Working on the Railroad

This really is pretty cool to watch, it’s mesmerizing. It’s amazing really how something like this was engineered. It’s a work of art to be sure. (Note, when I first watched this video, the color was fine, watching it now, it doesn’t look like the color is working, hopefully that’s fixed).
{Potato Feed}

Army Man Bowl

Army Man Bowl finished

Instructables user N36 has put together a short Instructable on how to make a fruit bowl out of Army Men.  It’s only 7 steps long, two of which are gather supplies, and add the fruit.  I like the idea, but sadly, these bowls are kind of useless for anything that’s not small enough to fit through the holes.  Also, it’s a sad demise for all these toy soldiers.  I think if you used the Tan Army Men, the clear enemies in the universe.

Army Man Bowl in progress

Books within Books

Books in Books

kaitlanm has carved little tiny books.  I’ve posted before about alternative uses for books.  Much of the time, the backlash about the book mutilation is large, but I think this time it should be alright.  It’s not apparent if the tiny books in there are actual books, or if they’re just props.  It would be cool if they were like those little tiny dictionaries.  Also, that fireplace actually flickers, cool right?

Here are a few more photos on the imgur album.

A Square Bike

square bike

reddit user his_name_is_aaron has made his own bike.  Instead of a traditional curved bike, with different angles, he choose to use right angles.  Well, right angles except for the front wheel, I’m not sure why.  It’s nice looking, but looks uncomfortable, and only has one gear, which makes it really limited.

He based the idea off of Michael Ubbesen Jakobsen’s baubike.

square bike plans

You can check out his whole imgur album here.  And yes, it does in fact work, despite what some people seem to think:

LEGO Car

If this morning’s ION Thruster was too slow, or dangerous for you to build, try your hand at this more traditional building block, LEGO bricks:

Comprised of about half a million bricks, it’s powered by 256 cylinders which in turn are powered by compressed air.  Everything is built out of LEGOs (except for maybe the tires).  The doors, the steering wheel, the seat, the crankshaft, it’s all LEGO.  This is pretty ace if you ask me.  All in all, Raul Oaida from Romania secured $20,000 to build this awesome toy.

{imgur}

DIY ION Thruster Fan

ION engines are super cool.  They produce thrust with just electricity, no moving parts, no exhaust, no problems.  Well, one problem actually, the thrust produced is pretty minuscule for the input energy required.  The only place it works is in space, where there’s no friction to overcome and constant slow acceleration can eventually lead to very great speeds.

ION engine 1

Well, Alex Reifsynder over at MAKE has put together a short series of steps to make your very own ion thruster, except you won’t be making any super cool vehicles, instead you will have a small, expensive to operate and dangerous fan.  Good luck, it’s pretty cool, haha, get it.

Humans vs. Cameras

Have you ever wondered what how accurate night sky photographs are at recreating what a human eye can see?  Well, flickr user inefekt69 has decided to travel to the a spot known as The Pinnacles in Western Australia and try and capture the difference.

night sky compare

He took a 30 second exposure at f/2.8 ans ISO 3200, and took note of what he could actually see.  When he got back he did some post-processing work, adjusting the levels, and color until he got the resulting photo as close to his memory as possible.  Overall, I’d say he did a pretty good job of representing what the human eye can see, and then comparing it to what a camera lens can capture over time.

One thing I will say however is that his memory shows far too few stars.  At least, when I’ve been out to dark sky places in the Western United States, I remember the night sky being filled with stars, thousands of little pin-pricks.  That could just be the time of the year, and the position in the night sky west Utah is compared to West Australia.

{Peta Pixel}

Concrete LEGO Molds

LEGO Bricks are pretty much usable for anything.  Ben Uyeda has decided he wants to build his own Nesting Table design out of concrete.  He also decided to use the easy to assemble LEGO bricks as his mold of choice.  The best part is that the LEGOs aren’t even remotely close to being ruined or destroyed.  Some soapy water will clean them up in no time.

{MAKE}

Over-Engineered Door

door 1

How can you over-engineer a door you might ask?  Well, that’s a question answered by Matharoo Associates.  They’ve designed, and built this interesting door above.  It’s made of 40 individual sections of Teak, with 160 pulleys, 80 ball bearings, and a wire rope connected to a counterweight.  Opening the door happens with a wave of each piece of Teak.  It’s an elegant door, but completely over-engineered, for sure.

{MAKE|Design Milk}

Denali National Park

Denali With Flag

This is the first entry into a profile of the National Parks of Alaska.  This is a part of my 18 month process to update you all on my experiences putting together the ultimate Alaska expedition.  There are 23 units of the National Park System in Alaska, 8 of those are National Parks.  I’ll start the series off with the first park in the state, Denali.

Denali National Park & Preserve (the preserve is a separate unit in the NPS), covers over 6 million acres of land, (almost the size of the state of Massachusetts), including the tallest peak in North America, Denali, (more commonly known as Mt. McKinley).  The park was initially protected in 1917, 42 years before the territory of Alaska became a state.  Over the years, the park boundaries have been expanded, but people have been kept out.  Unlike the early parks in the lower 48, Denali only has one partially paved road, the high elevation, and weather make paving the entire length unsustainable.  Private vehicles are only allowed on the first 15 miles of this 91 mile road, from then on it’s park run tour buses, or hiking.  Travel anywhere else in the park is achieved via hiking, bush plane, helicopter, or dog sled.  In fact, all 4 of those activities are popular throughout the year.

relief map

Glaciers, tall peaks, tundra, and forests make up the majority of the park, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a truly beautiful place.  Geographically, Denali National Park is located 170 miles due north from Anchorage, but naturally, that’s not a straight drive up.  Luckily, there is a highway you can take, or the Alaska Railroad, or you can fly into the park on a bush plane.  How you get into the park doesn’t matter as much as what you plan on doing when you get there.  If you only have a day, then there are guided tours up the 90 mile road, on the way you can see caribou, bears, wolves, and dall sheep, if you’re lucky that is, wildlife is always tough to spot close to the road where humans are.

There are a couple of miles of established trails in the park, they are clustered around the visitor center, but also, unlike the more popular parks of the lower 48, off-trail hiking is allowed throughout Denali National Park.  Experienced hikers, or those going on tours are able to see parts of the park that very few of the 400,000 annual visitors ever see.  In fact, very few people of the world venture into the remote places of the park.  Most tours and outfitters go to a handful of spots that they have scouted out before, that makes things easier.  However, if you do choose to venture into the great unknown uncharted land of Denali, please be prepared, plenty of people have died thinking they could make it.

Denali Visitor Center Webcam image

The above photo is a still from Denali Visitor Center webcam.  There are a 7 more web cams you can look over, some aren’t operational as of this writing, it’s still pretty snow covered up there in April.  I know I’ve only scratched the surface, but I don’t know what else to write.  What do you want to know about these parks?  There’s too much out there, and I don’t want to just regurgitate wikipedia.  Let me know in the comments below and I’ll take it into account for the next park, unfortunately, I haven’t decided which one it will be just yet.