Land Yacht (no not that kind of land yacht)

On a whim last summer, I decided to build a land yacht. What I thought would take me a weekend has turned into a multi-month megaproject.

When I tell people I’m building a land yacht, people tend to get one of two mental images:


1972 Buick Riviera

or this:

Seanna Yacht 65m

Here’s what I actually built:

Sailing it at El Mirage Dry Lake:

I used these awesome “Lake Lefroy Mini” instructions from the seabreeze.com.au land yacht forums as a starting point, and made some small tweaks of my own along the way.

I did the major welding and woodwork at Tech Shop SF:

Raw materials from Alan Steel and Discount Builder Supply

Free windsurfing gear from craigslist

Fabricating the rear axel assembly

Main frame, v1

Frame with mast step and steering

Mast and sail

Seat installed

Trial run

During the initial test sail with a friend in Mountain View, prior to having a real seat to sit on, we managed to open the spine like a can opener due to the lateral force of the wind (and some likely dubious welds).

I replaced the spine with much heavier stock, which while probably overkill in terms of weight, will never fail.

I added a seat, and took it down to El Mirage dry lake bed in Souther California for a true first sail. El Mirage is like the worlds largest parking lot – flat, hard, and windy. I estimate it got up to 20-25 mph, though the commercially built yachts were blowing by me at 40+ mph like I was standing still.

Most recently, I brought it into Noisebridge for some rerigging, including recutting a windsurfing sail according to these instructions from the sea breeze forums, so that it’s flatter and hopefully faster. What I thought was going to be an afternoon project ate up the better part of a week or two, though I learned a ton about sailmaking in the process.

Layers, so many layers

Finished recut sail

Rerigged all sexy like and ready to sail!


TONIGHT: Circuit Hacking Monday 7pm

SF: I’m back from my current travels, and will be leading *Circuit Hacking Monday at Noisebridge* TONIGHT! Learn to solder! Lots of cool kits! All welcome! 7pm.

— Mitch.

Wall-O-Tubes v1

The internet is a hard problem, not really solved yet. Getting the internet into your hacker space is another hard problem. Thirdly making it easy for folks to diagnose their (own) network problems without taking down the internet for others or killing other network hardware is also hard.

At Noisebridge we've got a network rack named Susan The Rack (she might be old but she's got one hell of a rack), she held our internet important network gear. After a month people started throwing their own gear in there (because obviously a free hacker space wants to host your internet/power hungry torrent box), she thing turned into the rats nest of cables and junk and hacker STDs, and we couldn't tell what was internet important and what was just garbage hardware not doing anything. Eventually the DSL modem got shoved off the rack and was just hanging off by its phone cord. One night a couple hard working dedicated Noisebridge members aimed to fix this problem...


Behold, The Wall-O-Tubes! The idea is that everything that involves getting the internet into the building and back out through our wifi is bolted onto this wall. If the wall has power, the internet should work through our wifi network. If the internet goes down, it'll be easy to diagnose, and hard for someone who isn't dedicated to fix (you have to go get a stool or ladder or poking stick to do much of anything). Currently the image shows version 1 of the wall.

One of the biggest problems we had was someone's laptop would stop loading web pages, the person would freak out thinking the whole internet is down, and start unplugging and rebooting device without doing any sort of diagnostics. For version 2 we're setting up a machine called Minotaur! This guy will monitor different parts of the network (our internet links, the router, servers and services on the network, wifi link), and display a sort of heart beat message in plain English on a monitor under the wall. If all is green, then your "internet problem" might most likely be somewhere between you and the keyboard.

Circuit Hacking Monday

Last Monday was the last time I’ll be leading Circuit Hacking Monday at Noisebridge for several weeks.  It was lots of fun!  There were almost 40 people there, making TV-B-Gones, Trippy RGB Waves, Arduino clone kits, and other cool kits that I created to teach people how to make things with electronics.  Several people learned to solder for the first time!  Some people brought in their own cool projects to work on.  And some people brought in their old, broken electronics that are now working again, thanks to the helpful geeks at Noisebridge.

While I’m gone, Miloh will be leading Circuit Hacking Monday workshops.

Over the next several weeks I’ll be traveling the planet, giving talks and workshops everywhere I go:  Lisbon, Singapore, Berlin, NYC, Boston, and hopefully other places out East where I’ll be visiting (Philly, Baltimore, DC).

I’ll be gone till the beginning of February!

Noisekitchen Counter

Check out what BJ and Zedd did last night.


In addition to countless others who've thrown in random amounts of time into making this amazing little tile art over the past week, BJ and Zedd have thrown countless hours into this really neat thing. The diameter of the logo is about 70cm. Once Zedd gets done building the brick oven in the second bathroom we'll be ready for some giant pizza.