The basic idea is this: your abs are so well-defined and protruberant that when you sweat, your shirt only gets wet where your ripped abs and massive pectorals come into contact with the shirt. Happens to me all the time.
A while ago I had an idea that goes roughly like this: you open a shop in some location with lots of tourists – maybe in the Mall of America or in a place like Estes Park, CO – the type of place where people are in a spending mood and have those cheesey “Old-Timey Photos” taken. In this shop visitors could pose to have a statue of them made. You’d scan them with some sort of 3D scanner and then a custom 3D CNC mill would carve a wooden statue of them while they watch (behind some safety glass). Your setup might even have software that allows them to puff-up their muscles like a super hero, maybe make their belly look a bit more six-pack-ish, make balds spots disappear and so on. You might sell the small statues fairly cheap, but charge a lot more for large, living room fixture-type statues. What mother wouldn’t want some little wood-carved statues of her children for the mantle? It’s a slam dunk.
I’ve updated artscii – now faster, with fewer bugs and more features. Get the new version here.
A picture is worth a thousand letters:
Here’s a little something I’ve been working on, a program I call “ARTSCII”.
You can download ARTSCII here. (Windows only for now, sorry)
It’s different from normal ASCII art in a similar way to how my collage software is different from regular photo mosaics. I went at the problem from a completely different angle. Instead of dividing the picture into equal-sized boxes and finding the letter that is perfect for each box, I piece the whole thing together like a puzzle. This is still very early code, but the results are cool so far. Especially when you combine the original target image and the ASCII art version with a bit of Photoshop wizardry as seen above.
I had this idea about 5 years ago, from watching a kid assembling train tracks for a toy train. I thought, what if the train could just “record” the tracks? You put the train in record-mode, move it around a bit, then it plays that loop back over and over again.
Normally what you should do at this point is patent the idea then wait for someone else to come up with the idea and actually make it and then sue them for $millions. This is the guiding principle of our entire patent system. But I don’t have $10,000 lying around to get a patent, so I decided to just go ahead and try to make it myself.
How do you make a train that records it’s own tracks? Basically, you need a motorized vehicle of some sort that knows where it is at any moment relative to where it started. And that can record that position and play it back. It also needs to be able to complete a loop – the person using the toy will probably never be able to create a perfect loop, so the toy needs to be able to correct the loop so that it can be played back over and over again. None of that is very simple, but the part in italics is really the key. How can a toy know where it is? I came up with dozens of ideas, but eventually boiled it down to these:
There are probably hundreds of other ways of recording position – from echo location to GPS to using a cheap video camera and complex digital analysis. There are also a lot of ways of “cheating” – waypoints that the toy could move between, line-following robots, etc. But I decided to stick to original idea and to approaches that I could actually prototype cheaply.
I’ve created two prototypes so far. While neither of these look anything like a “train”, keep in mind it’s not that hard to put a train shell over a motorized toy. Each prototype represents hours of bread-boarding, soldering, coding, and testing. Continue reading A Toy Train that Records Its Own Tracks
I managed to get second place in a Gizmodo mosaic photo contest. My entry seems to be pretty popular with the commenters too. As I mentioned with my submission, I wrote the software that created the mosaic. Also note that the target photo is one of the component photos, so you can search for it Where’s Waldo-style if you’re up for a challenge.
The software I wrote to make the mosaics only works on Linux, and is very confusing to use, but I plan to port it to windows and add a GUI to make it more usable, and then release it. Maybe as freeware, maybe as shareware, maybe as open source – haven’t decided. I’ll start on it pretty soon, but at the moment I’m working on some ASCII art stuff and a microcontroller project. I get enough requests from people who have seen my collages that I think it’s finally time to put it out there.
Here’s a link to some more collages/mosaics that my wife Alonna has made with the same software.
I haven’t posted anything here for over a year and a half. During that time I’ve:
To mark my return, I thought I’d share what I’m certain is the most extensive collection of horse metaphors (meataphors?) that can be found anywhere on the Galactic Interweb. I encountered situations for which each of these colloquialisms were uniquely useful while waiting in airports, climbing mountains, lost in strange and dangerous cities, and even once while riding horseback to the rim of an active volcano.
Horses are obsolete as a mode of transportation, are (unfortunately) taboo to eat because of their big sad eyes (unlike cows?), and generally just serve as a rich-people pet that drops steaming piles of shit all over my favorite trails. But they are still very useful as a source of colorful meataphors.
Try to use two or three in every conversation.
Boost circuits are an awesome way to power microcontrollers. Instead of 4AA batteries or a 9V (usually regulated down to 5V or 3.3V), you just boost one or two AA’s up to your desired voltage. The only problems are that boost ICs (like these two) are a little expensive once you decide to make more than 2 or 3 of something, and the cheaper ones are hard to find in packages that can be hand soldered easily.
I stumbled upon one great solution here – use PWM from a microcontroller. And Atmel recently introduced the ATtiny43U with a built-in boost converter – hopefully this will become a trend and all microcontrollers will come with built-in boost converters, the same way they (mostly) all support serial, I2C, and SPI.
But in the meantime I wondered if a simpler solution might be possible, a boost converter using a 555 timer. The 555 timer is a very common $0.20 chip that can generate a PWM at a given frequency and duty cycle based on the charge time of some chosen resistors and a capacitor. The circuit would need the same basic external components as a boost converter (inductor, diode, capacitor), but it would be a lot cheaper. It wouldn’t be able to regulate the voltage, only multiply it using a calculated duty cycle, so the solution already starts off a bit limited since the voltage of a AA battery varies over it’s lifetime. But despite this limitation, there are definitely applications where providing roughly 5V from a single AA or AAA is very useful (powering servos in a kite aerial photography rig, for example)
The circuit looks like this:
I’ve gotten to know the insides of the Xbox 360 Guitar Hero controller quite well, and I’ve decided to share what I know. Modding these controllers to play songs automatically or do other interesting things seems to be a popular electronics project, and the information below should be helpful for anyone embarking on such an adventure.
I’m going to focus on the X-Plorer, but the Guitar Hero World Tour controller and the Les Paul controller work almost identically, eventually I hope to do a post about the differences. The RB and RB2 controllers are completely different…
Of course, modding your controller to play songs for you is cheating. I would generally discourage you from using a modded controller on “Pro-Faceoff” mode or anything like that where your cheating will actually adversely affect someone else. Use your powers for good instead of evil.
Below is the inside of an Xplorer.
This is the start of my project blog.
Mostly I intend for this to be a place I can just post about things I’m working on, so that I can say “well here, I wrote a little about it, I’ll send you a link”.
So the posts won’t necessarily follow a specific theme. Some of it might be very technical, some will probably just be pictures and videos. All of it will be interesting to those of you who like to take things apart, put things together, and understand how the world works. Hopefully.
Copyright © 2013 Ben Scott