James May, A Toys Story, Touches on Power Systems

My favorite BBC presenter is James May of Top Gear fame. He has several series if you wish to look them up. In this episode they race the Germans over a 10 mile course between two cities that at one time were connected with rail service. Lots of interesting contraptions, RC, Glow Engines, Lipo’s, the logic of how they powered the rails and etc… An interesting show touching on many topics any modeler would appreciate.


Curtiss-Wright VZ-7

Curtiss-Wright VZ-7Any time you think what you seen in your world experience is new, you should probably sit back and think again. Few things are new. Most things are just repeated visits to old idea’s. Sometimes the technology has changed making something simpler or better.

The VZ-7 flew from 1958 to 1960, however it failed to meet with Army standards and was returned to the the company. Apparently you can see this machine at the the Fort Rucker United States Army Aviation Museum.

I wonder when the description “Quad-Copter” was coined?

Wiki page on: Curtiss-Wright VZ-7

Another blog artical with more information on this subject: Strange Vehicles: Curtiss-Wright VZ-7


Can you think out of the block?

I love all things interesting mechanically or engineering wise. Check out this engine project. Great engineering and thought whet into this. You can tell by how simple it is. Any dummy can engineer a solution with great complexity. Genius is in working out simple solutions. Notice carefully how few parts he made or modified. While not a new idea, it’s well executed.


Balsa Kitchen? Killer RV Upgrades

Who hasn’t at one time or another considered converting a bus or some other service vehicle to an RV. You might enjoy The Travel Channels show Killer RV Upgrades. Find a Grumman Albatros converted to an RV complete with a balsa kitchen. (Chrome users may have to reload this page to view video player.)


Value Of Products

I don’t know if this has ever been written or theorized about. Perhaps it’s basic economics 101. However, I don’t think most people see a relationship that I’ve noticed for years.

There is an inverse relationship between the value of a product transaction how much effort is put into it’s sale.

Am I saying all advertising is an indication that a product is not a good deal? Not at all, however, I am saying an excessive amount of advertising of a product might be an indication that the cost of the product is much more than it’s value.

An extreme example would be a timeshare. Your not going to find any financial counselors who will recommend a time share as a purchase with high value. Most people who own them are sorry they every purchased. A critical look at the cost of “maintenance” fees would show for the amount of these fees you could probably buy a similar vacation each year anyway. If you look to buy a time share from an individual, you find they sell for about 10% of the original price down to free. People are anxious to get rid of them. How are they sold? GREAT effort where you are one on one with a high pressure sales person for hours. This is an example of a product with minimal value, maximum price and maximum effort required to sell.

A pencil is another mater. You walk into the store, nobody is going to twist your arm, urge you purchase, tell you 50 reasons why the pencil will make your life whole, health, improve your personal life. Nobody cares. You’ll never see a pencil commercial. You buy it or you don’t.

Think of popular TV products. It’s occasional fun to watch the info-commercials for me as I enjoy watching the salesman work. I like listening for the hot buttons, how he makes you want the product. I recently watched a commercial on the Ninja Blender. Hey, I would like to have that, or should I say, I’d like to have what I saw in the infomercial, the enjoyment and fun of the smoothies and ice drinks. If you buy this blender, the promise is you can have the healthy food, the pleasure and enjoyment of quick and each healthful food. What could be wrong with that? Notice however, the infomercials are 10 minute to 60 minute long sales pitches. Those infomercials don’t come cheap. When you buy that product, your paying for the commercial, the harder a product is pushed or advertised, the more of a gap must be between the cost of manufacture and the retail price of the product. For this statement not to be true would assume the company selling the product is doing it for a loss. In other words it assumes there is no profit motive and without a profit motive, nobody does anything. Look at the impoverished history of Russia where socialism demanded that very little of what a worker did was for his own benefit, nearly all of his effort was taken away to give to others. People set their tools aside and did as little as possible. Shortages of everything ensue. What proposes to have a “classless society” value ends up with a great devide between the rulling class and the poverty stricken working class. Ok, I’ve gotton off topic….

I will occasionally look one of the products up on Google. In this case, the blender is sold for about 3/4 the price (about $150) from retailers and mail order suppliers. If you respond to the infomercial, the price is about $200. So immediately we see the infomercial, (big sales effort) has a higher immeadiate price. We must also understand that because of many people that view the infomercial and are sold the idea the product is worth $200, the price does not need to be alot lower than that to sell in the store. It’s perceived value is $200 but hey, Joe’s Appliances has it for $159. It’s a great deal! We’ll, maybe, maybe not. Without the Infomercial, it might sell for about what most blenders do, $40-$100. I don’t know for sure, but it seems obvious to me.

We’ve all heard of supply and demand economics. Just remember that producers and sellers of products to some degree and for a short period of time are able to play with the supply and demand equation. Remember the oil embargo? Oil was held back from the USA in order to drive up prices. Supply was altered for a period of time. Altering demand is not hard, you can create demand if you have enough expected profit in the product to advertise it strongly. Temporarily the demand will be higher. Remember Ginsu knives and Ron Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman? These are products past their advertising driven temporary demand period.

The value of a product has an inverse relationship to the effort put into selling it.

Happy Shopping!


Amazing Inside Out Flipping Polyhedron Flying Machine

German automation company Festo has created an extraordinary helium-filled flying object that propels itself through the air by repeatedly turning itself inside-out.

SmartInversion combines an extremely lightweight body….. Read all about it at Wired.co.uk


Ryno Motors

At first I thought this was a fake viral video, however, it’s all true. Imagine a device that can go anywhere you walk, on the sidewalk, on the street, in an elevator or to the mall. Yet on only one wheel. It’s the on set of accelerometers and similar devices that are used in toy’s, phones and yes, in our hobby with FPV autopilots, multi rotor stabilizer boards and the like that make these kinds of device dreams a possibility. Could you build and program a project like this? You may not think you can, however, the stuff of this dream is all out there, all parts of the RC hobby you already are exposed to.

Explained in a diagram but not in words or text, if your quick, you see he’s telling you when it senses it’s leaning backward, it apply’s the brake or in the case of it standing still it reverses the motors. When it senses your leaning forward too much, it adds forward power to the motors to bring the wheel back under you. This is essentially how a Segway works. The mono-wheel seems so much more courageous however.

Visit Ryno Motors homepage.

Other attempts at the Monowheel:

And another take on this old problem:

History Channel Monowheel episode:

A Monowheel man powered cycle that really seems to work: