Flugtag-Blog 3: Started From the Bottom

I'm not says we began the Flugtag struggle at a severe disadvantage and clawed our way up with blood, sweat and tears. I'm definitely not claiming I had a rough childhood when I was really a child actor in Canada.

We literally started designing and building the lowest part of the craft first. The base.

Our strategy to demolish the competition involves a two part craft. There's the big wing that will take our pilot gliding across the water like a superconductor quantum locking (youtube it). And there's the base with wheels that will take the wing and pilot rocketing down the runway pushed by four average college students supercharged by energy drink.

For the most part the base is just a frame of 2x4s and plywood, the building blocks of any good tree house or Sukkah, We scavenged some from our parents garages and the new Maker Space in Benedum supplied the rest. 

We thought we were good to go, but when we tried to cut one down to length, our miter saw let out a sound that can only be described as a recording of the most pathetic whine you've ever heard blasted from a full stack amplifier. A quick trip to Home Depot for a new blade and we're back in action.

While the frame is a piece of cake with working tools, the wheels pose a much harder problem. The only options that come cheap and meet Red Bull's rules are bicycle wheels, but they're not always the easiest to work with. Bike wheels aren't designed to be joined with 2x4s, and these wheels need to be true. The craft has to make it 70ft down the runway without veering to one side or the other. A few pieces of scrap aluminum rod and a quick turn on the lathe and we have a possible solution. We're still waiting on the test results to see if we'll travel straight as an arrow or veer of the runway. The former promises a chance at a world record while the latter ensures an early watery grave.

Flugtag-Blog 2: The Road to Flugtag

The journey so far.

Like a three course meal, this story starts with an app. Red Bull's call for applications was pretty bare bones. Team name, a sketch of your craft, and contact info. I had caught Flugtag fever though, and meeting the bottom line was too risky. We needed to stand out and ensure our chance to compete. Nothing says we're the most qualified candidates like some cheesy voice-over and lack-luster line dancing.

It worked and we were accepted. Next step was defining our team persona.

My team is called the Roc-ettes. It's a play on Roc, Pitt's panther mascot, the NYC dancers, and our goal to shoot for the starts. We are 5 engineering students and alumni from the University of Pittsburgh. We are all members of the Aero club at Pitt which builds and flys a R/C Plane at a national competition every year. Our aliases are dancing/panther puns that range from bad to unforgivable.

There's Pantherina, Break Panther, Tiny Panther, Sarge (no pun intended) and yours truly, Jazz Paws.

We're hoping that our experience building planes gives us an edge over the competition.

The blurb on our team profile page (http://www.redbullflugtag.com/usa-pittsburgh/en/team/roc-ettes/) sums it up nicely:

"The Roc-ettes are ready to take our extensive engineering background and non-existent dance skills to the big leagues. We will amaze with our gravity defying aircraft and amuse with our mediocre line dancing. Get ready for a performance you won't remember and a flight you'll never forget."

Bonus Blog: Infographic

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this important update.

As an assignment for class I had to make an infographic. It took a while to come up with an idea, but I eventually settled on updating an old graph I made over inauguration weekend. Me and 5 colleagues at The Pitt News road tripped down to DC to report on the monumental moment in US history. Spirits were generally low as none of us were really looking forward to a Trump presidency. I wanted to quantify just how low they were, so on the car ride down I asked everyone to rate their "Faith In Humanity" on an arbitrary scale from 0-100. Then I asked them again after every major event. I initially tweeted out the graph below which I threw together in excel.

For class I gave it a visual overhaul complete with gradients and drop shadows.

I don't have my line on there, but it would be close to Matt's. Maybe even lower. The day of the inauguration wasn't pretty. Everyone was arguing, but nothing was being said. Protest turned violent for no reason. There was no sign that the US could unite and work together. 

The Women's march on the other hand was incredible. 

Flugtag-Blog 1: WTF is Flugtag?

What is Flugtag? (pr. flew-tog)

Flugtag is the ultimate competition of engineering acumen and creative brilliance.

Flugtag is a competition hosted by Red Bull where 40 teams push a homemade craft (with a pilot on board) down a runway before sending it soaring over the Allegheny River. The goal? make it as far as you can before plunging into the drink.

But thats not all.

This isn't happening behind closed doors. It's happening infront of a hundred thousand people lining the banks of the rivers. It's being televised on Red Bull TV. You have to put on a show.

Every team has to perform a dance skit for 60 seconds before they get their chance to prove their craft will fly farther than anyone else.

Breakdown:
Every team consists of 5 members, 1 pilot who has to be in/on the craft when it takes flight and 4 pushers who give it everything they've got down the 70ft runway.
The runway comes to an abrupt end 22ft above the water. High enough to pick up some speed before you splash, but not too high that the jump could injure you.
Max wingspan: 24ft, max length: 20ft, Max height: 8ft, Max weight: 400lbs (with pilot).
If you're in Pittsburgh August 5th, Flugtag is a spectagle you don't want to miss.

What font am I?

Preface: as an assignment for a class I am starting a blog. This first entry is about fonts, but the ongoing series with weekly updates will be even more interesting. (And pretend this blog post is in Arial. Depending on your machine it may be different).

What font am I? Helvetica of course.

Just kidding, it’s Arial, but you already knew that. I could see the disappointment on your face when you looked close enough to see the slight angles and kerning that set me apart. Everyone always thinks they’re meeting the illustrious Helvetica. And when they find out it is only me, it is always a disappointment.

Do you know what it’s like to be a disappointment to everyone you meet? Always living in the shadow of your big brother? Let me tell you. It isn’t great. I mean I get it. He was in a documentary. He is heralded as the apex of minimalist style. He walks the line between being both ubiquitous and elusive. You see him everywhere, yet you don’t have him for yourself. He doesn’t come standard on Windows machines. You have to come looking for him.

 Well let me tell you something. He isn’t hard to get. Just try a quick Google (now that’s a minimalist font) search and you you’ll find a million websites just begging you to take their version. And if you have a Mac, well, then you get tired of him real quick. What makes him so much better than me? So his lower case a’s curve more, and the lower case t’s are flat on top. Whoop de doo. His kerning is all funky. Lower case g’s get squished next to some letters if they come before it. I know people say it looks better, but I think it’s just inconsistent. 

Whatever, I’m not going to convince you. Just know this. I may have been born as a bastard copy, but I’m still here 35 years later, and I’m not going anywhere.