Latest Stories
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?

Project TankBall: Real-Life RC Tank Soccer Game You Can Play!

Jeremy and Sean have partnered with Other Ocean, the game developers behind the Xbox indy game #IDARB, to make Project TankBall! The idea is a live action RC soccer game using tanks that players can control remotely over the streaming service Mixer. The team explains the process of prototyping the game, which is launched today and will evolve over time with your feedback! Play the game on Mixer at https://mixer.com/otherocean

Tested: Behind the Scenes of Cirque du Soleil's Volta!

We go backstage at Cirque du Soleil's traveling Volta show to learn how this "big top" production moves across the continent and sets up its massive performance venue. Sean Groves, the show's automation mechanic, runs us through the technology behind the scenes, and how modern tech works hand in hand with Volta's artists in this amazing show.

Hobby RC: Revisiting the Kyosho Blizzard

It's been nearly four years since I reviewed the Kyosho Blizzard SR, an electric-powered RC snowcat. I wrote that review in summertime while visiting family in Florida. Although designed for snow, the Blizzard adapted well to the loose, sandy, foot-scalding soil. Now that I live in Buffalo, NY, I've been able to operate the Blizzard in its natural habitat. It is an amazing little machine that thrives in the snow. The stock controls, however, needed a few updates to make this machine more user-friendly in freezing temperatures.

Baby, You'll Freeze Out There

One of the selling points of the Blizzard SR is that it uses a Wi-Fi link with your smartphone for control. Kyosho's iReceiver app provides on-screen thumb controls to operate the tracks. It also shows a real-time video feed from a forward-facing camera in the Blizzard's cab. The end result is First Person View (FPV) RC snow plowing.

I noted in the review that the phone-based controls worked well enough most of the time. However, the connection was not completely reliable. Also, the driving controls were somewhat clunky without the tactile feedback of a standard RC controller. More recently, I discovered that the phone interface has other limitations when driving in cold weather.