Alan wondered if the Current electric motor scooters were being reinvented:
While visiting China a few years ago, I noticed that about every fifth vehicle passing me on the roads and sidewalks (yes, there are vehicles on the sidewalks there) was a zippy little electric scooter that looked strikingly similar to the ones above. It seems to be the standard upgrade from the ubiquitous Chinese bicycle.
On returning to the States, I tried to find one of these cool rides. They weren’t available. Given that China is the world’ manufacturing center anyway, why not just import some of these vehicles that are obviously already developed and working?
While you’re at it, maybe you could also get a few shipping containers of those awesome rain cloaks the cyclists all wear over there – it’s a poncho shaped to cover the rider, handlebars, and seat, with a cutout for the wheels. Those are also nigh impossible to find here, but someone in China is obviously cranking them out by the billions.
I know this is a series about the remaking of Detroit, but a key part of that process will be innovation, not copying what overseas competitors are already doing
Founder John Harding chimed in to explain their position:
Hi Alan, John here – the other founder of CMC. You make some good points – and I think you’ll find we’re closer to your position of “not reinventing the wheel” than you might expect. The reason we’re doing this is because when we looked at importing bikes the available bikes were deficient. Mostly in terms of performance (but also in quality) – the Chinese use cases for their electric scooters are different than the average US owner. They use these mostly in high-density urban environments at low speeds. Speed and range need to be higher to be considered competitive in the US market. When getting into higher speeds and ranges you also need better batteries and better battery management systems (BMS). The BMS is one of the things we bring to the table – as well as creating chassis dynamics suitable for riding these bikes at speeds appropriate for US roads. We’re firm believers in not reinventing the wheel. That’s exactly why we chose a “glider” (a scooter with no powertrain) from a major Chinese manufacturer and we concentrate our efforts on the electrification, quality improvements and entire ownership experience for the US market. We could of started with a blank sheet of paper (think Vectrix and Brammo) but that would have been wasteful of resources (mostly time and money). We’re not copying the competition. We’re evolving the product and creating something that is better suited for the target market. Maybe that helps explain our position? Now, as far as those awesome ponchos go – I’d suggest ebay… All the best – hope to see you at the Faire.
Mitch Altman recommends a modification to the The Brain Machine:
George, an old friend mine, just emailed me suggesting a method he has used to create spectacular visuals. I thought I’d share it here, in case anyone wants to try it:
“Program a set of goggles such that the LEDs flash at mutually independent rates, where the LED on one eye maintains a constant flash rate in the mid to upper alpha frequency range, and the LED on the other eye ramps up and down in a slow cycle from about mid theta to mid beta frequency range and back.
Try this with white LEDs and a white diffuser over the inside of the goggles, with eyes open. This will produce the best visuals you will ever see.”
If you try this out, please post here to share your experiences. I’ll do the same.
Paul chimed in to explain what is special about the Edsyn Fuminator solder fume extractor:
I am replying to difference of the MPJA and the EDSYN Fume Fan. I am not familiar with the MPJA Fume Extractor, but if it is like some of the others in the market, I can tell you some of the differences.
The common Bench Top Fume Fans has a Box DC Fan with a Carbon/Charcoal Activated filter in front or behind the fan. Many of these are about 1/4 to 3/8″ thick. When you observe the fumes they tend to flow through the filter in certain sections of the filter and out to the open.
The EDSYN Fume Fan has a front spinning foam filter then a 1/2″ thick Carbon/Charcoal Activated filter in the back. When you observe the fume going into the filter, it does not just go straight through, but if you can imagine it being sliced by the spinning filter, covering a larger filtering area before it exits a goes through the 2nd Carbon Activated filter. It helps disperse the fume so it is not concentrated, but spread out over a larger surface of the filter, so more can be collected.
You can visually see the difference when the filter stops and you analyze what is happening.
Marc added some more detail about the MacGyver Mending:
I am one of the roommates that climbed this mountain with Christian, and just wanted to add a few details to our hike.
The Agave plant’s vascular system consists of longitudinal fibers extending from the center of the plant to each leaf, culminating to a sharp spine. In other words, each leaf consists of “thread” and a “needle” at its tip. To safely and humanely remove the needle and thread from the plant without maiming the leaf or damaging the flowering body, I put my mouth over the needle (careful not to stab myself in the gums or tongue though I did anyway) and bit with my molars hard and started pulling. It took awhile to get it going but then a beautiful threaded needle came out of the plant. After that, our other roommate Felipe sewed Christian’s pants with the help of the aforementioned multi tool (since the needle was very thick). I sewed the pocket. Though, rather poorly.
Surprising to all of us, the tread has held up in multiple washings and normal wear. Although, Agave has many commercial uses including a particular type of hemp used in clothing and rugs. It seems as though the life of the thread is only related to the ability of the sewer. We’ll see how my pocket job will hold up!
David S points out something important about the LED Wall:
The project itself is AWESOME, but I really love the creativity of the pixel art you can see from the submissions on their website.
RocketGuy likes the idea of teaching kids electronics using wooden blocks:
My problem with snap circuits is that they’re nicely packaged plastic parts. You don’t really get to see the actual bits inside as clearly. They’re not horrible, they did get my neighbor’s kid interested, so I still think that was a win, but… Don’t underestimate the value of deliberate crudeness of presentation. By making it a simple and open as possible, it removes the unconscious barriers of “I can’t make that” or “I can only make what the instructions say to” or “I have to have the parts made for me”. This is an aspect of consumer culture that deserves to be removed wherever possible. Giving a kid the opportunity to deal with the “real stuff” and discover that they can do what they want with it is a huge thing. I’d even have reservations about the Fahnestock clips, they’re really neat and all, but gator clips on jumper wire do the job in a way that is immediately accessible and actually more flexible. I now run an enterprise class network because my mom broke down that wall for her kid, and a 7 year old learned basic digital an analog electronics.
On Facebook, Michael M. Butler enjoyed seeing the Leatherman tool prototypes:
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of seeing a final-form product and saying “wow, I could never have thought of that!”. That’s one of the missing dimensions of presentation environments like Instructables, frankly: a recipe doesn’t activate the same sites of the brain that this sort of depiction does…
also on Facebook, Terry Trapp is making good use of the $2 bluetooth serial with Propeller USB Host:
I ordered 5 of them. Micah did a fantastic job getting this working!
Over on Twitter, Martin Burris is overwhelmed by all the cool things at the Faire:
#makerfaire @make Walking away with too many #ideas and #projects
Like these comments? Be sure to sound off in the comments! You could be in next week’s column.
Photo above is Scooter on a rainy day in Beijing by Raniero Corsetti Giusti di Ripalunga.