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PROJECTIONS: Spaces' Location-Based VR Experience

We pay a visit to the new Spaces location-based VR experience recently installed in the Century Theaters San Jose branch, and chat with Spaces co-founder Brad Herman about the state of LBEs and how they relate to VR games you can play at home. Plus, we review Monopoly Deal and Angry Birds, both of which are interesting attempts to bring familiar gaming franchises to VR.

Hobby RC: Building a DIY RC Hovercraft

One of the current trends among micro-quadcopter enthusiasts involves modifications that purposely keep their flying machines at ground level. This floor-hugging tweak is called the Tiny Whoov. It is a micro RC hovercraft built around the uber-popular Blade Inductrix quadcopter.

There are several different ways to get a Tiny Whoov of your own. A cursory web search reveals many step-by-step tutorials, a few manufactured conversion kits, and even an off-the-shelf hovercraft from Blade, the Inductrix Switch. All of the links I found are based on the Inductrix (or one of the many clones).

I wanted to build a Tiny Whoov, but I still enjoying flying my Inductrix in stock form. So I wasn't keen on clipping its wings. Undeterred, I decided build my own variation on the quadcopter-to-hovercraft theme using a different micro-quad. I improvised a simple design while taking copious inspiration from the Tiny Whoov.

Build Notes

The Tiny Whoov uses only the front two rotors as lift fans for the hovercraft. The rear rotors are used to propel and steer the vehicle via differential thrust. With this setup, the same control and gyro settings that work as a quadrotor will also work in hovercraft mode…sort of. More on that later.

The heart of this hovercraft project is a 1SQ mini-quad from Heli-Max.

For the quadcopter, I used my venerable Heli-Max 1SQ. You may recognize it from my recent Christmas tree drone. Although I didn't know it at first, the modular construction of the 1SQ made it ideal for this project. But don't worry if there isn't a 1SQ on your shelf. The basic components of most mini-quads are the same. I suspect that you can crank out a similar hovercraft with whatever quad you have on hand.

There is nothing fancy about the design or materials that I used. Most of the hovercraft hull was constructed with cheap foamboard and hot glue. One sheet of foamboard from the dollar store is adequate to build several of these things.

Jeremy's Internet-Connected ScreenTimer Project!

Jeremy shares an internet-connected timer he made to help keep track of his kids' screen time. Using a Particle Photon and custom PCB, this simple count down timer can be programmed and configured remotely, as well as control power to an AC device! Find the bill of materials and code here!

Model Behavior: Painting Portraits

One daunting aspect of modelmaking is the painting of figure heads and portraits. To get over our fear of ruining a sculpture, we mold and cast a batch of heads to work on. Kayte and Norm each take a sculpt and paint them in quick succession, learning from each practice attempt and refining their workflow.

Show and Tell: USB-Powered Soldering Iron!

Jeremy shares one of his recent favorite tools: a USB-powered soldering iron that draws its power from a Quick Charger 3.0 USB port. While soldering for an upcoming Tested project, Jeremy demonstrates how quickly the UYChan TS80 heats up for use on site.

Maker Spaces: Cirque du Soleil's Traveling Workshop

For each of Cirque du Soleil's traveling "Big Top" shows, the technical crew have to build out a fully operational workshop tent to maintain and repair the equipment used on the show. We go into Volta's workshop to learn how each department efficiently sets up and packs up their gear to go on the road.

Custom Keyboard Spotlight: Hands-on with the Input Club Kira

Several months back, we talked about the launch of the Input Club Kira. It was only available for pre-order at the time, but now the keyboard exists. You can order a Kira from Input Club's Kono store. And you know what? You might want to do that. I've been using this keyboard, and even the "base model" is a fantastic device and a great way to get into custom keyboards.

The Kira is a condensed full-sized keyboard, so it has almost all the keys you'd get on a traditional 104-key layout (99 of them). It's not as wide as a regular keyboard because the number pad and arrows are right next to the right-side modifiers. This design saves a ton of space and makes reaching for the number pad less arduous.

This keyboard does support function layers and full programmability, but it's rare you'll need to get in there beyond fiddling with the LEDs. Yes, there are LEDs under every single switch. They shine through brightly as long as you're using a switch with a transparent housing or a light pipe. Many of the switch options on the Kono Store are transparent, but this is a hot-swappable board. If you want to try other switches, just pluck out the old switches and plug in new ones.

In addition to using the Kira keyboard in real life, I've been able to try out the new Input Club desktop configurator. This app lets you create layouts, modify layers, and customize the LED colors in a visual interface. This is by far the easiest keyboard programming experience I've had. It also has a USB Type-C connector, which is ideal for future use.

PROJECTIONS: Comic Books in Augmented Reality

What will the experience of reading comics be like in virtual and augmented reality? We visit Madefire, the digital comics publisher that just launched a Magic Leap app, to discuss their vision for adapting comics for immersive media devices. Do you prefer reading comics in print or digital?