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    Hands-On with the Oculus Rift S Virtual Reality Headset!

    We go hands-on with the Rift S, the new desktop VR headset that replaces the Oculus Rift and uses inside-out tracking cameras and a higher-resolution display. Plus, a conversation with Oculus Head of VR Product Nate Mitchell about the design decisions behind the Rift S, Insight tracking, and the new Passthrough+ system.

    Tested: Insta360 EVO Convertible VR180 Camera

    We test the new Insta360 EVO, a camera that can switch between shooting in 360 video and 180-degree stereoscopic video for virtual reality headsets. Here's a quick primer on why 180-degree VR video is compelling, and how compact cameras like the Insta360 EVO will let you capture great-looking VR video without complicated post-processing.

    Hobby RC: A Transformable Quadcopter

    In my last article, I explained how I used a mini-quadcopter as the basis for a DIY hovercraft. My inspiration for that project was the Tiny Whoov, a hovercraft built around the Blade Inductrix. Blade sells their own hovercraft adaptation, called the Inductrix Switch. Just recently, Blade released yet another new vehicle based on the Inductrix frame, the Inductrix Switch Air.

    The Inductrix Switch Air introduces a set of wings to the quadcopter frame. A few simple transformation steps allow you to fly this machine as a pure quad or as an airplane/quad hybrid. Furthermore, the quadcopter components can be snapped into the hovercraft hull of the Switch. This makes the Inductrix Switch Air a sort of 3-in-1 flying machine.

    The Inductrix Switch Air comes with quadrotor and flying wing setups. It can also be a hovercraft.

    About the Inductrix Switch Air

    First things first: "Inductrix Switch Air" is a mouthful. So I'll just call it the "Air" in this article. Blade offers the Air in two variants. The Ready-to-Fly (RTF) model ($60) includes everything needed to get this machine in the sky. If you already own a compatible Spektrum transmitter, you can save a ten bucks by going with the Bind-N-Fly (BNF) version ($50).

    I have the RTF model. The included 2.4GHz transmitter is considerably smaller than a standard RC transmitter, but it is still large enough for my adult hands to hold and use comfortably. The package also includes four AA-size alkaline batteries to power the radio.

    The RTF package includes all the components needed to fly the Inductrix as a pure quadcopter or a flying wing.

    There are features within the transmitter that belie its outward minimalist appearance. The quad's onboard flight controller (FC) has separate flight modes for each form of the vehicle (quad/wing/hovercraft). These modes define how the vehicle responds to control inputs. They are selected by moving the control sticks to specific positions before arming the motors. A multi-colored LED on the FC indicates which mode is selected. Additional options within each flight mode are chosen by pressing inward (axially) on the right control stick. An inward push on the left control stick toggles motor arming.

    Creating Blast Effects in Toy Photography

    Toy photographer Johnny Wu stops by our studio to demonstrate another of his practical effects for miniature photos. This time, he shows how he uses sparklers to create fiery action behind his subjects, evoking battle scenes to dramatic effect! (Sparklers and fireworks are inherently dangerous and we do not recommend attempting this at home. Flour is also extremely flammable!)

    How To Create Snow Effects in Toy Photography

    We're back in the studio of Johnny Wu (aka SgtBananas) to learn about his process for creating convincing snow effects in his photos. It's a simple practical effect you can replicate at home! We also chat about figure posability and what Johnny looks out for when finding new toys to photograph.

    Custom Keyboard Spotlight: The 'Hot Dox' Ergonomic Keyboard

    Anyone who spends a lot of time typing has to worry about what it does to your wrists in the long run. That's one of the primary selling points for mechanical keyboards, which promote better typing habits. You can also find a switch that perfectly fits your comfort level. Even with the perfect switch, you cannot position most keyboards in a natural way. Well, that's where the ErgoDox comes in.

    ErgoDox keyboards are split halves that are shaped like your hands, and the newest Ergodox on the market even lets you swap switches without soldering. This hot-swappable Ergodox is fittingly called the "Hot Dox," and it's available for pre-order now.

    Crowdfunding Spotlight: Peeqo DIY GIF robot

    We've talked about all manner of robots on Tested in the past; there are robots that walk, mix drinks, build things, and that's just the start. Peeqo, however, is probably the first robot ever designed to communicate entirely through memes. This DIY robotics kit is live on Kickstarter with everything you'll need to build your very own customizable machine that responds to voice commands with GIFs and videos.

    Peeqo comes as a disassembled DIY kit that grew out of a project posted on Reddit's /r/DIY board. The creator stresses that it's an accessible device. You can assemble the robot with a few simple tools, and there's no soldering required. When assembled, Peeqo looks vaguely alive but not remotely human. The "face" is a 4-inch LCD at the top of a long, flexible neck. Inside, there's a motor with three degrees of freedom, giving Peeqo the ability to tilt and gyrate like one of those old dancing Coke cans.

    This robot is all about voice interactions, so there are two omnidirectional microphones included with the kit. The "Peeqo" trigger word recognition is all offline, using Snowboy (from So, no data is transmitted anyplace unless you say that word. It comes with support for online services like Google Cloud Speech and Amazon Voice, but you could also run it entirely offline with Snips.

    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.

    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!

    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.