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This week:
Pics from the MAKE: Tokyo Meeting, DIY Lightweight Airplane Motor, Bento Album Covers, Bathroom Stall Nap Net, Making Butter via Roller Coaster, The Bacarobo Competition, World’s Most Complicated Origami, Kotekingu’s Case Mashups, Robotic Dead Body Sweeper, Feline-Themed Car, Waterproof Wireless Mini-Cam, Tulip Field Art, Candy Model of Himeji Castle, and the Kalbi iPod Cover.

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MAKE: Tokyo 2008!!!

First off, the preliminary wave of pictures/movies from yesterday’s MAKE: Tokyo Meeting are starting to trickle in. Here are a few of the early posts:

From Mootoh:

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And some from the MAKE: Japan Blog:

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Also check out Iogi’s Flickr set (includes Flickr video [donuts, anyone?]).
There’s sure to be plenty more pics and videos coming in throughout the week, so I might save some of those for next week as well.


Lightweight Model Plane w/ 0.18 Gram DIY Brushless Motor
Here’s a video featured on the MAKE: Japan blog of an ultralight miniature airplane with a homemade .18 gram brushless motor. The whole plane itself only weighs 1008 milligrams. As you can see from this video, this plane seems to lazily float in the air, although the 20 milligram propeller is moving at 20900 RPM. The craftsmanship of this plane is quite remarkable, as it seems as though every detail of this project has been pushed to the limits of minimalism and grace.

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Bento Album Covers
The Japanese bento lunch has certainly evolved into its own artistic medium, and here we have a great collection of bento interpretations of “classic” record covers (wait… One of these bento is not like the other… Does Rage Against the Machine qualify as “classic” yet?). Like the best arty bentos, you kind of have to wonder how anyone has the heart to actually eat these masterpieces. They might look good, but do they taste as good as Hokka-Hokka? Hmmmm.
[via from here]

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My new favorite Japanese website is Daily Portal Z, a blog with a penchant for making and documenting all sorts of curious and absurd projects. Their how-to on making a bathroom sleeping apparatus (shown above) is great for everyone who is sleep-deprived and wanting to get a few winks in the company bathroom (although it seems like you would be pretty busted if you walked back to your desk with net marks all over your face). As the author notes, sleeping with this thing kind of looks like you have hung yourself dead, so make sure nobody walks in on you while you’re snoozing. Oh how I wished for something like this at my old job…

Daily Portal Z documents other absurd quests, such as making a meal where everything is star-shaped, or attempting to make those spiral fried potato on a stick things themselves, but most awesomely, they attempt to make butter from cream using only the vibration from a roller coaster ride, (or more precisely, 30 roller coaster rides). Check it:
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After riding the roller coaster 30 times, it did actually turn into something like butter (er, more like whipped cream, they said). Upon completing the task and sufficiently destroying his well-being, the author only later found out that butter is supposed to be chilled in the process in order to firm up, so that was a bit of an “oops” moment. But c’mon, like most projects, the success is in the effort, right? This project was apparently documented for TV as well, so if anyone out there finds some video of that, please hit me up. I suspect I’ll be covering more Daily Portal Z stuff here in the future.

The Bacarobo Competition
The annual Bacarobo Contest is a competition that seeks to find the stupidest robots. This contest is hosted by the wonderful Nobumichi Tosa of Maywa Denki (see Made in Japan Vol. 3, etc.) along with three other judges including a manga artist, a movie director, and a college professor. The word “Bacarobo” comes from “baka” meaning “stupid” + “robo” which means (you guessed it!) robot. The grand prize for this event is 500,000 yen (~$5,000 US), and the three basic rules for Bacarobo are:

  • The Bacarobo must be mechanical
  • The Bacarobo must serve no purpose
  • The Bacarobo must make people laugh

There was a full-on movie about Bacarobo that hit theaters in Japan last January, so it’s good to see this lively event getting the recognition it deserves. John Brownlee of Boing-Boing Gadgets offered his opinion of the “Irritating Robot Trash Can”:


The Push-Kun is a robotic quadruped trashcan that tells jokes, plays drum rolls on its tin belly and waddles around your house being irritating until you order it to actually try eating some garbage, at which point, it spectacularly fails. There’s also a passing resemblance to Homestar Runner. Created by Osaka-based Robot Force, the Push-Kun was an official entrant in the Baka RoboCup, which is basically Japan’s Robot Special Olympics. I can’t believe it didn’t take home the Gold.

Push-Kun the Robot Trashcan [YouTube via Pink Tentacle]

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World’s Most Complicated Origami?
This dragon made by Satoshi Kamiya is said to be the world’s most complicated work of origami. Each scale is made from its own piece of paper. This picture is from the folders website (Japanese), which is host to many other triumphs of the origami medium.

This week Gizmodo Japan brought us a link to a DIYer named Gotekingu who has accomplished some pretty bold feats in case modification. Recently he made a cell phone housed inside a retro Game & Watch portable video game (pictured above). He has also made a cell phone that is designed to look like a Wii Remote, cleverly titled the WiiLLCOM:

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Gotekingu also made this smartphone + Thomas the Train Kid’s Laptop mashup:

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As if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that his case modifications are not just limited to cell phones. He has also made a life-size Transformer (picture below), spending $500 in printing costs for the head and arms (plus another $30k for the cost of the Mazda RX-8, making this the most expensive DIY project that Gizmodo Japan has covered to date). What about the legs, you ask? As they say on Gundam, “Legs? Legs are just for decoration.”
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[via]

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Robotic Body Scooper
In other robot news, another dirty job may soon been replaced by robots in Japan. This time the dirty job is picking up dead people from fire-ridden areas.

Meet Robokiyu the Rescue Robot, whose job it is to come in and extract the dead from any situation. Owned by the Tokyo Fire Department and controlled by remote control Robokiyu uses two movable arms to drag a person’s body up the slide located in the front of the machine.
Don’t worry if you happen to be presumed dead and picked up by Robokiyu, he has fresh oxygen pumping through him at all times for your convenience.

[Via Weird Asia News]

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“Spotted”: Flashy Cat-print Car

People in Japan like to pimp out their rides. They also like cats. They also like having the best of both worlds. Harvey from JapanNewbie “spotted” this sweet cat-print car on the streets of Osaka.

(Full disclosure: I went to college with Harvey. My roommate sold him a MemoryStick once.)

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RC-12 Waterproof Wireless Minicam

RF System Lab, makers of fine intraoral cameras and endoscopes (including the amazing swallowable Sayaka endoscope capsule that takes video of its trip through your digestive system like it was your dad on a Disney vacation) brings us this tiny waterproof wireless camera.

The RC-12 can run for 45 minutes on the internal battery, and can broadcast up to 30 meters away, an impressive range for such a tiny camera.

The product page lists this gadget at $379.00, which might be out of the question for most DIYers, but it might be an inspiration for a remake or other interesting camera-mounted/underwater projects. At the very least, it would be fun to mount to some RC toys or your blimp-bot.

In Hyogo Prefecture, blooming tulips were used to make an image of a panda for the 17th Annual Tanto Tulip Festival. Here are a few shots from previous years:

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[via]

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Candy Model of Himeji Castle
Another delicious idea:

The 25th National Confectionery Exposition began yesterday in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture:

During the exposition, original cakes with the theme of the three beauties-Cleopatra, Ono no Komachi, Yang Guifei-prepared by Antenor, Kobe Fugetsudo, Henri Charpentier and Morozoff will be served with other confectionery. Le Cordon Bleu Kobe and seven other confectionery schools will hold daily classes on making confections.

On display will be a confectionery model of Himeji Castle, ornamental candy flowers and birds, about 6,000 confections from across the nation and memorabilia among other items. A musical, “Sweet Drops: A Story of a Pastry Chef,” will be performed daily by former top members of Takarazuka Revue and OSK Nippon Kagekidan revue.

A 1:50 scale model of Himeji Castle, complete candy versions of famous historical samurai (pictured above, top).

A clipper ship, globe, and Russian scene (pictured above, 2nd down).

News video of the event:


[Via Japan Probe

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Kalbi iPod Sleeve
Why not shield your iPod with some marbled beef? It’s only 6,980 yen from Rakuten, and they even throw in a free Slab of Beef business card holder. Pro: It looks tough, but it’s fake, so you can avoid Firestorming and rancid meat juice in your pocket. Con: Because it’s fake, you can’t actually make kalbi out of it.

Well, that’s it for another week. Thanks for visiting.

Want to see more Made in Japan? Check out the Made in Japan Archives.

-Mike


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