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Custom Keyboard Spotlight: The 'Kumo' Mechanical Keyboard

The Minivan from TheVan Keyboards arrived on the mech scene a few years ago, quickly gaining fans thanks to its compact and efficient layout. I use one quite often, especially when traveling. There's a new version of the Minivan available for preorder right now on Kickstarter. It's called the Kumo, and it brings some important changes to the Minivan to make the keyboard more accessible and less expensive.

The Kumo is a 40% keyboard, which means it's tiny compared to most other keyboards you can buy. You get the full set of alphas as well as a subset of modifiers. There's no dedicated number row or arrow keys, though. At first glance, you might even wonder where the Enter key is; it's down at the bottom next to the mini spacebar, which saves a ton of horizontal space. Just four rows tall and 13 columns across, the Kumo is easy to haul around—it may even fit in your pocket.

Testing: Aquacraft Wildcat EP RC Boat

Ah, summertime. The livin' is easy, the fish are jumpin', and it's the best time of year for me to get in some RC boating. My newest boat is the Wildcat EP from Aquacraft ($190). This electric-powered catamaran is sold as a ready-to-run package. Let's take a look at the details and then see how she performs.

Preparing the Wildcat EP

The Wildcat EP is completely factory-built, with a plastic hull measuring a little over 25 inches (635mm) long. Twin rudders jutting out past the transom add another 3.5 inches (89mm) to the boat's length. The stickers you see are pre-applied. I like the color scheme, but the stickers on my example have several bubbles and lifted edges.

A large hatch provides access to the onboard radio equipment and running gear. The hatch is held in place with two locating pins in the rear and a swiveling latch in the front. You have to be careful with the pins. I broke one of mine while removing the hatch.

The Aquacraft Wildcat EP is a factory-built RC boat. This is how it comes out of the box.

The boat is propelled by a single brushless motor with a flex-drive system connecting the propeller. Aquacraft includes a 50-amp, waterproof electronic speed control (ESC) as well. A pickup at the rear of the hull channels cooling water to the ESC and the motor's aluminum mount.

It is important to keep the receiver and steering servo dry. So both of those components are housed in a waterproof compartment.. A simple pushrod arrangement links the servo to the rudders. The rudders feature a unique break-away mounting system. One of the two bolts securing each rudder is made of nylon. If a rudder hits an obstruction while driving, the nylon bolt will shear and allow the rudder to pivot rearwards without damage. Well, that's the theory anyway.

Model Behavior: Vinyl-Cutting Figure Decals

We're back with more episodes of Model Behavior! Bill comes by the studio to help us experiment with a new vinyl cutter, the Cricut Maker. While we cut tiny decals to deck out a sixth-scale figure, we chat about the uses of vinyl decals and stencils for propmaking and modelmaking, and Bill gives some great advice about how to make the most out of the material.

3D-Printing a NASA ACES Helmet for Adam Savage!

We're trilled to welcome a new member of the Tested family: 3D modeler and prop maker Darrell Maloney (aka the Broken Nerd)! We're big fans of Darrell's work and YouTube videos, and are starting a new series of collaborations between him and Adam. In this first video, Darrell goes over his process adapting a model made for vfx work to be 3D printable, and the 100+ hours of printing needed to have it come out right!

One Week at Weta Workshop, Part 4

The big practical effect in the film is a blood spurt, and to achieve that, we learn about the various kinds of blood rigs that Weta can attach to Adam’s arm. Things get a bit messy with testing the rigs. Joey goes on a location scouting trip and gives Adam some options for the shoot, which is coming up fast!

Custom Keyboard Spotlight: The RAMA M6-A

I make no secret of my affinity for small keyboards—I don't even own any full-sized boards anymore. Once you get under 40% (like the Minivan), you're not really talking about a replacement for a larger board. Sometimes, that's not the point. There are mechanical keypads and even smaller devices called micropads. One of the coolest micropads I've ever seen is the RAMA M6-A, which I've had a chance to play around with over the last couple weeks. It's an extravagant luxury for the discerning keyboard enthusiast.

There's no hard and fast definition of what constitutes a micropad, but I'd say it's anything smaller than a number pad. The M6-A, as the name implies, has just six keys. You can use those six keys to do almost anything you want. They can be single characters, modifiers, or even macros.

The online firmware manager "Knops" makes it easy to build new layouts and flash them to your keyboard. Since this is entirely self-contained firmware, the M6-A works the same no matter what computer you plug it into—it'll send whatever keycodes you've programmed. For example, I have mine configured to put my PC to sleep, show/hide the desktop, open the task manager, split screen my last two windows, and more. Sure, I could do all that manually, but it's neat having a little mechanical pad that does it with a single press.