Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two Circles Connected by an Arch

The Electrobike Pi is $7,500 at Electrobike dealers. (DWR sells it for $8000)
That's a bit expensive for an electric bike. But you get a very sophisticated design for your money.

The Pi batteries take 3 hours to fully charge, which is good for 30 miles at 20 mph. The electric motor is inside the hub of the rear wheel, and the batteries and electronics are inside the frame. Very simple and clean.

And since hotrod mopeds are the current craze in San Francisco, check out the 30hp Pi X.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Maine's Innovative Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Cable-stayed bridges, in which the roadway is supported by cables running to a tower, are becoming quite common. But this cable-stayed bridge in Maine is the most advanced of this type:

1) The cables run from the deck, through the tower, and back down to the deck on the other side of the tower. It's called a cradle system, and it eliminates anchor points in the towers.

2) Each cable is made of many strands that are separated from each other, rather than wound together. This allows a single strand of the cable to be removed for inspection or replacement!

3) Each of the cables is charged with nitrogen gas to protect the strands from corrosion.

4) One of the towers houses an observation platform!

The resemblance of the towers to the Washington monument is intentional. Some of the stone used in the monument came from this area.

I wonder if the over sized cable housings limit the possible scale of this design? On a larger bridge, would the cable housings present an unacceptable aerodynamic load?

Pictures and information from NYT and Wikipedia

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I usually flick my butts into the swimming pool. It's a save and sure way to extinguish my cigarettes.

Here's another solution: The "Personal Smokers Cease-Fire Cigarette Butt receptacle". Yes, that's it's real name. No, I'm not joking.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jeep Shows how to Park an SUV

The idea is, if you have a Jeep, you can park anywhere you damn well please.
But why stop at blocking public steps, statues and footpaths? Why not block pedestrian crossings and wheelchair ramps?

Bates Y&R of Denmark created the ads.

Thanks IBelieveIn Advertising

Friday, October 26, 2007

WWII Gustav Gun

The design called for "a gun able to pierce a meter of steel, seven meters of concrete, or thirty meters of dense earth."

"... the entire machine stood 4 stories tall, 20 ft. wide and 140 ft. long. Moving, positioning, loading and maintaining this monster required a 500-man crew commanded by a major general.

"The Gustav's 800mm [approx. 2.6 feet] bore accepted two giant projectiles: a 10,584-pound high-explosive shell and a 16,540-pound concrete-piercing shell. ... the Gustav could strike targets up to 29 miles away." -Popular Mechanics

Thanks TecheBlog

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Style Your Own Car

"There are so few ways you can influence [your car's] shape ... Van der Poll's solution was to provide a blank canvas of a car, with the fundamentals of chassis, engine and the rest simply surrounded by a cube of polyurethane foam. People have to go at the cube with a saw and a piece of sandpaper to attain their desired shape, then take it to a body-shop to be laminated in glass fiber and polyester resin." -Katy Greaves (Blueprint Magazine April 2003)

Thanks Marijn van der Poll
Category:Cars Design

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Viral Marketing Success

Oh, sweet mother of all that is free. I have been seduced by viral marketers, and bribed with gifts.

Uniqlock has sent me a cashmere scarf for placing their sweet sweet time clock in this sidebar. The 'clock' is a stunningly good advertisement for Uniqlo brand clothing.

The purpose of advertising is to make distinctions between products that are essentially the same. Advertising is generally ugly and annoying. This is not ugly and annoying.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mini Minus Front Anti-Roll Bar

My first drive with the front anti-roll bar disconnected was a positive experience:

In slow sharp corners (like the corners on an Auto X course) the car now rotates nicely. It's now very easy to get the rear of the Mini to 'hang out'. All it takes is to lift off the accelerator or tap the brakes mid corner.

In fast sweeping corners, the understeer is completely gone, replaced with controllable oversteer.

But all is not perfect:

The car leans harder in slow tight corners. That's to be expected, but it's a little unsettling because the car feels like it's wallowing on worn dampers. At 55,000 miles the dampers might need replacing.

And with the increased body roll, the front tyres are 'rolling over' more and wearing beyond the recommended mark on the sidewall (it was nice of Toyo to put that mark there). I can correct this with more negative camber.

Conclusion: A useful modification for Auto-X competition in the Stock classes, and for spirited street use. BUT, for safeties sake, keep your foot hard on the accelerator or else the back end of the car will swing around!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Front Wheel Drive Understeer

One way to improve the handling of a FWD car is to loosen or disconnect the front anti-sway bar.

This will reduce the understeer by making the outside rear tyre take more of the weight transfer during cornering. The outside front tyre is then called upon to carry less of the weight, and it therefore doesn't become overloaded, loose grip, and cause understeer.

Another advantage of disconnecting the front anti-sway bar is improved front wheel articulation, which reduces wheel spin and improves acceleration out of the corner.

It was an easy job to disconnect the anti-sway bar on my Mini. Removing the bar from the car would have required me to lower the front subframe, so I left the bar on the car. And rather than disconnect both sides of the bar, I just disconnected the right side by removing the drop-link. I thought the bar might hit the A-arm, but I didn't hear any rattles during a brief drive, so it should be fine. I'm looking forward to Monday's commute!

[This is a free quick and rough solution for FWD understeer. The best way to finely adjust the handling is with spring rates, anti-sway-bars, dampers, and wheel alignment.]


Friday, October 19, 2007


There's an interesting link in todays AT to this German site.
I especially like the many uses made of an old umbrella, and the cactus pacifier.

Thanks Apartment Therapy SF

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Picasso-esq Citroen

This just seems like the natural thing to do to a 2CV.

By Andy Saunders.

Thanks Winding Road
Categories:Art Cars

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Grover Door

The Grover door was popular in the 1950s. Sometimes they're on houses built in the 1950's, and sometimes they're on houses remodeled in the 195o's.

On Sunday I went hunting in our neighbourhood for a Grover door. I almost gave up and settled for these examples:

But then I found this double dose of Groverness. They're on a set of Victorian flats that were remodeled into 1950's starkness, and untouched since then. Not pretty, but a fitting example:

Categories:San Francisco Architecture

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tape Tape

j-me has added this sellotape dispenser to its' inventory of gadgets. £12.50

Thanks iwantoneofthose

Monday, October 15, 2007

Uglify Your Bike

Make Magazine has some unique advice on how to keep your bike safe. ie A thief won't give your bike a second look if it appears to be barely operable. Well, that's the theory....

My advice is:
1) Use an Armoured-Link style of lock to secure the frame to a stationary object. These locks are lighter than 'U' locks, and they can't be broken using the same technique to break 'U' locks.
2) Use a cable and padlock to secure the wheels and frame to the stationary object.
3) Park it where you can see it. If that's not possible, then park it where a thief might think you can see it: In front of a coffee shop or restaurant.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-Cell

The Mercedes A-Class has never been sold in the States, so I was surprised to see this first generation A Class parked in my neighbourhood today. According to the Daimler website, it is one of only 60 experimental fuel cell powered A Class cars made. These are zero-emission vehicles.

"The fuel cell functions as an electrochemical energy converter on board the vehicle to generate energy from hydrogen for an electric motor.

"In the F-Cell, the entire fuel cell system is accommodated in the sandwich floor of the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Its tanks supply compressed hydrogen (350 bar) directly to the fuel cell system, giving the "F-Cell" a cruising range of about 150 kilometers ...
The electric motor has an output of 65 kW... The vehicle accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in about 16 seconds and gets a top speed of around 140 km/h." -Daimler


Saturday, October 13, 2007

LensBaby 3G

The LensBaby creates an effect like a very shallow depth of field, but different.

Tilting the lens up/down changes the focus from a plane to a horizontal line. Then tilting the lens left/right reduces that line to a point of focus.

The complete review is here.

Thanks Imaging Resource

Friday, October 12, 2007

Doctor Martin's Design Competition

The iconic Doc Martin boot! The 10 eyelet Doc Martin in black or cherry red is my favourite boot. I bought my first pair in 1978.

These days I keep a pair of DM industrial shoes in my locker at work for when I'm required to wear steel toecaps:

Anyway, lately I've noticed DMs with images and patterns printed (etched?) on the leather.

DM invites us to submit our own designs to be printed on their 8 eyelet boot. They've set up a a really fun website, with some good tools so you can make your own designs online. You can even upload images to paste on the boot.

If your design is chosen you get £1000.

Thanks TrendsNow

Thursday, October 11, 2007

DWR in the Real World

Catalogs from Hermin Miller, DWR, Vitra, Knoll, etc, display fabulous furniture in ideal settings.

I know that our home (or any home) will never look like a photo shoot. So it was refreshing to see this picture of a DWR employee's living room on the DWR Blog.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

People Watching

There are eight demo iPhones on a bench in the SF Apple store. Customers examining the iPhone sometimes take pictures of themselves. These pictures appealed to the voyeur in me, so I used the iPhones to email the pictures to myself.