or imported images into art on knit scarves and sweaters. We chat with its inventor to learn how it works.
We've seen a few three-axis CNC mills before, but not a five-axis one that's made for desktop use. At this year's Maker Faire, we finally got to see the Pocket NC at work, turning aluminum blocks into beautiful parts. It's a beautiful machine!
Can Nvidia's new flagship compute? Sure it does. But how well?
Out of idle curiosity, I ran a couple of OpenCL compute-oriented benchmarks on the GTX 1080 and three other GPUs. Bear in mind that this is more quick-and-dirty benchmarking, not rigorously repeated to validate results. The results, however, look interesting and the issue of compute on new GPUs bears further investigating.
These tests ran on my existing production system, a Core i7-6700K with 32GB DDR4 running at the stock 2,133MHz effective. I used four different GPUs: GTX 1080, Titan X, GTX 980, and an AMD Radeon Fury Nano. The GTX 1080 used the early release drivers, while the other GPUs ran on the latest WHQL-certified drivers available from the GPU manufacturer's web site.
As you can see from the table below, all four GPUs ran at the reference frequencies, including memory. When I show the results, I don't speculate on the impact of compute versus memory bandwidth or quantity. As I said: quick and dirty.
|GPU||GTX 1080||Titan X||GTX 980||Radeon Fury Nano|
The first benchmark, CompuBench CL from Hungary-based Kishonti, actually consists of a series of benchmarks, each focusing on a different compute problem. Because the compute tasks differ substantially, CompuBench doesn't try to aggregate them into a single score. So I show separate charts for each test. CompuBench CL 1.5 desktop uses OpenCL 1.1.
Last year, we were impressed by Next Thing Co's $9 CHIP computer. At Maker Faire 2016, we were able to check out their PocketCHIP housing, which puts CHIP into a portable console package that runs Linux and indie game console Pico-8. Here's what you can do with the $49 system!
At the most recent meeting of my RC club, several pilots got into a discussion about the embarrassment of accidentally flipping the wrong switch on their radio transmitter. The consequences of this mistake ranged anywhere from scuffed paint to a full-bore crash into the turf. Given the complexity of modern radios and the forest of protruding switches, it's easy to understand how even a seasoned pilot could mistake one switch for another. It is even more understandable when you realize that many pilots are reluctant to take their eyes off of their aircraft. The myriad switches are often navigated purely by muscle memory and feel.
Nearly everyone had a story to share about causing damage to a favorite model from an absent-minded switch throw. Most stories were followed by a description of what was done afterward to mitigate the risk of future mistakes. The majority of pilots chose to modify a critical switch in order to differentiate it from its neighbors.
For many pilots, their target switch to modify is the one which activates retractable landing gear. Obviously, you want to be able to easily locate that switch so that you can safely lower the gear when it's time to come in for a landing. This is especially true if you're already dealing with an in-flight emergency such as a dead engine.
Correct operation of the landing gear is also vital when the model is on the ground. One pilot relayed an incident where he intended to retract the wing flaps while taxiing his expensive jet model. He inadvertently hit the landing gear switch instead. As the landing gear tucked itself away, his jet belly-flopped onto the hard runway, causing considerable mechanical and cosmetic damage. Another flyer talked about the time he accidentally retracted a model's landing gear while the engine was warming up. His transgression ruined a very costly propeller.
Many multi-rotor models have switches that control flight modes and/or the 'return home' function. Changing either of those could fundamentally alter how the model responds to your control inputs. Correct positioning of the switch is vital.
Whatever your hot-button (or two) may be, the intent of modifying the corresponding switch is the same. You want to be able to quickly identify that switch by feel so that you can move it when you need to and leave it alone when you don't. What follows are three proven methods to modify a critical switch.
Even though Apple reportedly corners half of the smart watch market, Pebble is pushing forward its lineup with new watches and an interesting accessory on the horizon. The Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 are the logical follow-ups to the low-power watches, adding heart-rate monitors, extending battery life, and expanding the screen size by 50% in the color model. But the more interesting product looks to be the $70 Pebble Core, a display-free pocketable puck that has GPS tracking, Spotify streaming, audio out (including Bluetooth), and even 3G sim card support. Steven Levy examines why the Core may be a smart move for Pebble on Backchannel. Pebble is also once again turning to Kickstarter for early bird pricing pre-orders--pay in 35 days and you'll get a new watch by the end of the year.
We catch up with OpenROV at Maker Faire to learn about their new Trident underwater drone. This new model is faster, has a better camera, and is built to be ready to dive out of the box. It also has a unique towable receiver buoy that floats and lets you pilot the drone remotely.
What makes a good mechanical keyboard? And why are peripheral companies releasing new gaming keyboards so frequently? Patrick and Norm discuss the state of this essential accessory, and how the switches in new keyboards from Corsair, Razer, and Logitech compare. Which type of switch do you prefer?
Our favorite wireless headphones from last year were Jaybird's X2 earbuds. These Bluetooth earbuds packed all the electronics and radios in the ear pieces, requiring only a flat cord to connect the two ends behind your head. I thought they were great for bike riding and jogging, and the interchangeable tips (supporting plastic ones or Comply foam tips) made them comfortable for me to wear. The 9 hours of battery life was pretty good, too. But for some people, they X2's design was still too bulky; the weight distribution of the electronics made it necessary to use the "wingtips" to wrap the earbuds around your ear to keep them in place. Jaybird's new Freedom earbuds solve that problem completely.
The new Jaybird Freedoms are significantly slimmer than the X2s, while retaining the same 6mm driver that gave the X2s really good sound quality (for earbuds). It's almost shocking how small the new design is, which now can completely fit into small ears without sticking out and dragging off the lobe. Jaybird (which was recently acquired by Logitech) accomplished this in two ways: incorporating a tapered driver design so that the tips are smaller, and putting all of the battery, electronics, and radio into the volume control module along the cable. The redesigned driver and relocation of the electronics don't appear to have changed the sound quality (and there's still a built-in microphone), and Jaybird is also pushing a new companion app that allows for real-time EQ adjustments and downloadable presets.
We kick off our Maker Faire 2016 coverage with this awesome telepresense robot made by researchers at the Galileo University in Guatemala. The robot's body is based off of the open-source InMoov project, with remote control via an Oculus DK2 headset and Perception Neuron motion capture system. Telepresense with some sense of proprioception!