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Here's a Trick Old-School Photographers Used to Figure Out Other Photographers' Lighting Set-Ups

Core 77 - Mon, 2017-10-16 19:26

Here's a fascinating trick a professional, old-school film photographer once told me:

In the days before digital retouching, he said, a photographer's personal repertoire of lighting techniques were closely guarded secrets. The types of lighting modifiers they used, and where they placed them, was each photographer's secret sauce.

Pro photographers would often study the eyeballs of models in competitors' photographs, because occasionally they could see elements of their competitors' lighting set-ups reflected in the eyes, and could then reverse-engineer them.

Here are some examples of this by photographer Robert Hare:

Image by Robert Hare via Creative Live 1. Silver Umbrella
2. Umbrella Softbox
3. 24×32 Softbox
4. Octabox
5. Silver Parabolic Umbrella
6. 36×48 Softbox
7. Speedatron Beauty DishImage by Robert Hare Image by Robert Hare Image by Robert Hare Image by Robert Hare Image by Robert Hare Image by Robert Hare

You can deduce not only the shape of the modifier, but also the placement relative to the model's face, since we human beings happen to have these telltale reflectors shaped like perfect spheres in our eye sockets.

After Photoshop came out, the old-school shooter told me, some photographers started using it to retouch their lighting set-ups out of the models' eyeballs, to maintain their secrecy.

Nowadays, however, it seems to me that most shooters don't bother. Next time you see some artfully-lit photograph of a model, look closely at his or her eyes, and chances are you'll see some part of their set-up.

Idea For a Super-Compact Laptop Design: Use Spinning LED "Fans" As the Screen

Core 77 - Mon, 2017-10-16 19:26

The thing that dictates the precise size of every laptop is the screen. Pixels are relayed to us through a static piece of glass, and we carry this rectangle around with us.

But I had a thought after seeing the following on Instagram: What if the screen wasn't a rectangle at all, but a thin rod and a hub? This type of display technology already exists:

The boys brought back some cool toys from their last China trip! This is one strip of LEDs working like a fan. Keep watching towards the end for the full 3D graphics ??????

A post shared by Big Screen Video (@bigscreenvideo_au) on Sep 28, 2017 at 5:30pm PDT

Sure, the resolution is primitive, but conventional monitors once had the same problem. (Also note that in person you would not see the rotating bands of darkness; that's an aftereffect from the shutter of the camera recording the video.) It would be interesting to see a "laptop" design that consisted of a spinning LED bar for a screen, and some equally compact form of input device, like one of those laser-based virtual keyboards.

Admittedly a circular screen might take some getting used to, but I'd be very curious to see what talented UI/UX designers might come up with to make a round screen advantageous to use.

Reader Submitted: BeamCNC Works with Common Materials to Help Produce Grid Beam Projects 

Core 77 - Mon, 2017-10-16 19:26

BeamCNC is a CNC mill originally developed for making a construction system called Grid Beam, but it can also perform custom tasks via gcode files. BeamCNC is the easiest way to produce Grid Beam—the eco friendly modular construction system that you can use to build many things. BeamCNC can make Grid Beam of different sizes from 20x20mm to 50x50mm of any length, parts can be reused and projects are highly customizable.

View the full project here

Hand Tool School #48: How to Get Consistent Roundovers With a Block Plane

Core 77 - Mon, 2017-10-16 19:26

Today's tip is a simple, often overlooked block plane technique. Just because its a straight blade doesn't mean you can't cut a roundover:


This "Hand Tool School" series is provided courtesy of Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker. Rogers is founder of The Hand Tool School, which provides members with an online apprenticeship that teaches them how to use hand tools and to build furniture with traditional methods.

How Oculus and Facebook Are Attempting to Make VR Social

Design News - Mon, 2017-10-16 04:45

Anyone who follows the VR (virtual reality) space knew it was only a matter of time. Facebook-owned Oculus VR has officially gone untethered. At its recent Oculus Connect conference the maker of the popular Rift VR headset announced two new developments on its path to fully untethered virtual reality. But behind it all is a strategy to take social media off of your 2D screen and into the virtual world.

During a conference keynote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the audience that Facebook has a goal to bring one billion people into VR, and key to achieving that is to hit what he called the sweet spot between the affordability of mobile VR devices like Samsung's Gear VR and the power of PC-based VR, but without the tethering.

Oculus Go is a standalone mobile VR headset that will be fully compatible with apps developed for the Samsung Gear VR. (Image source: Facebook / Oculus)

In early 2018 the company will be releasing Oculus Go, a mobile VR headset aimed at delivering the same mobile VR experience as the Gear VR and its ilk, only without the need for a high-end mobile phone to act as the screen and brains of the whole thing. While it doesn't offer any positional tracking, the fully self-contained headset does feature three degrees of freedom (3DOF) head tracking and the same 110-degree field of view as the Rift headset, as well as built-in spatial audio. At a $199 price point the Oculus Go is slightly more expensive than the Gear VR, but perhaps Oculus is betting consumers will pay a little bit more for a standalone experience and factor in that they won't need a $600+ phone to make it all work.

The big selling point for developers is that the Go is binary compatible with the Gear VR so any developers already creating apps for Samsung's device will find they already work on the Oculus Go with the same SDK, even with Unity or Unreal Engine integration.

Inside-Out Tracking Is On the Way

Mobile VR is nice for some experiences, but what enthusiasts have really been waiting for is a true untethered VR experience, one that allows positional tracking without the need for an array of external sensors. Microsoft has already taken the lead on this with this series of mixed reality (MR) headsets from the likes of Acer, Dell,HP, and even Samsung that are set to begin releasing as soon as later this year. Microsoft has said that a staple of its MR hardware will be inside-out tracking, wherein internal sensors in the headsets will track users' position and movement, removing the need for external sensors and cumbersome external wiring.


Facebook VP of VR Hugo Barra told the Oculus Connect audience that Santa Cruz uses IR sensors embedded into the controllers themselves as well as the headset to give users a full range of motion. (Image source: Facebook / Oculus Connect)


Though the Oculus Rift is the headset that brought VR back into the collective consciousness, the company has been relatively mum on its plans for a headset with inside-out tracking. Last year at Oculus Connect the company gave scant details and revealed an early prototype of a headset codenamed Project Santa Cruz. But this year Hugo Barra, the VP of VR at Facebook, unveiled a lot more about Project Santa Cruz, including a new, sleeker working prototype as well as new hand-tracked controllers.

Barra told the keynote audience that Project Santa Cruz's new controllers use the same sensor technology that allows for inside-out tracking in the Santa Cruz headset in conjunction with a constellation of tiny infrared LEDs embedded into the devices. The headset tracks the controllers with four ultra-wide angle IR sensors embedded into its front. Barra said the placement of sensors allows a greater range of motion for users, even allowing the controllers to be held over the users' head. He said Oculus initially tried to use only two sensors but found that “tracking controllers with just your visual field of view in VR really restrict your experience and what you can do with your hands.”

Oculus is expecting to release developer version of Santa Cruz sometime in early 2018.


Social Will Come First

Clearly Oculus wants to maintain its position as a pack leader in the VR headset market, and it has unique incentive to do so as a subsidiary of Facebook. One must remember, while Facebook has been dipping its toes in everything from AI to drones and autonomous cars, the company is still the house that social media built.

“Nothing is ever going to replace being with someone in person or doing something physically but when we can't experience those things, when we run up against the limits of reality, VR is going to make our reality that much better,” Zuckerberg said.

Earlier this year Zuckerberg announced Facebook Spaces, a VR environment where users can essentially do all the things they do on Facebook – talk, share photos, watch videos, play games, ect – but now in a 3D virtual world. This year Zuckerberg demoed Facebook Spaces at Oculus Connect by taking a rather ill-advised virtual trip to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico that drew immediate criticism.

There's also the matter of graphics. Right now the look of Facebook Spaces is more akin to Second Life or the Nintendo Wii than Ready Player One or a William Gibson novel. However, Facebook has been the first company to lay claim to VR as a social experience independent of being a space for multiplayer video games or collaborative work.

If Facebook wants the public to embrace social media in 3D environments over 2D screens its going to have to make the experience as graceful and comfortable as possible. And untethered, inside-out tracked VR that offers a full range of movement and motion is going to be a big part of that.

There is also a question of how Oculus will fit into the larger VR/AR/MR landscape. Santa Cruz will be a PC peripheral, which would put it in direction competition with Microsoft's MR headsets. While it is unclear how Santa Cruz may implement into the Windows ecosystem, it could present a major monkey wrench to Microsoft's vision for a world in which VR headsets are as ubiquitous and easy to use as computer mice and keyboards.

Zuckerberg's bold goal of a billion VR users won't happen with just gamers, the core audience for VR right now, and it won't even come when you add in enterprise users. The billion Zuckerberg is talking about are those billions of Facebook users who aren't necessarily gamers, designers, or engineers, but who log into Facebook daily. But if it's going to get its core user base to embrace a headset over a computer or smartphone screen Facebook knows the price is going to have to be right, and the technology is definitely going to have to be the very best it can be.


ESC Silicon Valley is Back! 
The Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) is back in Silicon Valley and it’s bigger than ever. Over three days, Dec. 5-7, 2017, receive in-depth education geared to drive a year’s worth of work. Uncover software design innovation, hardware breakthroughs, fresh IoT trends, product demos, and more that will change how you spend time and money on your next project. Click here to register today


Chris Wiltz is a senior editor at Design News covering emerging technologies, including VR/AR, AI, and robotics.

New Interconnect IP Supports Machine Learning in Autonomous Cars

Design News - Mon, 2017-10-16 03:23

A new chip interconnect technology offers promise for autonomous car manufacturers who want to employ machine learning in their vehicles.

Ncore 3 Cache Coherent Interconnect IP enables chip designers to create system-on-chip (SoC) devices that mix central processors (CPUs), graphics processors (GPUs), digital signal processors (DSPs), and hardware accelerators, all of which are being increasingly employed in self-driving vehicles. “This allows you to build the supercomputer-on-a-chip technology that’s needed to implement real-time machine learning,” said Kurt Shuler, vice president of marketing for ArterisIP, an intellectual property (IP) vendor and developer of the Ncore 3 interconnect IP. ArterisIP will have experts on hand at the upcoming ARM TechCon 2017 to discuss the technology.


Ncore 3 Cache Coherent Interconnect IP allows simulatenous use of the AMBA CHI and ACE IP protocols. It also integrates with other chips using a CCIX controller to create multi-die coherent systems. (Source: ArterisIP)


The new interconnect technology, introduced at the recent 2017 Linley Processor Conference, is especially important now, given the growing trend toward the use of machine learning in vehicles. To endow a vehicle’s computers with the ability to learn, engineers increasingly need more powerful processors, and they need those processors out near the sensors, as well as at the vehicle’s central computer.

“In each one of those processing nodes, whether it’s out by the camera or in by the executive (computing) function, you need chips with multiple processing elements – essentially supercomputers-on-a-chip,” Shuler said. Often, those chips may incorporate up to a half-dozen different types of programmable hardware, Shuler added.

Indeed, some high-end chips may now have five to ten CPUs and as many as 20 hardware accelerators, Shuler said. The chip’s interconnects tie those disparate elements together.

The key to unifying the performance of those elements is the use of so-called “cache coherence,” Shuler said. By bringing cache coherence to an interconnect, Ncore 3 provides a simpler way for the various elements within that supercomputer-on-a-chip to share data. “If you don’t have cache coherence, it becomes more difficult to program,” Shuler said. “Cache coherence gives you one common view of the memory for the whole system.”

At the same time, Shuler said, Ncore 3 enables chip designers to mix two different types of communication bus protocols. ARM Ltd.'s ACE IP, a legacy cache coherent communication protocol, can be used alongside AMBA CHI, a newer protocol from ARM. “Our customers want to be able to use them together, and up to now it’s been difficult to do that,” Shuler said. “Ncore makes it easy for them to use both.”

Ncore 3 also integrates a controller based on the CCIX standard, which permits cache coherent connection of multiple dies with differing instruction sets, be they FPGAs, GPUs, ASICs, or other elements.

The emphasis on cache coherence will be critical going forward, not only in machine learning for autonomous cars, but also for network processing and 5G wireless technology, experts say. All of those applications will need the computing power provided by a mixture of different processing technologies. “If you’re doing 20 processing elements on a chip, and you want to be able to write software for it, you can’t do it without cache coherence,” Shuler told us.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.


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Furniture Designers: Here's a Very Cool Feature to Add to a Desk

Core 77 - Sun, 2017-10-15 18:58

As someone with a messy desk, I so want this feature added to it:

This desk was designed and built by Rob Day and Jeremy Kehoe, whose firm was called Carroll Street Woodworkers. They also designed this nifty bureau with push-button functionality (and I have zero idea how the mechanism works):

It's really the first feature that I want though, as I'm always casting about searching for my favorite pen.

By the bye, I say their firm "was called" because, sadly, after making a splash at the 2011 Interior Design Show in Toronto, they appear to have fallen off the face of the earth. Their website no longer exists and it appears the company has shut down. If Day and Kehoe are still designing furniture, either together or independently, I can't find them.

So…would it be stealing an idea if the firm that came up with it no longer exists?

I So Desperately Want This Automatic Clothes Ironing Machine

Core 77 - Sun, 2017-10-15 18:58

Is there any domestic chore worse than ironing? It takes forever, the design of most irons suck and there seems to be little correlation between the shape of my clothes and the shape of the board.

I so desperately need this automatic clothes ironing machine, called the Effie:

They'll be taking preorders for it in early 2018.

Only problem is, the darn thing rings in at £699 (USD $926).

Check Out This Mechanism That Enables an Armless Man to Drive a Car

Core 77 - Sun, 2017-10-15 18:58

Imagine if you had to design a driving interface for an end user with no arms. How would they steer? Obviously the mechanism must either be mouth- or foot-operated, but what would the physical action be?

Check out how Richie Parker, who was born with no arms, solved the problem with his sweet '64 Impala Super Sport:

Parker is an engineer for Hendricks Motorsports, an automotive engineering company that fields no less than four NASCAR teams and has five championships to their credit. In the video below, you'll see how Parker is able to do CAD work. Also, check out the ingenious contrivance that he's rigged up that allows him to eat with silverware:

Design Job: Beauty is in the Details: Established is Seeking a Freelance Product Designer in New York, NY

Core 77 - Sun, 2017-10-15 18:58

Established NYC is seeking incredibly talented industrial designers to work on makeup and fragrance projects for international fashion brands like Marc Jacobs and Rihanna. If you have a keen eye for design and fashion, and have a good sense of humor, please read below:

View the full design job here

Go Forth: A Massive LEGO Center Now Exists in Denmark

Core 77 - Sun, 2017-10-15 18:58

Core77 isn't an architecture blog by nature, but certain structures do catch our eye. So is the case with LEGO house, a 21,500+ sq ft building inspired by—you guessed it—everything LEGO. The center resides in Billund, Denmark and was was designed in partnership by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and COWI. 

Image Credit: Iwan Baan

From the outside, the building is inconspicuously modern. However—exactly like a mullet hairstyle—it's all business in the front and party on the roof: 

Overhead view. Image Credit: Kim ChristensenRooftop play areas. Image Credit: Iwan Baan

Inside, the first and second floors feature four public play zones color coded to represent a different aspect of a child's learning development—red is creative, yellow is emotional, green is social and blue is cognitive. In these spaces, guests of all ages are welcome to an immersive experience and encouraged to interact with other builders from around the world.

Image Credit: Iwan Baan Image Credit: Iwan Baan "LEGO house is a literal manifestation of the infinite possibilities of the LEGO brick. Through systematic creativity, children of all ages are empowered with the tools to create their own worlds and to inhabit them through play. At its finest—that is what architecture—and LEGO play —is all about: enabling people to imagine new worlds that are more exciting and expressive than the status quo, and to provide them with the skills to make them reality. This is what children do every day with LEGO bricks—and this is what we have done today at LEGO House with actual bricks, taking Billund a step closer towards becoming the Capital for Children." —Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.Image Credit: Iwan Baan Image Credit: Iwan Baan

The building also includes the Masterpiece Gallery, which displays impressive fan creations that play tribute to LEGO's diverse community of builders.

Image Credit: Iwan Baan

Inside The Vault, visitors are treated to a glance at the first edition of almost every LEGO set ever manufactured, which includes a new replica of the LEGO house itself. 

Image Credit: Iwan Baan Image Credit: Iwan Baan

Yes, this building is straight up eye candy, but its mission to bring a community of builders together under one roof makes it so much more. 

Also, something I learned from this is that AFoL is the acronym for Adult Fans of LEGO. If you're an AFoL, we'd love to see the coolest thing you've built so far in the comments section.

Reader Submitted: An Adjustable Laptop Stand that Curves to Fit Your Body

Core 77 - Sun, 2017-10-15 18:58

Cync is a patented, functional laptop stand that doesn't compromise body posture. We often use laptops in the wrong position at school or during work. If we continue this habit for a long time, it leads to different types of body pain. Cync aims to combat and solve this common problem.

View the full project here

Exercise: Transferring Vespa's Design Language Onto Motorcycle Form Factors

Core 77 - Fri, 2017-10-13 16:26

Here's another "transferring the design language of X onto Y" series of fanciful renderings. The anonymous designer behind these took the venerable Vespa scooter and attempted to graft it with classical motorcycle archetypes.

1. ChopperImage via Jennings Harley-Davidson
2. Sport Bike
Image via Jennings Harley-Davidson 3. Touring Bike
Image via Jennings Harley-Davidson 4. Dirt Bike
Image via Jennings Harley-Davidson 5. Café Racer
Image via Jennings Harley-Davidson 6. Tron Light CycleImage via Jennings Harley-Davidson

Obviously this is just a gag, but I can't help but be distracted by how it would be virtually impossible to maintain any kind of torsional rigidity with that U-shaped form factor. Then again, this is the same dude or gal who turned classic videogame consoles into cars, so perhaps I should lighten up a bit.

The EV Trend Is Now Irreversible

Design News - Fri, 2017-10-13 04:39

A few years ago, US consumer acceptance was considered the key to the success of the electric car.

No more, though. A collection of other forces have stepped up, relegating US consumer acceptance to a lower rung on the market ladder. So now, even if sales of the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 fall flat, even if American consumers let out a collective yawn with the debut of each new battery-powered vehicle, automakers will continue to make real plans to sell new electric cars.

That became more evident this month. General Motors announced it would produce 20 new electric models, designed from the ground up, by 2023. Ford Motor Co. said it has formed an internal unit, called Team Edison, to accelerate EV development. And Toyota, a longtime battery-electric vehicle (BEV) skeptic, said it is partnering with Mazda Motor Corp. and Denso Corp. to create a “common architecture” for EVs.

To be sure, nothing much has really changed in terms of sales. In 2016, battery-electrics accounted for a paltry 0.4% of US EV sales. And this year, GM has sold only 14,000 Bolts through September. Meanwhile, Tesla Inc. continues to post losses while struggling through what Elon Musk calls "production hell" on its Model 3.

So, no, despite what media evangelists may say about the potential profitability of electric cars, that’s not the reason for the growing number of corporate commitments to electrification.

The truth is, the soul of the American consumer is still very much an unknown on this matter, and even if it were better understood, it’s hardly the only factor. Automakers now know they have to move forward, largely based on a collection of factors.


Tesla Inc. continues to post losses while struggling through what Elon Musk calls “production hell” on its Model 3. (Source: Tesla, Inc.)


Among those is China. Last year, China reportedly accounted for nearly half of the worldwide sales of BEVs. In large population centers, Chinese consumers have little chance of obtaining license plates for gas-burning new cars, creating a mandate of sorts for EVs, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. Chinese officials are aiming to put five million EVs on the road by 2020, and the Warren-Buffett-backed Chinese EV-maker BYD Auto Co. Ltd. is hoping to transfer that success to the US market. That, of course, makes US automakers forge nervously ahead, for fear of being left behind.

Europe, too, is finding ways to mandate electrification. France wants to ban sales of gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2040, while Norway and the Netherlands want to phase out all new fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2025.

Then there’s California. In 2018, California and nine other states will require 4.7% of vehicles sold to be zero-emission. That number climbs to 15.4% by 2025, according to the California Air Resources Board. Loopholes that allowed automakers to transfer credits from state to state are also gone in 2018. “For example, if an OEM has to sell 50,000 in California and 10,000 in New York and New Jersey, until now they’ve been able to sell 70,000 in California and transfer the credits,” notes Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst for Navigant Research. “But they can no longer do that. They must now sell 10,000 each in New York and New Jersey.”

Finally, there’s Wall Street. To get the halo effect and boost its stock value, each manufacturer needs to join the high-tech parade.

For automakers, the bottom line is the need to sell EVs – in Europe and China, as well as California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. And if consumers don’t favor EVs, then the automakers have to find ways to subsidize those vehicles with the sale of other products.

That’s not to say that the performance of the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 are unimportant. They’re very important. They’ll give us a way to measure the popularity of electric cars, especially in the US. But they won’t make or break the entire EV movement.

Automakers are now in this for the long haul. That trend is irreversible.

What we don’t know is if it will be profitable.


Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.


ESC Silicon Valley is Back!
The Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) is back in Silicon Valley and it’s bigger than ever. Over three days, Dec. 5-7, 2017, receive in-depth education from speakers at companies like Toyota, NXP, and Intel, geared to drive a year’s worth of work. Uncover software design innovation, hardware breakthroughs, fresh IoT trends, automotive insights, and more that will change how you spend time and money on your next project. Click here to register today!



3D Printing Techniques Bettered by Studying How Droplets Freeze on Surfaces

Design News - Fri, 2017-10-13 02:48

Researchers at MIT have made a new, significant discovery in terms of the mechanics involved when droplets come in contact with surfaces, research that could help develop new 3D-printing techniques and improve other applications.

MIT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Kripa Varanasi and his team studied what happens when freezing droplets impact a surface, observing not only the hydrophobic aspects of that action—which is what is typically done—but also the thermal properties.

Normally droplets just stick to a surface or bounce away, and controlling this response is critical to a number of applications, including 3D printing, the spraying of some surface coatings, and the prevention of ice formation on structures such as airplane wings, wind turbines, or power lines.

However, in studying the thermal properties of the surface, researchers noticed something that could allow them to “tune” surfaces to meet the exact needs of a given application, Varanasi said.

Specifically, researchers studied the properties of drops of molten metal freezing onto a surface. In doing so, they “found something very interesting,” Varanasi said.

“We had two substrates that had similar wetting properties—the tendency to either spread out or bead up on a surface—but different thermal properties,” he said.


Pictured here is a microscopic top view of a droplet. MIT researchers have found a surprising new twist to the mechanics involved when droplets come in contact with surfaces by studying the thermal properties of those surfaces, they said. The work that can inform the development of new 3D-printing techniques as well as has other applications. (Source: Varanasi Group/MIT)


Without considering the thermal properties, the tendency would be to assume the way the droplets acted on the surfaces would have been similar. However, they turned out to be significantly different, Varanasi said.

On silicon, which, like most metals, conducts heat very well, the molten metal just fell off, he said. But on glass, a good thermal insulator, the drops stuck on it and were difficult to remove, Varanasi said.

The discovery showed researchers that by controlling the thermal properties of a surface, they could also control the adhesion of a droplet on that surface, he said.  This represents “a whole new approach” to determining how liquids interact with surfaces, providing new tools that allow scientists “to control the outcome of such liquid-solid interactions,” Varanasi said.

Varanasi and fellow researchers and former MIT post-docs Jolet de Ruiter and Dan Soto published a report about their findings in the journal Nature Physics.

Although the team carried out their experiments with molten metal—which is used in some industrial processes as well as in the spray coatings applied to turbine blades and other machine parts—Varanasi said that the results could likely apply to many kinds of other liquids, as well.

“Our findings will provide a whole new understanding of when things stick and when they don’t,” he said.

As the degree to which droplets stick or don’t depends on a material’s thermal properties, the work also paves the way for the possibility to customize those properties based on the application, according to researchers

The work has a number of applications for when outcomes require that droplets stick to surfaces—such as in some kinds of 3D printers to ensure each printed layer adheres thoroughly to the previous layer. It also can apply to the reverse scenario—in situations in which it’s important to prevent droplets from sticking, such as on airplane wings in cold and icy weather, according to researchers.

Other applications include the cleaning and waste management of additive manufacturing and thermal spray processes, they added.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years.







"Ancient Floating Death Stars:" Chinese Super-Ships from 289 A.D.

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-10-12 16:25

File this under Why the heck have I never heard of this before?

The History Channel used to have a documentary series called "Ancient Discoveries," and in this episode they focus on some crazy Chinese naval technologies from centuries and even millennia ago.

I know that you readers are at work and can't watch the entire 45-minute show, but I've isolated this short clip that I'm hoping you can sneak a glance at. It's about how way back in 289 A.D., the Chinese built this massive 600-foot by 600-foot-square warship, a veritable floating fortress, and sent it down a river to conquer a neighboring country:

I highly recommend you at least bookmark the video and maybe check it out when you get home. The documentarians get experts to recreate a lot of neat experiments demonstrating old-school Chinese naval technology, some of which is quite unbelievable. As one example, they recreate a design for an underwater mine described in an old Chinese text. The freaking thing is made from gunpowder, an incense stick, animal intestines to keep the fuse dry underwater, and rocks to sink the explosive charge beneath the surface of the water. Just mind-boggling stuff.

Tools & Craft #68: Free Introduction to Hand Tools Class This Saturday

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-10-12 16:25

This Saturday I will be teaching a free class called "Introduction to Hand Tools" for the first time. The class is in response to the many people over the years who have come to our showroom, for themselves or looking for a gift, who are trying to wrap their heads around the idea of using hand tools. They sincerely want to expand their horizons. Sometimes they are familiar only with what Home Depot stocks and hand held power tools. This applies to professionals and amateurs alike. Many are perplexed by the idea what you can actually build anything by hand. Of course, misconception about hand tools are formed by never seeing the tools in efficient operation. You can drill a hole with an electric drill even if the bit is dull and the drill is noisy. But it isn't patently obvious how to work a brace or a bit so it's fun. We have a reputation and a lot of showroom and warehouse space devoted to hand tools, so the curiosity is natural.

What can I do to give people what they've come to discover? I have to get and hold people's attention. I have to make hand tool skill look like obtainable. I have to show the distinction between cheap knockoff tools that don't work well and quality hand tools. And - particularly for the amateurs - I have to show that the basic operations of woodworking by hand, operations that can be performed in a small apartment or shop, don't have to be painful, and can result in good results.

I try to be practical, not (just) philosophical.

I should teach how to measure accurately, but I am afraid it isn't sexy enough to keep a class engaged. People want to see sawdust!

I think I want to teach people how to start a cut with a handsaw. That's a big problem people have. They try cutting something and since they can't start the saw they never get to the joyous moment when they can advance easily through the wood.

I think I want to teach people how to set a hinge because that gives me a chance to demonstrate marking out and chiseling to a line. And it's easier than setting up a router.

I think I want to show people how to clamp their work. It's not very sexy but it's pretty useful. I know some tricks with a few clamps that let you set up anywhere, even at the kitchen table.

I will have to plane something - wood shavings are sexy. And if I rub the shavings on the wood I can show a wonderful burnished surface.

And of course I plan to drill a big hole with a brace and bit, showing how to not splinter out at the end, and also how a ratchet brace really helps with those large holes. We've all seen a power drill noisily produce a hole, but it isn't patently obvious how to work a brace or a bit, so seeing it in operation (and doing it) is fun.

I think that's all I can do in a couple of hours. My main goal, of course, is to inspire. I hope that at least a few of the attendees will look at what I am doing, try it themselves and then go home, take the plunge and start building stuff.

If you are in the area this Saturday, you're invited to the class! For more details click here.


This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

Design Job: Fix Up Your Career! Milwaukee Tool is Seeking a Sr. Concept Engineer in Brookfield, WI

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-10-12 16:25

A Concept Engineer at Milwaukee Tool is part of the leading edge of discovery and new product invention within the organization. A Concept Engineer is an inventor, a dreamer, and has an unparalleled passion to create new and interesting solutions to address user needs. A Concept Engineer has a hands-on, creative spirit, can see past perceived barriers and false paradigms, and uses that mentality to uncover new ways of thinking to solve challenging user needs and technical hurdles.

View the full design job here

In Germany, Building Underground Motorized Pop-Up Beer Coolers in the Garden is a Thing

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-10-12 16:25

We all know there's no good reason to build cylindrical beer coolers that silently appear out of the ground in your backyard. But that hasn't stopped a bunch of German guys, engineers we assume, from building their own and posting the videos to YouTube.

Here's Ralf Göldner's:


Timo Hänsel's is illuminated:

Ready to build your own? Andreas Klassen has made the plans for his publicly available: "The Beerlift is controlled with Arduino Nano and operated with a Handy app. Drawing, unwinding, photos, wiring schematic, Arduino Program, Handy App (Android) .... free to download."

Will wonders never cease?