Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Conley Stinger 609, 6.09ci V-8 Engine

Stinger 609 1/4-Scale V-8
The Conley Precision Stinger 609 is a fully functional model engine with a displacement of 6.09 cubic inches (approximately 100cc). It is available in supercharged and normally-aspirated models... the unit pictured is equipped with a supercharger. The supercharged model generates a claimed 9hp at 9,500rpm. The normally-aspirated model comes in at 5hp.

The Stinger is designed for use in model cars, airplanes, and boats. Pretty awesome piece of engineering. Check it out in great detail in the Conley factory tour video embedded below.

Update: An online engineering magazine,, has an excellent article on the Stinger and the problems that Conley had with seating of the rings to eliminate oil-burning. Apparently scaling down cylinder size with respect to a full-scale automotive engine requires a rethinking of cylinder honing practices. Conley eventually turned to engineers from Sunnen, which makes cylinder honing machinery, for a solution. The Design News article contains an embedded video interview with Gary Conley in which he discusses the machining of the Stinger.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Darizt Design, Handbuilding Custom Bikes in a Shed in Indonesia

We did a post this morning about the" digital curation site, where we found an article about a sweet little bike from Darizt Design and liked it so much that we featured a pic of it for that post. We'd never heard of Darizt before and decided to look them up. Turns out Darizt Design is housed in a shed on Java island, Indonesia... not the place I'd think of when looking for a builder of unique and arty custom motorcycles.

Darizt is the brainchild of designer Agus Sudariswanto, who majored in art at his university in Indonesia. The company was initially an interior design contractor, but had to shutdown for financial reasons. After some months of unemployment, a friend asked Agus to design and build a custom bike for him, and found his new calling... He is now in progress on his eighteenth bike build.

Here is an excellent article about Darizt here that features an interview with Agus, and lots of great pics of his bikes. See the Darizt Design blog, too... Agus has lots of pics there depicting his builds. Also check out his video story that we've embedded here.

Ron Wood BMW F800 Dirttracker

Ron Wood BMW F800 Dirttracker
This one is from about six years back, but it's just so beautiful I had to put it up here for flat track fans... the Ron Wood designed and built BMW F800 dirttrack machine.

See more pics and learn more about the genesis of this gorgeous machine at Cycle World online.

Check out this post we did last year about a classic Ron Wood Norton Grand National dirttracker.

Super Rat Motorcycles of Bellingham, Wa

War Crimes
Super Rat motorcycles of Bellingham, WA has been attracting a lot of attention recently, thanks to their innovative customs, like the Triumph Trident cafe racer and War Crimes 1966 Harley XLCH pictured here. War Crimes was featured on the cover of Hot Bike magazine back in July 2011.

Brothers Matt and Carl Bjorklund are the owners of Super Rat, and designers and builders of the bikes. They honed their craft building bikes for themselves, then decided to go professional some years ago.

Trident Cafe Racer & the Super Rat Crew
The brothers have another Triumph Trident project currently in progress, called the Art Deco. Can't wait to see it.

Check out the video below about the making of the Trident Cafe Racer.

The MoleculeSynth: low-cost, modular music synthesizer at Portland Mini Maker Faire

MoleculeSynth at Portland Mini Maker Faire 2012
I met Travis Feldman of Portland, OR at his Portland Mini Maker Faire booth last September. He was displaying and demonstrating his DIY modular music synthesizer, the MoleculeSynth. I meant to immediately blog about it here as part of a series about the Faire, but just didn't get to it... here it is, a bit late, but better than never.

The Molecule consists of hexagonal circuit blocks ("elements") that can be interconnected like Legos by the user to create a custom musical instrument. Individual blocks implement elementary synthesizer signal-generation, signal-processing, and controller functions, such as voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs), voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs), low-frequency oscillators (LFOs), MIDI interface, touch control, and so on.

Travis had a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the MoleculeSynth back in September. He was looking for $15K, and garnered well over twice that.

You can see the available Molecule elements here. One that I don't see there, but was told would be available, was a breadboard that allows the real DIY aficionado to make his or her own custom block in a compatible format.

The MoleculeSynth looks like a great low-cost way to learn about and experiment with the technical details of music synthesis circuitry, both analog and digital types. It could also be a great introduction to electronics for aspiring makers or engineers of any age.

"We Love Cafe Racers" Curation Site... Loads of great links

Darizt Design Bike at Pipeburn is a great powered digital curation site that collects cafe racer related blog posts and articles from all over the Web. Think of it as an online magazine with limitless sources of curator-selected content. For example, I found a great Pipeburn blog post there about the cool little Kawi KZ200 based cafe racer pictured here.

I also found the elegant Trident cafe racer you see below from Super Rat in Bellingham, WA through a Silodrome blog post there.

Super Rat Trident at Silodrome
If you are looking for anything cafe racer related, put a bookmark on this site. Or, hit the "follow" button there and receive updates via your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.

BTW, both Pipeburn and Silodrome are two excellent custom motorcycle oriented blog sites, I like to visit them on a regular basis. Silodrome has a category specifically dedicated to cafe racers

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cafe Racer Documentary Video by Mike Seate

Mike Seate of Cafe Racer magazine directed a full-length documentary, Cafe Society, about cafe racers and the Rockers of England back in the Fifties and Sixties. Follow the link to Cafe Racer magazine to get a copy, or go here on YouTube to see it online... a YouTube user has uploaded it in four parts, and we've embedded the first part here.

The Downshift Episode 19: Vintage Cafe Racers on Video

Episode 19 of Motor Trend's The Downshift featured cafe racers... bikes, riders, and culture. Custom bike builder Earl Kane of Earl's Bikes and some of the crew from Deus Customs and their bikes make an appearance. On the riders side, some of the "usual suspects" from the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club appear on camera to talk about their love of cafe racing. Check it out below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Speed Shop Design's "Beezerker" BSA Custom

Beezerker BSA  
Don't think I've ever seen any custom quite like Chris Flechtner's "Beezerker" BSA custom. It looks like a blend of Art Deco and steampunk design concepts.

Chris Flechtner was the owner, designer, and builder at Speed Shop Design in Seattle, WA when he built Beezerker, but has since taken his skills to Tokyo where he's designing and building bikes. He entered Beezerker in the 2010 AMD World Championship custom bike build competition, where it took fifth place in the freestyle customs category. Everything but the BSA A65 motor and the tires was designed and fabricated by Chris.

Chris is not a typical custom bike builder... besides building custom bikes and cars, he professionally restores priceless samurai swords, having apprenticed under the renowned Tatsuhiko Konno, designs boutique furniture, and has an MFA in design and metal arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His blog is here.

A tip of the hat to the folks at the Return of the Cafe Racers blog, who served up a great post about the Beezerker a couple of years ago... I just stumbled into it today and was so struck by the Beezerker that I had to do a post about it here. If you're a cafe racer fan, visit them on a regular basis... they are one of our favorite bike blogs, and have been on the Cool Stuff We Like bloglist since last year.

As an added bonus, here's a link to a Kneeslider blog post about another of Chris's custom builds, the "Speed Shop Special #6." It's based on a 1978 Ironhead Sportster.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bryan Fuller's ShoGun Cafe Racer in Latest Cafe Racer Magazine

Cafe Racer Magazine Issue 25
I picked up a copy of the latest issue of Cafe Racer, one of my favorite bike mags, at Barnes & Noble yesterday. The cover article features famed hot-rod builder Bryan Fuller's "ShoGun" Honda CB-550 cafe racer.

The engraved metalwork --- tank, headlight shell, engine covers, and fork legs --- is what really makes the bike stand out... Fuller commissioned legendary metal engraver Tay Herrera (aka Tarrera) to design and create the Japanese-themed engravings. Go here for a video of Tarrera at work with his chisels and hammers on the ShoGun.

ShoGun's Engraved Fork Legs
Pictured at the lower left here are closeup shots of ShoGun's engraved fork legs. An extensive gallery of pics showing details of ShoGun's metalwork is available here at Digital Press Images.

Car Guys: The Speed Hunters blog has a collection of great pics of Bryan Fuller's 1960 Caddy "Thundertaker" hearse, taken at the SEMA 2012 show.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Zero to Maker": David Lang & the Maker Culture

OpenROV Open-Source Underwater Robot
David Lang's life was upended when he lost his office job in 2011. In his telling, he felt that he'd lost not just a job, but his future with it, and consequently had to "rethink his entire entire career trajectory." He realized that by skipping high school shop classes, he'd never learned the fundamental, hands-on skills needed to make or repair useful things. His response was to learn those skills by plunging headlong into the maker culture. Within a few months he'd taken every class he could get into at the Tech Shop in San Francisco: wood working, laser cutting, CNC machining, and so on.

Within in a year of that intense learning experience, he became a partner in OpenROV, a business that has designed and developed and open-source underwater exploration robot. A successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the OpenROV robot project raised over $111.6K. Now David and his partner, Eric Stackpole, are busy keeping up with the orders for OpenROV kits that are pouring in from around the world.

David and Eric have started a blog at the OpenROV website to chronicle how and where OpenROV customers are using the robot around the world. It also serves as a place to exchange ideas about applications for the robot. The OpenROV is an open-source hardware project, so many users are already modifying the basic robot with new features, such as grappling arms and additional cameras.

David was also invited by the crew at MAKE magazine to blog about his experiences and other maker topics at the MAKE website under the moniker "Zerotomaker."  Now he's come back to Kickstarter to raise funds for a book about his transition from laid-off office drone to entrepreneur titled Zero to Maker. His Kickstarter campaign closed a week ago with a total of $49.5K, many times the target of $2,500.

We've embedded a video of the OpenROV robot in action below, check it out.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pussies Galore: Cats Are Taking Over the World

Well, they already rule the Internet; for example, Mara the cat's YouTube channel has over twice the video views of the US White House channel. Recently we learned that researchers at Google created an "artificial brain,"  a massively-parallel computer with 16,000 processors, and the first thing they did with it was?... Put it to work watching videos of cats on the web, training it to recognize the faces of cats.

William Langley, writing in the London Telegraph, inspired by the news that Hasbro is replacing the clothing-iron token in its classic Monopoly board game with a cat token, probes the mystery of how and why the domestic house cat, an animal lacking what economists call "specific utility" --- i.e., they are useless ---  has come to be such an iconic fixture in our global popular culture:

Beyond the hard-to-refute argument that they are the world’s most useless animals, cats appear to have everything going their way. In the past 20 years, they have overtaken dogs to become Britain’s most popular pet, relentlessly raised their social profile, and colonised the internet to such an extent that Google has now installed special programmes to monitor their advance.
For what can appear, at first acquaintance, to be a small, fur-coated, heat-seeking digestive tract that sleeps 16 hours a day, this is some achievement. Not that the cats show any signs of easing up. Last week they pulled off another significant coup in having the iron thrown out of the Monopoly set. To be replaced by… a cat.

It's a very funny article, worth a read. And check out the crazy antics of Maru, the Internet's most famous cat, in the video below.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Very Informative 3D Printing Blog at

If you are interested in 3D printing, check out's very fine blog that focuses exclusively on news of and developments in that technology and business.

Also check out Chris Anderson's new book on the Maker culture, open source design, and 3D printing via our Amazon affiliate link below, available in hardback and Kindle.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cafe Racer Design Photo Gallery

Cafe racer fans, check out, a huge gallery of high quality pics of cafe racers from around the world.

Wood Filament for 3D Printing from Formfutura

Form Futura LAYWOOD-D3 Filament
Formfutura sells 3D printing filaments in various materials, including ABS, PLA, and nylon. They are offering a new material, LAYWOOD-D3, that consists of wood fibers in a polymer binder. It is available for RepRap style printers in 1.75mm and 3.0mm diameters. The wood content is 45%.

Formfutura claims that objects printed with LAYWOOD-D3 will look and even smell like wood. They also say that interesting effects can be obtained by varying the temperature during printing: the finished material becomes darker as the printing temperature is increased. For example, the maker can simulate the appearance of a tree's growth rings or wood grain.

Check out the video below in which the print is controlled to give the printed object the appearance of growth rings.

Tip of the hat to Fabbaloo for bringing this to our attention.

DeltaMaker 3D Printer Kickstarter Project

DeltaMaker 3D Printer
The developers of the DeltaMaker 3D printer ask, "Why does a 3D printer have to look like a microwave oven?" So, they've taken a unique and elegant approach to 3D printing that employs a delta robot mechanism rather than the usual raster-scanning print mechanism.

The development team has gone to Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to bring the DeltaMaker to market. The Kickstarter funding effort is currently at $96K committed with 26 days to go, closing in on a goal of $107K. The printer pldege price ranges from the $1,399 "early adopters" special, to $1,499 for students and teachers, to $1,599 for all Kickstarters throughout the duration of the pledge period.

Delta robots per se are not a new technology, they've been around for decades, but I believe the DeltaMaker is the first commercial 3D printer based on this mechanism. Delta robots can be made very fast and are often employed in pick-and-place and packaging applications where speed is a virtue; for example, there is a great video of a small delta robot performing pick-and-place assembly here.

The three arms you see holding the print head are parallelograms that restrict motion of the print head to the x-y axis. As the build proceeds, the three arms are pulled upward by a motor as the layers of fused plastic filament are put down. The designers claim an astounding 100micron layer resolution in a build volume of approximately 9" diameter and 11" height.

Watch the embedded video below to see the DeltaMaker in action.

Update: The DeltaMaker Kickstarter fundraiser was successfully completed yesterday (Mar. 1st) with $152.6K pledged, well over its $107K goal. Congratulations to the DeltaMaker team.

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