Create your own “Bathurst” like moments!

Shelveit

Fuel your kids’ need for speed with a super-fast pro racetrack.

Playing with toy cars is every littlie’s idea of good fun. So, rev things up and ignite their inner speed racer by building a mini racetrack where cars can tumble through a tunnel, crash into the sides and roll along the finish line. The cars may be tiny, but the competition is fierce!

Gather your suppliesSand & Cement mix (2 bags)
70mm Bricktor or chicken wire
Black oxide powder
Old motorcycle tyre
Selection of small plants (such as mini mondo grass, variegated oregano or Scleranthus biflorus)
Here’s How
Step 1: Using rope, mark out track on turf, then outline with set-out paint. Excavate inside lines to a depth of 100mm and roughly level ground.
Step 2: Place tyre in desired position, then excavate so half of tyre sits below ground.
Step 3: Put 2 bags of Sand & Cement…

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Sometimes humans make me smile – Firefly; wheelchair to bike

With a 40km range and top speed of 20 km/h this invention looks set to give extra freedom and independence.

See: http://riomobility.com/en/ for variations and further information. Apparently, they are the developers of this equipment.

The video was uploaded by rollickbiz, who import this type of equipment. They are an European company, I believe. Their website is http://www.rollick.biz

I applaud the inventor and thank rollickbiz for helping us all to find out about it.

Melting Chocolate Ball Dessert

Look at this amazing dessert. I’ve tried cakes where you break the chocolate layer to get to the hidden cake, but pouring hot sauce over is spectacular!

Once you have perfected the chocolate ball, you could hide anything inside.

Update 16 Feb 2015: Sorry that I have taken so long to locate some information on this spectacular dessert. Hope this helps.

The following is from Ann Reardon who has a range of “how to” videos https://www.youtube.com/user/howtocookthat. The videos seem straight forward and easy to understand and there are basics for the beginner, such as tempering chocolate, etc. You WILL need to know how to temper chocolate to have success with these works of chocolate art.

I haven’t located an actual recipe for the dessert shown above but, with a little imagination, I’m sure you will be able to create something amazing with the help of these instructions. If you want to create the large form you might have to get creative or buy a larger mould. You could get a similar, if a little less spectacular effect by forming a half sphere using an upturned bowl shape or even a balloon. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s Ann Reardon’s version of a chocolate ball bombe:

Here’s Ann Reardon’s chocolate spheres with holes. Very decorative for many desserts that you might imagine.

Happy Cooking … and Eating!!

Of science and sand; misled to learning

Of science and sand; misled to learning

An interesting day: misled by a ‘scientist’ who did not check their sources, put back on track by a ‘speculative fiction author’ and amazed by the workings of nature and of man in several fields of interest.

A page on facebook shared someone else’s picture and suggested it depicted a formation caused by a lightning strike; it didn’t:

That is not fulgurite It is a sand castle

That is not fulgurite It is a sand castle

I am no scientist (although I have dabbled in science at a university level), but I do think twice before passing others work or statements along, just on the off chance that they might have no idea what they are on about. In this social media driven world it is very easy to just click ‘share’ and add to the massive misinformation flow. Even if errors are picked up the information has already passed on to others and the mistake is made again, ad infinitum.

After finding out that the formation to which Milky Way Scientists incorrectly referred, was fulgurite I was able to make my own investigations. It is wonderful how social media allows others to expand on misinformation by adding factual details to the tale, both confusing and assuring viewers that the original item is, indeed, correct. A person commenting on the post contributed a concise explanation of something not portrayed in the picture at all.

Remembering that I was, at this time, quite unaware that my supposedly scientific friends were mistaken, I pursued a deeper knowledge of this phenomenon. I had never heard of it before and was quite awe struck. The picture was quite incredible if it depicted a natural occurence. Could this be an example of natures instant glass sculpture?

As for these rather unique sand castles, sandcastlematt has a great set of photos on flickr and even a step-by-step picture tutorial on how to create them.

Having solved the problem of the misinformed share, I continued my search as I had no idea what fulgurite actually was.

Googling, as a stating place, I came across Michael Offutt’s blog post “Who could have predicted that Sweet Home Alabama would make fiction writers obsess over fulgurite for more than a decade”. Very unscientific way to gain knowledge, but an interesting and thought provoking post anyway – with a link to the full video of Sweet Home Alabama, just in case you are into that sort of thing. I watched the first two minutes, until the lightning struck…maybe one rainy day I’ll watch the rest. While I’m digressing, the casting of a girl to play a young ‘Reece Witherspoon’ is fantastic. She has the right quirky expressions.

However, this particular rainy day was spent on activities other than watching romantic comedy. I went to Wikipedea (I did say I am no scientist) and, after getting an idea of the basic ‘what is’ of fulgurite, scrolled to the bibliography and began looking at some of the source material. Not only did I find out what a fulgurite is – natures glass sculpture, indeed – but I also found some interesting lightning facts and even discovered that humans (artists and scientists, mostly) are harnessing lightning to do a little DIY fulgurite creation. Very cool stuff.

To begin, here is the Wikipedia description of fulgurite:

Fulgurites (from the Latin fulgur meaning thunderbolt) are a variety of the mineraloid lechatelierite. They are natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, silica, or soil by lightning strikes.[1] They are formed when lightning with a temperature of at least 1,800 °C (3,270 °F) instantaneously melts silica on a conductive surface and fuses grains together; the fulgurite tube is the cooled product.[2] This process occurs over a period of around one second,[3] and leaves evidence of the lightning path and its dispersion over the surface.[4] They are sometimes referred to as petrified lightning.

Here are some pictures of this amazing, naturally occurring, phenomenon:

white fulgurite

hollow fulgurite

world record fulgurite

These fairly fragile structures usually occur below the ground (certainly unlike that supposedly huge thing spiking out of the beach sand in that first misguided post). They have been excavated and preserved and are even used in jewellery. I have not included pics of jewellery here as I was doubtful that some of these pics were examples of natural occurring items, or even fulgurite, at all. Unsure, so I reserve my opinion.

What I did find out was the lengths some people go to to make their own fulgurite pieces. Especially, an artist, Allan McCollum joined with scientists to create one such piece. This piece was then copied by moulding and an exhibit of thousands of identical pieces was displayed. The original fulgurite was created in Florida during a joint effort between the artist and the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing.

Allan McCollum THE EVENT - Petrified Lightning from Central Florida

Allan McCollum THE EVENT – Petrified Lightning from Central Florida

Man-made Fulgurite

Man-made Fulgurite. This one was created by passing electic current through a barrel of sand. http://www.usfcam.usf.edu/CAM/exhibitions/1998_12_McCollum/supplemental_didactics/33.Regina.pdf

To find out more about this project and the comprehensive published articles that accompanied it, click here for a list of links provided by Allan McCollum.

Effect of lightning on grass at golf courseI found this on Page 18 of a pdf named LIGHTNING IN ACTION
by F. BARROWS COLTON. You might like to peruse the rest of the article, too.

On a related topic, the picture above shows another special effect created by lightning.

What a powerful source of energy and cause for fear, delight and awe lightning is.

There are tales of DIY fulgurites for the layman, but I can’t support the notion of leaving rods around in storms unless the whole project is supervised and innocent people are not likely to accidentally wander into the zone. There would definitely be consequences and dangers for anyone attempting this in suburbia. At best, these ideas would be best left for the desolate desert, not your local dunes, so I feel no need to provide links.

So, at the end of the day, I am thankful for the information and the misinformation received for, without it, I would never have learned all the amazing things I learned today. If I go by the old adage that we should learn something new every day, I could probably have a few days off learning now as I have learned enough today.

Update 3rd July 2013: I am glad that I wrote this post as it has helped to clear up misinformation on the other side of the globe. Welcome to new friends who have visited to assure themselves that, “That is not fulgurite. That is a sand castle”. I hope some have also learned with me or been motivated to find out more. All misinformation cannot be undone, but anything that slows the spread, at least.

Living and learning together is what it is all about.

How To Make Your Own DIY Solar Panels And Save Hundreds Of Dollars

Everything you need to know about making energy for camping and 4WDing cheaper, from saving a bit by putting your solar cells together from a kit, through to fully making up your own (even goes to using cheap, functional broken cells for fully frugal DIY energy). Also ideas on regrigeration and air-conditioning for off the road and off the grid.

DIY Camping Hacks To Get Off The Grid

Have you been wanting to add solar panels, but are concerned about the high price?

That’s totally understandable! Buying PV solar panels and having them installed can be really expensive.

A quick Google price search for solar panels shows that for a small “starter” installation (around 50-100W), you can expect to be paying between $2-4/watt for the panels (so around $100-400), plus more for mounts and installation. In addition, you’ll be paying for cables, electronics, and batteries to store all the electricity you’ve harnessed from the sun. All this will typically add up to $1000 to $2000 if you were to get a “basic” RV setup from a solar energy dealer.

But the great news is… If you’re handy, you can save a ton! The more skill you have with basic installation and electronics assembly, the more you can save. In fact, if you’re able and willing to go…

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