Friday, March 19, 2010

The coolest maker(s) of things in the world

Recently, I did a post about a book covering The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria. To get a better sense for some of the inventions this ancient genius came up with check out this segment of The History Channel's series titled Ancient Discoveries. The amazingly talented maker of technical and historical reproductions, Richard Windley, recreated a working version of Hero's archer and dragon automaton for the show.

Learn more about Richard Windely's historical recreations on his web site.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book: The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria

The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria
Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria (c. 10-70 AD) was a prolific inventor and mathematician and is one of the first known creators of automata in the history of Western civilization. His original works were destroyed in the fire that consumed the ancient library in Alexandria, but some of his work survived by way of copies that were made in Arabic. Here is his work on Pneumatics, which included a working steam engine -- an invention that was perhaps several thousand years ahead of its time.

Here is the book The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Solar Flier: solar-powered desktop airplane

Solar Flier - Solar-powered desktop airplane
This tiny airplane model is equipped with solar panels built into the wings. When sunlight (or any bright light) shines on the airplane, the solar cells generate electricity to turn the propeller. This causes the little plane to fly in circles around its base.

From the product description:
The Solar Flier makes a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys flight or is curious about the solar power generation process. A dynamic executive or teacher gift, you cannot go wrong with this new great invention from Fascinations.

Here's the link to the Solar Flier, solar-powered desktop model Airplane.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Mini HoverDrone - the smallest flying R/C toy yet

Mini HoverDrone - the smallest flying R/C toy yet
Take a look at this very small flying toy...

From the toy description:
With a diameter not much larger than a silver dollar and a single propeller on the bottom, the HoverDrone somehow manages to float in the air as it spins and flashes its blue LED. The simple slider control allows only up-and down movement... but this makes it so easy to fly that anyone can instantly control it.

Here's a link to the Mini HoverDrone flying toy.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Hovering ball target shooting game looks fun

hovering ball target shooting game
The fact that the targets are hovering in air makes this seem more appealing to me than if they were stationary targets. I'm not sure why this is so -- perhaps because I imagine the targets bouncing gently up and down or maybe because it seems like it would be particularly satisfying to blast one of the balls out of the air.

From the game description:
This unique target game uses vectored jets of air to suspend six foam ball targets in mid-air that players try to shoot using a brightly-painted six-shot plastic dart gun loaded with suction-cup tipped foam projectiles.

Here's the link for the The Hovering Target Shooting Game.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Palm-sized remote controlled hovercraft toy

The mini Hover-Q is a very small remote control hovercraft that skims over the floor on a cushion of air. You control the forward speed and right/left turns. on steering the hovercraft:
In typical hovercraft fashion the control is a bit like playing asteroids... thrust, over-compensate and then turn to reverse-thrust and correct. You'll be surprised how fast the Hover Q can go at full throttle so you'll either need to keep a gentle touch on the speed control or find a large smooth area...

Here is the link for more information on Palm-sized remote control hovercraft toy.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MicroFly - Tiny Remote Control Flying Saucer

This MUST be the smallest flying remote controlled toy currently available.

A single propeller on the bottom allows the MicroFly to hover in the air, but limits your control to up-and down movements only. The good news is this makes it dead-simple to fly. The other cool thing you can do is buy a bunch of them and use one remote to control an entire swarm of these little marvels.

The MicroFly Tiny R/C Hovering UFO is available at

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

DIY Programmable Bird Song Organ from Gakken

I posted some time ago about a programmable punch-card music box that uses paper sheets you punch yourself and the Gloggomobile -- it's upscale cousin that plays a Glockenspiel based on the placement of pegs you arrange on a wooden cylinder.

 Programmable Bird Song Organ from Gakken
Here is another addition to the family of programmable mechanical music devices: the Gakken Bird Song Organ.

This kit provides everything you need to program a small hand-cranked chirping song bird organ. Another amazing kit from Gakken.

Here is a link to another video of the Programmable Bird Song Organ performing Amazing Grace.

You can buy the Gakken Bird Song Organ from The Japan Trend Shop.

[ More info on the MAKE Magainze Blog ]

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Air Hogs Zero Gravity Wall Climbing R/C Car

Spotted today on (and to them by way of Geekologie) -- the Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro RC Car. It runs on (flat) walls and even under tables by using a powerful mini-vacuum. It runs for about 10 minutes after about 30 minutes of charging. Have the laws of physics changed since I was a kid? They seem cooler now and capable of much more!

Check out the Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro RC Car.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Air Powered and Air Flight Mechanical Toys

Air Powered and Air Flight Mechanical Toys
Can you believe it? Another new section for the The Automata / Automaton Store. The new section features air-powered toys and various flying toys.

Some of the neat items include:
* X2 Power Flyer kite/glider hybrid
* Propeller-powered trike kit
* Flying Robotic DragonFly
* Easy Star Electric, RC Airplane

Check out these and dozens of other air toys in the new Air Toys store section today!

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