Gifts from the Beyond Neutral Zone

New toy!

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This is a hexbug larva, and yes, it looks a bit like a baby Ceti eel from The Wrath of Khan. It’s autonomous, so the redirection is happening on its own. What’s going on?

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Little flashy infrared LED, with a sensor below it. (I used my IR webcam to film these shots). It’s intermittent, which I assume is to screen out any DC signal from background light and detect pulses in the same pattern.

Here’s the underside, where you can see the locomotion details. Not sure of the sex, though, or what happens when it grows up.
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Just Add Imagination

Geekdad: The 5 Best Toys of All Time

[T]o help you out, I’ve worked really hard to narrow down this list to five items that no kid should be without. All five should fit easily within any budget, and are appropriate for a wide age range so you get the most play out of each one. These are time-tested and kid-approved! And as a bonus, these five can be combined for extra-super-happy-fun-time.

These are great toys because the added ingredient is imagination, which is usually in abundant supply.

Conundrum: if you gave a child a box, and wrapped it in another box, would s/he want to play with the box, or the box it came in?

Once Again, Separating Me From My Money

[Shakes fist at sky] Think Geeeeeek!

Back when the Monolith Action Figure was just an April Fool’s joke, I wrote

I wonder of this will turn into a real product, not just available on Europa, based on consumer demand. I’d buy one.

It’s now a real product. When you click on Buy Now it takes you to a real shopping cart, instead of a gotcha! page. I am following through on my vow (Ha! Who says I’ve got commitment issues?!)

They still bring the snark, though. There are some LEGO™ randomly selected toys, and they tell you

-Random packed means you have a 1 in 16 chance of getting any particular figure

-For liberal arts school graduates: Ordering 16 will not “guarantee” you get all 16 figures.

Recursion, Lego Style

MakerLegoBot is made of Lego, makes things out of Lego, is so meta it hurts

Building things out of Lego? Lots of fun. Building a thing out of Lego that itself builds other things out of Lego? That’s totally mindblowing, and that’s what Mindstorm master Will Gorman managed here with his MakerLegoBot masterpiece. The machine takes input from a PC running MLCAD, a sort of industrial design tool for blocknauts, and then churns out anything you like — so long as it is comprised of 1×2, 2×2, 3×2, 4×2, and 8×2 bricks.

All we need is a LEGO robot to play with the finished product, and we’re all set.