Neil's News

Portal Pumpkin

28 October 2010

[Portal Pumpkin Turret] [Portal Turret] Some of you may remember my 2002 and 2008 pumpkins. Simple and clean. This year I went a bit nuts. Behold, a robotic sentry turret from Portal -- in gourd form.

Perched precariously on its three legs, the turret automatically pans left and right and pitches up and down searching for targets. Inside is a small motor and a system of gears and cams to drive the gun mounts.

[Internal mechanism]
[Inside left view]
[Inside right view]

Construction was fun. Working on the mechanism within the pumpkin felt at times like building a ship in a bottle. A wet, slimy bottle. I can also confirm that the turret design is as impractical in real life as it looks in Portal, the guns have a limited field of view and the whole top-heavy contraption wants to tip over at the first opportunity. How the turrets deal with recoil from the gun I'll never know. This was clearly the work of a graphic designer, not an engineer.

The pumpkin turret will be on display at Google's Plymouth Café for the rest of the week. If anyone local wants to adopt it for the weekend (assuming it survives that long without tipping over and smashing), just let me know. Oh, and if you have no idea what this is all about, here's an introduction to Portal.

The Blue Angels performed over San Francisco once again on Fleet Week. This year they were much quieter. I'm not sure what the difference was; whether they were a bit higher, not using after burners, or if the atmosphere was simply different. In any event, I didn't hear a single car alarm go off during their routine. Unfortunately my ancient RDC-7 camera has a five second delay between click and shoot, so photographing the jets is somewhat challenging. But here is a photo which turned out nicely.

[Blue Angels over San Francisco]

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