This mutant-airplane business may be getting out of hand

Mutant Airplane

Whoa! What the heck is that?

It turns out that it’s a flying testbed for new gear-driven turbofan jet engines being developed by Pratt & Whitney. While much can be done on fixed test stands, this lets them test the engines on a real aircraft at high altitude and under a wide variety of environmental conditions.

The little engine under test above— destined for smaller regional jets —is mounted to a “stub wing” on a specially-modified Boeing 747SP.  That’s the same short-body model of 747 that NASA adapted for the SOFIA aircraft-based telescope.  This particular aircraft is a full-time testbed at Pratt & Whitney; its main engines are larger versions of the little one under test.

These new gear-driven engines are interesting on their own; a gearbox between the main fan and the turbine allows each side to run at a more optimal speed, and promises a significant increase in overall efficiency.

Link: Test Flights Start for Titanium-Blade Engine @ Design News.
For more photos, take a look here: PurePower Engine photos

Behind the Scenes with our Artist-in-Residence

RobotGrrl @ Evil Mad Scientist 2


Thanks to Erin “RobotGrrl” Kennedy for being our Artist in Residence this spring! She has headed back to Canada after Maker Faire.

Erin has just written what is perhaps the only “behind the scenes” blog post about life here at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, which you can read over on her RobotGrrl blog.


RobotGrrl @ Evil Mad Scientist 1


Erin has also written blog posts here on getting started with AVR microcontrollers, and about unboxing an old Heathkit. She’ll be posting part two of the Heathkit build here in the near future.

Ladyada’s Workshop in LEGO

Adafruit has an awesome LEGO kit design for Ladyada’s Workshop up on LEGO CUUSOO. CUUSOO is a site where people can submit designs for new LEGO sets or vote to support designs that have already been submitted. With enough support, LEGO may eventually turn these into actual production kits. With your support, maybe we can all have the chance to play with a LEGO version of MOSFET, a pick-and-place and a soldering iron.

Return of the Peggy Projects

One of the great things about building electronics projects is seeing what they inspire other people to do, and the 625 LEDs of the Peggy 2 can be pretty inspiring:

Mark at awe.com did some awesome scrolling text on Peggy 2 and has even shared his sketch for others to use. His video is embedded above or you can click on over to YouTube.

Phillip at peilipu’s posterous hooked up a Peggy 2LE and a Danger Shield to play Pong, a game we’re rather fond of.

Nick over at NJS Shredding wired up an off-board Peggy 2, neatly built into a wooden box and mounted to the ceiling. He also posted a video which shows the scale of it quite well.

Another ceiling mounted Peggy 2 installation was recently posted on the Make blog. This one, with an amazing array of ribbon cables connecting strips of LEDs, is entertaining visitors at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and was created by the late artist Rick Gribenas. Thanks to Matt Mets for sending us the picture!

Also at a museum in Pittsburgh, Deren Guler used a Peggy 2 in a kid-powered generator exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center. Thanks for sending the picture, Deren!

You can read more about Peggy 2 on our store here, and full documentation is available on our wiki here and links to more projects are posted there as well.

A fantastic introduction to Maker Spaces

Jerry Isdale, founder of Maui Makers, sent in this great clip about their maker space. (The video is embedded above, and the Vimeo link is here.)

The video, from TV series Self Made in Hawaii,
is one of the best introductions that we have seen to maker spaces (and, really, hacker spaces in general)– showing people working together, having fun and building awesome stuff.

And that’s exactly what maker spaces and hacker spaces are all about: There’s fire art, 3D printers, and electronics, laser cutters, CNC machines, and even some fine footage of an Egg-Bot in motion.

More information about the video is available at the Maui Makers blog.

Capitalism Works For Me! True/False

Capitalism Works For Me! True/False

Capitalism Works For Me! True/False is a beautiful interactive art piece by Steve Lambert designed to spark conversation around a difficult subject. It was made after a successful kickstarter campaign and is now touring the country.

From the project description:

Start a conversation about capitalism and friends edge away slowly, and strangers even faster. This is what art is for. This is what art does well. It creates a space where new ideas and perspectives can be explored. A space unlike any other.

Our very own 12″ seven segment displays were used for showing the vote tallies as viewers interact with the piece.

After being first displayed in Cleveland, it is currently on its way to Boston for the 2012 deCordova Biennial which opens January 22. You can check up on its progress and destinations through kickstarter updates or Steve’s site.

Evil Mad Science Kits on Make: Live!

The most recent episode of Make: Live was a special episode on kits to celebrate the upcoming release of the Make: Special Issue, The Ultimate Kit Guide. Our very own Octolively and Meggy Jr RGB kits were both featured on the show. The electronic kits clip is embedded above, or you can watch the full video and the rest of the clips, including siege & ballistic kits and crafty kits on the Ultimate Kit Episode post over at Make.