Saturday, February 25, 2006

reporting these days

I imagine it must be hard for a reporter to jam a camera in someones face and ask them hard hitting questions. Imagine, you, who have just sat down to a nice meal of still twitching child flesh and hearing a voice call out "Mr. Delay? About Jack Abramoff?" and then getting grilled like never before on who, what, when, where, why and how much. It must be hard, thus explaining why reporters aren't doing it. Or when they do, concerning themselves with such inanity as to be immediately irrelevant. I am, some people would say, relatively outgoing, but to interrupt a person in conversation amongst friends, uninvited, would be one of the most difficult things I can imagine. I have, however, figured out, just now, why republicans are so staunchly against abortion.

It cuts down on their food supply.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

21st Century Toys and tank disappointment

Well the previous post on the cheap tank was about right. Poor components make it expensive even at $80. What a shame. The M1A2 broke after less than 30 minutes of use. First the turret quit firing. Not unexpected because it was a spring loaded affair and felt cheap from the get go. What was unexpected was the main drive gear on the right side of the tank giving way. 21st Century Toys kindly prints their "toll free" number on the instructions so a quick call should set things straight. Right? Wrong. Their "toll free" number is in fact a regular long distance call. There doesn't seem to be anyone located at the ofice either. Ah well. Fact of the matter is I can fix the broken part pretty easily but it would be nice to have some response from the company. You'd be better off spending the money to buy this guys tank plans and scrounging your parts than buying this. Pictures will be posted shortly.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

tanks and robotics platforms

I was in Walmart today and saw a great deal that'll be loads of fun and might be exceptionally useful to someone with more skill in electronics than I. A 1/9th scale Abrahms M1A2 tank for $80. It was originally $200. The battery in it (a 12V 7Ah) is worth around $40 so it would be worth buying just to retrieve the lead/acid combo. This is a relatively lifelike model from 21st Century Toys. I couldn't find any info on their website about it so I assume it was built exclusively for Walmart. It is amazingly huge: 3' long with a turret that measures 12" by 16". The battery takes 18h to charge, so we haven't run it yet. It'll be interesting to see how well it runs and for how long.

I haven't taken it apart yet but it looks like it will easily fit a laptop and GPS. I'd bet with some skill it would be a fantastic, cheap robotics platform. If the boys let me, I'll take it apart and post some more pictures and specs on its mechanics.