All posts by Paul Danger Kile

dangerismymiddlename.com

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest

What are Strandbeest?

(Originally published on 2016/08/31.)

Theo Jansen invented the strandbeest. He describes them as “new forms of life” that “live their own lives“. That’s not accurate though. These aren’t alive by any scientific definition of the word.

Most of the strandbeest leg-bones share the same relative lengths. Mr Jansen calls these ratios “the holy numbers“. Trying every possible combination of ratios was an intractable problem, so Mr Jansen used an evolutionary approach, with a computer simulation, to get to the optimal ratios in a reasonable amount of time. 

There are many full-sized, strandbeest videos, but I am only going to post one here:

 

The remaining links will be to smaller strandbeest that you-too can own.

I Built My Own Strandbeest

I have three kits. I finished the first one (minus the propeller). Here are Adam Savage’s builds of the same three kits:

All three kits are available from multiple sources, at a wide range of prices. The Amazon.com links (below), are some of the more affordable versions.

Kit #1

My first build was a scale working model of Animaris Ordis Parvus. It’s the Vol. 30 Gakken kit. You can find it here:

Here’s another version of Animaris Ordis Parvus. This one is in English:

Kit #2

The second kit is Gakken’s “Biped Walking Robot”. It comes as a Japanese “mook” (model+book):

Kit #3

The third kit is Gakken’s scale model of Animaris Rhinoceros Parvus. The English edition is branded as “Jr. Scientist”, but it’s actually the Gakken kit:

Hexbug’s Motorized, Steerable, Strandbeest

Hexbug sells two sizes of strandbeest. They are four legged versions similar-to Animaris Ordis Parvus. They go forwards, backwards, and turn. They do this by using two motors and crankshafts instead of one.

The Animaris Ordis Parvus Gakken kit’s crankshaft is actually split-able in the center, so one could potentially create something like these from that kit.

Here is the larger version, called Vex Robotics Strandbeast XL, which is a kit:

Here is the smaller version, called Hexbug Tarantula, which is pre-built:

Lego Strandbeests

Jason Allemann from JK Brickworks has created a Lego steerable strandbeest. It’s web page is here.

Jason shares step-by-step PDF instructions on how to build the legs here.

This is my favorite Lego steerable strandbeest. It’s Lego Ideas page is here. Unfortunately Lego will not be releasing this as a kit.

Here’s a Lego version of Theo Jansen’s Animaris Rhinoceros Parvus. It’s Lego Ideas page is here. Unfortunately Lego will not be releasing this as a kit.

Here is OSchoe’s Mindstorms Lego steerable strandbeest. It’s web page is here.

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Total FAWDOT

(Originally written on 2015-05-08 as /archives/7136)

Here is an image of Eno L. Camino getting FAWDOT. I am in “good company”, apparently.

IMG_20150419_223856-Edit-512x384
Kay took a photo of me playing an exciting game of Destiny (online multiplayer). I fell asleep, and woke up, six times. I have no idea what the other players thought I was doing.

Last week I was totally FAWDOT (falling asleep while doing other things). I cannot drive when I get this way:

  • I fell asleep while sitting: repeatedly.
  • I fell asleep while standing.
  • I fell asleep while playing video games.

Gary gets totally FAWDOT here. Yes, I actually fell asleep there. (And yes, I realize that the comic is actually a restroom pun, but I find my humor where I find it.)

I have systemic exertion intolerance disorder/ myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (pick a name, pick an abbreviation: SEID/ME/CFS).

Kay again: what a joker.
Kay again: what a joker.

This is a rebuttal to some myths:

  • Please don’t say, “At least you get to sleep.” I am just as tired when I wake up. Do you want to know what I really want to do? I want to be a computer programmer. I did that for 20 years, but I can no longer do that.
  • Some people don’t believe that it exists, because they can’t see it. People can’t see headaches either, but they believe in them, because headaches are so common that most of us have had one. “I can’t see it, so it doesn’t exist” is a misuse of Occam’s Razor.
  • It is not only fatigue. Imagine having the flu, while being drunk, and staying awake for two days, and you will have an idea of what this is like. Yes, there are good days, and there are bad days, but my good days still require 16 hours of sleep. The bad days require twenty hours.
  • It is serious: “CDC studies show that CFS can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and similar chronic conditions.”
  • It is not, or not only, caused by mononucleosis. A person with ME/CFS can usually tell you exactly what viral infection preceded their condition. The answer is different for different people.
  • It is not depression. A person with ME will tell you what they would be doing (kayaking, photography, riding motorcycles) if they could. People that are depressed don’t have that “positive” (for lack of a better word) outlook. That said: a person can have both.
  • It is not only seen in women. 20% of people with ME/CFS are men.
  • There is no known cure.
  • It is not the “yuppie disease”. “This term was popularized in a November 1990 Newsweek cover story… It reflects a stereotype that CFS mainly affects yuppies, and implies that it is a form of burnout. The phrase is considered offensive by patients and clinicians.
  • It is not a new, made-up, diagnosis. It has also been known as (from here, here, and here.):
    • Neurasthenia (as early as 1829)
    • Chronic Epstein-Barr virus syndrome
    • Chronic mononucleosis
    • Low natural killer syndrome
    • Atypical poliomyelitis
    • Tapanui flu
    • Royal Free disease
    • Epidemic neuromyasthenia
    • Post-viral illness
    • Florence Nightingale disease
    • Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS)
    • Neuroendocrineimmune disorder
    • Myalgic encephalopathy.

10384217_931931046853020_6188572755614860824_n

My spouse bought me a t-shirt that says, “Regrettably, all the good paying jobs start before I wake up.”

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are emergency rooms really that big a drag on the medical system?

(Originally posted in 2009 as /archives/2634)

By Thierry Geoffroy (Thierry Geoffroy) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My how things have changed since I wrote this essay in 2009. Governor Romney pandered to the voters in the 2012 Presidential Election—by continuously insulted the President of the United States for adopting a national health care plan—that is almost exactly like Governor Romney’s plan for Massachusetts. Massachusetts’ plan works, and Romney knows it; that’s why he signed-it, and that’s why the United States adopted it.

Our country has adopted Governor Romney’s and Massachusetts’ health care plan, and Governor Romney pandered to the Republican voters by insulting the

This is a new version of my contributions to Are emergency rooms really that big a drag on the medical system? on The Straight Dope board (A message board for fans of The Straight Dope).  I highly recommend The Straight Dope.   If your favorite newspaper doesn’t carry it, then go here. Everyone knows Snopes.com. The Straight Dope has a different purpose, but it is Snopes equal in the fight against ignorance.

Emergency rooms shouldn’t be free, but they must help everyone, and some never pay the bill. If a patient doesn’t pay her bill, then who ends up paying it? The hospital does at first, but ultimately we all do. As Shodan said, “If you are mandated to treat everyone whether they can pay or not, you have to charge those who pay more to cover for those who don’t.” We now have a national health care system without a detailed policy for those that cannot pay. The patients, the insurance companies, and the Physicians have little means of controlling those costs.

I was in poverty for many years. I am certainly not against care for the poor. Being “against” national health care is meaningless. We have had it for some time (whether we are talking about Medicaid, Medicare, or yes, those that simply don’t pay). The question is whether we want control over what is happening, or not, and “not” is just bad business.

How bad is the problem? Go here to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Million Dollar Murray. Here is a teaser quote: “Culhane estimates that in New York at least sixty-two million dollars was being spent annually to shelter just those twenty-five hundred hard-core homeless.”

Being against national health care is unreasonable. We have it, we just do it really badly. Lets stop doing it badly.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Walkaround: Cessna Bird Dogs and Piper AE-1

(Post date: 2016-08-30.)

I usually only accept my images when they “make a good picture”. These walkarounds have a different priority. In this case it’s to get as much detail as possible for modelers: free flight, paper, RC, styrene kits, all types.

This post is for the Cessna Bird Dog and similar warbirds (including a Piper AE-1). The bird dog was most famously used in Vietnam to find targets. There were Airforce pilots in large propeller planes, and fast jets, but then there were the people that flew these tiny little airplanes at low level, while being shot at, to find targets, and downed pilots.

If you have any interest in these airplanes, or the soldiers that flew them, then you need to read Mark Berent’s books. He was there. The books are excellent.

If you would like the highest resolution versions of these copyrighted images, or prints, then please let me know, and I will upload them to Redbubble.com or 500px.com.

N3752L

Airplane Model: (1962?) Taylorcraft DCO-65
N3752L - TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Left

N4763E

Airplane Model: 1951 CESSNA 305 D
Engine Type: Continental O-470 A&C65 Series
N4763E - 1951 CESSNA 305 D - Instrument Panel

N3044L

Airplane Model: Piper AE-1 (1942 Piper J5C)
Engine Type: Lycoming O-235-C

This one’s an ambulance (with a mannequin in it). To see what the ambulance looks like with the top closed, see the background of the first N50573 image below.

The bird dogs are related to the Cessna 170, this one’s related to the Piper J5 Cub.
N3044L - 1942 PIPER J5C - Ambulance

N50573

Airplane Model: 1942 Taylorcraft DCO-65
Engine Type: Continental A&C65 Series
N50573 - 1942 TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Birddog - Right

N50573 - 1942 TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Birddog - Front and Filter

N50573 - TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Left Distance

N50573 - 1942 TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Birddog - Left

 

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Real "An Inconvenient Truth"

(The top part was originally posted on Dec 21, 2007 as /archives/131, and the lower part was originally posted on Jan 7, 2009 as /archives/1939)

 

I don’t know how many times I see green=biodiesel. No it does not. Perfect combustion produces C02 and H2O. Bio diesel is very inefficient, but even at its most efficient, it would be adding more CO2.

CO2 is required by the photosynthesis process. Breathing and burning put more CO2 in the air, plants take the carbon out of the air, and return the Oxygen to the air. Burning is done to provide things to animals. Both processes that add CO2 (burning and breathing) are done by, and for, animals. The only natural process that removes carbon is done by plants (animals get the carbon by eating the plants). If you assume that global warming is real, then the only logical conclusion is too many animals, not enough plants.

The real cause of rising CO2 levels?  Population growth.  Not even Al Gore is willing to talk about that, but that’s what it is.  Al Gore showed us those sharply-rising graphs in An Inconvenient Truth, he even showed the corresponding population growth graph, but he didn’t suggest that we lower the population.

We need less people:

  • Let’s say you lower your CO2 production by 50%, but you also have children, (“All right: you lower your CO2 production by 50%, but you also have children.”) and your children have children, and so on.  So, you divided your CO2 production in half but you potentially are responsible for creating 100 times (or… pick a number) that amount of CO2, because you created descendants, that created descendants, and so on, and they all use energy.
  • Why aren’t folks talking about this?  …because it means telling people not to have babies, and people will not stop having babies.
  • Read Maybe One.

Plants breath CO2: yes, that “evil” carbon footprint is potentially good for plants. The natural carbon-sequestration solution isn’t all of this sci-fi, it is more plants, but more plants means less room for other things that people want.   Raising livestock uses more energy than raising plant-produce.  If we raise less livestock and more plant-produce, then the plants will be sequestering CO2, and less energy will be wasted creating food.

I love electric cars, and I would really like an electric motorcycle. I have been replacing our crazy Lutron switches (these things give new meaning to the words “poor user interface“) with ones that are compatible with CFLs, and using the CFLs.  I would rather get electricity from wind, solar, and hydro.

Carbon dioxide is not toxic though.  It’s a natural part of our world that is absolutely essential for life on earth. No CO2 means no plants.  No plants means we all die.  Admittedly too much of anything can be bad for you, but I don’t want to hear about my “carbon footprint” from people that aren’t willing to do what’s necessary to change their own.


 

Many people think that ethanol is OK, because the CO2 that gets put back into the atmosphere was removed from the atmosphere, so there is no net gain, but that is true for ALL fuels.  ALL CO2 came from the atmosphere.  Besides, it takes more than one gallon of oil to create the nitrogen based fertilizer needed to create less than one gallon of ethanol, let alone the energy used to transport it, process it, etc.   …and ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline.

I love properly designed electric vehicles.  Powerful electric motors move diesel trains, so they can sure move an automobile, or a motorcycle, but electric vehicles are still much more expensive than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Who killed the electric car? You don’t need a movie to answer that question. The batteries would have cost more than a new car to replace, yet needed to be replaced too often. Did the movie mention that? No? (I actually got to see GM’s electric car, the EV1,  before it was unveiled. I worked at the GM Powertrain Engineering Center in Warren MI.)

I like wind farms, and solar, and geothermal, but technology is not enough.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rockwell OV-10 Bronco

What a beautiful, powerful, airplane.

I hate violence, but I love military vehicles. Planes are always cool!

I am currently reading Da Nang Diary: A Forward Air Controller’s Gunsight View of Flying with SOG. The OV-10 Bronco is one of the stars of the story. Here are some cool photos.

I remember my father building a model of this plane. The instructions claimed that it could carry five troops. But Tom Yarborough, who flew the plane, and wrote the book, never said anything like that about that much luggage space, and too much weight in the back of an airplane is dangerous. (Although you can find drawings on the web showing five people back there: four sitting, and one standing. Maybe with no weapons, and no external fuel tanks?)

By USN (Official U.S. Navy photograph [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jakub Haun (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jakub Haun (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jakub Haun (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Train Snow Bomb

(Originally posted on Jan 28, 2016 as /archives/10709)

I lived immediately next to the tracks in Potsdam NY (30 Larnard St. Potsdam NY). The driveway was next to the tracks. The end of the driveway was where the road and the tracks intersected. When the train came through the newly plowed street’s snow would explode. I made sure I was there when it did. It looked like this.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter