Dan Dubno, Contributing Editor for Popular Mechanics


Cool Tools Show 135: Dan Dubno

Our guest this week is Dan Dubno. Dan is an Emmy Award winning journalist, technologist, curator, and founder of nonprofit organizations. At CBS News, he developed many new technologies that have changed the face of broadcast television. Presently, Dan is working for DARPA and is also Contributing Editor for Popular Mechanics.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

NEMO waterproof drill and angle grinder
“A friend of mine who we call Nimo is in Hong Kong and he’s making all of these waterproof underwater power tools. He was asked to help in the Thai rescue. He’s been making underwater drills and angle grinders and underwater lights. They’re pressurized and they’re handheld. Before, you had to connect them to the surface and power them pneumatically or by other means. These just have a battery and can go underwater and it’s all waterproof and fun. … They’re a special kind of shaped lithium batteries that they’re using. You have to pressurize them for depth by pumping some air with a bicycle pump, which is supplied. So the deeper you go, the more pressure you have to pressurize it before you dive. But he’s making a whole series of really cool tools, and I think these are something that definitely fit in the Kevin Kelly catalog of coolness.”

ZMAN, a DARPA project to climb walls
“I was the first person outside of the government to get to use and write about the Z-Man, which was a DARPA project to climb walls. I climbed a plate glass wall that was about 30 feet in the air, and it basically uses the principle of the gecko. It has these striations that are in these rubber pads that you hold in your hand while you are attached on the foot side with these straps. Your body’s attached to this device, and you kind of put the suction cups that your hands are holding on the wall or on the flat surface. You step down on one foot, and that basically lets the suction cups suck and adhere to the wall. As you move to the other side, your other hand lifts up and lifts higher and your leg steps down, and that sucks onto the wall and you lift higher on that side, and you release the other leg. So you’re going from hand to hand, leg pressure to leg pressure, as you’re climbing straight up a plate glass regular office wall … It works on all kinds of walls. Not so good on steel. They have a magnetic climbing device that has a similar look to it but uses magnets and it’s for climbing up ship hulls and things like that. It’s a remarkable device. It will be available for sale if it isn’t already available for sale by a company called Alice Devices, which is a Boston-based company which has been doing some remarkable stuff. There’s something very cool about climbing walls. You feel like Spiderman.”

Lumu Power Light & Color Meter
“If you’re in the movie business, if you’re a lighting technician, if you’re a person who does television and wants to know what the Kelvin temperatures are of what you’re shooting, or if you’re a photographer who wants to be consistent about the various lights that they’ve set up for your portraiture shoot or your video shoot, you might want a light meter nowadays …. [This] plugs into the port of an iPhone. … [This is great for] knowing color temperature and being able to quickly assess it and for a very reasonable price.”

Also mentioned:

“Every couple of years we bring together scientists and inventors and people who are designers and people who are architects and scientists and the people who are creating the future, we put them on a ferry in New York, we take the ferry to some hard-to-reach place that has a big auditorium, and about 150 people get to present things. People are showing making very short presentations, or they’re displaying the latest technology, or they’re playing with rocket-powered carnival rides or we’re using flamethrowers to flambe dessert or strange things with giant Tesla coils and all kinds of wonderful devices. If you go to the Gadgetoff website, you can see some of the things we’ve done in the past and give you a taste of what we’re planning for the near future.”

We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $385 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! – MF