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Instructables Podcast Answered

ShadyLogic and I have chatted for a couple of years about doing some sort of podcast, but we could never nail down exactly what we wanted to do. We've finally managed to come up with an idea that excites both of us, and more importantly isn't a podcast we've ever heard someone else do. In addition to this, Instructables is sadly without any sort of official podcast and we'd like to remedy that. With all of this in mind, we thought a podcast all about brainstorming projects would be fun!

Instructables is all about the projects and the people behind those projects. Now while the projects on this site are amazing, We've met a lot of people throughout the years who didn't think they had a good enough idea for an instructable, were unable to push through a builders block (is there a phrase for that, a writers block for makers?), or just had the very basics to an idea that they needed to flesh out with someone. We want to be there for you, and bring those ideas out. Our hope is that this will not only introduce some people to our brainstorming process, but will inform people to different methods and techniques for creating things.

We know there is an Answers section on the website, but the intention of that is for questions that have answers to them. The questions we plan on tackling here don't necessarily have a right answer, and if they did, we probably wouldn't find it.

Wilgubeast was nice enough to present us with a question to practice on, and you can listen to that below and see what you think. This is something Jake and I are planning on doing every week, but we'll need your support to continue.

What we need:
Questions, problems, musings, goals, etc. Anything you'd like to share that you wouldn't mind us talking about in a very public space. We'd like to tackle different issues people might have and see what sense we can make out of them. It can be a project that you're working on, such as how to attach two things together or something you'd only just started thinking about making and want to hear some tactics for moving forward. We'll pick a few questions every week and do our best to hash out any issues that we run into while discussing them. You can post any questions or quandaries in this forum topic for next weeks recording.

We hope you like the idea, as we're very excited to present it to you. Attached you'll find the pilot question for the Instructables Podcast: How Do I?

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Update 1:

Well, unfortunately it looks like we spoke to soon. Jake and I really wanted to do this, but it looks like our schedules just won't allow us the time. Between living in different countries, graduate school and full time work, we just weren't able to to line up our schedules. We were hoping we squared this away with our practice rounds, but it seems we weren't quite thorough enough. Neither of us wants to try to do something like this if we can't stick to any kind of schedule, so we thought it would be better to nix it now before it progressed too far.

We apologize if we got anyone's hopes up.

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Update 2:

And now it appears I've lied to you. Jake and I put our heads together, remapped out our schedules and we found that we should be able to manage to do this so long as we put the podcast out on Fridays. I hope this works for everyone!

Thank you for bearing with us as we figured this out!

36 Replies

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Tomdf (author)2013-03-13

That was entertaining and I totally want to build a bro-bot now.

Here's my question:
How would you go about making a wind powered vehicle for driving around town? Is that legal? Would you have to wait for the wind to change direction before you got home?

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StumpChunkman (author)Tomdf2013-03-13

Hmmm...this is going to require some research ^__^

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Tomdf (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-13

Well don't do so much research that it takes the fun out of it :p

I was thinking snow skis + skateboard wheels + kite = Awesome (or ER visit, one of the two.)

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StumpChunkman (author)Tomdf2013-03-18

I was looking really forward to hashing this question out. Sadly it's not going to happen, see the update on the post above for more information. But I did want to let you know what I found out.

Turns out, so long as it's not that big, it should be legal where ever you are. The problem with wind power, is that it doesn't produce enough electricity on it's own (attached to a moving vehicle), to power it.

Now the question gets interesting when you do some digging and change your definition of driving a vehicle. Technically if you don't have to pedal the bike, you might be driving it (though I haven't fully separated the difference between riding a vehicle and driving a vehicle trying to parse this question out). Look up pterosail and whike for cool wind powered bicycles.

There's a cool farmer in China who built a wind powered vehicle (that also has two solar panels on the back, and I think that's the solution. If you supplement the wind power with solar power to charge up the batteries when the fan's not on, it should work pretty well. The super cheat, is to build an electric vehicle, and a wind turbine with an adapter that plugs straight into the car. 100% wind powered...but kind of shady.

Finally, a few of cool links I ran across you might link.

Also, you should look into Theo Jansen's kinetic sculptures and see if you can figure out a way to put a drivers seat in them. If there was ever a way to make a super cool wind powered vehicle, those would be them.

Thank you for the fun questions!

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Tomdf (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-22

Hey, thank you for looking into it and talking about it, that is sweet!

I hadn't even considered using a turbine to run an electric vehicle, but now that seems far more sane than using a sail and hoping the wind is going your way. In fact, after checking out those links I realize that this idea isn't that silly at all, it seems like it is entirely practical if done correctly. It is insanely windy where I live and that farmer's car would easily generate enough juice to replace a car for day-to-day commutes.

I'm really enjoying these podcasts, btw. You keep making 'em and I'll keep tuning it!

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StumpChunkman (author)Tomdf2013-03-22

Change of schedule...it seems it'll still be moving forward. Find your question after the link.

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StumpChunkman (author)Tomdf2013-03-13

hahahahaha...sure...but now I need to find out where that's street legal. because I imagine it has to be legal somewhere!

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Kiteman (author)2013-03-19

Ah, that's a shame.

Maybe if you got more staff involved, got some sort of rota arranged so that different people did different weeks?

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Kiteman (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-19

Make it happen. Tell dworley he has to do the first one...

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StumpChunkman (author)Kiteman2013-03-19

Sadly, it can't work that way. The podcast that Jake and I wanted to do is something we've been refining the details of for years. Other staff that might take on this project are going to give an entirely different cast. Also, the only reason it was going to happen is because Jake and I thought we had enough free time on our hands to do it. Anyone else at HQ is capable of doing it, they all just have too much other stuff going on and don't really want to persue this. Why don't you do a cast?

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Kiteman (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-19

I don't really have a voice for radio...

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StumpChunkman (author)Kiteman2013-03-22

Neither do I...but apparently that's not going to stop me...kekeke. Note your embed request ^_^ 

I aim to please.

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StumpChunkman (author)Kiteman2013-03-19

I will also say, a podcast is something that gets talked about between staff independently at different times. There have been at least a few other people in HQ who've wanted to do podcasts before that I didn't know about and some that I have. It's also something that has been done before in a very different way.

I wanted to do this, because it was something I don't think has been done before, and is something that I think would be beneficial to people in general (in and out of instructables). The idea of hearing people talk about a project you're having trouble with, and getting ideas from people who aren't in your circle I thought would be awesome. With the added benefit of the abundance of skills sets available from instructables members and friends of instructables staff, I felt it would be a resource that could tap any need.

While I was putting it up on instructables and Eric was nice enough to let me use the name as branding, I didn't really intend for it to be associated with promoting or branding any instructable outside of what happened to come up in research. I just wanted a laid back talk show focused on brainstorming projects. I felt that was something that instructables was about and would benefit from in the long term. I didn't care about promoting featured authors, featured projects or even contests, these are things that already get a lot of attention. In fact, the podcast I wanted to do could have been a stand alone from instructables, but I thought that the spirit behind it and the motivation of it were very core to my feelings towards instructables, and that's what I wanted to share. This is something I don't think anyone else at instructables is going to want to do, which means, unless someone else picks it up, it dies here, and that's the bit that makes me sad.

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Goodhart (author)2013-03-13

When I was a LOT younger (some 50 years ago) I had a toy that threw (harmless) sparks, as it rolled along (it was wind up), and another that "smoked" with a specail oil placed in the smoke stack. I found out at a very early age about experimentaton and found out veggie oil worked just as good.

However, I assume that there are several ways of accomplishing these two results and incorporating them into a small "robotic" project of my own ?

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StumpChunkman (author)Goodhart2013-03-13

When I was a kid I had a nun that walked around while shooting sparks from her mouth...I loved that toy!

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Goodhart (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-15

I remember seeing one of those. But my fav was the Godzilla one that did the same thing. :-) It disappeared one day, I think because the scraping / buzzing sound irritated my parents so much *sigh*

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That's like the barbie on an enormous scale! Also, I should point out that I lied, sorry about that.

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Goodhart (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-18

Mine was an earlier version of  THIS ONE,  and was more Godzilla and less DINO, made of metal and no plastics.    It must have had a large flint that the flywheel rubbed agains, because those small flints you buy for lighters wear out really quickly.

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StumpChunkman (author)Goodhart2013-03-18

Nice! I was actually going to recommend the flint and steel kits that you get for camping. They cost a couple of dollars and they last forever.

I had to research a bit to figure out how each of these things worked, and I'm sure you already know, but I did find 3 links I thought were a bit interesting, so I thought I'd share. As this isn't going to happen any more I felt you might want to see. See the update in the post for why it's not happening.

Thank you for the question, I did thoroughly enjoy researching how those worked.

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Goodhart (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-19

Ack ! I had FORGOTTEN about the spark guns ! Thank you for reminding me.

and the smoke oil sounds promising too. Makes sense even as glycerine is molecularity similar to sugar, it would produce smoke when heated and it wouldn't have to be "combustible hot". I had a plastic robot in my youth with a smoke stack...

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StumpChunkman (author)Goodhart2013-03-19

Yeah I thought the smoke oil was cool, but the most interesting thing I found with that was trying to find toys that produced smoke. The only toys I could find that produced smoke were trains, which seems weird...but I suppose isn't.

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Goodhart (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-19

Hmm, Well like I said, when much younger, my "programable" (plastic discs that made it walk a predetermined pattern) had the smoke stack, and a tiny vial of oil. With that though, veggi oil worked just as well, but smelled awful :-) I bet Olive oil would work even better.


These claim to "smoke". 

 WOW,  I found my Robot !  If only I'd kept it....

I looks like a LOT of robots were made to smoke :-)

and finally,  this one looked REALLY cool

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caitlinsdad (author)2013-03-12

Are not the interns doing the research for the show, your question would have been answered by following the many ibles on animatronic hands. What would have been good discussion is analyzing how did this person get the idea to use bendy straws or what kind of mechanism would be needed to do some repetitive motion or what design best mimics muscles. Do you want to do it for cheap or are you one of the lucky bas***** with your own lasercutter? Is now the time to get a 3D printer? You forgot to plug Techshop or the use of 123D to model it out and now you probably have to mention parts can be made on a Makerbot replicator.

I guess it would be funny if you called the show "The Make". Is the show going to handle the tough questions like "How to get your ible featured" or "Why contest prizes are still not received". Is there any journalistic gravitas or this is just ibles lite? Rehashing the featured forum topics might be a start.

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The goal is to answer peoples questions, whatever they might be. We're hoping that questions lean more towards initial stage project concepts, but if someone throws a "tough question" at us we'll do our best to answer it. Though, our answer is going to be outdated pretty quick as the reason you may not have a contest prize is always changing (which is one of the problems).

Research wise, there probably won't be much going on (so expect a lot of off the mark facts). This is something that both Jake and I are doing in our spare time, so any research is being done after school/work. If it becomes popular, it might be something that instructables puts money into in the future, and we can hire a research team on, but for now, it's just a for fun thing to do on the weekends.

I don't suppose you have any questions you want answered, or are you going to use up your question on how to get an ible featured (which the basic answer is follow the tips link on the submit page). For contest prizes, the answer is mostly a matter of organization which people are constantly trying to resolve.

Those are the basics, but there is definitely more information we can provide on either. Ask whatever questions you'd like and we'll do our best to include them!

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Then I would suggest a show "Stump Stumpy and Shady" with your maker questions as they play beer pong advancing to not advancing to the next round depending on how wild or plausible their suggestions are as they develop ideas on how to get your project finished.

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Kiteman (author)2013-03-12

Immediate feedback: who are you?

You need some sort of introduction to say who you are, what the podcast is etc, possibly even a dash of music, and some sort of closing soundtrack - an audible Instructables identity.

As it is, you don't even say hello or goodbye.

The sound quality was good - I often have trouble following recorded conversations when i can't see faces, but I followed this chat OK (it was a bit tinny on my laptop, but when I bluetoothed it from my iPod to my wife's Jawbone, it was good).

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StumpChunkman (author)Kiteman2013-03-12

Yeah. We practice with several questions and a proper introduction, but in the end, this question we felt spoke to what we wanted to do most. In actual episodes we're going to have the intro, outro, but we felt we should see if there was any interest or questions people wanted to pose before we went super professional.

We also got good feedback from HQ about the sound quality and we're both upgrading our Microphones to something that shouldn't be quite as, rough on the ears. ^_^

Thanks for the feedback! I don't suppose you have any conundrums, or ideas kicking around that you'd like someone else to brainstorm for you?

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Kiteman (author)StumpChunkman2013-03-12

See my PM - I came up with a list.

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StumpChunkman (author)Kiteman2013-03-12

Right! I found that after i clicked "Post"

Thank you!

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