Frugal Soap, designed by Ji Woong Kim. An elegant and well thought out design. The shape of the soap perfectly matches that of the dish, so that it doesn’t end up sitting in a pool of water, and keeps its form. The concavity of the top is printed with the instruction to fit your last piece of the previous bar into the top to prevent waste. It’s not the first time a soap has used these concepts, but it is all brought together with an elegance and simplicity of design that should have regular old bar soap designers hanging their heads in shame.
How many different methods of achieving flight do we have? Airplanes, jets, helicopters, blimps, gliders, and nature has flapping wings…thats about all I can think of. This guy seems to have come up with a new one. The FanWing puts the propulsion on the wing, spreading it across the surface in such a way that it provides lift directly, rather than relying on the speed of the aircraft to create the air flow for lift. as in conventional winged aircraft. The bonus of this is that you end up with a much more stable aircraft with the ability to fly at much slower airspeeds. That may not be good for long distance air travel, but for things like crop dusting, news coverage, or even flying cars, the ability to go at a reasonable speed with high stability is a big bonus.
We hit the streets, roofs, and piers of Humboldt County, California For their annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. This is the original home of these races, but there are now nearly a dozen around the country, and many of these contraptions will also be seen in the Corvallis race and at Burning Man.
Despite the increased number of races, there has been a decrease in the quantity of the more impressive and original machines, owing mostly to the loss of Calistoga and Yakima as sponsors. In recent years, Duane Flatmo has been almost carrying the race, with his fire breathing dragon from last year being the best I’ve seen. There are still a good number of smaller entries as well, which are what keeps the race unpredictable and full of personality, as well as some returning favorites.
Duane Flatmo’s entry this year was an aluminum lobster made of recycled parts and complete with pinchy claws and working jaws and tail, done in the same style as his previous Kinetic Carp and dragon. He was sponsored by FoxFarm.
Mad River Brewing Company sponsored this train. Just look at this guy racing a beer train through the streets of Arcata, he couldn’t be happier.
By far the most daring entry of the year has to go to this float, entitled Classical Nudes. Its drivers were dressed in nude suits and created quite a stir. They were pursued by a pit crew filled with some very stern looking nuns in mini skirts and roller skates. The statue on top was hinged, and could be easily secured for the tougher parts of the race.
There is one float that has been in the races in recent years that pretty much just gets a new name and paint job each time, but I’m always glad to see it. It has won numerous awards and seems to me to have the best engineering for the various trials of these races, taking to the water like a duck. Why mess with perfection? This year it was going under the name A Black Tie Affair.
I don’t know the story on this one, so I’m going to say it was inspired by something someone saw in a vision after eating some bad sushi. It would seem to be a giraffe from outer space with ruby slippers.
Guy racing a camel. The legs were attached to his pedals. I think he was associated with a group riding a flying carpet.
This is one of those events that brings all sorts of people together. I thought this was a great picture of the spectators around the judges. Worthy of a caption contest.
For more on these races, crossing the sand dunes, and some video see my post on Kinetic Sculpture Race 2009.
Music has continued to be re imagined at an ever increasing pace throughout the ages. With the advent of social media, every nut has their own personal stage. Combine the two and throw out the inevitable million monkeys trying to write Shakespeare, and you are left with some real gems, like Greg Patillo, the beat-boxing flautist. Give the video a watch, he is genuinely entertaining.
It seems like every week I’m complaining to someone about the size of Band-Aids. The mixed pack always seems to come with two of the sizes I want and a dozen huge gauze covered slabs which really only seem useful if you are in the business of polar bear wrestling or roller skating down lava tubes in shorts.
My typical injury is more along the lines of paper cuts that I don’t want to get lemon juice in. I generally find myself slicing up little bits of the sticky part of Nexcare (the best) bandages and sticking them over the cut, which is very effective, but without the little pad it means I’m pretty much stuck with it until I’m healed.
The device pictured was designed by Miyeon Kim & Hoyoung Lee. It has a roll of adhesive and a roll of padding. you can adjust the length of each as it dispenses, meaning no more big box of bandaids that are all the wrong size. It doesn’t seem to have made it to market yet, but I’m hoping.
Several years ago I had a mouse in my apartment. Being sadly catless, I found myself being awoken every night by skitterings and chewings. Every night, mulling over different mouse trap concepts in my head.
You see, the mousetrap is a sort of DIY right of passage into inventorhood. It pits the wits of man against those of mouse. Mano a mouseo.
After awaking one night to find the little bastard dragging one of my candles away, I started building. What I ended up with was a contraption built of cardboard boxes, fishing wights, levers and brass tubing. It was hardly Alcatraz, but it was effective enough as long as I got to it quickly after it was sprung.
Catching the little guy came with quite a feeling of accomplishment (and relief). I can’t stand poisons. My neighbors once put out some poison only to have the rat die in my wall. It stunk for months. Poisons come with a horrible death and I worry about the risk of the mouse staggering off only to be eaten by a pet.
The other day we started hearing a scrabbling and squeaking coming from the attic. It’s all full of insulation, so tossing the cats up there wasn’t going to be effective. My previous cobbled together solution wasn’t going to hold up long enough to do the job, and I really didn’t know what manner of animal I was dealing with, so I went shopping.
I started under the assumption that I had a roof rat. Unfortunately, the only rat traps I could find were either big electrocuting steel jawed death machines, glue traps, or really poorly made havahart-style traps, but there was a really great mouse trap at Harbor Freight.
The Pro-Ketch (pictured above) is a bit bigger than an old timey video cassette and has two cleverly designed entrances. It’s designed to be put along a wall to appeal to the natural tendency for rodents to run along the edges. It supposedly doesn’t need bait, and is made of steel with a clear plastic window in the top. The entrances have a steel ramp that see-saws on a central hinge. Laying over the bottom of this ramp sits another smaller one, hinged at the base. When the rodent is climbing the ramp, it is standing on the secondary ramp, but when it steps off, it is already past the central pivot of the first ramp and things start to tip, lifting the second ramp to block the exit. Going the rest of the way into the trap causes the smaller ramp to push the main ramp back into the original position, thus priming the trap to catch any addition rodents that are attracted by the first.
I only have tro complaints about the Pro-Ketch trap. First of all, while it comes in a few configurations for location, it really only comes for one size of rodent: small. Second, it doesn’t have a latching mechanism. There isn’t much to stop a mouse from just pushing open the whole lid.
After mostly unsuccessful attempts for a couple nights with various bait, I baited the trap with sunflower butter, putting a thin row of it up each ramp, and a bigger glob in the inside of the trap. I also added a rubber band to ensure it stayed closed. This did the trick almost immediately. Within a couple hours I had caught my mouse and could hear her trying to chew her way out of the metal box. It turns out she was just a cute little house mouse making a lot of racket.
And what became of our unwanted guest? We went for a little walk a few blocks away, where she will now likely be frequenting the home of a particularly irritating neighbor.
There is another nearly identical version of this trap (available with very quick shipping via amazon), the Tin Cat by Victor. Or you could build your own.
With the flood of dumbed-down instrument games like Guitar Hero that do wonders for your button pushing but don’t do much for your guitar skills, there has been a flood of innovators trying to rig controllers that will make real instruments work in the game.
In the above video, we see a simpler solution. Instead of focusing on the instrument, focus on the sound. By using the Rock Band mic, she is able to control the game via flute.
Obviously, this would be better if the game were designed for such, but I don’t see much chance of that coming from the big developers. What we need is a good open source program to do for the mic what StepMania did for the dance pad. If anyone out there knows of a good equivalent, let me know and I will update this post accordingly.
I don’t know what it is about clocks, but they are a magnet for innovative designers. I love the simplicity of this device, which is made from a gear and a bicycle chain with copper digits. I think it would be fun to make a clock under this principle with scoops on the numbers. Put the bottom of the chain in a basin with ball bearings or some other scoopable which would ring the hour when they fall from the top.
This mechanical pencil from Japan has an internal gear system that automatically rotates the lead as you go, keeping it sharp at the tip. I’m he kind of person who will just walk into a pen store and spend fifteen minutes trying them all out to find the best ones. I can’t stand writing with those gummy-inked bic pens. that always leak, fail, and skip. It’s about time the rest of us started to appreciate quality again. It’s one of the things that made this country great. What we purchase makes a difference to what is made, who succeeds, and who does not. Buy quality. Buy Innovation. It will lead to more of the same.
This Kuru Toga pencil can be found at amazon
Advertising with flies has to be simultaneously one of the ingenious and disturbing marketing tactics in history. Watch the above video of the Frankfurt book fair to see unsuspecting people’s minds blown as a house fly buzzes by trailing a tiny red advertising banner like one of those planes at the beach. I don’t know how effective it would be once the novelty wore off, but in this instance, there were bookworms aplenty stalking flies with their fancy digital cameras, hoping to get a picture. If you have the kind of business where any publicity is good publicity (check your spam box), then this may be your next gimmick.
Before you run off to rile up PETA, the flies were supposedly not harmed, and were only attached by a small amount of wax which fell off in time. You might think I’m kidding about PETA, but they already went after Barack Obama earlier this year for swatting a fly that landed on his arm. I’m not a fan of cruelty to insects, but a swatted fly is hardly cause for a national incident.
I wonder if this adverfliesing was inspired by the recent Bill Gates talk where he released a swarm of mosquitoes on the crowd at the beginning of his speech about the death toll of malaria.