Sunday, March 22, 2009

Making Fireworks

<---- Lighting the Lances

This weekend I've made fireworks with the chemicals I bought during Skylighter's half off sale last week. I made a couple fountains, or as fireworks makers often call them, gerbes, with pretty good results. But the great appeal to me is to make "set pieces." This is an old time fireworks display where glowing and moving things are set down on the ground or against a wall instead of shooting them in the air. I feel they have this old, Victorian feel and I like that.

First and foremost among set piece fireworks are chemical lances which are a lot like railroad flares. The lances burn brightly for a minute or more. They're very bright and cheerful.

<---Lances burning brightly

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blowing Stuff Up as A Kid

Last night, I tried out a new combination of pyrotechnical chemicals in some fireworks I made. It was a fountain, or in pyrotechnical lingo, a gerbe. It worked wonderfully. The key was the addition of fine iron particles into the fuel-oxidizer and those iron flakes lit up the night with intense sparks and streamers.

I mentioned this on my twitter feed and was gratified that fellow like-minded technologist and my electronic correspondent, Dan Dubno, wrote me immediately and directed me to a wonderful article he wrote in yesterday's Huffington Post.

A few years ago, I questioned a large number of scientists working for the Office of Naval Research on critical projects for our nation's security. In this room full of doctorates and inventors I asked, "How many of you hold a patent or have been closely involved with one?" Most of the several hundred scientists here raised their hands.

I wondered what gave them the "permission" to invent. "Since this place is clearly full of inventors," I wondered, "how many of you blew stuff up when you were kids?" Nearly every hand in that audience -- an audience filled with the nation's leading innovators -- shot up.

In particular, Dan relates how he asked a group of accomplished scientists "did you blow things up as a kid?"

Well did they? What do you think, of course they did! And that's something to think about: Is the world to led by small minded, tort fearing, safety-first, second, and always, nanny staters? Let's hope not. More on this subject later

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Make Day at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Me, Richard Hudson, John Edgar (Eggy) Park explain Maker life to visitors at Make Day -->

At Make Day, Minnesota's finest tinkerers, inventors, geeks, and hackers showed their mettle and wowwed the crowd.

I was the MC on the Maker Stage and the theme of the day was music. There was a lot of music from self made instruments. Keston and Westdahl, Tim Kaiser, and Savage Aural Hotbed expanded my musical horizons, providing a wholly encompassing tableau of sound and music.

The museum staff said the turn out was excellent, far exceeding the norm, which was especially noteworthy since today was the nicest day, weather-wise, since last October.

Savage Aural Hotbed -->

Monday, March 02, 2009

I received word today that the people who run Make Magazine's Maker Shed (the magazine's online store which carries an terrific assortment of Maker gear, tools, kits, and so on) are offering an incredible deal my books and DVD. I'm amazed that they can offer a discount this big.


Announcing our new bundles available exclusively in the Maker Shed. William "Bill" Gurstelle is an award-winning writer, licensed engineer, bestselling author and professional speaker (not to mention MAKE Magazine contributing editor and producer on Make: television). We like the guy, we like the way he thinks. We think you'll like him too, which is why we've created the Ballistic bundle.

The Ballistic Bundle includes:

All for the discounted price of $48. That's an amazing 46% off the price if you purchased these items individually. Take advantage of this amazing deal before it's too late.

More about the Welcome to MAKE bundle in the Maker Shed