Blogs

Personal Air Vehicle Challenge

Rather than a personal jetpack that is limited to flights (or more accurately hops) of 30-50 seconds duration, how about a Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) with a range of 700 miles? Now you are talking – welcome to NASA's vision for a versatile vehicle to alleviate congestion on roads.

Wind Belt: Wind Power Minus the Spin

Spinning wind turbines in various configurations – horizontal or vertical axis, massive or micro, even flying – dominate the environmentally friendly electricity generation scene. However, what if you wanted an electricity source to power a small light? Spinning wind turbines are too costly. A second option is batteries (recharged by solar panels maybe). But now there is a third – the Wind Belt can convert wind energy into electricity, without spinning components, suitable for low-power appliances such as small lights.

Kites: History, Aerodynamics and Uses

As with paper airplanes, we have Chinese inventiveness to thank for another wildly popular aerodynamic device – the kite. Kites have evolved over millennia to the extent that they can now provide useful motive forces to aid ships to cross oceans. However, their ability to thrill children (and those young at heart) with their grace and aerobatics remains intact.

Solar-Powered Airplanes

Steady progress in zero emissions, solar-powered airplanes recently culminated in an unofficial endurance record of 54 hours by a remote-controlled airplane called Zephyr, built by Qinetiq. Another solar-powered airplane, the Solar Impulse, hit the headlines recently when the team building the airplane announced the launch of their prototype that will, they hope, carry a pilot around the globe in a series of flights.

Fab it Yourself

3D printers and other types of rapid prototyping machines are the latest innovation in manufacturing where components are built by depositing material (usually plastic) layer by layer. Until recently the cheapest machines were still expensive (in the $10,000s range). Not anymore – now there are freely available plans for fabricators (fabs or fabbers as they are known) that are well within the price range and capabilities (assembly required) of hobbyists.

Texture Mapping

Texture mapping is a simple technique to make a 3D model more realistic. It is also a great way to brand either a 3D model or an image with a logo. It is even useful for arranging multiple images within a 3D composite image.

Simulation for Illustration

Sometimes an accurate simulation of a realistic scenario such as the aerodynamics of a racecar, is too much. Sometimes all that is needed is a simulation that highlights a simple concept or idea – welcome to simulation for illustration.

Paper Airplanes

The Chinese are attributed with the invention in AD 105 of what we know today as paper. A good bet is that the first flying paper object soon followed as a screwed up paper ball flew toward a trash can. Recognizable paper airplanes appeared much later, with sightings coinciding with the first powered flight by the Wright brothers at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Flying Wind Turbines and Blog Action Day

Today (October 15, 2007) is Blog Action Day and upwards of 15,000 bloggers will cover subjects related to the environment. The aim is to raise awareness of environmental issues – this post is my contribution to the cause. Environmentally friendly, renewable energy generation is a theme I've covered in a number of previous posts ranging from wave energy to horizontal, vertical and micro wind turbines. Continuing this theme today I'm going to cover flying wind turbines.

Faceted Modeling

A vast army of 3D artists, initially led by movie and game animators, but more recently joined by students and hobbyists, have compiled an extensive archive of 3D faceted models. These models cover every imaginable item from the mundane, such as eating utensils, to the realms of pure fantasy, such as the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

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