September 8th, 2003

classic beard


A relaxing weekend offline. Caught up on new space opera:
David Weber, Worlds of Honor #4, "The Service of the Sword"
David Weber and Eric Flint, "Crown of Slaves"
also reread chunks of L.E. Modessit "Timegod's' World".

Otherwise, did nothing useful or even social, until sunday night.
  • Current Mood
    relaxed relaxed
classic beard


Did some web research on the old (Winnebiko project, from the early 90's. Much of the tech could easily "vanish" today - a gprs phone, a high end palmtop, and a bluetooth gps module would provide mostly-equivalent service, though perhaps a cdpd module might still be needed for backup in the US. Could run off a relatively small solar panel, or just not bother since the whole setup would run for days on basic batteries anyhow. The hard part is still "how to type while biking"; he apparently built a custom in-handlebar keyboard, then later switched to the Infogrip BAT (which looks fine if you have a hand free, not much different from a Twiddler, but doesn't seem right for typing while in motion.)

I remember being amazed by the whole project, but being more interested in the tech than actually getting out on the road. Now, I'm spending time on the road and the tech is interesting again :)

Of course, we're enough tech levels up that the voice recognition part is a lot more practical - even if it just means "taking dictation" and processing it later (or uploading it over GPRS and processing it back home.) And using something like the EyeTop or one of the MicroOptical eyepieces might also work - though there's something to be said for having onboard systems speak rather than show.

And then the discussion lead me into various pedal-powered boat efforts, including MIT's own Decavitator pedal-powered hydrofoil. While that doesn't really scale down all that well, a simpler idea of being able to unpack and fit shells or pontoons onto the trike, possibly adding a SpinFin chain-driven propellor to the rear wheel fascinates me.

So far, all it's done is fascinate me - there are probably some serious issues to work out (like, how much hull is needed to support 300+ lbs of me+bike+supplies? Naïvely, water is 1kg/liter, so 150kg -> 150 liters displacement, which is a little over 5 ft^3; two "pontoons", straight cylinders, 5 ft long and 10" in diameter, would provide that. No margins, but at least it says "not looney" as a starting point...
  • Current Mood
classic beard


SpaceShip One has done a second test flight. The articles don't mention this, but the fact that this test comes rather quickly on the heels of the previous one bodes well for it meeting the fast-turnaround constraint of the X-Prize.

Also: "Our flight safety approach of "question, never defend" has allowed us to take courageous steps by safely flying new ideas and new performance envelopes."

Burt Rutan and Dean Kamen are at the top of my "people I want to work with someday" list...