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Tag Archives: Hobbies

Hornby Model Trains Getting A Digital Sound Upgrade

Hornby Model Trains (Images courtesy Hornby)
By Andrew Liszewski

If there’s anything model railroad enthusiasts like it’s authenticity, and that’s exactly what Hornby is striving for with their new line of digital sound locomotives. Instead of using a central speaker to reproduce the sounds of the trains running around the miniature countryside, each engine has its own speaker so that the sound effects come from the appropriate place, and dynamically change depending on where the train is. (Like passing through a tunnel.) The samples used for the sound effects, like coal being shoveled into the firebox and whistles, were recorded from the real-life versions of each train where possible, and you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $300-400 for your obsession with realism.

[ Pocket-lint – Hornby Digital Sound: give your tunnels sound love ]

Largest Model Rocket In History Launch Appears To Have Been A Success

Steve Eves Saturn V Model Rocket (Images courtesy Gizmodo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Last Sunday we wrote about Steve Eves’ 36-foot tall Saturn V model rocket that he hoped would put him in the record books for being the largest model rocket in history. Well if you recall, the launch for this behemoth was scheduled for April 25, aka yesterday, and based on these photos that Gizmodo reader Ben submitted to their site, the launch looks like it was a complete success.

Steve Eves Saturn V Model Rocket (Images courtesy Gizmodo)

There’s even a video of the launch that I’ve included after the jump, and I hate to sound cynical, but it doesn’t actually look much more exciting than the Estes model rockets I used to launch as a kid. But I’m sure experiencing the launch in person would have been an impressive experience.

[ Gizmodo – Shots of the 36-Foot Saturn V Model Launch: That’s a Big Rocket ]

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Largest Model Rocket In History Is 36 Feet Tall, Weighs Over 1,600 Pounds

Steve Eves Saturn V Model Rocket (Images courtesy Rocketry Planet)
By Andrew Liszewski

You can look all you want, but I promise you you’re not going to find this model Saturn V rocket in the Estes catalog. That’s because it was custom designed and built by Steve Eves who hopes to enter the record books for flying the largest model rocket in history. At 36+ feet tall and weighing in at over 1,600 pounds, the mini-Saturn V is powered by nine rocket motors including 8 13,000ns N-Class motors and a single 77,000ns P-Class motor. When I messed around with model rockets as a kid, the largest motors I could get my hands on were D-sized, and I always wondered just how high in the alphabet rocket motors actually went.

The single stage flight should reach an altitude somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, and at apogee the rocket will separate into three parts and return to Earth via the assistance of various parachutes. In the end Eves estimates he’s invested about 1,500 hours into the project with a total budget of around $25,000, though that will actually be covered by various sponsors come the April 25th launch event. (Weather permitting.)

[ Rocketry Planet – One man’s quest to honor America’s Saturn V rocket ] VIA [ Slashdot ]

E-Z Command Wireless Model Train Controller From Dynamis

E-Z Command Dynamis Wireless Infrared DCC System (Image courtesy MAKE: Blog)
By Andrew Liszewski

If I ever get a crib large enough to be worth ‘pimping,’ the first thing I’m going to do is fill the basement with a massive model train set. Because a) nothing says ‘pimped out’ like toy trains, and b) I’d get to carry around this slick wireless controller from Dynamis. The E-Z Command remote uses infrared technology to control up to 40 different locomotives at one time, allowing you to wander around and enjoy your HO-scale countryside while you’re shunting miniature boxcars.

A large backlit LCD display provides constant feedback for your currently selected train, and there’s even a miniature joystick for adjusting the speed or controlling other functions on your locomotives like lights and sounds. The controller runs off 4 x AA batteries, though I don’t know how long they’ll last, and it will set you back $315 from Bachmann Trains.

[ E-Z Command Dynamis Wireless Infrared DCC System ] VIA [ MAKE: Blog ]

Diamond Select’s 1:18 Scale BTTF Delorean Features Lights & Sounds

Diamond Select's BTTF Delorean (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

Quite a few 1:18 scale die-cast Back To The Future Delorean replicas have come out over the past few years, in fact there’s one sitting on my shelf right now, but Diamond Select is pushing the envelope with the new lights and sounds models they announced at Toy Fair this year. Both a flying and non-flying version of the time traveling Delorean will be available, and they’ll each come with authentic sounds from the movies, as well as light-up features like headlights and the all-important flux capacitor.

The Delorean Mark I replica is currently available for pre-order from for $33.99 (it’s expected to arrive in July) but the flying version pictured above will be a harder to find exclusive according to

[ – Diamond Select Toys @ Toy Fair 2009 ] VIA [ Nerd Approved ]

Birdwatcher’s Motion Activated Camera

The Birdwatcher's Motion Activated Camera (Image courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer)
By Andrew Liszewski

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always assumed the most satisfying part of being a birdwatcher was actually seeing the birds with your own eyes, instead of just photos of them in a National Audobon Society guide. So it seems to me like this motion activated bird cam takes some of the ‘sport’ out of birdwatching. Inside the weather-resistant casing is a 1.3 megapixel digital camera that senses motion across a 9×12 foot field-of-view. When a bird enters the frame, the camera can be set to capture up to 20 pictures in 20 seconds which are stored on an included 2GB SD card.

Once mounted the camera can still be panned and tilted up to 15° for the best angle, and there’s even a laser guide showing you exactly where the camera is pointed since it doesn’t have a viewfinder. It’s powered by 4 AA batteries which should keep it running for about 6 months thanks to the camera’s sleep mode which kicks in when no motion is detected, and the fact that it will automatically power itself off at night. Hammacher’s got it for $199.95.

[ The Birdwatcher’s Motion Activated Camera ]

The Discriminating Metal Detector

The Discriminating Metal Detector (Image courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer)
By Andrew Liszewski

At first glance, wandering the beaches with a metal detector looks like it might be a relaxing and profitable hobby. But from my own experiences, you usually end up spending most of your time digging up bottle caps and other refuse, rather than buried pirate treasure. But this Discriminating Metal Detector can actually differentiate between 9 different types of metals, and using a set of tones or the LCD display, it will indicate whether or not the object in question is actually worth digging up. (i.e. Pull tabs vs. silver dollars.)

The open coil design is completely waterproof and it can locate coin-sized objects that are buried up to 8 inches below the ground, or larger objects as deep as 3 feet. It also uses something called “ground balancing technology” to prevent false signals when used in areas where there’s high concentrations of minerals or severe ground conditions. The whole thing, including the LCD display, is powered by just 2 x 9-volt batteries which should keep you scouring the beaches for up to 20 hours.

The Discriminating Metal Detector is available from Hammacher Schlemmer for $199.95.

[ The Discriminating Metal Detector ] VIA [ GadgetLiving ]