The students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands created a 2.5 metric ton bike bus that has 32 seats. Each rider can pedal. From S. Fridqvist.
Japan is famous for the fantastic and various things you can buy in vending machines -- often standing in the most incongruous places. China has a few of these as well. This drinking-water vending machine was standing on a tiny back alley in Suzhou, a city near Shanghai. I couldn't tell where/what it was hooked up to, but many of the homes in this area of the city, which neat and substantial, had no plumbing. So perhaps rather than have a spigot with unlimited water, they decided to meter it out. You bring your 5-gallon jar and fill 'er up. Don't know how much it costs.
Every couple of weeks I like to check into Jan Chipchase's latest travels. He's constantly moving around the world noticing little things, like how we noted our world with little messages using technology. On his blog Future Perfect he posted this nice find in Finland.
Key ring board for Helsinki's Yrjonkatu swimming pool and sauna includes a minature clocks to mark the entry time for each pool goer - anyone staying longer than the one and half hours is charged extra. Or at least they were - the practice of limiting the customer time in the pool hasn't been used since the 90's. The board serves multiple purposes. The number of missing keyrings provides a visual snapshot of how many people are currently in the building. And because each key relates to a specific locker it is possible for the attendant to 'partner up' pool goers to have neighbouring lockers, increasing the likelyhood of social interaction or in the case of males on the prowl, something more. Unlikely? On men only night? Yeah right.
I like the way it serves as a dashboard to the entire spa. I bet it does not last another three years before it is replaced by the standard PC screen.
A guy named Chris sent this image and caption to Makezine. Looks like the solar panel flips back so you can drive it, though it must be sensitive to wind gusts.
"I just took this pic as I was walking down the street here in Palo Alto. This Maker has built an electric 3-wheel transport device, and he/she is charging it as it sits parked in the street! I don't know who it is...."
I don't know much about this contraption, other than what the label at this windsailing website says: Homemade Landsailer. Looks cool though. Tell me if you know more.
If there ever was a technology that calls out for street use, it is a jet engine. There is a small subculture of jet hackers. Among them is New Zealander Bruce Simpson who runs a cool website of his experiments. He tells how he got started:
When I first started tinkering with pulsejet engine technology in 1999, I realized that there was huge potential for improving these devices. Although deceptively simple in construction, their design had changed little in the 55 years since the end of WW2, when they were rapidly replaced by the now common turbojet. The opportunity to apply 21st century materials and knowledge to the task of improving a design still mired in the 1950's was too great to resist -- so I set about developing a range of engines, each incremental better than the last.
In true enthusiast street use spirit Simpson tells you how to make one yourself. He sells a book on DVD with instructions.
"A step-by step video shows you how to build this pulsejet for around $20 using just regular hand-
tools. That's right, no welder or lathe is required."
In theory if you spin an electric motor, it should "run backwards" and generate electricity. So this guy, Dan Meyer, in Minnesota built a small generator using an old gas engine and an old DC motor.
Dan says: "It is made from a 6 horsepower Tecumseh engine and a 1 horsepower 3450 rpm induction motor. I had the gas engine and frame that had been given to me from a friend. My brother had an old water pump motor he was willing to donate to the cause, and my brother in law knew where to find several motor run capacitors and picked them up for me. I got an outlet box, outlets and a pulley from my favorite hardware store and I was all set to experiment. I worked (well...I played around with it...I can't call this work) with this alternator for the last few years, powering Christmas lights on the house, heating my Scamp travel trailer, running an electric weed wacker around the yard (the world's only gas-electric weed wacker) and other miscellaneous duties. Voltage regulation with this machine is not too bad for an unregulated mechanical device. At no load, it will produce about 130 volts. With a 1500 watt (125 volt) heater running, I see about 100 volts (or about 830 watts). To my disappointment, it would not start my furnace fan. This is because the surge current required to start my furnace fan is well over 8 amps. If you overload an induction generator, it simply stops generating. All this experimenting has little practical value for me. To show how futile this interest in emergency generators actually is, there has been exactly one day during the last 5-6 years I had a chance to truly use this as an emergency generator when the power failed for a couple hours. I used it to power my computers so that I could surf the web. That's why this is a hobby, and nothing more."
There's a certain brilliance in making your own tools, either out of desperation, or because you can. You take one thing and transform it into something else that transform yet another thing. Here's a high speed drill (10,000 rpm) made from auto blower motor. The maker Aaron Gustafson says it works better than any of his other drills.
When everyone has a cell phone, what happens to pay phones? They adapt to compete. Not everyone does have a cell phone, yet, so those without one want an easier way to make calls rather than struggle with broken phones in booths that don't take the coins you may have. In China, an overhead sign indicates this tiny store will sell you a call on their working phone. Win-win for everyone. I grabbed this shot from this Flickr person.
This is a lovely hack. A guy takes copper tubing wrapped in a spiral around both sides of an electric fan. The tubing is connected (via cable ties) to an aquarium pump which circulates ice water held in a plastic storage bin beneath the fan. The fan then dispenses the cold into the room. A full set of pictures can be seen on the guy's Flickr set.
I noticed this nomadic knife and scissors sharpening guy set up his contraption in a market near Oaxaca Mexico. He could roll it along on its single wheel. When he got a customer, he tipped it slightly so the seat was up. He put the leather strap in the bike rim and then he could sit and pedal the wheel. It would turn the grinding wheel, and he would merrily sharpen away, sparks flying. I've seen a lot of makeshift sharpeners, but this one was the most elegantly designed ever.