Designing gears is often a matter of knowing what needs to be done, but having trouble imagining into existence the perfect set of gears for the job. The above video does a great job of showing how a simple concept was refined into the elegance of design that is the modern differential gear that allows a single drive to rotate multiple wheels on a vehicle at optimal speeds to prevent slipping.
The above video is an old timey introduction to waves, using a mesmerizing mechanical simulator to demonstrate the main principles.
A basic understanding of waves can be helpful in inventing, since the principles are so similar across very different kinds of waves. Tesla was into waves, and they have applications in electrical theory. The way they build, cancel, resonate, and travel through different materials is central to understanding sound, music, vibration, earthquakes, tsunamis, light, color, economic prediction, and…well, I’ll stop listing things now, so you can watch the video in peace.
Pastels on the Plaza 2012. What a beautiful morning in Arcata California. Around here, a sunburn is a mark that you have just returned from distant lands with “summer” and “shadows”. Well. believe it or not Arcatians, I got a pretty good sunburn despite two layers of sunscreen. It was worth it. I’m displaying my results (above) large and proud this year. I drew our cat Tamir in our apple tree for Genevieve Schmidt and her awesome gardening blog and landscaping service. It took nearly six hours and measures 3′ x 3′. I’m going to have it printed on canvas and hang it in the living room.
We were surrounded by farmer’s market booths selling fresh local produce, bands, street performers, and crowds of people coming to enjoy the event. I met several old friends I haven’t seen in a decade, and I was in good company. There’s nothing like sitting yourself down in the midst of famous local artists and designers to up the pressure to perform. They set the bar high.
Sitting to one side of me was Leah Vaughn, representing Holly Yashi Jewelry, who have recently opened their own store at their studio. A great place to shop for jewelry or other gifts. I think this image would make an awesome postcard. This pastel was twice the size of mine, and I have no idea how she managed to get it all done by herself. A side note on this for anyone planning on participating in the event; They kicked us out at 3:00, so if you think your concept may take more than seven hours, either rethink it, or get a helper.
Beside her was her husband Casey Vaughn, representing Plaza. This is his first year doing a three foot square, rather than the double size. I think the extra time per foot really allowed him to show off his skills. One of the top looks of the day in my opinion.
To my other side was Susan Devine, representing Barbara Rips with this picture of a dragon on the Trinidad lighthouse. You don’t have to be a business to support the event. North Coast Children’s Services takes charitable donations and we artists donate our time in the name of donors. Everyone wins. And the kids loved this one. Susan was fond of telling them that if they wanted to see the dragon, they had to get to the lighthouse really early in the morning.
This is a great pairing of the Wildlife Care Center with award winning artist Linda Parkinson. These two really are perfectly suited.
Duane Flatmo, larger than life as always, for a guy who is used to paintings that take up whole buildings, this must seem easy. I spoke with him briefly. It seems he is still touring with his giant fire breathing octopus contraption. Go check it out.
This one was the most vibrant and eye catching hing I saw all day, and beautifully done by these two artists. My only criticism is in the decision making process. If you are going to have one pumpkin spilling out of the square, don’t chop off the one next to it at the edge, and if you are going to sign it, either work it in and make it look nice, or keep it outside the bounds of the picture. There is just no way to crop this to make it look right.
I took a break to stretch my legs and go see what Jerry Lee Wallace was up to. I’ve been a fan of his work since before I started doing the event myself. He has the most distinctive style, with his obelisk-like people and vibrant landscapes. This is a portrait of a guy who is “outstanding in his field”. I love the reflections and the shadow going up the tall grass. The donor was Humboldt Family Services.
And lastly, a couple of honorable mentions. B&B always cracks me up with their poop-to-rainbows attitude. And I like this one by Ca Redwood Co. I don’t get it, but I like it.
Each year, I improvise a few new techniques, with varying success. This year I brought a chunk of neoprene, with the hope that I could use it as a dry paintbrush. It was remarkably effective, and held up unexpectedly well. It allowed me to blend the pastel I had already applied, so I ended up using less, and having less dust. In total I used less than eight pieces of pastel.
Please feel free to post your thoughts or experiences with the event, and I hope to see you all there next year, same place, same time.
This is a self stirring pot. Why this hasn’t been put to market sometime in the past few thousands of years full of around a billion people cooking things, I don’t understand. Every one of us should be embarrassed for not coming up with this ourselves. It was created by a dentist in Japan who no doubt got sick of his noodles sticking to the bottom of his pot. He calls it Kuru-Kuru Nabe, the round and round pot.
This might even have some interesting new cooking possibilities. I wonder if you cracked an egg in there if you might end up with a doughnut shaped egg? This kind of elegant use of thermodynamics has some intriguing possibilities in other fields as well.
It’s Kinetic time once again in Arcata California. It was an overcast morning in the end of May. Labor Day weekend. A cold breeze coming in off of the ocean didn’t phase the spectators, who were out in great numbers to see a race that seemed a bit subdued compared to olden times. The things that impressed me this year were less in the spectacle of it all, and more in the smaller details.
These guys need a bigger dinosaur. It looks like an afterthought. Putting the driver in the back seat is nothing but awesome though.
The above entry, inspired by roadkill and full of vulture pilots, is the work of Duane Flatmo. I don’t personally see his style shining through on this one, but it was my favorite among the larger entries.
Lost Coast Brewery sponsored this fire truck themed fire ant that shoots fire out its arse!
Predicting the weather in Arcata is unreliable enough that I’m not sure why we employ meteorologists, but the gamble paid off for this crew. A sunny day racing in a wookie outfit would be hellish, but the icy weather made them look more sane than those in shorts. A tribute to the sasquatch or bigfoot which are rumored to inhabit local forests.
The one and two seater contestants really made the race this year. I love this FlintStones inspired car. It seemed well engineered and convincing and they weren’t having any trouble getting around. I’m not sure how the steering works.
This little crab was awesome. Both his arms and claws were fully functional and I have no doubt anything messing with him would have gotten a good pinching. His little eyestalks were on springs.
This one ought to be fun in the bay. These two chicks in a frying pan had a jet of fire above their heads.
It doesn’t look lime much in photo, but this one impressed me more than any of the others. I’m not sure what the creature on the front is. It is deer-like, but had something dragon-like about it as well. It had a strikingly complex seris of controls operated by the lone driver via several levers.
Sometimes all it takes is someone going a small extra step in order to bring something from good to great. There were lots of people in mushroom suits racing around, but going with the full body suit with eyeholes makes this guy look like a viable super hero. The above gnome is best seen in motion, since he gets around by bouncing rather than pedaling. To see him and all the rest, check out Bob Doran’s video below of the first two laps around the plaza at the start of the race. In the coming days the race will go through the dunes, across the bay, and all the way down to Ferndale.
I carved a zucchini for Halloween this year (click image to see full size). Going unconventional with my Jack o’ Lantern is typical for me, though I would usually carve a watermelon, but I couldn’t come up with anything that would top last years watermelon skull with brain, so I figured it was time on to move on to greener fruits…errr vegetables? Whatever they are. The zucchini alligator carving took a bit over an hour (it is all one piece, so carving away the area around the teeth took time). It’s almost two feet long.
I recommend the zucchini as a carving substrate. They don’t stink, they aren’t sticky or messy, and they have a ton of firm flesh and only a small center of seeds. They won’t handle a candle though, so use a LED or ultrasonic fog maker.
This is one of those ‘once seen, cannot be unseen’ kinda sites. Draw a ninja turtle nose on a picture and send it in. My submission above, freedom ninja Ron Paul. Check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja NosesTumblr here.
update: Well, it looks like the Ron Paul media blackout is moving to the internet as the picture was never posted on their site.
This printer uses helium to blow foam bubbles through custom advertising stencils. The resulting foam advertising flies rigt out of the printer and into the sky.
I love this concept, but when it comes to shapes, all I can think of is unleashing thousands and thousands of space invaders.
The Reuleaux Triangle, named after Franz Reuleaux, is this odd roundy triangle, which would hardly seem worth naming after someone, except for one unusual feature: However you turn it, one side is always the same distance from the opposite side. If you were to put a board on a couple of Reuleaux Triangles, it would have a perfectly smooth ride rolling on them. So what you say? A circle does the same thing? You know how whatever shape drill you use, the holes always come out round? A Reuleaux drill can drill square holes. Not even Chuck Norris can do that.
There are three dimensional equivalents as well:
These shapes of constant width have other uses besides looking funny and drilling square holes. Any time you invent a different way for machines to translate one type of motion into another, you have great potential for new inventions. I suspect this one is under-utilized.
Throwable Cameras are an awesome concept, and this 3D printed ball with 36 cameras by Jonas Pfeil takes it to the next level. Just toss the ball in the air and when it reaches the vertex, all the cameras take a picture. The result is a stitched together panoramic image with a full 360° unobstructed view. I can think of all sorts of variations of this that could be useful, from adding infrared and using it for military and police actions, to using a launcher to get a shot of the whole neighborhood, to doubling the cameras for 3D shots. Video Below
The camera isn’t yet on the market, but I’m sure the first question they are going to get from the masses will be: Can I get it in purple?