Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ace Cafe Racer Builder, Steve "Carpy" Carpenter

Carpy's "Road Warrior" Honda Cafe Racer
Steve "Carpy" Carpenter of SoCal-based Nostalgia Cycles specializes in cafe racer builds. Great designs, beautifully executed. His website,,  has been redesigned recently to show off his work to greater advantage... a lot of great pics of his work there, especially the gallery of cafe racers he's built over the years.

The "Cool and Weird Combined" page  is a gallery of highly unusual vehicles and bicycles that Carpy has collected, like the bicycle pictured here on the left with the six-cylinder Honda engine that apparently acts as a chassis member. Weird, and cool, definitely.

Weird and Cool
Carpy has a fairly extensive product line of cafe racer parts and accessories, such as seats and clubman handlebars. So, if you are building a cafe racer, check out his online parts store.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The "Power Pot" Energy Harvesting Thermoelectric Generator

The Power Pot at Campsite
Advances in materials science and semiconductor engineering have given us powerful computing, communications, and sensing devices that require relatively little energy to operate. Consequently, it has recently become practical to harvest small but useful amounts of energy from the environment around us and put it to use powering our gadgets.

For example, piezoelectric devices that convert mechanical motion (e.g., vibration) to electricity are being used now to power sensors that monitor the health of structures or machinery. The vibrations of the system the sensor is attached to our embedded in, such as a bridge or an industrial motor, provide the mechanical energy that the piezoelectric transducer converts to electricity. If the sensor detects a problem or pending failure, the user can be alerted over a wireless connection.

Solar cells are another, more obvious example but have the disadvantage of generating power only during daylight hours, of course, and work best on sunny days. On yet another front, some scientists and engineers are developing commercial products that capture the ambient radio frequency energy of broadcast television, radio stations, and cellular phone systems and convert it to direct current for powering ultra-low power electronics.

The engineers at Power Practical are harvesting environmental energy by exploiting yet another energy conversion process called the Seebeck Effect, in which a current flows across the junctions of two joined, dissimilar metals when they experience a temperature differential. We've just learned about Power Practical's Power Pot, which generates electricity for recharging phones, GPS receivers, and so on by converting the thermal energy of heated water. Pack a Power Pot along with you on a camping trip and you can keep your mobile devices working even without access to an electrical outlet.

The Power Pot consists of an aluminum pot with a Seebeck Effect module built into it, and a voltage regulator module that functions as the battery charger. The voltage regulator is connected to the output of the Seebeck module with a high-temperature cable. The voltage regulator's output is a standard USB power connection at 5Volts supplying up to 1Amp; i.e., 5Watts. Fill the pot with water, heat it over a campfire or campstove, plug your mobile device into the charger with a USB cable, and it'll be good to go in awhile.

A technical explanation of the Power Pot's operation is given here.

The Power Pot is yet another innovative product funded through a Kickstarter campaign. It retails for $149. We will be watching to see how it fares in the marketplace in the months to come.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Oblivion Movie Trailers 2 & 3, Tom Cruise & Morgan Freeman Sci-Fi Flick

Trailers 2 and 3 have been released for Oblivion, directed by Joseph Kosinksi (TRON: Legacy), starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko. Oblivion will be in theaters April 19.

Cruise stars as Jack Harper, a combat drone repairman, patrolling the skies thousands of feet above an Earth devastated sixty years before in a war with aliens known as the Scavs. He spies a downed spacecraft and descends to the surface to investigate. He finds a survivor in an escape pod, a woman (Olga Kurylenko) of mysterious origins. He is taken captive by a band of humans living in the ruins, who are led by Morgan Freeman's character, Malcolm Beech. He is then forced to confront everything the truth about Earth's recent history and the war with the Scavs.

We've embedded trailer 3 below, you can see trailer 2 here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

BikeCraft Spring 2013 Issue on the Newstands Now

Sbay Motor Company "Jerry" Custom
I picked up a copy of the Spring issue of BikeCraft magazine yesterday. As we've come to expect from Dave Edwards and the crew there, it's filled front to back with gorgeous pics of custom bikes of all brands, from mildly customized daily riders to way over the top professional builds, like the Sbay Motor Company's "Jerry" muscle bike you see to the left here.

Also featured was an elegant and refined Sportster-powered cafe racer from Asterisk Custom Cycles of Japan, the "Avanzare."

Asterisk "Avanzare"
Check it out, there's something for every moto fan: bobbers, cafe racers, brat bikes...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3D Printed Gun Shoots Over 600 Rounds

Download a design file to you 3D printer and make a gun at home? Looks like that capability is here for real now...

Tech site ars technica reports that Cody Wilson of Texas has demonstrated a 3D printed AR-15 type "lower receiver" that withstood the firing of well over 600 rounds of .223 ammo. You can see it in action in the video embedded below.

Wired magazine's Danger Room staff tagged Cody Wilson as one of its "15 Most Dangerous People in the World" in December 2012.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fluevog "Libby Smith" Vintage Boots

John Fluevog "Libby Smith" Boots
John Fluevog created these boots to honor the memory of Montana's legendary pioneer girl, Libby Smith. I think they have a kind of cool steampunk vibe.

In 1889 at the age of sixteen, Libby was taken captive by a tribe of Native American Indians, along with a group of other settlers. In the ensuing months, captives were made to run a gauntlet of tomahawk-wielding warriors. Few made it through without suffering a fatal wound.

For five months Libby was spared the gauntlet by the tribe's chief. Then one night, as she stood again before the gauntlet, she sensed that her favor with the chief had run out. But while the chief hesitated, she saw that the warriors in the gauntlet were watching him to see if he would relent yet again. Libby took advantage of their distraction, bolting suddenly down the line of the gauntlet. She made it most of the way through before being struck in the head with a near-fatal blow. Over the next few weeks, she was nursed back to health by the chief's daughter. Not long after, she was rescued by the US Army in a prisoner exchange.

Libby later married a member of the Montana 3-7-77 vigilantes. She was the first white woman to settle in the Teton River Valley, where she befriended the Blackfeet Indian people. Today she is remembered as "The Cattle Queen of Montana."

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