"Systm: DIY Halloween projects"
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Systm: DIY Halloween projects
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>> Today, Systm is sponsored by the United States Air Force, GoToMeeting.com, and GoDaddy.com. It's that time of year again when diminutive demons, adolescent space aliens, and Tween witches prowl North American streets armed with plastic pitchforks, AAA powered ray guns and paper bags filled with candied confections. How do you defend yourself against such an army? With a disembodied brain and giant, hairy, robotic spider, how to create the spookiest haunted house of all on this episode of Systm.
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>> Welcome to Systm. I'm Patrick Norton.
>> And I'm David Calkins.
>> You know, Dave, we're like days away from the most frightening and sugar filled holiday, one that leaves toddlers sprinting around for weeks afterwards, it's Halloween, want to do something spooky?
>> You mean like raise the dead? Summon unearthly creatures from the depths of hell to do our bidding?
>> Maybe something a little more replicatable by the audience and a little less likely to have us followed by banshees for the rest of our days.
>> How about a brain in a jar?
>> Ooh, I like that.
>> With lights and stuff?
>> Floating. You know, the ones like super villains have so, you know, that you really know who's in charge.
>> It's got a very Doctor Horrible feel without being beaten to death by a guy with a hammer.
>> Little city of lost children.
>> I like it. What are we gonna need to build this brain in a jar?
>> First, we'll need brains. Now, working in a TV studio, there're not a lot of brains here so we had to go out and buy some brains. You can buy either real brains or artificial brains.
>> That's a real brain.
>> That right there is a real brain. Now, you may not notice but brains are federally regulated, and so, I'm not kidding. So, if you want to buy a real brain, you either have to go through a scientific supply warehouse, or, your local butcher. Now, if you're gonna buy it from your local butcher, you don't need any special licenses or anything like that but you do need a three day wait. So, when you go to your local butcher, you basically say, hi, I want to pig brain. A pig brain's very close to the size of a human brain -
>> In terms of cheating it for, you know, the visual effect.
>> Why's there a waiting period as if you were buying a gun?
>> Uh, mad cow disease is the shortest reason. So, basically, and mad cow disease actually came from sheep. So, it was sheep's brains being fed to cows that created the mad cow disease strain. I'm sure that somebody can correct me on the exact details on that but that's the short answer. Now, holding pig's brains or sheep's brains or cow's brains isn't going to kill you or give you Jacob's Crutchfield's disease but it's still kind of nasty. So, if you want a whole brain rather than a chopped up brain, you can get chopped up brains within a day. You can get a whole live brain, which is what you really want for the kind of effect that we're looking for within three days. And any butcher can get these things for you. You're gonna meet one, a very specific, you know, because there are people who eat cooked brains and I myself have had it. If you live in the Mission District of San Francisco, pretty much any taqueria will sell you brains. You go to a taqueria and you go, hey, I want [Spanish], hey, I want [Spanish], hey, I want -
>> Yeah. Uh, so we will need brains. So you can use either the plastic, artificial brains, such as this one. You know, we bought this one at the Cannibal Meat Market. Actually, we bought this one at the local Halloween superstore. I'm sure everybody in America right now has one of those big Halloween superstores nearby.
>> Usually in a rundown mall with in the former location of K-Mart.
>> Usually in a rundown mall with the rent by the six week location kind of place. And so, when we open up our cannibal meat brain from our little packet here, what we find in that we do not, in fact, have a whole, solid brain. We have a little lump of plastic filled with air.
>> Squishy brain.
>> Squishy brains. And after you're done with this, you can probably feed it to your dog.
>> That's good to know. What else do we need?
>> Well, we're gonna need something to display the brains in, and oddly enough, you can use something as simple as a double boiler. Any kind of clear bucket will work. In this case, we're using your standard double boiler. You would normally put this in another pot to boil stuff. You can actually still see the markings on this.
>> I think of double boilers as being the stainless steel thing that comes with a cheap set of kitchenware. Is that scientific here?
>> This is, yeah, basically any cooking supply store will have something like this.
>> Good to know.
>> Any clear bucket will work.
>> Five gallon water buckets are especially good.
>> Five gallon water bucket. Uh, the smaller the bucket, this is sort of a medium sized bucket, the bigger the brain will look. It's always, it's one of those tricks of interior design. But basically, right now, if you put that in, it looks like a smaller brain. If you get a really small bucket which is only barely bigger, then the brain will look bigger.
>> There's never a small bucket when you need one.
>> There's never a small bucket anywhere.
>> What else do we need?
>> What else do we need? Well, we need something to put this on. Now, you can put this on your desk but if you're having little trick-or-treaters coming and you want to do something with the trick-or-treaters, you might want to use a base. In this case, a plant stand will work fine. It's got a nice hole cut in it already, as you can see here, nice little hole cut in it. And that hole will fit just about anything such as a graduated cylinder. So basically, we can slot this in until it catches because it's graduated. It graduated from high school just last week.
>> Next, we will need a lamp. Why do we need a lamp? Well, it's, you know, studio effects and lighting and things like that. So what we're gonna use is your absolute run of the mill desk lamp. This is just your run of the mill.
>> The horrors, the horrors.
>> Ow. Run of the mill desk lamp. We've replaced the standard white bulb with a red bulb and it's just, this one of the kind that you would just sit on your desk for your reading lamp but we can shine it either through from the side, underneath, or up above to give a little eerie effect to our brain.
>> [Inaudible] queasy as it were?
>> Look at that. The bulb is broke, yeah.
>> Bulb broke.
>> I'll just put this down. Next, don't touch anything.
>> I'm sorry.
>> Let's take a moment to thank one of our sponsors. GoToMeeting.com, the easiest and most affordable way to host online meetings. Here's how it works, you schedule a meeting in advance or on the fly, you fire up your conference calls, then everybody logs on to GoToMeeting.com. Now, they can see your computer desktop on their computer screen. Now, we plan on having another Systm and Tekzilla GoToMeeting meeting. It's your chance to chat one on one with Roger, Serafina, and Patrick. Do you want to join in? Visit GoToMeeting.com, click on the try it free button, and sign up with the promo code Systm. That's GoToMeeting.com, promo code Systm. And the best part, you can try Go To Meeting free for thirty days on us. Please, support Systm by supporting our sponsors like GoToMeeting.com. Of course, we've got our plastic lid which comes with our handy dandy little plastic canister. And finally, we're gonna need a dumb little silvery stainless steel bowl such as you would use for a serving bowl or a dog dish.
>> The dog's pissed. But you got your bowl.
>> You know, she doesn't need that much water. She drinks too much anyway. She's got a problem. Finally, we're going to need some tools. So, for our tools, we're going to need the every useful power drill with a drill bit. Can be roughly any size. Doesn't need to be anything specific because we're just gonna need to drill a few holes. We actually are gonna need a screwdriver. Get rid of it.
>> I thought we could add in some, like, tubing and stuff.
>> We can add in some tubing and stuff to make things look prettier.
>> You know, stuff.
>> Stuff. We'll need some mono filament to hang our brain and we're going to need a nut, a bolt, and some washers. This is just for ballast weight.
>> And something to attach the dog bowl to the lid.
>> And something to attach the dog bowl to the lid.
>> So, first and foremost, we take our brain. Now, if you're using a real brain rather than the plastic ones, first of all, you're even nuttier than he and I are. Oh, wait, we're not using your brain. Sorry. Well, you know, you want something sizeable. Somebody's grumpy today.
>> I'm not grumpy. This is grumpy. Brain, bowl.
>> If you're using a real brain, you're gonna have to figure out your own way of how to actually hang the brain within this. A brain is probably positively ballasted which means it's gonna sink to the bottom which might be a good effect for you but if you want to float it up, you're gonna have to deedle [assumed spelling] around with monofilaments or something like that.
>> I'm refusing to eat either the brain tacos or touch what's inside of this.
>> Brain tacos aren't bad.
>> I don't care. You know, there's a lot of things I'll eat; brain tacos is not one of them. Is it soft? Will like, you know, the monofilament will pull through this? I mean, what's the texture on the real brain?
>> The texture on a real brain, it's kind of like muscle so, basically, it's not significantly different than if you're using, you know, meat. So if you happen to have, you know, like chicken breasts or a thick steak or something like that.
>> Will it rot if it's sitting in water for a while?
>> You don't want to put it in water. If you're using a real brain, you want to use pure ethanol or methanol. So actually, wood alcohol stuff that you use to [inaudible] is perfect.
>> In which case, don't smoke next to the brain.
>> Or formaldehyde. But for our purposes, we're going to use the easily obtainable, twelve ninety-nine, squish brain.
>> First, we're going to drill into our brain. The scientific term for this would be [inaudible] but, for this case, it's not a real brain and it's not your brain.
>> Thought [inaudible] was opening up a hole in the skull.
>> Well, to expose the brain, so. Usually, if you want to go into the brain, you know, like relief the pressure.
>> Spent a lot of time with brain surgery.
>> Well [inaudible].
>> So, brain drill a hole. Ah. You want to wiggle it around a little bit. You want to wiggle that around a little bit. Let's make sure we can get our monofilament in.
>> We're gonna drill another hole on the back side. So they can get all the way through. Now, if you have a needle, it works a lot better with a needle than via the Patrick and David method.
>> Well, do it. I'm gonna go grab a finishing nail that we can tape this to.
>> So now, within the cortex.
>> Brains. Brains. Including the fact that you're getting your medical terminology on while you're digging into the plastic brain.
>> Yeah, and I'm getting it all wrong, too. I'm sure if Kiki were here, she'd be ripping me a new one.
>> Drop the A bomb.
>> Yes, in ten. So, on the back end, we're going to use our cutting knife to cut a little hole in here. Why, you may ask. Well, because what we're gonna do is, that's gonna be our ballast point. So we're gonna take -
>> Is that what this is for?
>> That is our ballast.
>> So, a nut, a bolt, and a whole bunch of washers are strictly.
>> Let's do it the other way.
>> Strictly so we have some ballast. Put this through, give ourselves a little bit of ballast, and we're gonna tie a couple of knots to make sure it doesn't go anywhere. And this will just make sure that our brain doesn't float away on us. These, of course, are galvanized steel which is what you'll find most screws, bolts, and washers to be. So, because they're galvanized, they will not rust. So, we're gonna squish our brain together. We've cut a big hole on the bottom and a tiny little hole on the top.
>> If you were using a real brain, you're on your own at this point.
>> If you're using a real brain, you're on your own. So now, we're gonna push all these through to the bottom. They don't have to go all the way through. All you have to do, really, is hide them. So basically, if you can't see them right now, your brain is good. It's a good brain. Now, you're gonna want, of course, cut off the extra monofilament.
>> Will it still work if I actually have the bolts inside the brain?
>> It will work perfectly if you have the bolts inside the brain. Depends on how big of a hole you want to cut in there.
>> Got it.
>> We'll just push them through. There we go.
>> Now, do we suspend it from the -
>> Now, to suspend it, what you need to do is drill a hole in the top of your cover. And depending on the size of your bucket, it's going to depend on how big of a length of string you're gonna want to have, actually, monofilament. You're gonna want to use fishing filament for the simple reason that it is clear and it will better hide the dangling-ness of this to better create an illusion of a floating brain. Now, if you really want to play with this, you could try [inaudible], you know, and add and subtract weights and things like that so that you can actually get a perfect brain.
>> Is there a fancy knot that you're using to tie this off with?
>> I'm using the fancy slipknot.
>> You're brain's hanging a little low.
>> I get that a lot. So you want to make sure you have a very nice, secure big knot. You may also want to just use an extra washer or something like that.
>> Here, you talk about the next step. I'll work on the knot thing.
>> So, once you've got our hanging brain, really, it's just a matter of filling it up with fluid. You can fill it up with water, if you want. If you're using a real brain, you'd really want to use some sort of preservative such as formaldehyde or alcohol in either flavor.
>> In which case, don't smoke near it if you use alcohol.
>> Don't smoke near it, you know. Make sure that the brain itself has quit its bad smoking habit. Or, you can just have it floating in nothing. For our purposes, if we've got a big bucket of water, so, we're gonna do that last though. So the next thing we want to do is Patrick wants to hold this up. You're just gonna want to mount our light bulb so it's pointing roughly directly underneath. And just by doing this, pretty much get it reasonably stable. It doesn't have to be perfect. And so now, finally, we mount our brain. We're gonna want to cut off the end of the monofilament, state the obvious.
>> I like the fact that you've put the little bubbler from an aquarium in the back of this. You can also add an aquarium bubbler to make things bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. You can add all sorts of poses. You can do all sorts of things to liven this up. Every brain should be its own unique brain. Finally, put a reflective bowl on top, and voile, you have a brain. Now, one of the cool things you could do with this is if you have those cheap walkie-talkies, you could put one of the walkie-talkies underneath this with the speaker pointed outwards, and then, talk on the side. So when the little kids come up to the door and go, hello, you know, then the brain can talk back to them and you can see them and talk through the walkie-talkie making your brain.
>> I think we need to fill this up, turn the lights off, and see what it looks like.
>> Let's do it.
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>> And, of course, the last thing, once we have our brain securely attached, is we want to add some water to that fluid. Big bucket of water, we're just gonna, we have a leak, Batman. Now, it's gonna take a while for our brain to fill up with fluid so we're gonna have to wait a while for that to sink properly. And here, we have a brain in a bucket. Now, all we need to do is light it up underneath and put it on a stand. And again, one of the cool tricks you can do is to use a walkie-talkie hidden, of course, to make it seem like the brain is actually talking to your trick-or-treaters. You can obviously just stand behind the door somewhere and talk to the little trick-or-treaters and make them, you know, scared like the brain is talking to them. All right, so let's put it on our stand and see where we end up.
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>> Of course, this is just one project you could put together for your Halloween spook fest. For a few more ideas, I paid a visit to San Francisco local Nick Donaldson, one of my favorite robot builders, who goes that extra mile to frighten the kids in his neighborhood. So I'm here at my friend Nick's house and, every year, Nick puts together a really cool robot spider to scare the kiddies and he adds to it every year. Nick, how long you been doing this?
>> We've been doing Halloween now for about seven years and it started out pretty small. We were just, it was just pretty much just us scaring the kids and we had so much fun, the next year, I had to build something robotic for it.
>> Because there's nothing like scaring the kids.
>> Exactly. And I had already built a fifty foot robotic octopus for Burning Man that year so I reincarnated it as a giant spider and here he is.
>> Now, are you trained classically as a robotocist or what is your background?
>> Well, I have a degree in mechanical engineering and I quit engineering in the mid-nineties to do internet software so I have the background in mechanics and the software and you put mechanics and software together and you have robots.
>> This is something that anybody could do? Or is this something that you'd have to have a little bit of training to do? Or would the average person go about doing this?
>> Well, a lot of my robots are actually pretty simple. This spider, for example, is just a bunch of two by fours and pulleys and rope with a single motor. The motor drives a linkage that drives one leg. This leg is connected by pulleys to the four legs at ninety degrees to it. And then, there's a loop back here to the other four legs and what you get is all the legs move in opposition to each other.
>> Pretty simple to build, really. So basically, any Home Depot run could pretty much get you most of the things that you'd need.
>> Yeah, Home Depot, and then, I bought the motor at surplus off the internet for about fifty bucks. So, the whole thing is about a hundred and fifty bucks to build.
>> That's awesome. And now I see that the spider's also got his very own spider web with what looks to be a dead baby in it.
>> Yeah, the spider was hungry. Spat him out. No, the spider web, actually, started out as a Burning Man project as well as an animated tent topper for this giant circus tent that we took out to Burning Man. And I took the sequencer that I built and created this white rope cobweb for it that has radial and circumferential lines so I could do in and out patterns and I can do swirling patterns.
>> So, would you like to take us through your little cave of disasters?
>> Yes, walk into my lair. And then, when you get into the cave, you see, look out, the bat. It's actually just a rail with a couple of pulleys and the bat is attached to a weight and I spool the weight up, slowly, with a gear miter. And then, it's on a motion detector, and when it detects motion, it just releases it and it flies forward. When you get around the corner, all of a sudden, mummy.
>> How does the mummy work?
>> The mummy actually runs off server motors. There's a server linkage that pulls his head up and down, and then, there's a server that runs, again, a little pulley system that moves the arms. And it runs off the UPIC microprocessor which is the same thing that is running the cobweb, and also, runs Ziggy and pretty much runs all my robotic applications. Okay, so here's the sequencer that runs the cobweb. I have it in this big box. You can probably tell by all the prior dust, it's a Burning Man box. What we got in here is an UPIC microprocessor. Here's the brain that actually runs the sequencer. The relays that run the light ropes are in this black box and it's all just wired together with a whole bunch of numbered wires. What's great about this UPIC, this particular type of UPIC is that you can use a forty pin ID header cable to interface to it, and then, that goes in to the sequencer itself and makes the wiring really easy. So, and the whole thing is running off a, or hooked into an X ten, wireless X ten system so I can turn it on and off remotely. And this X ten also receives commands for some of the other stuff in the pod. So, there you have it.
>> Well, thanks very much for showing us around, Nick. The coolest thing about the whole incident is that you built it yourself.
>> Yeah, well, I love building things myself. It's a lot of fun and I love scaring the kids, too.
>> Is that a personal grudge? Do you just not like children?
>> Oh, I love children, but it is kind of a grudge cause I grew up in England and there was no Halloween, there was no trick-or-treating, there was no free candy. So, now it's payback time.
>> And speaking of payback times, do you have some videos of this online and some URLs about how to do that?
>> I do, actually. I have video information about all my robots, including the spider and the mummy and bunch of other stuff at Gotrobots.com.
>> Cool. All right. Thank you very much.
>> Great. Thank you.
>> It's yours.
>> We want to thank one of our sponsors and take a moment now for a short message from the United States Air Force.
>> [Inaudible] John Wagner, United States Air Force. I'm the commander the Forty-Fifth Launch Support Squadron. You know, I've always wanted to be a part of the space program and the Air Force is an exciting place to do just that. Most people don't realize, the Air Force Space Program is equivalent to NASA in size and scope, and most cases, larger. You know, the shuttle launch is about once a month and I've got three launches here in the next thirty days. So, if you want to be in the space program, the Air Force is a great way to do it.
>> Hey, if you got a super elaborate or just super cool Halloween Haunted House setup, do us a favor. Send up your pics or your videos. Just email them to us at Systm AT Revision3.com. If they're pictures, if it's a video, post it on YouTube, then email us the link to YouTube. We would love to see what kind of cool stuff everybody out there's doing for Halloween this year. >> Maybe even have a source of brains that people can purchase without needing medical or teaching license.
>> Hold still. Just kidding. If you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions for Systm, please email us at Systm AT Revision3.com and do not forget to visit the forum through Revision3.com/forum and you can visit our archives, Revision3.com/Systm for all our older episodes.
>> Hey, and if you like comic books, graphic novels, you have got to check out I Fan Boy. It's not just for geeks and nerds. It's for anybody that likes comic books. Check out the latest episode with Brian Bend this Friday with Avengers and Spiderman from Marvel comics. You can watch I Fan Boy every Wednesday at noon Eastern on Revision3.com/IFanBoy.
>> Well, that's it for this episode. Hope you enjoyed it. I'm Patrick Norton.
>> And I'm Dave Calkins.
>> We'll see you next week on Systm.
>> At Halloween, my biggest problem is that I miss my parents, especially my mummy.
>> There's no free candy, and so, now it's payback time.
>> That's cool.
>> What kind of TV producer are you, anyway?
>> Can we get that in the out take, please, please, pretty please?
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