Clear Polycarbonate Strandbeest Assembly (Part 1)

For the past month or so (past few months really, I’ve been working on yet another Strandbeest, this time made with clear polycarbonate material. Even though I had the material cut outside, it has still taken a ton of work to get it together, opening up holes as needed and other small modifications.

Either way, I finally got it to a point where it can turn (some of) its legs while supported and stand on the floor on its own. I’m excited to see where this ‘beest will go, and I’m planning to use a Bluetooth remote control scheme, and add a head and “tail” to it as discussed in the video seen below.

Though I hope you find the video interesting, be sure to check back or subscribe on YouTube, as the next one should show it in action, walking with two more appendages and lighting under external control! Or at least that’s what I’m planning…Also, I’m not quite set on the name yet. I’m thinking “Clear Beast,” though if you have a better idea, let me know in the comments!

New Noise Isolating Headphones after a Cracking “Issue”

No Service for You!

Aurvana-Gold-crack CreativeAfter using my Aurvana Gold noise cancelling headphones from Creative Labs (Amazon) for less than a year, one of the earpiece supports started to crack. Perhaps I should have tried to drill a hole in front of it to increase the radius and stop propagation, but I instead opted for epoxy. After it got worse, I realized it was still under warranty, so great nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, when I finally figured out how to contact them, I was informed by what appeared to be a canned email response:

“Please be informed that we are not able to provide the servicing for the headband of the Aurvana Gold headphone because the damage on the headband is not included in the warranty servicing on this product.”

That seems a little crazy, and after my protest, I got a nearly—but strangely not quite—identical message:

“Please be informed that we are not able to provide the servicing for the headband of the Aurvana Gold headphone because the damage part is not included in the warranty servicing on this product.”

I’m not too happy with Creative Labs’ customer servicet, though they did “generously” offer me 10% off a new product. I honestly did like these headphones when intact, but obviously it was time to look at other options.

Noise Isolating – Not Cancelling

I work from home, as a technical writer—or several other titles discussed on my consulting page—and also have a young family that can sometimes often be heard running, screaming, shouting, laughing or other sounds that aren’t conducive to me thinking. Because of this, having a relatively quiet office is a necessity. In fact, I even built the noise barrier seen here on

The barrier and a few other steps do help, but without headphones the noise is just lower, not gone. Also, noise cancellation may work with droning such as from a plane or lawnmower, but for intermittent chaos sounds, it doesn’t do much. Instead I decided to go with a set of headphones meant specifically to block out noise. In fact, what I got are more like safety earmuffs than a music-focused headset (Amazon), and are supposed to knock noise down by an impressive Read more »

Drilling Just the Right 1/2″ Hole: More Complicated than it Sounds!

So seriously, how hard can drilling a hole be? Generally, it’s not much of a challenge, but with a project I’ve been working on I need to get a hole in polycarbonate that a 1/2″ rod can slide though, but not be too loose. This holes have already been cut with a waterjet machine, but need to be slightly bigger.

Just have it cut correctly!

If you’re reading this—and obviously you are—you’re probably thinking, “just have it cut to size.” In an ideal world this would be done, but I was told that waterjet machine generally cuts on the low side, and if there was some variation I definitely wanted the holes too small and not too big. After all, it’s much easier to take material off than put it on. So the parts are slightly undersize, which is a good thing.

I could use a file on these parts to open them up a little, but that’s not exactly a precision method of doing this, and besides, it would take forever. Better to use a drill bit.

1/2 Inch Drill Bit, No Problem!

So if it’s not quite 1/2 inch, then I could use a drill bit. Unfortunately there’s some variation on this as well, and the holes tend to be slightly undersized. As seen here, I can probably force things together, but they won’t move smoothly afterwards.

.501 Reamer

In theory, this should work quite well, and I reamed several parts with my new “slip fit” reamer (Amazon). However, even after attempting to freeze my parts to keep them from melting during cutting, they didn’t Read more »