Heart of Dorkness: Dorkbot DC in the Post

Our local chapter of Dorkbot, of which I am a founding member, got written up in the Washington Post. I unfortunately missed this meet-up, but Street Tech Geek Saint Alberto Gaitan was guest-host (filling in for Thomas Edwards) and has some great quotes in the piece:

“Dorks rule the world right now,” says Gaitan, from the Washington chapter. “It’s the age of the dork.”

Amen to that, my cyborganic sibling.


Chad Vader, Town Drunk?

Blame Society promised Chad Vader Episode 5 by Christmas and they made good on that. No. 5 got loaded onto YouTube a few hours ago. Still funny, cute, but the joke may be wearing a little thin. Speaking of wearing, Chad has switched “costumes” by the end of the episode. A new job, perhaps? Chad Vader, Branch Bank Manager?

While you’re on YouTube, be sure to check out Blame Society’s Holiday Greeting, which is really adorable; Chad kickin’ it Hef-style.


Peddle-Powered LED Reindeer

‘Tis the season to burn two precious resources: plastic, as in the contents of our wallets, and electrical power, as in turning each of our neighborhoods into a DIY strip of Vegas. Apparently, we show our gratitude to our Gods by sacrificing prodigious amounts of non-renewable resources upon their altars. Light ’em if you got ’em.

To call attention to the inefficiencies of incandescent lighting, BC Hydro sponsored this holiday billboard in Vancouver utilizing 1500 LED bulbs powered by around-the-clock, human peddle-power. Only about 120 incandescent lights could have been lit by the same amount of generated power.

[Via OhGizmo!]


More Battery Hacking

The piece we posted a couple of weeks ago on how to recharge non- rechargeable batteries got a lot of links o’ love. Here’s another cool battery hack. This one’s on “jolting” nicad battery packs back to life using an arc welder as a DC power source. What you’re doing is over-powering the cells which breaks up the crystal dendrites that build up and cause the cells to short. You can also use a car battery, a DC Power Supply, or even high-charge capacitors — any DC power source with decent juice. This operation is obviously not without danger, so you should know what you’re doing, wear proper protection, etc. But as you can see from the video, a little Frankenstein action is just what these batteries need to be brought back to life. Cool.

[Via Make]


Solar Cells with Miller Engine Circuits Etched on ’em!

We’re not on Solarbotics’s payroll, we swear! It’s just that they’re releasing some cool year-end stuff. First the Mousey kit and now this. It’s a 37 x 33mm Polycrystalline 6.7v Solar Cell that has a Miller Solar Engine circuit etched onto the underside. All you have to do is solder on a few components, wire up a motor and you have a solar-powered thingamajig.

I talked about the Miller Solar Engine variant (a more power-efficient, more configurable version of the traditional Type 1 voltage-triggered Solarengine) in my BEAM articles in MAKE. You could use one of these cells and its MSE circuit with a Gold Cap (.33F capacitor) on my Solarroller project from Make Vol. 6 and you’d get a nice long-burst power feed to the motor for a decent run of the Roller.

These Solar Engine Cells are a “Limited Edition” (oh, fancy…), so you should scoop ’em up while you can. And they’re only US$9 for one or $7.25 for two or more.


Atari 800 XE Laptop, Take 2

When Ben Heck was commissioned to build another of his mind- boggling Atari 800 retro laptops, he decided to revisit and improve the design. Looking at his work, I just can’t… well, imagine the work! The keyboard keypads are all hand-wired and soldered! I hope he’s got a really good air circulation system. My braincells start to wink out of existence just looking at this thing. Really gorgeous job on the case design and fab, all chrome and etched-laser black graphics. Nice.