Flaming Skull Hood Ornament Is Not Suitable For Use In Traffic

It’s one thing to mount a big skull—human or animal—to the front of your car. Really, though, a good hood skull should breathe fire to truly inspire enmity or awe. Thankfully, when [Anthony] went about modifying his ex-school bus, he was sure to equip it with suitably flaming equipment. It’s dangerous, so don’t try this one at home and melt your car, you hear?

The build started with an off-the-shelf replica cow skull, in lovely flame-resistant metal. It was then plumbed with a propane feed that could be triggered by a 12-volt solenoid. This was combined with a high-voltage coil driving a grill igniter to provide the necessary initiating spark.

To go forth with flames, first, a missile switch must be flipped up and engaged to arm the system. Then, hitting the skull-and-crossbones button will send fire surging forth from the front of the vehicle. Alternatively, a wireless keyfob can be used, which bypasses the arming system—so leaving the remote in a pocket is ill-advised.

Amazingly, a former project posted on Hackaday served as an inspiration for this build. Video after the break.

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Fiery Torch Build Is Remarkably Stylish

Hollywood movies, RPGs, and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns are all full of flaming torches. They’re a typical source of light in scenarios where electrical solutions simply aren’t available. [Wesley Treat] decided to build a rather attractive ceremonial torch of his own design, showing off his impressive crafting skills in the process.

The torch ignited a pretty rad sculpture.

The build starts with a foam simulacra that helps [Wesley] rough out the general shape of the torch. It’s a little shorter and stubbier than an Olympic torch might be, for reference. The main body of the torch is then hewn out of stout wooden blocks with the aid of a bandsaw with a nifty angle-adjustable cutting bed. A torch was then used to heat and bend steel strip  to make an attractive and heat-resistant flame shroud to sit on top. A wad of fuel-soaked material installed inside the shroud serves as the actual flaming compoment.

[Wesley] built the torch for the Maker Burn at Maker Camp in upstate New York. It did a plenty good job of helping burn down the giant scrap wood jackalope  sculpture built for the event. We do love the fire and the flames around these parts. Video after the break.

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This Message Will Self Destruct… As You Read It?

A group of Harvard chemists have come up with a novel use for fire. Through experimentation, they have been able to build what they call an InfoFuse. As the name implies, it’s essentially a burning fuse that can “transmit” information.

The fuse is made from flash paper, which is paper made from nitrocellulose. Flash paper burns at a relatively constant speed and leaves no smoke or ash, making it ideal for this type of project. The chemists developed a method of conveying information by changing the color of the flame on the paper. You might remember from high school chemistry class that you can change the color of fire by burning different metal salts. For example, burning copper can result in a blue flame. This is the key to the system.

The researchers dotted the flash paper with small bits of metal salts. As the flame reaches these spots, it briefly changes colors. They had to invent an algorithm to convert different color patterns to letters and numbers. It’s sort of like an ASCII table for fire. Their system uses only three colors. The three colors represent eight possible combinations of color at any given time. Just two quick pulses allow the researchers to convey all 26 letters of the English alphabet as well as ten digits and four symbols. In one test, the researchers were able to transmit a 20 character message in less than 4 seconds.

[Ben Krasnow] found the Harvard project and just had to try it out for himself. Rather than use colors to convey information, he took a more simple approach. He started with a basic strip of flash paper, but left large tabs periodically along its length. As the paper burns from end to end, it periodically hits one of these tabs and the flame gets bigger momentarily.

[Ben] uses an optical sensor and an oscilloscope to detect the quantity of light. The scope clearly shows the timing of each pulse of light, making it possible to very slowly convey information via fire. Ben goes further to speculate that it might be possible to build a “fire computer” using a similar method. Perhaps using multiple strips of paper, one can do some basic computational functions and represent the result in fire pulses. He’s looking for ideas, so if you have any be sure to send them his way! Also, be sure to check out Ben’s demonstration video below. Continue reading “This Message Will Self Destruct… As You Read It?”