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In the pre Pirate Bay days of analog transmission, pirate radio stations were setup in the most bizarre places, to avoid being shut down. Many of these were offshore, in boats, lighthouses, disused forts, or even balloons or planes.The idea for outlaw stations came from the US military who broadcast from B 29 bombers, over Vietnam, ships off the coast of Soviet states and continue to broadcast to Cuba from balloons. Israel is the last remaining country to have pirate radio ships in operation, where they broadcast ultra conservative religious programming.

Weird Outlaw Radio Transmitters

Last week we did a roundup of quirky and interesting toolboxes. In the process of searching for these we came across a variety of beautifully designed ones. Why toolboxes? Because there is a history of superior design surrounding tools, because of their inherently ergonomic and utilitarian nature and this extends to the boxes to put them in. Some of these units are kitchen cabinet-like, except that they are better made than any kitchen unit, and if I was designing a kitchen I would use high end tool containers.Here is a list of the best designed toolboxes money can buy.

the best designed toolboxes

At first sight these buses may look horrifying, like miniature cattle wagons full of children. But they are a feature of a type of culture that is different from America where yellow school buses shuttle children often over large distances. This culture, common throughout the world is one that has grown organically, where distances are short enough to be cycled (where litigation is minimal!) and where homebrew transportation is common.In some ways these buses are a marvel of practicality and an interesting Oobject.

12 tiny Indian school buses

Considering that super thin, flexible, touch-screens and large capacity solid-state storage are just around the corner we expected to find many more examples of interesting concept designs for laptops. Here are the best that we found, however this is one case where we think the realized products will outstrip the concept designs.

17 best concept laptops

There is a strange beauty to slow motion videos of car crash test dummies and airbag deployment, but these don’t compare to the similar, but far more extreme safety measure of a fighter jet ejection. Here are videos of various aspects of their deployment testing and training. Some of these are absolutely mesmerizing.

10 videos of ejection seat tests

f the industrial revolution was typified by Northern England’s dark satanic mills, the Chinese manufacturing revolution consists of of more subtle kind of hell: antiseptic, shadowless, pastel colored assembly lines.The most striking thing we noticed when putting together this list was the uniformity of color, typically green floors with hospital blue appearing here and there, and highlights of yellow or pink, drowned in uniform fluorescent lighting that would make a drug store feel like a candle lit bistro.Some of these images are from the Toronto photographer, Ed Burtynsky’s great photo essay about Chinese manufacturing, however others are from publicity shots for the factories themselves. The publicity photos unknowingly reproduce the same clinical blandness.

chinese factories

Teasmades possibly represent the nadir of industrial design, combining Rube Goldberg, or more appropriately, Heath Robinsonesque unnecessary mechanic complexity with technological denialist styling and often capped off with horrid little lampshades.Appropriately enough, these diabolical devices were pioneered by a brand called Goblin, and were rendered obsolete after unfashionable UK Prime Minister, John Major’s wife Norma confessed to having one in Downing St. Sadly, someone is making them again.

9 diabolical teamaking contraptions

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WTF is That? #5

May 1st, 2009 #link

wtf is that

What is this unfamiliar object? As always there is a clue in the question. Answers in the comments



12 Responses to “WTF is That? #5”

  1. spliffer Says:

    It’s a model of an abattoir after a swine flu cull.

  2. jeremy Says:

    Its the under frame for an Elizabethan dress.

  3. Rich Says:

    its an upside down model used to design some famous church or cathedral

  4. admin Says:

    @Rich – yes.

    Does anyone know which one? The shapes formed are catenary arches which when inverted would create a very efficient structures following optimum stress lines.

    Despite the simplicity of the method, this is a rather sophisticated structural approach – far more so than gothic cathedrals which are often surprisingly structurally inelegant.

  5. rob Says:

    It’s Gaudi model for the structure of the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Strings with weights – when inverted – becomes the model for the structure.

  6. admin Says:

    @Rob Spot on. The ‘unfamiliar’ item is indeed an inverted model of Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece in Barcelona.

  7. scott Says:

    not to split hairs, but i believe that’s gaudi’s catenary arch model for the unfinished cathedral at colonia guell outside of barcelona. the appearances of the two churches’ designs are similar in some respects, and gaudi DID use this method of representation for both, but the sagrada familia has more pronounced, elongated towers (whereas the ones on the church at colonia guell were to have a more conical appearance)

  8. admin Says:

    @Scott. Looks like you’re right. The model is in the basement of Sagrada Familia but is of the Colonia Guell .

    http://www.gaudidesigner.com/uk/colonia-guell-old-photograph-of-the-model-for-the-guell-colonias-study-realised-by-edouard-goetz_366.html

  9. Val Hallan Says:

    It looks like the ballast bag array for a Japanese WWII transcontinental balloon bomb. I saw one at the US Air Force Museum many years ago.

  10. kreatiiv Says:

    unfinished for now…. to watch them work inside the cathedral using the traditional stone cutting techniques is absolutely amazing…. maybe one day they will actually finish it :)

  11. Gina Says:

    It’s a model used by Gaudi to create the towers and archs of the Church of La Colonia Guell of Barcelona (in Catalonia).
    Is based on the museum of La Sagrada Familia where it explain how Gaudi created his buildings :)

  12. robert Says:

    it appears to be part of a “fly gallery”, the system of ropes and counterweights to suspend various theatrical scene elements backstage, hmmm.