Flaming Jack-o’-lanterns Light up the Night

[misterdob] wanted to spice up his Halloween decor, so he built these flaming concrete jack -o’-lanterns to decorate his walkway. He started with the classic plastic jack-o’-lanterns that trick-or-treaters have been using to collect candy for years. [misterdob] filled the plastic pumpkins halfway with concrete mix, then dropped in metal coffee cans. He then filled the pumpkins up to the top with concrete, shaking them up a bit to avoid air pockets.

Once the concrete had set, [misterdob] cut away the plastic revealing nearly perfect concrete duplicates. He used acid stain to color his creations – though it looks like he missed a spot or two.

We have to disagree with [misterdob’s] choice of fuels. In fact, we think he was out of his gourd when he picked gasoline for his flaming pumpkins. Seriously though, gasoline is a horrible choice for a fire pot like this for a multitude of reasons. Gas has a particularly foul odor and its fumes are explosive. If a Halloween prankster were to try kicking one of the pumpkins over, not only would they have a broken foot, they’d also be covered in burning gas.

Thankfully, the folks on [misterdob’s] Reddit thread had better fuel suggestions – citronella torch cans with lamp oil and wicks, kerosene, or gel fuel would be better suited for these hot pumpkins.

If you still don’t believe how dangerous gas and its fumes can be, check out this video of a bonfire gone wrong (language warning).

Blowing up capacitors

[grenadier] wrote in to show us a video of some capacitors being blown up. Yup, that’s it. Just some capacitors being blown up. You might be wondering what there is to learn from this video. The answer is… nothing. It sure is fun to watch though. We’re all busy trying to find some nice hacks to share with you, so we figured you could watch some stuff getting destroyed while you waited.  Here’s someone using explosives to reveal art behind a thin layer of concrete on a wall. Here’s some high voltage destroying multimeters. How about a turkey being cooked with thermite? Thermite works on hard drives too.

Ok, enough of that. This was a gentle reminder to send us tips to your projects.

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Protei: articulated, backward sailing robots clean oil spills

The Protei project aims to develop a robotic solution for oil-spill cleanup. [Cesar Harada] quit what he calls his dream job at MIT to work toward a solution to the ecological disasters that are oil spills. He had previously been working on Seaswarm, a swarm of robots that use conveyor belts of absorbent material to leech oil from seawater. But Protei doesn’t use legions of drones. It aims to use better design to improve the effectiveness of a small number of units.

The whole idea is well described in the video after the break. If a long trailing boom of absorbent material is towed in a serpentine pattern perpendicular to the flow, starting down current and moving upward, it can be quite effective at halting the spread of crude. Initial experiments have shown that a robotic vessel can do this efficiently with just a few improvements. First, to counteract the drag of the tail the rudder of the boat was moved to the bow. Secondly, the hull has been articulated as you can see above. This allows the robot to better utilize wind power to sail, making turns without losing the push of the wind.

The project is raising money through Kickstart as an open hardware project. Let’s hope this becomes a cheap and effective way to fix our costly drilling mishaps. Continue reading “Protei: articulated, backward sailing robots clean oil spills”

3 camera booms for your Wednesday afternoon

[Andrew] tipped us off about his Cable Cam built out of some lumber and clothes line. It is small enough to fit into a backpack,  includes a safety line and the camera can pan and tilt. A future version is planned with a small remote motor to move the trolley more effectively.

[Andrew] accidentally linked us to his other Camera Crane, taking the same ‘cheap yet effective’ approach as his Cable Cam. Once again, just some lumber and creative engineering are used to pull this one off.

For those without the ability to weld, check out [Bill Van Loo’s] all wood version of a Camera Crane. Same parallelogram design, without remote video output or central pivot.

Build a camera boom at less than a grand

The folks at The Geek Group built a camera crane for less than $1000. In the video embedded after the break a presenter takes you through the different parts that make up the boom and how it is operated. This feels like something from a Junkyard Wars challenge as most of the parts are scavenged or from an industrial surplus store. Don’t let that sour your opinion, what they’ve ended up with is amazingly functional.

The base of the unit is a rolling tripod used for television cameras from around the 1960’s. The aluminum boom attaches to the base with a few large bearings and features a fine tuning balance system. The camera mount is motorized and can be moved using a joystick or set to scan automatically. It’s nice to see more examples of custom camera mounts. Obviously this isn’t a build for everyone, but as cameras and camera equipment become more readily available it makes high quality video production available for the masses, not just the networks.

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Building a Snorricam

With digital cameras getting cheaper and higher quality, we find ourselves more capable of using them to make videos. A Snorricam can be a very useful tool if you like the effect it produces. This specific design allows for adjustment of the height and angle of the camera allowing for even more possibillities. As you can see in the video after the break, it seems to work pretty well. It might be nice to add some kind of vibration absorbtion though. Anyone got any ideas on that?

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