Auto Show 2011

Here's some pictures from the 2011 Auto Show. Detroit International Auto Show, Cobo Hall
It wasn't too busy on a Friday at 2pm. You could pretty much sit in any car without waiting.
Best time to visit the Auto Show, Weekday, hours
These were definitely the coolest "cars" there. They had 2 wheels and a top speed of around 20 mph. Of course they won't ever be built and i would hate to be in a car accident when your entire body is 8" from the front.
2 wheeled electric cars, prototype, interesting, auto show
This was the inside dash of the Honda CR-Z. It suppose to be like 3 cars in 1, with buttons for Sport and Economy modes. It was definitely cool from the inside.
Honda CR-Z dashboard, CRZ, view from inside the car
The Fiat 500 is a very small car that is super popular in crowded European cities. It has more room and horsepower then it appears from the outside. I liked it.
Fiat 500, detroit auto show, small italian car
Now here are the super cars.

The Mercedes 300SL.
Mercedes 300SL, gull wing doors, red, detroit auto show
A glow in the dark version.
Mercedes 300SL, neon green, detroit auto show
The Tesla Roadster. This company hasn't actually made any money selling it's cars. But i think they are suppose to sell their lithium ion battery technology to Toyota or someone and become a very important part of future electric cars. Instead of one big heavy battery, they have over 4,000 "cell phone" type batteries in the trunk. In three years they say they will have an economic electric car for the average person.
Tesla Roadster, lithium ion battery, 4,000 batteries, consumer
The Audi R8 GT. This is a mid-engine V10 and cost around $260,00.
Audi R8 GT, V10 engine, small supercar, cost
Maserati GranTurismo
Maserati GranTurismo, detroit international auto show
This guy had obviously been there for a while.
guy sleeping at the auto show


Where dogs go when they run away from home

If you know of anyone missing a little white dog i found him, he's at a bowling alley bar in Ferndale just hanging out.
dog sitting alone at a bar, little white dogi saw this at a bar the other day, a little white dog drinking at a bar

TV Antenna and Fractals

There are may plans online on how to make a TV antenna to receive digital signals. But also i just got done watching a NOVA show on PBS about Fractals.

Nova - Hunting the Hidden Dimension

A fractal is an infinitely long line or shape that no matter how much you zoom in, or how detailed you look, the repeating self-similarity pattern is the same.
animated Fractal Gif image, repeating pattern, star fractal, kochsim
For examples of fractals in nature there are things like trees, rivers, clouds, flowers, DNA, blood vessels, snowflakes, lightning and many, many more.
Fractal Fern, repeating leaf pattern, fractal plant, repeating tv antenna http://ontfin.com/Word/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/oxeyedaisy3.jpg,Fractal daisy flower

Here's how fractals are used to create mountains in computer animation in movies. Instead of writing a huge program for each little individual point, the fractal equation is used and it creates the mountain. For example, Jurassic Park used fractals to show raindrops on the dinosaur's skin.
animated gif fractal mountain, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Animated_fractal_mountain.gif

This one reminds me of the Triforce in The Legend of Zelda
Fractal triangle pattern, sierpinski triangle

Fractal, triangle, pattern, triforce, zelda

Long story short, it turns out that fractals also make great antennas. They are in all of our cell phones because of their great range of reception and compact size. That's why cell phones don't have those little flimsy pole antennas any more. The fractal antenna is inside.
Fractal, cell phone, antenna

So i started with the basic antenna plans seen here
Fractal TV Antenna, make, DIY
Then i took ideas from fractal antennasFractal TV Antenna, pattern, make, build, DIY
I laid everything out that i thought i'd need
Fractal antenna, parts, pattern, wire
This was the basic fractal pattern i used to bend the wire
TV Fractal Antenna Pattern, measurement, dimension, star
The wire after being bent.
Fractal wire, bent, tv antenna
After making 10 of the wire shapes above i started experimenting with them.

3 sided
Fractal wire, bent, tv antenna, parts
4 sided
Fractal, wire,bent, tv antenna, design
5 sided
Fractal, wire,bent, tv antenna, 5 sided, design
6 sided Fractal, wire,bent, tv antenna, 6 sided, design
There were endless possibilities
TV Fractal Antenna star pattern
I decided on combining 3 things:

  • aluminum foil wrapped cardboard backing plate
  • hexagon shaped fractal wire
  • 4 piece wire antenna
Final design for Fractal Antenna to make

This is the upper halfFractal Antenna TV, upper half part
Here it is on the board
. I wrapped the aluminum foil with rubber window screen so that the wires didn't actually touch the aluminum foil. Then secured it with hot glue on top of the solder points.Fractal Antenna TV, foil back plate
1" pvc pipe and bolts were used to raise the upper wires
Fractal Antenna TV, weld, solder, wire Fractal Antenna TV, weld, solder, wire, plate
Here's the finished product
. I connected it to a 75 to 300 Ohm matching transformer, which is really the only thing i had to buy, it was $5. small fractal antenna, tv reception
I also made another version.
small version, fractal tv antenna 75 to 300 Ohm matching transformer, small fractal tv antenna
After connecting them to my tv i was able to check the signal strength. They both worked pretty well, picking up all UHF channels such as 2.1, 4.1, 7.1, .... Although surprisingly, the smaller antenna worked a little bit better. 2 versions of Fractal TV antenna
I plan on trying a few more designs. I think the best idea would be to paint a 7 foot tall fractal design on a wall with metallic paint. It would look cool and possible get great reception. You could always paint over it and no one would know it was there.


Sprouting Lotus Seeds

To start with, i recently read this article about the American Lotus spreading near Detroit.Lotus in Detroit
"The American lotus is threatened in Michigan, and there is a fine as high as $500 for picking it, according to the state Department of Natural Resources."

Just so everyone including the DNR is clear, i didn't pick any plants. I merely "gathered" some seeds from the floating seed pods. Plus that law is ridiculous.

How can a plant be "threatened" in Michigan but in other states be a nuisance species. That's like saying penguin's are endangered here in the US. Or that cow's are threatened in Siberia. It's not like this is the last pocket of the species on Earth being killed off by people. Down south the lotus is taking over entire rivers.

It's threatened in Michigan because it's cold here. The water needs to be clean and warm for them to grow, 99% of the time Lake Erie is neither of those two things. Like i said earlier i found it near the Consumers Energy power plant water discharge pipes. If the plant wasn't discharging warm water constantly the lotus plants would probably die.

With that said, here's how the Lotus seeds are looking so far.

The ones on the left are some original dry seeds (that i "gathered") and the ones on the right are the seeds that i sanded the shell and have been soaking in warm water for 5 days. I put the cup of water sitting on a heat vent to make sure it stayed warm.
Notice how much they have swelled up with water from their original size. how to grow lotus seeds at home, in a cup of water,
Three days ago i removed the shell from two more seeds. One seed i removed the outer shell only. The other seed i cracked completely in half.
inside a lotus seed, swelling seed
It turns out that completely removing the shell is the way to go. That seed sprouted after only 3 days. It took the seeds with the partially sanded shells 6 days for the first one to sprout. So removing more of the shell means faster sprouting. It must be because removing the entire shell allows for more water to be absorbed faster.

Here's what the seed looked like after 3 days, compared to 5 days for the other seeds.
grow lotus plant in cup of water lotus leaf growing from seed, american lotus fast growing lotus plant, grow at homehow to grow a lotus in a bowl of water
I sprouted these seeds in a wet paper towel in a zip-lock bag rather then in a cup of water.
lotus emergent leaf, stems, roots
Not surprisingly the lotus grows best in swampy, organic, muddy clay soil. I was going to use kitty litter because it is primarily clay. But i ended up using soil from my back yard, which is mostly clay with a little bit of top soil.

I bought 4 pots from Home Depot the other day. They were in the back corner of the store and due to a clearance pricing mistake, 2 of them cost only 1 cent each. Totally legit.

Here's pictures of the lotus planted 1 inch deep in mud in about 3 inches of water.
lotus growing in bowl of water and mud
Here they are after day 10 or so. They are still growing as long as i don't let them dry out. After reaching the surface they started to dry out so i covered the pot with saran wrap. I'll definitely "juice 'um" with some fertilizer to get them growing big.

grow water plant in 2 liter bottle
experiment of lotus plant, seeds

Charlie and His Wing

The same night that i took those showy pictures i let Charlie outside and he came back with a pigeon wing. I'm not sure if he killed the whole bird or what, but he seemed pretty happy with it.
cat caught a pigeon, pigeon wing, winter
cat brought a dead bird to door, tried to bring inside, bird wing