Most Recent Update

December 2, 2013

All Terrain Scooter Redux

The original version of my all-terrain electric scooter suffered from a number of problems, the most important of which was in the motors I used.  The triple CIM motors were just not capable of providing both the top speed and acceleration I wanted out of the vehicle.  Actually they could, but just not for very long before the insulation on their windings turned into a melty black mess.

After some attempted snow-scootering during the northeast snowstorm last year, I decided I was sick of the freshly roasted motor smell, and stored away the scooter until the summer.  A full teardown of the scooter revealed enough unnoticed or impending failures that I decided to scrap pretty much the entire mechanical end of the original scooter.

Version 2 features the same HobbyKing LiPo battery pack and Kelly 72V 200A brushed motor controller as the original, but nearly everything else is new.  Replacing the CIMs are a pair of Magmotor S28-200's, which are slightly larger than the S28-150's of battlebot fame.  Like before, the motors are mechanically coupled to one output shaft through a gearbox reduction, and connected electrically in series.

This version also has even bigger wheels (because the old ones clearly weren't large enough...), and over a foot of clearance everywhere.

The scooter's build log can be found here.

October 5, 2013

Gourd Ukulele

Back in June, I returned to Atlanta for a couple weeks.  While there, I took advantage of all the woodworking hand tools I had access to, and made this ukulele.  The body of the instrument was made from a dried gourd.  The neck is mahogany, which was scavenged from the desk in my old bedroom.  The fretboard is burned oak, which was split off a stump in my back yard, and the soundboard was the bottom of a desk drawer.

The ukulele is about Tenor sized, and tuned with a low-G.  Fret positions were determined using this handy online fret calculator.  All of the construction except drilling a couple of holes was done with hand tools.  The neck was shaped mostly with a drawknife, except for the channel for the tuning pegs, which was chiseled out.

The ukulele's build thread can be found here.

I don't have any audio or video clips of me playing it, so you'll have to take my word for it that it sounds pretty good.  I think it does, at least.  Not that I have much to compare it to.

September 4, 2013

Rotating Climbing Wall

For REX this year at East Campus, I helped to design and build a rotating climbing wall.

The climbing wall consisted of a twelve-foot diameter by eight-foot wide wooden cylinder suspended on an axle.  The surface of the cylinder was covered in climbing holds.  As the climber progresses, their weight causes the cylinder to rotate opposite the climbing direction.  

April 28, 2013

Zero-Dollar Carbon Fiber Bicycle

Back in January, I was presented with a large carbon fiber tube, in the form of an oar.  Being who I am, I made the obvious decision to build a bicycle frame out of it.  As I found out when building my bamboo bike, making a bicycle frame from scratch, especially when using composites,  is not actually very hard, as long as you have a lot of patience.  To make this project more interesting, more challenging, and cheaper, I built the entire frame and bicycle without spending any money on it.  Every component (except the pedals, which used to live on the bamboo bike) I either made myself or scavenged.

March 25, 2013

Electric Tricycle

So I built another electric vehicle.  This time around, I actually did some designing before I got any parts, so this was less of a "what do I do with this cool part" project than most of the things I build are.  However, the actual construction of the vehicle was started due to the acquisition of a cool part:  the "melon" sized brushless motor that drives the tricycle.  Getting the motor was a great excuse to implement a bunch of ideas for an electric vehicle I developed after building my electric scooter.

This was my first big project done with access to real machine tools (courtesy of MITERS), so this was both my learn how to machine things and learn how to Solidworks project.  Even with just a semester working with these tools, I was able to make this vehicle significantly more refined (while simultaneously even more ridiculous) than my scooter.

The design for the vehicle was inspired by the classic Radio Flyer tricycle.  That vehicle geometry is not exactly intended for the high speed go-kart like performance I wanted, so I tried to optimize the design while retaining the tiny kids-trike aesthetic.  

And now, a brief overview of the tricycle's specifications:

Motor: Turnigy C80100-130 brushless RC outrunner
Controller: Kelly KBS48121 120A peak BLDC controller
Batteries: 39.6V 7.5 Ah A123 Systems Lithium Nanophosphate pack
Drivetrain: Manual 8-Speed Shimano internal gear hub, custom spur gear differential
Chassis: Welded steel tubing and aluminum plate construction with side-to-side leaning
Top Speed: 45+ mph, if you're feeling brave

More pictures, videos, and build log can be found after the break.

January 29, 2013

Autonomous Anti-Mouse Sentry Turret

For Bad Ideas I built a computer controlled anti-mouse sentry turret.  The turret uses a video feed from a webcam and a slightly modified version of the Project Sentry Gun Processing code to track mouse-sized objects that move across the camera's field of view.  It fires at the objects using a hacked electric airsoft gun on a pan/tilt servo platform.

January 16, 2013

Motorized Projector Screen

After the winter break, I brought a projector I got from old high school's recycling pile back to my dorm with me.   I made a screen for the projector from some blackout fabric, and motorized the raising and lowering of the screen with a small gear motor and some other parts I found.

January 3, 2013


PocketBoard is a 14.5" long skateboard designed to be the opposite of my electric scooter: It is a small, simple and reliable vehicle for going short distances quickly.  At roughly 5% the weight of the scooter and some small fraction of the volume, I can easily store it in a backpack or even my laptop bag when I'm not riding it.  It has a solid oak deck with inlayed aluminum plates, and (what I assume to be) standard skateboard trucks, along with some soft 60mm diameter wheels.

PocketBoard V2 keeps the same shape and footprint, but has an aluminum deck made from the side panel of a PowerMac G5 case.

PocketBoard's rather short build thread can be found here.