Sugar Painting: street vendors make works of edible art

Street vendors can sometimes show the best examples of refined skill. These street vendors in China have carved out a niche with a very specific type of candy. They pour heated sugar in various shapes and designs, then put it on a stick for your consumption. It doesn’t sound that impressive, but watch these videos and see the skill they show. As with many street vendors, you can tell these people have done this 10,000 times and the muscle memory could almost carry them on autopilot.

I would be happy to support street vendors like this.

Chocolate as rocket fuel

[Adric Menning] has an unfortunate allergy. He’s allergic to chocolate. Instead of eating the stuff, he’s using it to build model rocket engines. The project stems from the Quelab Hackerspace’s chocolate hacking challenge which spawned a number of interesting hacks. [Adric's] doesn’t use pure chocolate (an experiment with a Hershey’s bar was a bust) but manages to ignite using a Milky Way bar.

This is not as unorthodox as you might think. Sugar and potassium nitrate have long been used to create solid rocket propellant. The chocolate version is swapping out plain old sugar for the candy bar. It was chopped into 10 gram chunks to make proportion calculations easier later on. The chunks go into the freezer to make them easier to grind using a mortar and pestle. Once it’s a somewhat chunk-free powder he mixes it with the potassium nitrate which previously had its own trip through the grinder. After being packed into a chunk of PVC pipe and fitted with an exhaust nozzle the engine is ready to go.

You can check out the test-fire video after the break. There’s a burn restriction in his area due to drought so this is just an engine test and not an actual rocket launch.

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Wedding gift fail has happy couple cursing your name

[Superluminal] received an invite to his friend’s wedding. He got together with some mutual acquaintances to take up a collection as a wedding gift. But as things go, a suitable present couldn’t be found. The pooled money itself ended up being the gift, but apparently a greeting card with a money pocket inside of it wasn’t good enough. The group decided to encase the coinage in a block of sugar that doubles as a lamp.

Now as with many well-meaning projects this started out with a rendering of what the final product would look like. That image came out great, with a high-gloss dark amber cube lit from the bottom with the coins suspended throughout catching a bit of a glint. They bought 43kg (almost 100 pounds) of refined sugar, and made a base/mold combination out of sheet metal. A lot of induction cooking went into producing thick syrup that could be poured into the mold. The problem is the final product is basically opaque. Not a sign of the 300 Euros within.

But don’t feel too bad for the groom and his bride. The image above shows him trying to get at the prize. He must do some hacking himself because he has a pressure washer, jack hammer (or is that big drill?), humongous cold chisel, and sizable hatch already at his disposal.

We can’t help but wonder if a heat gun could have polished the sides of the cube and helped add translucence?

Cotton candy just the color you like it

Hit the web to order up your custom-color cotton candy from this machine (translated). A computer monitors a web interface for an incoming order, then pushes commands to an mbed microcontroller which dispenses three different colors of sugar to whip up your custom shade of the cottony delight.

In addition to the sugar dispensing system, the candy maker itself is also a do-it-yourself design. It looks like the most difficult part of this project was getting this component right. They’ve got a collection of videos documenting the multiple attempts on the road to success. Once dispensed, the colored sugars make their way into a spinning metal cylinder where they’re heated by the flame from a butane candle lighter. Eventually the team manages to get cotton candy to form but we can’t help but feel like they’re trying to reinvent the wheel with this one.

[via Make]

Homemade solid propellant rocket motors

[KoD] and [Navic] are building solid propellant motors using sugar and potassium nitrate. They cook up the two ingredients along with water and a bonding agent. They find that corn syrup is particularly good for bonding and that cooking the strange brew is more of an artform than science. Either way, the video after the break is proof of the dangers involved in this hobby. Testing the engine thrust with a bathroom scale ends badly for the scale.

There is something satisfying about the ingenuity that goes into the materials. For a casing they’re using PVC pipe, and forming a cone to focus the thrust by using a what amounts to plumber’s epoxy putty. The capping agent for the finished motor is ground up kitty litter.

This is an interesting read, but for now we’re going to stick to water rockets.

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Open3DP looks at 3D printing in common materials

[Buddy Smith] sent us a link to Open3DP which he calls “REAL 3d printing hacks”. Open3DP showcases the projects of the Solheim Rapid Prototyping Laboratory at the University of Washington. They’re working on 3D printing in materials that can be commonly acquired and to that end they publish recipes for powder printing in materials such as sugar, ceramic, and glass. Take a look through their archives. We found the post on microwave kilns interesting, as well as the writeup about Shapeways glass printing which is seen above. We’ve also embedded a short video on Open3DP’s work after the break.

Update: [Mark Ganter] dropped us a line to clarify that Open3DP was the first to develop printable glass about a year ago, called Vitraglyphic. They’ll also be presenting papers at Rapid2010 and announcing a new printable material.

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Rapid prototyping with sugar and lasers

IMG_2309 (Custom)

After the recent announcement of the re-release of the candyfab, [4volt] had to give a run at melting sugar with a laser. It turns out that a 40w co2 laser works great. They don’t currently have a method of layering, so everything is one layer currently.You can see the results of different speeds and power ratings on the site. The next party they throw will have some pretty fancy tasty treats.