Construx Oil Platform

Where does gas come from Dad? Well son, it is made from oil. Let's build an oil rig!
That's roughly the conversation that lead to us building our latest Construx creation. An oil platform is a challenge because it needs a ton of surface area, and needs to rise out of the sea and support itself. Each of the 4 supporting pillars is made from 27 tubes. That's 104 tubes total, so it took some time to build those. They sure are strong though. I'm sure they could hold 20 pounds, or more.

Some other features of the build:
  • Lighted drill tower
  • Helipad built from a case, with cargo helicopter
  • Two cranes
  • Support watercraft
  • Sleeping quarters
Along with the Construx men populating the platform, you'll see some Fisher Price Husky Helpers. It is interesting how these Husky Helpers figures always end up in a pile of Construx. I have gotten half a dozen of them buying Construx off of eBay. For the most part, they fit Construx chairs, and their rugged theme fits with many of the things you can build with Construx, so they work well.
Sadly, the platform only lived for a couple of weeks as it was using up the majority of our knots and we couldn't build much else :(

What will we build next? What would you like to see us build?


The Big Wheel

This Construx creation was a ton of fun. I wanted to build something with a large rotation structure and the kids came up with the idea of a Ferris Wheel. This was also a great chance to use the huge quantity of seats that I have.
The challenges for this build were

  • Determining a gondola width that could be built and still allow the wheel halves to connect
  • Sizing the wheel based on the ability to make a circle. Construx generally build in straight lines. You have to convince them to be other shapes.
  • Keeping the gondolas right side up. All of the gondolas rotate, but the weight of the figure alone wasn't enough to overcome the rotating piece friction. The glowing bells were added as a cool little hack. They glow in the dark which looks great. They add a little weight to help the rotation. Finally, they are just low enough that they scrape the ground if the gondola isn't level. The scraping rights the gondola for another trip around the wheel. It really looks cool when the wheel spins.

Step right up and buy a ticket!


Construx Antarctic Research Station

Continuing on our science theme, my boys and I moved on from our Space Shuttle and build a Antarctic Research Station. Our station is modeled after the Halley VI Research Station. It contains 4 main sections.

  • Power Station
  • Sleeping quarters
  • Observation stand and lab
  • Helipad and drinking water system

The whole thing is on skis, just like the Halley, and has joints to allow it to flow with the changing surface. We had lots of fun building it and even more fun shooting photos of it in the snow.
Leave a comment and let us know what you think. Construx!


Construx Space Shuttle

It started simple enough. The boys were home for Christmas vacation and we were playing Construx as we've been known to do. Since I love every minute with my Construx, I jumped on eBay to see what might be available. I found a great Space Shuttle set for a reasonable price and bought it. That was the beginning. When the shuttle set arrived, we quickly built it. It's a fun set with an opening cargo bay, complete with an arm to deploy satellites. Fun. Dreaming a bit, I wondered if we could add on some solid rocket boosters and the familiar fuel tank. That was trickier than expected. Building a tube that long that doesn't fall apart at the slightest nudge took some trial and error. Here is what that looked like.

Then we really started wondering. Could we build a full-on crawler and launch pad? Of course we could! This thing has treads, working lights, actually crawls and hooks up to a launch tower we built. This was so much fun, I just had to share it.


Use a Flickr Search as your Apple TV Screen Saver

Many people know that an Apple TV can display Flickr photos, but did you know that Flickr can be your Apple TV screensaver as well?

You can set it up to display photos of a particular Flickr user, but I find it even more powerful to use a search.

  1. Start by accessing the Flickr item from the Internet menu.

  2. Perform a search for your subject.

  3. If you are happy with the results, choose to Save Search

  4. Exit back out to the main menu and choose Screen Saver from the Settings menu.

  5. Choose the Photos menu item, then Flickr, and then select one of your saved searches.

  6. Select a theme for your screen saver and you are done.

I'm sure you can think of all sorts of searches that would be fun to have displayed. Maybe you are having a themed party but you don't have time to curate a slideshow. Perhaps you'd like to enjoy the colors of the season. Maybe you just like a good photo set, like Bike Bridges, National Parks, Cities at Night, or Tebowing!

Have fun


My Music Buying Evolution

  • Sorry Target, Musicland has replaced you due to better selection.

  • Sorry Musicland, I always hated you. The local indy record shop has replaced you due to better selection, better prices, and being within walking distance of where I live.

  • Sorry local indy, Music Boulevard has replaced you due to way better selection, better prices, convenience, and it doesn't smell like incense.

  • Sorry Music Boulevard, I love you, but CDnow has bought you.

  • Sorry CDnow, the Amazon freight train has hit you. This is a good thing.

  • Sorry Amazon, Apple iTunes has replaced you because they don't sell shiny discs which leads to convenience, previews, and music snacking.

  • Sorry Apple, between (legal) free stuff, Amazon MP3, Beatport, and my existing collection, I don't buy much from you anymore.

  • Sorry everyone, Rdio has pretty much replaced you all. I haven't spent this little for music since I was mowing lawns as a kid. I get more music than ever before. The experience isn't superb, but it's pretty good.

  • Who's next?


Books of 2010

One of my goals for 2010 was to read more. As a kid, I'd be in the library all the time, taking home armloads of books. This faded as I got older. I missed the books and made an effort to get back to them.

Here's what I read this year. Clearly I enjoy non-fiction. See if you can spot the lonely fiction book. You might also notice a few themes that are important to me right now. Have you read any of these books? Do you have recommendations on ones I might like?