Brainings, Free Range Technology, Idiotic or Inspired?

3-Bit Video Abstraction Project

My employer makes a nifty little 12-volt LED light that contains separate RGB (red/green/blue) diodes. It’s  3/4-inch in diameter and intended for rugged, outdoor environments — specifically decorative use on carnival rides. The cool thing is that it can change color on command. It has four separate wires — one power plus three separate ground leads — so that the three colors are independently controllable. The result is that the unit can display the eight colors of the 3-Bit RGB palette by powering the diodes alone and in combination.

I began thinking about taking the technology for driving LED matrices and scaling it up to use this light. I thought an LED monitor of sorts made from the company’s products might be an intersting promotional tool, such as at trade shows. The larger lens size and greater viewing angle would make it more akin to an incandescent scoreboard than a desktop circuit board. That would be fairly well suited to scoreboard-style scrolling text and simple animations, but what if you want to display video?

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Idiotic or Inspired?

Saturday Star


Star radial that is, and quite the diminutive one at that! Right after the jump, check out a video of a double star radial engine, built by José Manuel Hermo Barreiro “Patelo”. “10 cylinders and 10 longitudinal camshafts drafts to 36º. It´s made with artisanal methods.It has variable pitch propeller, works with compressed air and with only 0,2 kg/cm2. The diameter of the cylinders is 18 mm and the stroke of the pistons is 16 mm. The displacement is 40,7 cm3. Probably it´s the smallest double star engine of the world.” I don’t know about you, but ‘probably‘ is good enough for me! There is some very impressive tiny workmanship here, so take a look!

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Idiotic or Inspired?

Pigeons In S-P-A-C-E!


As you will see, not actually space, but zero gravity, well, I suppose actually microgravity, or whatever, on the Vomit Comet. Or a Vomit Comet, probably there is more than one. The point being, if watching pigeons fly erratically while they float, accompanied by surprisingly well dressed bird handlers (especially considering that whole birds poop constantly thing), then hit the jump!

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Idiotic or Inspired?

Big Dig Update!


Last week, you may recall, we mentioned there was a quest afoot this very weekend, and you might have found yourself wondering this morning just how that quest went yesterday. Well, color me pleasantly surprised, but turns out there may have been some truth to an urban legend for once!

Lo and behold, they hit paydirt. The findings started out very promising, with an old, dusty Atari 2600 joystick buried in the landfill. Then an “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridge. A box. An instruction manual. And the confirmation of “a lot more down there.” How many more, we don’t know just yet — but at this point, we can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there. Crazy, isn’t it!? And it sounds like some other games are down there, too: Centipede, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and possibly more. “Lots of boxes” is what we’re hearing. (XBox Wire.)

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Idiotic or Inspired?

Doing Anything Next Weekend?


I have a bit of an odd interest in the E.T. Atari game, especially that whole urban legend thousands of cartridges buried in the desert thing. We have previously discussed it in a post of the 1981 Atari catalog, as well as when the Internet Archive came out with a vintage video game database. As it turns out, I am not the only one, and someone is doing something about it!

“Become a part of gamer history. Unearth the truth behind the ultimate urban legend. We’re excited to announce that the excavation of the long-rumored “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” video game burial site will occur on April 26, 2014 and will be open to the public. Spectators are invited to watch the team uncover the infamous Atari game cartridge grave.” (XboxWire.)

Fuel Entertainment and Xbox Entertainment Studios have managed to wrangle the rights to do a pseudo-archeological expedition and try to find the lost games, and it is happening next Saturday! And you can play a part! They are inviting any interested parties to come out and play, and who knows, yours could be the shovel that unearths the truth!

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Idiotic or Inspired?

Doubtful Cases of Death

The 1800s were a time of renaissance in the medical field. Anasthesia came into widespread use, the cleanliness of operating rooms was finally made a priority, germ theory replaced spontaneous generation theory or “the vapors”, and vaccines for a variety of plagues were developed. Despite this, determining if someone was dead or alive […]

Idiotic or Inspired?

Planes And Trains

A while back we looked at the Gibralter Airport, which has a road running across the runway. Well, Gisborne Airport in New Zealand, in an attempt to one up the tiny British territory, has a set of active train tracks that cross its one paved runway. Now, you might be thinking that this […]

Idiotic or Inspired?

A Better Pizza Cutter

Our friends at ThinkGeek have a better pizza cutter. For those who find cutting a straight line challenging, they have put a Picatinny tactical rail system on a pizza cutter and equipped it with a laser/flash light. Yes. You can cut your pizza in the dark with precision.

This is cool and […]

Idiotic or Inspired?

Panjandrums and Other Nonsense


So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! No soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

That quote from Samuel Foote was a test of his rival Charles Macklin’s assertion that he could memorize any text after hearing it only once. It also was the inspiration for the naming of a two-ton spinning wheel of Nazi death during WWII.

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Idiotic or Inspired?


Um, that's not right.

Um, that’s not right.

A coworker and I were just talking about the confusion in our country between English (aka Christian) and Metric (aka Heathen) units. I fell solidly in the heathen camp, as I much prefer working in Metric units. I’m slowly learning to think in those units, as well.

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