An interview with [Justin Gray]

When it comes to the subject of hacking, we all have different ideas of what is the coolest. Some prefer bits and solder, some prefer hammers and fire.  [Justin Gray] has built a name for himself doing a broad mixture of the two. Mainly known for his fire sculpture bots, [justin] also has a fab shop where he builds electric motorcycles.

Make magazine recently did a fun interview with some great pictures that show a little bit of [justin's] work.

Justin’s advice for aspiring hackers:

9. What advice do you have for young makers who are inspired by your work?
I think that people who are inspired my work should decide to build and be committed to build and stop listening to the people who insist on going the normal route in life. For kids, keep playing, keep imagining, keep painting and making art.

Join us after the break to see a little bit of robot demolition fun.

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A little fire breathing pony to call your own

[Lvl_joe] has been having a little fun with fire and an animatronic pony. The skeletal horse seen above is a child’s toy denuded of its original plush shell. That’s a good thing, because those synthetic fibers don’t play very nicely with flames. The toy originally retailed for around $300 bucks, but if you’re lucky, like [Joe], you can get one second-hand for $25 or less.

Since the horse is already motorized, it’s not too hard to patch into the drivers. Here an Arduino is used to take input from a Wii Nunchuck, letting you swing the fire sprayer to and fro. A grill igniter makes sure it’s not just spraying automotive starter fluid everywhere. You can hear the click of that tiny spark repeatedly firing in the demo video after the break. The starter fluid comes in an aerosol can. A custom trigger system holds the can in a PVC pipe, and actuates the valve with a Bowden cable.

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Single-column Rubens’ tube

Here’s a fiery project which [Patrick] calls his Pyro Jam Can. It’s the simplest Rubens’ Tube build that we can think of. For the uninformed, a Rubens’ tube uses flammable gas to reveal wave forms passing through the supply vessel. In the past we’ve seen projects with multiple columns, which very clearly show a standing wave. But this version lacks the resolution for that, so the wave is seen as a modulated flame height.

You can see the propane feed tube coming into the can from the right. This keeps the gas flowing steadily, but a diaphram on the bottom of the can made of a latex balloon allows for modulations in flame height by pushing the gas through the aperture a bit faster than it is flowing. A speaker in the base bounces sound waves off of the diaphragm for the effect seen in the video clip after the break.

We wonder if the can will ever heat up enough to melt the balloon on the other end?

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Forget that boring old fire pit, build a Flame Tree instead!

maker_faire_bay_area_2011_fire_tree

Maker Faire is a great event to attend not only because you get to see all sorts of cool designs and machinations, but because you can participate as well. At Maker Faire Bay Area 2011, maker [Brett Levine] put together a fun and interactive display he likes to call the DIY Flame Tree.

The concept is pretty simple, and he says everyone who participated got a pretty good kick out of lending a hand. Each participant was given a piece of copper tubing and allowed to bend, twist, and sculpt it to their liking before using a drill to add holes wherever they pleased. They were then allowed to choose where their portion of the project would be mounted on the existing tree.

With everyone standing a safe distance away from the display, [Brett] pumped it full of propane and lit the various sections on fire. In the video below, you can see that the display was blown around a bit by the wind, but we imagine it would look pretty awesome on a still summer evening.

Even if you’re not into this sort of art, you have to admit that it certainly beats a boring old fire pit!

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Alternative Phone Charging Devices

We’ve all heard of solar cells that charge your devices, or the odd flashlight that charges when you shake it, but this style charger should be new to almost everyone. This “pan charger” is reportedly capable of charging a cell phone or other mobile device using a USB connection in 3 to 5 hours.  It also has a built-in radio and lantern. This should be a great tool for surviving a zombie apocalypse or if you simply live in a region without readily available power.

A second charger, currently being used in Africa, is an adaptation of a small generator hooked up to a bicycle. As this form of transportation is quite common in developing nations, this simple idea definitely shows promise.  Check out the video of the bike cell phone charger after the break. [Read more...]

Thermic lance made from spaghetti

spaghetti_thermic_lance

[Frogz] sent in a video he found of a thermic lance constructed from spaghetti. If you are not familiar, thermic lances are typically comprised of an iron tube filled with iron rods, which are then burned using highly pressurized oxygen. This lance however, was built by tightly wrapping a bundle of spaghetti in aluminum foil and attaching it to an oxygen tank. While thermic lances are commonly used in heavy construction where thick steel needs to be cut, [latexiron] and his friends use theirs to cut apart a chair. While we don’t necessarily condone drunken destruction of innocent patio furniture, we can’t help but watch this video again and again in amazement of the incredibly novel use of everyday pasta. You too can join in the drunken revelry after the jump. If food-based cutting torches are your thing, be sure to check out this bacon lance as well.

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Flaming guitar hero

[Chris Marion] knew he wanted to play with fire, or more accurately with fireball spewing valves, but he need a good project in which he could use them. Inspiration finally struck and he built this controller that matches fireballs to the fret buttons on a Guitar Hero controller. There’s quite a lot that goes into this but we think that he hit a home run. The basic components are a manifold with electronically actuated valves, another manifold for the pilot lights, and a modified Guitar Hero controller.

To interface the controller he used an Arduino along with [Bill Porter's] PS2 library to read signals from the buttons. But the real labor intensive part of the build came with the manifold. There’s a hardware store’s worth of fittings and flexible copper pipe that go into that assembly. In the end this all came together in just one week.

[Thanks Bill]

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