Robot Portraits for Chump Change

Artist Ben Rollman, who’s been involved in the 100 Artist Project, 700 Things, 700 Robots and a number of other online drawing projects, is now offering robot portraits for a dirt-cheap price of 10 PayPal’d dollars. Nice work, too. The top one’s called “Battlebot Vulture.” The second one is “Sammy 12-Switch.” He did these two for Simone of Suicidebots/ RoboGames. You not only get a piece of art for your tenner, Ben also records a video of him drawing the portrait and uploads it to YouTube. I’m so squirting over my ten creds!


Refurb’d iPhone for $100 Off

This hadn’t occurred to me till someone mentioned it, but you can save a hundred bucks on an iPhone by getting a “certified” refurbished unit from Apple. I’ve never bought factory-refurb’d from Apple, but I know those who have and they’ve been happy with the purchase. They currently have 4GB phones for US$399 and 8GB models for $499. So you could get an 8GB iPhone for the cost of a 4GB phone. I’m in the market for an iPhone, so this is more than just an intellectual exercise for me. I might go this route. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.


MX Air Rechargeable Cordless Air Mouse

It may look something like a NextGen Star Trek phaser, but it’s not, it’s the latest high-end, high-priced wireless mouse from Logitech. For US$150(!) you get a mouse that you can use on your desk or off of it, brandishing it like, well, a phaser. Not really sure how big the demand for such a free wielding input device is, but I guess it’d come into its own as a presentation controller or a Microsoft Media Center remote controller. And speaking of which, it appears to be Windows-only (and Vista-friendly).


DIY Atari 2600 Game Labels

Hackszine has a link to a cool Atari game label maker. You just upload your art, game title, and other particulars, and it generates a label. I just made this one with one of my son Blake’s digital paintings. Fun.


Thomas Edwards’ Touch Tech

Street Tech pal Thomas Edwards, of Dorkbot DC, has launched a website for his Physical Interactions over IP (or “Phy2Phy”) project. The first piece he’s working on is called “Touch” and it uses an MCU (the Comfile CUBLOC CB220), a serial motor controller (the Pololu micro serial servo controller), a servo motor, a force-sensitive resistor, and a serial-to-Ethernet network interface (the XPort) to create an Internet-connectible touch-input and force-feedback device. Connect another such unit elsewhere on the interwebs, and you can reach out and touch someone, over IP! Really interested to see where he takes this. The Phy2Phy project wiki will chronicle this piece and others to come. Thomas will also be demoing Touch at the next Dorkbot DC on Sept. 10.

The “Touch” project page has info on all of the tech mentioned above. There’s also a YouTube video of the “Touch” units thus far.


Make Your Own White Glue

Here’s an Instructable on mixing up your own “Moo Glue,” called so ’cause milk is one of the chief ingredients (along with vinegar and baking soda). Quick, easy, curiously strong. Of course, with the price of milk spiking…


My Wired Hovercraft Piece

I have a new piece on, entitled: “Fifty Years of Hovercraft: The Tech That Barely Takes Off.” The title pretty much tells you what you need to know. Here’s an excerpt:

Post-Apocalyptic Crowd Control
If ever there was a craft that looked like it had slipped through a time portal, from some steel-hearted, robot-dominated future into our all-too-fragile, meat-based present, it’s SRL’s Pulse-Jet Hovercraft. The sound this thing makes, like millions of angry robotic bees gearing up to swarm, is indescribably creepy … and awe-inspiring. The all-aluminum construction weighs about 350 pounds, with four 4-foot long pulse-jet engines providing 70 pounds of thrust. At 150 decibels, it’s billed as “the loudest robot in the world.”

Read the full piece here.