Archive for November, 2007

I Need This

Posted by Nate in Beer, Ideas.
Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 at 9:27 am

This is almost certainly the coolest thing ever built.  Brent, feel like making some modifications to your MAME cabinet??  I’ll brew the beer…

DIY helmet lights

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Projects.
Monday, November 5th, 2007 at 9:35 pm

So the ride home was awesome, windy and brisk, but the wind was mostly with me.  Still not pitch dark at 5 by any means, but it’s dark enough I’m glad to have the light — and it’s super bright!  I still love the Cat Eye for the ground view in front of me, but having a light on my head is awesome!  I can look at a stop sign on the next block and see it blinking back at me, then move my head and it disappears.  It’s a 1/2 watt LED with a really focused lens so it throws a tight beam quite a long way.

pict0001.JPGBut the whole contraption, as I mentioned, was way too bulky and unsafe in case of an accident.  Taking a leaf out of Apple’s MagSafe book, I decided to go with magnets as my "quick-release" mechanism instead of velcro.  I bent a bit of scrap metal into a Z to allow me some leeway to aim and super glued it to the front piece of the light.  This would pict0008.JPGattach to a rare earth magnet on the brim of the helmet.

I intended to glue some metal to the battery case (two AAAs now) and stick this to more permanent magnets on the helmet, but the batteries themselves provided enough sticking power when I used two magnets.  These went along the back right, anpict0007.JPGd in the dead center of the back I glued one more bit of scrap to attach the rear blinker.

I had to bend more metal and wedge it into the clip of the blinker so the magnet could grab something – it almost worked on the batteries inside but not quite.

pict0010.JPGNow I have a super low-profile helmet during the day – just three magnets and a bit of metal – and it converts with a few clicks for night biking!  I’ll have to get it back on my head tomorrow and see how it’s aiming, but early testing looks good.  The super glue seems plenty strong, and I can swing my head around pretty fast without any wobble in the lights.  Sweet!

Biking in the dark

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Projects.
Monday, November 5th, 2007 at 4:57 pm

So we’re finally done with that daylight saving nonsense, meaning we get more light in the morning but less in the evening – "less in the evening" of course meaning "dark when I leave work".  I rode home last week once at about 9 (would be 8 this week) and had pretty good visibility with my handlebar-mounted CatEye light, plus a flashing red light on my back.  Yesterday we stopped at REI and I picked up two new flashers with the intention of attaching them to my helmet – the highest point of visibility on me.  Plus, with a head-mounted front light I can look at something I want to see and get it lit, the bike light only goes straight forward.  Also I can look right at cars and be (more) sure they can see me, since I’ll be shining it right into their heated killing machine.

1875915256_bfb0e79332_o.jpgMy 10-minutes-before-I-leave-what-can-I-rig-up attempt resulted in this cyborg monstrosity.  Aw, yeah.  That really is a piece of wood attached to the helmet with zip ties.  Jealous much?

My plan for tomorrow is to remove all of that and rig up some amazing magnet system to be able to clip the pieces on and off easily and reduce the overall weight.  Also, I read a lot about helmets today and realized quickly how potentially dangerous it is to have a big stick attached to your head — the helmet’s supposed to slide on the pavement if you crash, not dig in!  So, quick disconnect magnets to the rescue!  Stay tuned for more build pictures.

( Too bad, tho, that cyborg head looks pretty freaking cool when I’m barreling down the path.  Like I have a laser canon on my head.  Hmmm, laser canon… )

Halloween in Chicago

Posted by Nate in Family, Friends, Homebrewing, Travel.
Thursday, November 1st, 2007 at 12:03 pm

img_3741.JPGTook a quick trip to Chicago last weekend for a super-fun Halloween party: Heaven and Hell(icious)!  Now that Laurel and Freddie live upstairs from my usual Chicago destination, they decided to throw a joint party and decorate the downstairs like a creepy idea of hell and the upstairs like heaven.  It was awesome!  img_3767.JPGNot sure you can see the amount of detail that went into heaven, but they laid down white paper on the floor (looked good and protected against spills), hung blue plastic on the walls, blew up a million balloons, hung streamers, and even printed a ton of gorgeous cloud pictures to put on the walls!!  No idea who these people are but it shows some of the decorations…

img_3714.JPGKaren and I went as a portable (pirate!) bar, and won in the informal costume contest!  Who could resist a working tap and snack vending machine??  No one.  (You can’t see it, but Karen has a three-compartment snack vending machine like you see in grocery stores.  I rigged it so it was free, and we filled it with bar snacks!)
Laurel dressed up as Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas — including a hand-stitched patchwork dress!  Whoa.  Clearly the costume judges were being nice to their out-of-town guests to have overlooked her…  :)

img_3715.JPGCody brought back out his creepy baby outfit.  Creepy.  Karen let him rest on her bar.dsc01067.JPG

A great time (and much pumpkin ale) was had by all!  Happy Halloween!