RCPowers F117 V3

I built an RCPowers F117 V3 as a gift for a friend. 

The Build Log tells the story.

The first test flight shown below the photo album, was not great, sigh...


RCPowers SU-34 V4

Check out the Build Log and the Forum Discussion


USA 2014


My Carvin BoltPlus Guitar

Hello Guitar Fans!

Here's a report on the construction of my Carvin BoltPlus Guitar kit. The process so far has been:
  1. Sand down the maple neck and alder body with 150, 320, and finally 400 grit dry sandpaper. I carefully followed the wood grain while removing the machining scratches mainly from the cutaway's and the butt of the body. The neck was practically perfect out of the box.
  2. I then applied Tung oil with a cotton rag. I applied a light 1st coat to the entire body including the cut-outs and pockets. The following 4 coats were applied much more heavily, but not to the cut-outs. I allowed at least 12 hours between coats and buffed away as much of the Tung oil as possible after the coat and then again before applying the next.  The neck could hardly absorb any oil so it only got 3 coats. I did not oil the rosewood fingerboard. All in all I hardly used much Tung oil, only 3/8 of a 1/4 liter bottle.
  3. Finally, after the 5th coat on the body, I used 000 grade steel wool to polish the body, only. I did some more buffing with a microfiber buffer cloth.
  4. I am now waiting for the oil to fully dry before applying the red furniture oil and continuing the construction.
Here are some views of the neck and body after step 3:

The following references may help other builders:
  • Tao Guitars:
    Master Luthiers in Brussels, Belgium, provided all sorts of help and advice.
  • Grande Droguerie le Lion:
    in Brussels, supplies Tung oil and other products - a cool shop if you're an alchemist!
  • Cream Audio:
    The very pleasant Carvin Dealer in Belgium.
  • Carvin Guitars:
    The guys who make the best kits and guitars at really great prices!
  • Probag:
    provide custom made leather guitar bags that are great quality at a great price!


Brussels Air Museum

This is a great place to spend an afternoon, and it's free!



Spain 2014


Mollecular Modelling and 3D Printing

This can be 3D-printed to get a cool something....

The process used:
  1. Open the .pdb file in Pymol (opensource, free if you install yourself).
  2. The molecule will appear.
  3. To the right of the molecule, click on the "S" then the "As" then "surface" (this calls the "show as surface" command, which hides everything but the surface; it's important to hide everything else since unwanted artifacts may be present and screw up the 3D printing later on...)
  4. Again, to the right of the molecule, click on the "C" then the "by element" then the 3rd "CHNOS...." from the end. This sets the color scheme.
  5. Use the menu bar to set maximum display quality:
    Display / Quality / Maximum Quality
  6. Finally, from the main menu, save as VRML2:
    File / Save Image as / VRML 2...
  7. Optionally, in case of slow Internet upload speeds, zip compress the resulting .wrl file before uploading to Shapeways.
If you need other formats, e.g. STL :
  1. Open the previously generated .wrl file in MeshLab using the menu:
    File / Import Mesh
  2. Save a copy in the format of your choice using the menu:
    File / Export Mesh
  3. Again, optionally compress to save space and upload time.


3D Printing

Yep, I've been doing some 3D printing lately...

Check out some 3D printed Spinners on my new Rabid Models P38!

The full Build-log photo album is also available!

And then came proteins and the PTHR1 GPCR Model!

Which can be downloaded and/or printed from Shapeways or Thingiverse !

It's cool to be alive in the 21st century!


Selector: Marathon Backpack Pressure-Cooker

The Force or the Dark Side, take your choice...

"If you're not connected to one of those valid intelligence targets, you're not of interest to us ..."

Congratulations! Now you are!


Rabid Models P38

Some views of my Rabid Models P38


OpenSCAD: 3D Model Programming

In a recent trip to the local FabLab, I learned about a cool 3D modeling tool unlike most others.  In OpenSCAD, you write code to make models.

It is really cool and fast to make very precise 3D models.

Here's a quick code sample that defines a procedure to make cones, then calls it!
To run it in openSCAD:
F5: quick visualize
F6: compile and check (note, this code is only to demo the programming, it cannot generate a proper STL file for 3D printing)

// cone construction defs
r_lower= 20;
// the next var determines how 'smooth' the curves are

// cone placement defs
cone_step= 2*r_lower;

// this makes a single cone of 'height' tall,
// at [0,0,0]
module cone(height){

// this makes 'nb' cones,
// each is taller than the previous,
// while shifting them along the x-axis
// note:this code will not make STL, because of 'holes'
module make_cones(nb){
  for (i= [0:nb-1]){

// this does the work

Here's the Result:
Cool, eh?


TED.com: No Comment on Hacking?

I have been a long time fan of TED.com. I found it to be a great source of ideas and inspiration. However, in recent times this has become less and less true. Nevertheless, I am still on the mailing list and still watch any video with an interesting title.

The other day, this one caught my eye: "Why good hackers make good citizens". Myself being a hacker, I watched it and was terribly disappointed, even insulted that the presenter used the term "hacking" for what was clearly not... Well, I won't spoil for those who want to watch the 9 minutes.

Anyway, as a member of TED.com, I sometimes comment on the presentations. This one weighed heavily on me, so I posted the following comment:

I'm sorry but with all respect for the good stuff mentioned in this talk, the use of the word "hacking" is in my opinion really not right.

I looks to me like just a buzzword to get people to watch it! Furthermore, the idea of "civic hacking" is practically a pleonasm. Everyone who hacks believes that they are doing it for the global good. I'm not talking about stealing, fraud, etc. since that is simply what it is.

Actually, I am very sad to see that such a "nothing of interest" presentation gets top TED billing when there is so much fascinating hacking going on. If you want to hear about great hacking, check the Chaos Communication Congress (search "30C3 video" for the most recent). That's a place where the worlds greatest and most intense "civic" hackers get together to try to change the world....

Or just read Elektor... or Make magazine!

Maybe I was not clear enough: I found this talk insulting.

I posted it, and saw that it was in fact on the site. Then, about a minute later I received this email from TED.com

TED comment threads are a welcoming place for critical comment and debate, but we ask that you write all comments in a way that is thoughtful and constructive. The goal of our message boards is to host productive conversation and debate. Comments that are insulting or belittling, especially those that are aggressive towards a speaker personally, do not make for constructive conversation -- they tend to stifle debate, not promote it.

With this in mind, we'd ask you to re-write your comment as though the speaker were sitting across from you at a dinner table. Our speakers do read and respond to comments. How could you engage the speaker in constructive and respectful debate?

The full text of the comment is below; please let us know if you have any questions. For more information on our approach to comments on TED.com, check out our community How-To Guide: http://www.ted.com/pages/conversations_howto

Thank you!
The TED Conversations Team

To which I replied:

"??? I would have no trouble talking like this to the speaker - I feel that she insulted me with her presentation and that indeed Ted.com participated in that insult. The stuff mentioned in her talk is as close to advertizing as you can get... I don not see what is wrong with my comments, but I do feel that TED.com is going downhill faster and faster and that it is no longer thesource of inspiration as it once was...

If you care to continue this debate I have no problelms - but i do have a problem with moderated comments being removed without justification....

There has been no reply to that...

Since then, I looked at the "TED conversations How-to guide" and saw that there is a section about "How to Avoid Comment or Conversation Removal". There, one sees the following possible reasons for comment removal:
  • Not appropriate for this audience: TED.com is not the right platform for pseudo-science, zealotry, personal requests, proselytizing or self-promotion.
    - That doesn't seem to apply to my remarks, but who knows? It may be a catch all, which means, "if we don't like it it's outahea..."
  • Inappropriate language: This is a not the right place for chat-room banter, text-speak or combative posturing.
    - this is certainly not the case.
  • Response to an inappropriate comment: Please use the Flag button instead.
    - Nope.
  • Repeat topic: Please use the Search tool to check for existing Conversations on your topic before submitting a new Conversation.
    - No
  • Terms of Use violation: We will remove any comment or conversation that violates the TED.com Terms of Use.
    - doubtful, but who knows...
So in the end, with no response from the TED conversations team, even though they invited me to exchange with them, I was left with letting it go or escalating.

After consideration, I decided that this was worthy of a shot on Hacker News because it somehow degrades hacking and at the same time confirms my feeling that TED.com is on the slippery slope to becoming just another self-serving institution that has lost its purpose...

I leave it to you and your perspective on hacking and commenting...

UPDATE: the next day I received this email redacted to preserve the peace of the author:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for writing. When users submit critiques of talks, we ask that they take care to be thoughtful and substantive rather than insulting or belittling. You make some excellent points in your comment, but we ask that you make them politely and constructively. 

When you include things like, "this nothing of interest presentation" and "I found this talk insulting," it adds a hostile tone that can be counter-productive to serious discussion of the content. Please consider taking another shot at sharing these important thoughts with the TED community.

Thank you for understanding, and I look forward to your future contributions!


To which, I replied:

Dear ,

Thank you for writing and explaining what you believe to be wrong with my remarks.
In the meantime, a few friends have watched the talk and their remarks are far more critical than mine...  
I understand why you may not like my remarks, but I will not rewrite them just to fit into the TEDish way. 
I used to love and admire TED, but in recent years the TED talk has slipped into what I and many find to be a style without content: lots of enthusiasm for banality... This talk was a fine example of that: a few buzzwords 'hacking' in particular, mention the current administration, mention B. Franklin, then a story about some students who were sent to Hawaii and made a website. What ideas are "worth sharing"? Could this be compared to so many of the great TED shows? like McCready (not in TEDish style), or Greg Stone, or Sir. Robinson, or S. Mitra or the volunteer Fireman ... 
I also go to as many TEDx events as I can and have seen this same trend towards banality, more and more passionate show, less and less passionate content... or even worse, no content just advice about how the world should be according to the speaker... Myself and many others are disappointed with what we perceive to be a decay in quality in something that was really great not very long ago.
Maybe TED is just wearing out? Or the team is getting old and set in their ways?
Anyway, I find that the way comments are removed post publication is a bit odd. Why not just moderate before publication then it is clear.  Either you encourage participation and you risk getting remarks which may rile up some or you moderate and keep things in line with what you believe to be best.
I have learned from this experience that I no longer want to participate in the TED conversations, and at the same time I understand why the threads are as they are.
In any case, thank you for taking the time to write back.