Our Very First “Lyle Chat”

Every Saturday, Lyle and I hop in the car and I drive him to Parkour. It’s a wonderful time for us to catch up, tell jokes, ask questions, tell stories, explore ideas. This Saturday, I put up a camera to capture some of the fun. My job as a Dad is to be there for the kids, and to listen. I know I’m totally biased, and it’s entirely possible – likely, even – that this video isn’t much more than a glorified home movie. But, I thought I’d put up this “Lyle Chat” just the same, and ask your opinion.

Lyle Chats are where most of the CoasterDad ideas and experiments come from. As you know, I pretty much do what my kids want, and I try to guide, encourage, protect along the way.

In today’s Lyle Chat, Lyle and I are talking about a possible trip Atlanta where I may finally get to meet a childhood Champion of mine, and while we’re at it, visit Six Flags Over Georgia.

You also may notice that this video is the first time we’ve shared Lyle’s Periodic Table of Roller Coasters. As you may know, Lyle is no stranger to The Elements.  So, when he adapted the periodic table to better explain the world of roller coasters, you can bet he did an amazing job.  Each coaster in the table is there for a reason, and is organized in a way that would make Dmitri Mendeleev himself proud.

We’ll have a lot more talk about the table in the next few days, and we might even put it on a t-shirt! Wouldn’t that be cool!

Stay tuned, and come back often, because we’ve got some really cool stuff coming down the pike. Our next experiment is guaranteed to amaze and delight you. I look forward to knowing what you think of our first Lyle Chat. Hopefully, you’ll find it as engaging and fun as I do!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Love?

HAPPY NEWS! We’re Back Online!

Please subscribe anyway, though. Ok? :)

Well we did it! We’ve managed to crash the website with our enthusiasm for physics family and fun!

But that’s okay. I’m perfectly happy to sacrifice a few web servers for the cause. While we’re getting things sorted out, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. That way I can let you know when the site is back up and we can share all sorts of awesome cool fun and exciting educational and awesome things with all of you. Thank you so much for watching thank you for being here and thank you for helping me bring physics family and fun to kids everywhere

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Learning From Steel Cart Crash

Ohhhh Noooo! Everything was going along so well. The track was going up fast and beautiful, Jeff, Abraham, and I were in high spirits as we ran the new cart down the new track during our first test. Then, it happened! It was time for us to switch from being super pleased with ourselves into a slightly less comfortable, but ultimately more productive mode: Namely, Learning From Roller Coaster Cart Crash mode!

We ran the new cart down the track three times. The first and second times, things seemed to go well. The third time, as they say, was the charm. But only if you define the word “charm” as metal-on-metal-crash-with-cart-filp-and-disappointment. Yep. Charming, alright!

Cart Test Crash - Ouch!This was the first time Abraham and Jeff had seen me destroy a roller coaster cart. Truth be told, I’ve done it a hundred times. It’s important to have more than one roller coaster cart crash when you’re designing and building roller coaster carts. That’s how we learn. For me, the process goes like this. Think, Dream, Draw, Build, Think, Dream, Draw, Rebuild, Test, Break, Fix, Rebuild, Rethink, Dream, Redraw, Test, Destroy, Rebuild, and so on. There’s no shame in failure….

Especially if you’ve got POV Video of your most spectacular failures :)

From our pile of slightly twisted metal will come a new design, a rebuilt cart, and a far more stable wheel assembly. All told, it was a great couple of days!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Steel Wheel Assembly With Multi-Axis Steering

Here is the latest test of the new Steel Wheel Assembly, which I’ve taken to calling The Steel Wheels. I’m also using the term Multi-Axis Steering to describe how the design is coming together. For this design, both the front and back axles will steer on their respective longitudinal axes. This means that if you were to extend an imaginary line from the axle towards the inside of the turn, both sets of wheels will always run perpendicular to the center of whatever curve they’re traveling through. This reduces friction as well as load on the track and the cart, allowing the cart to make better use of its potential and kinetic energy.

The other part of the Multi-Axis Steering system is where the design allows each axle to rotate independently on the longitudinal axis of the cart. That means when the track starts to bank one way or another, the front wheels will bank independently from the back wheels. The same goes for the back wheels. This is a great improvement over the original cart, which only had longitudinal steering in front. Watching the new design negotiate banks and turns shows an amazing difference.

Now, I know that Multi-Axis Steering isn’t exactly groundbreaking technology.  What’s exciting about this particular application is the fact that every bit of this system, except the skateboard wheels and bearings, was built from scratch. So, there’s no shortage of satisfaction as this project continues.

Stay tuned! Next up, we’ll show you how we’re solving the problem of low-cost, high-efficiency lift segments in backyard roller coasters!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Knott’s Berry Farm Review – Here’s What’s Best

Did you know that Walter Knott invented the boysenberry? Well, he did. He spliced together raspberry, blackberry, dewberry, and loganberry plants, and came up with boysenberries. He’s also said to have invented the American Theme Park, although another Walter might disagree. Today, all the berry products I found were made by another berry-related company founded by one Jerome Smucker. The true sweetness at Knott’s Berry Farm today springs from steel and wood coasters.

Lyle and I officially began the CoasterDad Project SoCal Park Tour today. Lyle made sure we were first in line, and had the whole park map committed to memory. We didn’t waste a minute. By lunchtime, we had ridden just about every coaster in the park. Then, to be sure, we rode them all again.

Here are Lyles Ride Rankings for Knott’s Berry Farm, starting with his faves:

1. Xcelletator

2. Silver Bullet

3. Pony Express

4. Ghost Rider

5. Screaming Swing

6. Sierra Sidewinder

7. Boomerang

7. Coast Rider

8. Jaguar

We also rode Timber Mountain Log Ride, and Bigfoot Rapids. But, Lyle is purist. Those are not coasters or, in his view, thrill rides. They are wonderful good fun, though. Montezooma’s Revenge was closed, although Lyle felt sure it would have made the top five.

Knott’s Berry Farm is beautifully themed and impressively clean. The staff are friendly, approachable, and dressed in costumes to match the whole vibe. All told, I’d say Walter Knott made the right call leaving the berry business to Smuckers.

See you tomorrow, when we bring you our Magic Mountain Review!

 

 

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick Two! The Truth About Steel

Why build things with steel? Let me count the ways! As we continue our exploration of backyard roller coaster construction and enjoyment, exciting lessons abound. Said differently, we’ve all got a lot to learn. The whole good-fast-cheap-pick-two idea isn’t new. I first learned this at a printing shop in San Rafael, California.

Yes. Once upon a time, people had to travel to businesses just to get things printed in color. Imagine the inconvenience and hardship. But, I digress…

Anyway, there was a sign which read, “Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick Two.” It was hilarious, and expressed one of life’s rigidly unflinching truths. We can’t have it all. If you want it good and fast, it’s not going to be cheap. If you want it fast and you don’t have a lot to spend, it’s not going to be very good. And finally, if you want it to be good and you still don’t have a lot to pay, you’re going to have to wait a while.

This lesson applies to backyard roller coasters in a big way. For most of us, we don’t have big budgets to make our projects come true. So, we work to find affordable materials like lumber and PVC for tracks, and usually, backyard roller coaster carts are made of wood. For Abraham’s project, we stepped it up a bit, building the cart with welded steel. It’s super strong and smooth, and it’ll be lighter than a wood cart. In other words, it’ll be Good. I’ve done a bit of scrounging for materials, and I borrowed a high quality welding machine in order to control costs. So, we can also check the “Cheap” box on our list. This means, however, that it’s taking a little time to get it done.
Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick two.

The video accompanying this article shows a bit of how it’s designed and hopefully gives some insight into the thinking that went into creating the wheel assembly. What I’ve found more than anything else is that it’s incredibly hard to resist the urge to start over with some new improvement that occurs halfway through the project. I’ve already come up with at least ten refinements we’ll incorporate into the next cart design.

Thanks for visiting The CoasterDad Project, and for helping us to share the joys of Physics, Family, and Fun! Please be sure to Share this article on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Meg Rides The Caution Zone!

We had a very special guest visit the CoasterDad Compound! Our friend Meg came by with her dad, George, and we got to spend a little time riding our backyard roller coaster, The Caution Zone.

Thanks, Meg! It was great meeting you. Keep on watching our videos. We’ll let you know when we’re done with Abraham’s coaster. Maybe you can come ride it, too!

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Tree House Roller Coaster Is Taking Shape

Boy, oh boy! The tree house roller coaster station is going up, up, up over at Abraham’s house while I’m back at the shop welding the steel cart. A couple of really cool things are going on this week with our tree house roller coaster project, and every one of them is a first!

Jeff, Hunter, Victor, Rob and I spent several days this week doing the hard part. Digging, sawing, carrying, mixing, hammering and generally working our fingers to the bone to keep Abraham’s tree house roller coaster project on track. It’s been super hard work, and super good fun. Rob is a great carpenter and craftsman, and we’re lucky to have his help with all this.

Meanwhile, back at the shop, I’m design-building our first ever steel roller coaster cart. Working with steel is exciting and fun. The main difference between woodworking and steel work is that you can unscrew two pieces of wood. Unwelding, however, isn’t really a thing. So, measure thrice, weld once! And yes, I learned that the hard way.

In other news, we got noticed and liked and tweeted about this week by the nice folks at Edutopia! It’s an amazing honor to be recognized by one of the most forward-thinking educational organizations on Earth. I’d like to personally invite their founder, George Lucas, to come ride Abraham’s Tree House Roller Coaster when it’s finished.

The CoasterDad Project is getting all kinds of props from all kinds of people, and I can’t thank them enough. Please be sure to Tweet, Like & Share this post and the CoasterDad Project Videos.

See you soon!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Abraham’s Backyard Roller Coaster – Part 1

The word is getting around about CoasterDad! In fact, Jeff has asked us to build a backyard roller coaster for his son Abraham! What an incredible opportunity for us, and for our growing group of supporters, and especially for Abraham, his family, and his neighbors!

The backyard at Abrahams house is just perfect for a “Terrain Coaster!” That means, we’ll put the coaster station in a tree house, and after the launch, the track will stay pretty close to the ground. This is made possible because the backyard has quite a few elevation changes. So, the whole thing will be super strong, which means it can be super fast, and super fun!

The first day we met with Abraham and his parents, we did quite a lot of math! That’s right! Math! We worked with Abraham to figure out all the parts and pieces he would need to build his backyard roller coaster. How many screws, how much lumber, how much pipe to make the rails, and so on. The thing about math is this. If there’s something awesome happening after the math problems, they’re not such big problems after all. Abraham knows that figuring out these numbers will get him that much closer to the best backyard ever!

Lyle and Abraham walked the backyard and talked about where the track should go, and what would be different and new about Abraham’s backyard roller coaster. We’ll be using stiffer, stronger pipe for the rails, and we’ll be making the cart out of metal instead of wood, and it will be more aerodynamic. This will make the cart lighter, which means it will be able to go faster and more smoothly. That is super exciting!

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project. And, if you’d like to support science education for kids, please check out and donate to The CoasterDad Project on indiegogo. Click here to learn more about that: http://igg.me/at/coasterdad/x/6558240

Thanks for visiting CoasterDad.com. We build backyard roller coasters to support and promote Physcis, Family, and Fun!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone