Street Use

Instant Tourist Snapshots

In contrast to the almost medieval instant photo process I featured from India, here is a modern update from Turkey. Reader Erik Fitzpatrick writes:

My wife and I were in Turkey recently and while we were in the plaza in front of the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sofia) in Istanbul, I noticed this photo vendor. But instead of the old-fashioned kid-with-a-polaroid, this guy had a digital camera and a battery-powered photo printer!


Posted on October 31, 2006 at 5:22 pm | comments

Handcuff Bike Lock

Jonathan Schreiber writes: Thought you might enjoy this bike-related street use that Justin found as we were walking from our offices to lunch in Sausalito (CA). A CHP Bike cop was getting a sandwich inside Golden Gate market. This what he used as his bike lock.


Posted on October 26, 2006 at 12:50 am | comments

Spring-loaded Chop Sticks

I’m not sure who much these are actually used. They may be simply a design project. But they look plausible. In fact, I think I’ll make some for guests.

You remove the spring from a wooden or plastic spring clothespin, and insert it between two chop sticks — perhaps with a little grove shaved on the chop stick shank. The result is a pair that is easy to use and requires no life-long skill to pick up grains of rice.


Posted on at 12:35 am | comments

Under Desk Duck Tape Slip Holders

Quick! A nifty way to store desk utensils without cluttering up the desktop. Make customizable holders with duck tape stuck to the bottom of your desktop. The idea and photos come from benrodian. His instructions:
1. make little duct tape slots for everything you need at your table or desk. (yes, that is a glow-in-the-dark Swiss Army knife)
2. stick everything to the underside of the desk.
3. now everything is right there but the top of your desk/table isn’t cluttered.

Desk Pocket

Posted on October 25, 2006 at 7:33 am | comments

Rubber Band Hands Free Cell Phone

As far as I can tell this is not a put-on, or hoax, but a legitimate innovation born of desperation. And I believe others have discovered the same solution. (I’m always surprised more people don’t use some kind of hands-free contraption.) If you know more about this particular picture (forwarded to me by Alexander Rose) please email me.


Posted on October 18, 2006 at 12:16 am | comments

Mad Max in Vietnam War

Yeah, I’m on a vehicle mash-up jag these days. Here’s another road-warrior-worthy vehicle. Remember those pictures of Mad Max war trucks taken in Iraq by Defensfor Fortis? They were not the first to hack an armored vehichle. Here’s a snapshot of a jury-rigged tank made by GIs in Vietnam. This picture by Ralph Marchese was taken sometime in 1967, of the HHC 3rd/47th Infantry.

Homemade Tanks  9Th Inf

Posted on October 13, 2006 at 8:56 pm | comments

Homebrew FM Radio Station in India

In February, 2006 the had a good article on an DIY low-powered FM radio station operated out of a electronics repair shop. I’d be surprised if this was the only one in India (or Asia) like this. The owner-builder claims not to know that broadcasting required a license. The station, he says, just sort of grew from his junk and his interests.

“On a balmy morning in India’s northern state of Bihar, young Raghav Mahato gets ready to fire up his home-grown FM radio station. It may well be the only village FM radio station on the Asian sub-continent. It is certainly illegal. The transmission equipment, costing just over $1, may be the cheapest in the world.


The transmission kit is fitted on to an antenna attached to a bamboo pole on a neighbouring three-storey hospital. A long wire connects the contraption to a creaky, old homemade stereo cassette player in Raghav’s radio shack. Three other rusty, locally made battery-powered tape recorders are connected to it with colourful wires and a cordless microphone. The radio station is a repair shop and studio rolled into on. The shack has some 200 tapes of local Bhojpuri, Bollywood and devotional songs which Raghav plays for his listeners. Raghav’s station is truly a labour of love – he does not earn anything from it. His electronic repair shop work brings him some two thousand rupees ($45) a month.”


Raghav makes his living from repairing electronic goods.

Posted on at 8:51 pm | comments

Uganda Wire-Truck Toy

I really like this toy truck made by a kid in Uganda. It’s a wonderful design. Note the steering wheel that also serves as a push stick. I like the airy wire cage — a cool way to make a big truck with little material. Less is more, as Buckminster Fuller would say. This picture was taken by Bob Jones, a high school teacher in England who was on a learning trip to Uganda. The trip was, he says, “an investigatory project exploring the ideas of Citizenship and development in Uganda.”

Uganda Toy

Posted on October 11, 2006 at 1:50 am | comments

Hand Held Ink Jet Printer

Your arm moves the printer head in this home-made hand-held ink jet printer. Devised by a Dutch hacker, he calls it an electronic stamp. It can print on paper, white board, a balloon – anything you can move your arm over.


He writes on his blog, Sprites Mods, “In a normal inkjet printer the print head is moved back and forth with a motor and a guiding system. If however, we want to make a manageable device then it is not convenient to integrate this entire system into an electronic stamp. That is why we use only the cartridge together with some electronics that drives the head. Moving the head itself is a job for the user. When moving it is important to hold the whole assembly straight and move with a uniform motion across the surface. After a little practice this is quite easy to do.

Posted on October 10, 2006 at 11:38 pm | comments

Like a Peking Duck in the Water

More farmer-built vehicles. This one featured on the Chinese website, SHM, is an amphibious vehicle. Goes on dirt roads and rivers. According to a translation provided by the great China-watching website Virtual China, the inventor has applied for a patent for the thing.


“On Sept. 25 [2006], 75-year old boatsman Hu Zeshen piloted the dual-use amphibious vehicle that he invented. Mr. Hu lives in Loudi city, Hunan Province, in southern China, and has spent his life working on ships plying China’s rivers and canals. He calls his invention “the Happy Boat.” The vehicle has a 5 horsepower diesel engine and a 1 horsepower electric engine.  He and his wife plan to take the vehicle on holiday during China’s National Day vacation, to explore scenic waterways in other parts of his province.  Mr. Hu will apply for a patent for his vehicle, too.”


Posted on at 5:30 pm | comments

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