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Video John Hawley and His Dr. Who-Inspired Robot K-9 (Video) 23

By day John Hawley is a mild-mannered open hardware evangelist for Intel. But after hours he is the master of K-9, a robot dog he works on a little at a time. Yes, this is a Whovian thing, which is why John's K-9 looks so much like the Doctor's. But K-9 is also a pretty good dog on his/her own. No vet bills, no constant hunger, no barking at feral cats in the middle of the night, obeys every command... so maybe Dr. Who and John Hawley have the right idea when it comes to canines. Except.... aww.... my dog, Terri the Terrorist Terrier, just licked my hand. What a sweetie! Terri may not take orders from a hand-held remote, but she has a lot of other fine characteristics, including affection. K-9 is very cute in a squared-off, mechanical way, though. Hard to resist, despite a lack of soft fur and no tongue for licking his/her master's hand. (Alternate Video Link)

Video Fly an Aerobatic Quadcopter with Curtis Youngblood (Video) 33

It goes up, it goes down, it goes upside down and keeps on flying. We're talking about Curtis Youngblood's latest quadcopter prototype, but as his website says, "Curtis has been flying and competing with RC Helicopters since the early 1980s and is a Multi-time World Champion and Multi-time 3D Champion." This lucky dog has managed to turn his hobby into a business; he makes and sells radio controlled helicopters -- not the $60 ones from Harbor Freight, but sophisticated aerial beasts that can carry still and video cameras and could easily be used as short-range drones, except that these are hobbyists' toys -- for hobbyists who can afford to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars, anyway. There are plenty of quadcopter kits on the market for lots less than Youngblood's creations, along with build-it-yourself guides. But these won't fly upside down. For that, you need variable-pitch rotors and sophisticated control systems. "But what about 3-D printing?" you ask. Of *course* you can use a 3-D printer to make a quadcopter. That was an inevitable development. Here are open source instructions for building one. Enjoy the ride!

Video CES 2014: Formlabs 3-D Printing Redux, With New Software (Video) 14

Slashdot visited the Formlabs CES display in 2013. Tim looked at their Stereolithgraphy 3-D printer again this year. The company is now boasting about their PreForm 1.0 software, and not as much about their hardware, which was their main focus last year. Another important difference was that at CES 2013 they couldn't talk about sales because they hadn't sold any units yet, but now they claim they've sold over 1000. And the last major problem they faced was a patent infringement suit, which seems to be settled (or nearly so). According to this Oct. 2013 article, it's doubtful that Formlabs would have been able to raise $2.95 million through Kickstarter, followed by another $19 million from traditional venture capitalists, if the lawsuit wasn't close to settlement -- which may not matter much in the long run, since many key patents in the field have either expired or are due to expire between now and 2015.

Video CES 2014: A Powered, Remote Control Paper Airplane (Video) 28

Shai Goitein started with a powered paper airplane, the PowerUp 1, which was pretty cool. But he didn't stop there. The PowerUp 3 is a powered paper airplane you control with your smartphone. He calls this "a mixture of origami and technology." He also says it's a great toy, class project or whatever for the younger set, since kids start making paper airplanes at the age of six or seven. Adults? Why not? This is obviously a suitable toy for anyone with a two-digit (or three-digit) age number. And PowerUp 3.0 is a Kickstarter-funded project, with (at this writing) $928,091 pledged -- against a $50,000 goal, with another 15 days of Kickstarter funding left to go. There's also a smartphone-controlled PowerUp paper boat kit. Unlike the PowerUp airplane kits, it's not sold out (at this writing). Yet.

Video So You've Always Wanted a Hovercraft... (Video) Screenshot-sm 66

What little boy or girl never wanted a hovercraft? Something loud that could travel over water, pavement, maybe even over a plowed field or through a swamp? Ben King obviously wanted one, so after he grew up and got his PhD in physics and found a good job, he founded Lone Star Hovercraft. Timothy Lord interviewed Ben at the Austin Mini Maker Faire, and we also found some video of Ben flying (is that the right word?) one of his hovercraft on a lake that we spliced into the interview to liven it up a little. Vroom!

Video Steve Jackson Shows Off the Texas Brick Railroad (Video) 41

Imagine game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)

Video A Tardis Art Piece at the Austin Mini Maker Faire (Video) Screenshot-sm 25

One thing about a Maker Faire is that it brings a delightful number of non-mainstream projects to light that your neighbors have been working on. Scroll down the linked page above to see some samples of what came out of the woodwork at the latest Austin version. A Jedi Starfighter under construction.... a very strange little boat... and down at the bottom of the page we see The Type 40 Mark III Console, an "interactive sound sculpture" that redefines the term "bells and whistles" in a whole new way that pleases children and adults alike as they twist knobs and punch buttons, and things happen (or don't happen). It really does look just like a Tardis control console. Even project co-creator and spokesbeing Steve Noreyko says so, and he's the one who got in front of Timothy Lord's camcorder in an unfortunately noisy room. But there he was, with das blinkenlights behind him delighting and amazing a happily bemused crowd, just as Steve and his crew have amazed crowds at Art Outside, Burning Flipside, and other local festivals.

Video Solowheel is for People Who Think a Segway is Boring (Video) Screenshot-sm 94

Shane Chen is an inventor who likes to make all kinds of things. For instance, he designed the frame and invented a special reflective surface for the screen you see in the background of the video below. But many of his inventions have to do with transportation, especially the kind of transportation that doubles as personal thrill ride, like a sail for paddleboats and an electric surfboard. At this year's CES, I spoke with Chen's daughter Ywanne about his latest rideable invention, which is for obvious reasons called the Solowheel. Her father's the one you can see demonstrating the device in the background; you can see trickier riding in this YouTube video. She says that of all her father's inventions, this is the one that came together most easily: his first stab at a powered unicycle just worked, and since then it's been polishing the experience and getting it to market. And "to market" isn't a dream; for about $1800, you can have an experience that's a bit more intense than a Segway. The Solowheel can climb hills of surprising steepness, as long as the rider is up for it. Coming down looks more challenging, though.

Video All Hands Active in Ann Arbor is a Makerspace for All Ages (Video) 35

This is an interview with All Hands Active's Josh Williams. He shows us a project the group is doing in conjunction with Eastern Michigan University's Bright Futures Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities. This is just one project, and maybe not the most exciting one they do, but it's something simple they can (and do) cart around to schools and other remote locations. They use a laser cutter for this simple project, not because it's really needed, Josh says, but because "any excuse to use a laser cutter is a good excuse."

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Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money. -- Arthur Miller