Monthly archives: October 2005

Tony Hawk Helmet Cam

Another offering to let you video your own POV footage of stunts, the Tony Hawk cam is endorsed by the man himself. It has a few benefits over the previously mentioned Sports Cameras. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s self contained, recording onto an SD memory card. The basic unit only comes with a 32 meg card, but larger cards are fairly cheap, certainly cheaper than the Sports Camera’s required recording equipment.

Resolution is 640 by 480. There’s no video on the site to give an indication of its quality, but what I saw on the Helmet Headz stand at the Ski and Board show was quite good.

Remote Control Drifting

Drifting is the latest Japanese motorsport trend to make it over to the West. It basically involves making cars go sideways with as much style and control as possible. Now it’s being done with remote controlled cars as well. There’s an international remote control drifting association and this video gives some idea of how it’s done, with kit tyres being replaced by PVC tubing.

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Models reflect the world in more ways than you'd think

A couple of news items featuring models but also about the real world artifacts they represent.

Whilst at the Ski and Board show yesterday I came across this model for the Whistler Resort development.

I’ve always been fascinated by architectural models. Part of me would like to have a go at making some and part of me wants to get my hands on an old one and kitbash all sorts of strange and lurid add ons into it. I confused the man on the stall by asking who had built the model- a company called AB Scale Models of Vancouver. They don’t seem to have a web presence, but I did find this news item about a boom in the Vancouver architectural modelling community that reflected the city’s housing boom.

It’s a jarring turnabout for a profession that by its nature demands patience and painstaking attention to detail. For years local model builders relied on foreign clients to keep their employees working in glue and bits of plastic. But the rush on pre-sales of condominium complexes in jacking up the local demand for miniature version of yet-to-be-built buildings.

Elsewhere, Audi fans are taking the appearance of a 1:43rd scale model of an as yet not officially announced car as further evidence of its existence. (via Jalopnik)

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PKZ-2 Austro-Hungarian Helicopter in 1:72nd scale by Roden

The PKZ-2 was allegedly the world’s first flying helicopter, though it is unlike anything we would think of as a helicopter in the modern sense. The strange contraption was dreamt up as a replacement for hydrogen filled observation balloons. The three engines turned the counter rotating blades and the machine was attached to its launching base by tethers as fine control was difficult. The pilot/ observer sat in a bin mounted on top of the frame and was supposed to be able to bail out and parachute to safety if anything went wrong, though you have to wonder how that was possible with the blades whirling away beneath him. Crashes in testing and eventually the Armistice meant the PKZ-2 never saw service.

There’s not a lot to the model. All the parts are on one small sprue, apart from a faux wood base to mount the finished article on for display. There are a lot of fine and fiddly bits which are going to be tricky to put together and getting everything to line up is going to be fun. I’ve never made a First World War plane before so I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to replicate the cables, if it’s possible at all. I may also look for a few Austro-Hungarian figures to go with it, crowding round the helicopter with a nervous looking observer staring out of the basket.

More information on the PKZ-2 here.

Pictures of a 1:48th scale model of the same machine here.

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Obsessive Construction Disorder

They must hate me in the model shop. Almost every week I go in and browse, pick boxes up, put them down again, plan what I could build if I bought them. Only every third or fourth visit do I actually buy anything. It’s all business I guess.

Those monthly purchases build up and now I have a healthy number of unmade kits salted away around the house. I can wander into the living room and browse, pick boxes up etc.

One day I should start building them. I have to get a house with a “hobbies” room. This is not a hide it in the basement play room- I need more ventilation than that. The hobbies room can probably double as a library and drawing (as in pictures) room, but I’d still need a dark room and computer room. On top of all the usual spaces this is going to be a big house.

There are the online purchases as well. Roughly a quarter of the money I’ve earned on EBay has gone back out again to other vendors offering odd or out of production kits. I finally got my hands on a scale version of the Northrop flying wing bomber that was a catalyst for my model geekery renaissance. There are vacuum formed models of early Russian jets and fixer-uppers with minimal interior detail for you to embellish. There are also, for reasons I forget, busses of various vintages, a big box of soldiers and an even bigger one of crashed cars.

Further afield are the garage concerns. Kit manfacturers working in resin, white metal and vacuum form- and occasionally injection just like the big boys- of the odd, obscure and overlooked. Planes that never made it off the drawing board are finally seeing solidity- knocked up by industrious Eastern Europeans doing their bit to kickstart their economy.

British garage manufacturers, being British, tend to the more mundane. Nissen huts, bicycles, PSP plating (which was used to make and repair runways) and the cutest little Fordson tractor and its bomb trolleys. No airfield could run without the support staff and their unglamourous equipment. A plane all by itself in a field, without groundcrew, would look wrong. So I’ll have to have some of those then.

When I finally start building these models I can see them on a big airfield. There’ll be pilots milling around and mechanics working on engines whilst troops guard the perimeter. It’ll be quite large, so I guess I’ll need a room for it.

Originally published in Cycling On The Pavement

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