The Snowbird Ornithopter

Seems like it wasn’t all that long ago when any kind of human-powered flight was a very ambitious goal.

The Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter was designed and constructed by a team of students from the University of Toronto. On August 2nd 2010 it sustained level flight for 19.3 seconds, becoming the world’s first successful human-powered ornithopter.

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More info at hpo.ornithopter.net.

Via a tweet from @bruces.

Yurt raising

Popped over to a yurt (ger) raising Tuesday. White Mountain Yurts were putting up a 24 footer not too far from work, so I did a quick lunchtime run.

The site is well back in the wood – maybe 800 feet from the pavement. There’s a trail leading back; you can get a pickup truck in, but I don’t think there’s going to be an eight car garage going up anytime soon (thumbs up).

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Lattice wall, cable (transfers the roof load to the walls and keeps the roof/wall interface compressed – traditionally done by a woven band), crown/roof wheel and in the lower photo the roof wheel filler.

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Lots of progress in the short time I was there.

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And a picture of the finished product (via White Mountain Yurts’ FB page).


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One possible plan I’m turning over in my mind for a few years down the road – big platform/deck with a bathhouse/kitchen/greenhouse hanging off one side and a yurt next to it as living space – maybe up (down) in Hancock or Washington counties (Maine).

Beautiful custom bike!

I saw a couple beautiful bicycles at the Portsmouth Farmer’s Market yesterday – sauntered over and struck up a conversation with their riders. Turned out one of the folks I was talking to was the guy who built the frames – Andrew Watson. His bike:

(embiggens maximally)

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The cephalopodelic head badge:

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And something that’s a must-have on my dream bike – the travel flask:

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Absolutely gorgeous craftsmanship.

Bridgestone Picnica Wagon Trike

If I had 8 bills to spare, I would buy this instanter. The articulated rear end is wicked pissah, though I wonder how long chains would last with a twisting chainline. Also – drum brake(let) and a light bracket that you might be able to mount a dynamo on (and by carefully selecting a front tire with appropriate knobby sidewall, you could enjoy the sound of Dynamo Hum).

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Via the bicyclelifestyle goog group.

BRIDGESTONE TRIKE PICNICA WAGON TRICYCLE BICYCLE BIKE – eBay item 350350828293 end time Aug-04-10 08:05:38 PDT.

Shelving the Carnivores

As my Sarracenia collection has expanded, my backyard table’s become covered with mini-bogs. I figured I’d reclaim it, so I threw together a shelf out of salvaged cinderblocks, chimney tile, disk rotor and strapping. Further proof that I am a DFH – swamp yankee subsp. [n.b. – some of the photos below, rather than embiggening when clicked as is our normal practice, will instead link to the main Flickr photo page so you can see attached notes.]

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Sarracenia unknown’s hood (maybe Tarnok?)

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A side (yard) note – the cherries are ready and the new growth bamboo is leafing out.

Water Garden Tour

Last Sunday, the Seacoast Water Garden Club hosted the first of it’s summer garden tours. Mr. Smith’s ponds are beautiful – he’s working with the features and plants already on his property and the result is a critter and plant paradise.

A map – I’ll refer to this when I indicate where my photos were taken.

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One of many big green inhabitants of the Frog Pond.

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The ponds were swarming with damsel and dragonflies. (Duck Pond)

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I saw 4 Northern Water Snakes basking in the Silt Trap Pond.

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I could live here.  (Water Works Pond)

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Near the Small Beaver Pond.

Who was the Archigram of mammoth bones?

The border between natural history and architectural design deserves far more exploration, beyond the odd science museum diorama. We have been living in buildings for more than 20,000 years, if Mithen’s book is to be believed, but nearly half of that period has seemingly been thrown outside the pale of architectural history.

Who was the Archigram of mammoth bones? … Geoff Manaugh | Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).

New Hampshire Media Makers Spoke Card 1

Rewards drive behavior.

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As regular readers know, I’m trying to re-integrate bicycling into my life as an enjoyable, practical transportation option. Given the ongoing nightmare in the Gulf, I’m feeling pretty evangelical about biking, so I thought I’d see if I could encourage locals (or folks from a distance, if they’re up for a big ride) to come to this Sunday’s NHMM meetup via bicycle. I was inspired when I fell across spoke cards while looking at commuter bikes on Flickr – you can see the results of said inspiration above.

The first 8 people to ride to NHMM get a spoke card on the spot – if there are more riders than that, I’ll have more made up and make good on my offer within a week. If there are less than that, anyone from further away than, say, 20 miles can have one if they tell me that they’ve ridden a bike to and from the grocery store this week (6/6) – knowing my own problems with good intentions, it’s gotta be a completed ride.

A shoutout to the good folks at Infinite Imaging who did a bang-up job on printing and lamination.

Low and Slow

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Reduce, re-use, recycle

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The title of the post comes from a zine published back in the early 70s (called -anyone? anyone?- Low and Slow) covering the wild world of hang gliding. How wild? Folks were making gliders out of Visqueen and bamboo. I mailed off for a copy – because I wanted to build one – sadly, it’s long gone, though a post here suggests I can reread all the Low and Slows on a DVD. Enough of all that – the point of the post: my bike racing (venue = triathlons) days are done – I’ve found myself wanting a bike I can just jump on and ride (comfortably). My fast but twitchy road bike does not exactly fit the bill. My old mountain bike, however…

So, let the conversion to two-wheeled Vista Cruiser begin! IMHO, there are 2 things that determine 90% of overall bike ‘feel’: frame geometry and tires. You’re not going to do much about frame geometry – about the only thing you can alter is the front fork and that costs $$$. Tires can make a surprising difference and unless you’re racing (in which case, why aren’t you running tubulars?) fatter ones than current fashion dictates are what I suggest. Here’s the bike – after the pic I’ll run through current and planned mods.

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‘Fatter tires’ is relative – although they’re much thinner than the knobbies that I took off, these are fat road rubber. They’re Kenda Kwests (the 100psi variety) – a nice balance of volume and low rolling resistance. I also mounted a rear rack and put on new, longer grips – I like riding with my hands close together, as if I’m up on the flats on a drop bar. The shakedown ride today was a success – the bike rode like a dream.

I haven’t decided whether to move pedals over from the road bike to this beastie – I’m leaning towards yes. The road bike’s saddle will probably come over at the same time. After that, the next order of business will be handlebars. I have an On One Midge ready and waiting, but because road handlebars are not the same diameter as mountain bars I need to replace the brake levers (not too $$, and I wanted to do it anyway) and swap the thumb shifters for barcons ($$$, and though I LOVE bar-cons, I would have made do).  The other short-term priority are shopping bag panniers – the grocery store is within easy biking distance – ’nuff said.

Down the road a bit, I’d like to tweak the drive train a bit. I don’t know whether the chain stay will accommodate a significantly larger middle chainring, but if it will I’ve always been partial to half-step setups – with the triple it’d be a half-step plus granny (and contra Mr. Brown, I’ve used a half-step setup successfully).

Way down the road I’m thinking about fenders, lighting, a front rack – part of me says that I should just save my pennies for a Velo-Orange frame (or something similar) and build up a baguette hauler around it. We’ll see. First order of business is to re-integrate ‘just hopping on the bike’ into my life.

Update – the saddle and pedal switch happened this morning, before a second shakedown run (pics from which will be posted later today).

Big brass faux rivets!