Friday, August 16, 2013

The Ultimate One-Off

Mike Swartz blogs about his experience in taking 9 months to build a bike. I mean seriously build: he started with the designing the bike he wanted and then building it from tubes.

Melting metal

This was by far the most fun, scary and rewarding part of the build. I decided to fillet-braze the bike, which means mastering the handling of the oxy-acetylene torch. If you’ve never seen one, it’s a pretty hardcore setup. One tank of oxygen, one tank of acetylene, a ridiculously flammable gas. This potent mixture can produce a flame that burns at around 6000 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also explode and kill you. So being careful is pretty key.
It's a really interesting journey. Just as biking will occasionally put you in a space you weren't expecting, so does building.There is something primal about the maker urge.
It took about three weeks to build the whole thing with the setbacks, parts that didn’t fit, and the wheel building. There were a few nights out in the garage where I was tempted to just rip through and finish the build if I had to stay up all night. But I decided to wait, and give myself some time to think about the problem or order the right part instead of scrounging/modifying what I had. I heard a great piece of advice from another guy at the workshop:
Whenever I think I’m 30 minutes away from finishing a project, I stop and come back to it the next day. This way I don’t rush, and force myself to be smart and do it right.
I think about this a lot and how useful it is when applied to basically everything. Don’t rush, do it right. You don’t want to ruin 9 months of work because the hardware store was closed.
Mike's posts are a short and interesting read.

Excellent (And Pricey) Bike LItes!

via Grist:
It’s a fairly simple product, actually. You get a unit that fits onto your wheel. The unit has four bars of LED lights. Then you upload graphics or animations. And then you just pedal — pretty fast — and the lights turn on and the motion of the bike wheel turns them into animations and you’ve got the coolest thing going on the road. Cars will definitely, definitely see you.
But it’s, uh, pricey, at $660 for one unit (i.e., if you want both your wheels tricked out like this, you’re out more than $1,300). Still, you could have bike wheels with an animation of you riding a bike on them. Think about it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Rural Ambulance

via NPR
NPR is reporting:
When Chris Ategeka was 9, his younger brother died while Ategeka was helping to carry him to the nearest hospital — 10 miles from their village in Fort Portal, Uganda.
There was no quicker way to get his sick brother, who was coughing and had a bloody stool, to medical care. "I did not understand the concept of lack of mobility being the biggest factor until it got later in life. I realized how that could have helped so much," he tells Shots.
Ategeka and his five siblings became orphans after their mother and father died of AIDS. But Ategeka, now 28, considers himself lucky.
A U.S. aid organization helped AIDS orphans like him attend school. Ategeka did well. He impressed the California family that sponsored him so much that they invited him to come live with them in 2006.
Since then, he has earned engineering degrees at University of California, Berkeley, where he'll begin a doctorate in mechanical engineering this fall. And he's been using what he learned already to solve the problem that contributed to the death of his brother nearly 20 years ago.
Ategeka founded , a nonprofit that teaches villagers how to build bike ambulances and wheelchairs from scrap metal. "I teach you how to make it, and I teach you how to fix it," he says. "If it breaks, you know what to do, and if you want to build something you think outside the box and you do it."