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Catapult madness at the Craftsman Makecation

In August 2014, I helped as an exhibitor at the Craftsman Makecation at Lake Arrowhead. My project: A waterballon-launching trebuchet. With the help of Chris Weisbart, Rob North, and Mark Clement, I assembled this medium-sized machine and had fun launching balloons over the resort with it. 

Also: Rob Riggle was there. 

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This beer-powered Slug trap Totally Works

Where I live, we seem to get an abundance of slugs. I let the trails across the driveway and garage door pass, but once they started chewing through all the seedlings in the garden, I decided I needed to do some population control. 

There are a few different slug trap designs on Thingiverse, all which use the same method of attracting the slugs to a basin of beer (yes, beer), which they drink, get drunk, fall in, and drown. It’s a little sad, but the garden must survive this season. 

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Oversized Halloween Witch Silhouette

Last Halloween my wife showed me a Halloween lawn ornament she liked and asked if I could make one like it. Challenge accepted.

I began by searching on the internet for witch silhouettes. I found an image of one that looked particularly spooky and saved it.

Next, I’d need to make a large print of this. I opened the image in Illustrator to convert it to a vector image, which would allow me to resize it, and converted it with the “live paint” function. Then I removed the fill and added a single-line stroke around the image.

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Video Roundup: More DIY Skate Ramps

It’s been a while since I’ve run through the resources for building skate ramps that exist online. And with so many now appearing on Youtube, I’ll focus this post on those plans and builds that appear there in video form. Let me know if I miss anything — especially if it is your build.

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Quick Fix: Broken Laundry Rack

My family uses this laundry rack all the time, so when the wind blew it over and cracked one of the top rails (rendering it surprisingly unstable, I’ll add), I realized I needed to repair or replace it quick. A few wraps of tape would be a fast solution but most likely be too floppy to be effective, so I thought about adding a sleeve that would hold both sides of the break together like a cast on a broken bone. I first considered using heat-shrink tubing, but then I realized I could quickly 3D print something that is designed for the exact size of the doweling. I love a good functional print.

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What If I Had Bought Bitcoins Instead of Backing Kickstarters?

Bitcoin is red hot right now. Like everyone, I’m full of silly regret for not having put all my savings into it when it was super new and dirt cheap — even a small investment at the start would be worth a fortune now. Instead, I waited a few years and bought 0.1 bitcoin for $100 when its price was at a then-peak of $1000. It promptly plummeted.

Then, years later, it skyrocketed.

With Bitcoin’s price flirting with $20,000 over the past month, I got curious to what could have been in various scenarios, mostly one where, instead of putting money into another platform that launched around the same time, Kickstarter, I had put the same amount of money into buying Bitcoins. Read More

One-Minute Build: Weber Spirit E-210 Grill

My wife’s been asking for a propane grill for a long time, specifically the Weber Spirit E-210, so I surprised her with one for mother’s day. She loved it! Here’s the assembly, which took about two hours, condensed into a one-minute timelapse video.

The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow, although I chose to ignore their warning to not use a powered drill for connecting the nuts and bolts. If you do the same, make sure to stop it as soon as it starts to torque so as to not break anything. I used a Bosch 12V impact driver (which I absolutely love) but was very soft on the trigger — it’s deceptively powerful despite its tiny size and I’ve stripped plenty of screws with it.

Now that it’s built, all that’s left is to test it out.

Music: Nitro — “Noise Crush”

Garage Quarter Pipe: Building a Micro Skate Ramp

I’ve been skateboarding frequently over the past year, with a new park opening nearby that finally gives me access to a small halfpipe. I skated a lot as a young teenager, and built a fun launch ramp that was popular at our local playground, but at that point, all local communities were terrified of the liability a proper local skatepark might produce. The only one in the Bay Area that I knew of was the old Benicia skatepark, which was amazing to go to but overall really wasn’t all that great. Read More

Fixing a Broken Power Plug on the MicroDrone 2.0

The Microdrone 2.0 is a pretty sweet little quadcopter. Surprisingly stable and cautiously responsive for its small size, it’s also able to whip around outdoors in a bit of a breeze, high in the sky.

The unit I have, however, has an overly tight socket union for the powercord to the battery. So tight that a while ago, I accidentally yanked the wires out of the plug on the quadcopter.

I’ve had this on my desk with intentions to fix it for some time, and finally found a few spare minutes this weekend to do so. Read More

How to Shrink Cosmic Bodies into Virtual Scale Miniatures

Galactic structures a billion, billion miles wide look like squirts of food coloring into a bowl of water with these tilt-shift photos.

Typically used for architectural purposes, tilt-shift (or perception-control) lenses move the plane of focus from being parallel to the cameras’s sensor or film, and instead places it at an angle by physically tilting the lens itself. Read More