Latest Stories
Tested: Sony 1000XM3 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Norm shares one of his favorite new pieces of kit, Sony's 1000XM3 active noise-cancelling headphones. We were surprised by how far noise-cancelling technology has come, without sacrificing audio quality. Here's a quick demo to test and show how these headphones cut out loud sounds compared to passive ear protection.

Into the Spider-Verse SPOILERCAST - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 1/22/19
We're joined by guest Ben Acker, co-creator of the Thrilling Adventure Hour and writer, in town for SF Sketchfest. Ben joins us for a spoilercast discussion on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we hear about Adam's new aerospace helmet, and talk about superhero tropes and Ben's webcomic: Kid Midnight.
00:00:00 / 51:57
Crowdfunding Spotlight: TAIHE Gemini Monitor

Laptops are smaller and lighter than they've ever been, and even mid-range devices finally have enough power to drive external displays. The problem: monitors are big and heavy. A new breed of portable monitors has started popping up, though. For example: the TAIHE Gemini on Kickstarter. It's not the first portable monitor, but it's among the cheapest and most capable.

The TAIHE is a portable 15.6-inch IPS LCD that comes in two variants. There's a 1080p touchscreen model and a 4K non-touch display. Both also have HDR support. If you're planning to use it on a desktop operating system like Mac OS, the touch functionality might not be worthwhile. Meanwhile, a smartphone or Chromebook would make use of touch.

This monitor looks a bit like the "tablet" portion of a Microsoft Surface. There's a 180-degree kickstand on the back, allowing you to prop it up next to your computer. You can also rotate it to use the monitor vertically if you're going to scroll through long documents. The monitors are 8-10mm thick and weigh 2 pounds, so they'll take up about as much space as another laptop.

Tested: Dremel 3D45 3D Printer!

We review Dremel's third-generation 3D printer, the Digilab 3D45. Sean runs it through its paces and goes over his likes, dislikes, and how he adapted the printer to work with a variety of filaments. Here's why the 3D45 is a good fit for schools and maker spaces.

Hobby RC: Brushless Motor Conversion Basics

Most modern, electric-powered RC airplanes utilize brushless motors for propulsion. And why not? Brushless motors are much more efficient than their brushed cousins (not to mention lighter and sometimes even less expensive). Similarly, airplane models that were designed to use brushed motors can enjoy a huge boost in performance with an upgrade to brushless power.

Some brushed-to-brushless upgrade projects are just a simple matter of swapping out the relevant components (motor, Electronic Speed Control (ESC), propeller). Others require a bit more planning and modification. My most recent brushless upgrade is a good example of the more-complex type. I'll show you the hurdles I encountered during this project and how I cleared them.

The Airplane

The recipient of this power system transplant is a small electric sailplane called the Skimmer 400. Kits for this balsa airplane were popular during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Like other electric-powered models of that era, the Skimmer 400 was designed around the brushed "can" motors and NiCad batteries of the day. There was never a surplus of power with that gear. So models that performed well, did so by virtue of excellent airframe design. I've found that these types of model airplanes adapt particularly well to brushless upgrades.

My Skimmer appears to have led a hard-knock life. I bought the airframe in very-used condition at a recent RC event. Despite model's wrinkled and tattered covering, the balsa structure seemed to be built relatively well and I did not notice any obvious crash damage. It may be an ugly duckling, but the asking price was only $5. What was I supposed to do…just leave it there?

This old Skimmer 400 looks rough, but it performs really well with a modern brushless motor.

As originally designed, the Skimmer 400 was powered with a Speed 400 brushed motor spinning a 6-inch propeller. "Speed 400" is just an RC-centric term for the generic Mabuchi RS-380 motor that is used in all types of different applications around the world. It has a diameter of 28mm (1.1"), is 38mm (1.5") long, and weighs 65 grams (2.3 ounces). The intended battery pack for the Skimmer 400 consists of seven 2/3A-sized NiCad cells of 600mAh capacity. Altogether, this system produced about 60-80 watts of power…enough to fly the Skimmer 400 in a leisurely fashion.

Adam's First Tattoo - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 1/16/19
It's just Adam and Norm this week as we find a window in the schedule to podcast while Adam's in production for his next show. Adam talks about his experience getting his first tattoo and the thought process for its design. Plus, we discuss Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, though we'll be saving the full spoilercast for when Will returns!
00:00:00 / 31:15
Model Behavior: Diorama Water Effects!

Kayte and Norm take miniature vehicles from past Model Behavior projects and augment them with a water base. Using Smooth-On Crystal Clear to make a base, we experiment with sculpting water effects using silicone caulking and Smooth-On's Sil-Poxy.