R/C Truck in Afghanistan Saves 6 Soldiers’ Lives

 Very cool use of off the shelf tech.

The little truck was used by the troops to run ahead of them on patrols and look for roadside bombs. Fessenden has had it since 2007, when Ernie and Kevin Guy, the owner of the Everything Hobby shop in Rochester, rigged it with a wireless video camera and shipped it to him.

Last week, it paid off. Chris Fessenden said he had loaned the truck to a group of fellow soldiers, who used it to check the road ahead of them on a patrol. It got tangled in a trip wire connected to what Fessenden guesses could have been 500 lbs. of explosives. The bomb went off. The six soldiers controlling the truck from their Humvee were unhurt.


Remote Controlled Truck Sent to Soldier in Afghanistan Saves 6 Soldiers’ Lives – ABC News.

No Lens Lasers

No lens laser stack

Impressive, technology like this might lead to all sorts of wonderful things. I’m thinking video projectors that use lasers and that have no moving parts of nasty super hot lamps (just super hot lasers, have to work on that…)

Researchers have now demonstrated a plasmonic collimator that utilizes grooves etched directly into the semiconductor laser facet. If the technique is adopted — Harvard University has applied for a patent on the process — then semiconductor lasers can be downsized to a bare die without a lens.

Lasers need lenses no more

Steampunk, is it Design or just Bad Taste?

Lightbulb projectI never saw ‘steampunk’ as being anything but a style, never a design aesthetic. Like pinstripes and white wall tires on cars of past. To me the ‘punk’ part of the word denotes a sense of anti establishment that says ‘we will create a computer mouse but we will use an obtuse way of making it work’. I think that ‘steampunk’ in the truest sense of the word goes well beyond adding gears and brass nails to something. A good example would be the guy at crabfu.com and the guy at datamancer.net. Both may call what they create ‘steampunk’ but to me only the steam powered remote controlled vehicles at Crabfu are truly works of ‘steampunk’. The other, with its modded cases,  is of ‘steampunk’ influence. Then again, I’m not a trained art critic.
I personally keep wanting to undertake some form of ‘steampunk’ artistic creation but I just can’t get to the point of coming up with a project that is more than a mere redressing of a modern device. Maybe something like a camphor driven fan or a pencil sharpener powered by a heat engine should be my next muse.
Then again maybe I should just succumb to the obvious and marshal some or my old prop making skills to cobble together a wood/brass/cogwork camera case.
Eh, it might not be ‘steampunk’ but who can tell the difference? To me it’s still art.

Go read Nakamura’s article and see what you think.

[via Mike E.]
Randy Nakamura: Steampunk’d, Or Humbug by Design