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Charge your devices simply by plugging them into your Radius backpack

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Charging your devices on the go could be as easy as putting them in your backpack. Dutch designer Pauline van Dongen has conceptualized and created a new pack that incorporates minuscule solar power beads, simplifying the recharging of smartphones tablets and other devices using the energy of the sun and a built-in cable. Called the Radius backpack, this handy bag features a strap that incorporates the solar-powered charging technology.

The harvested energy is then sent through the charging cable, where it subsequently re-juices whatever you choose to plug in. “From afar, [the strap] appears to blend with the knit of the top lid. But a closer look reveals how light breaks on a beaded surface,” van Dongen told Dezeen. “This magical material holds secret powers: each bead is a tiny spherical solar cell that is woven into the fabric, creating a unique energy harvesting textile.” A single piece of fabric was used in the construction of the rest of the bag, making it quite the aesthetic marvel.

The material in question is a double-layered jersey fabric, created by using different yarns and “data-driven knitting machines.” The material is patterned through and through with ridged lines and dots to give the bag more texture, and is in fact made using specialty yarns that claim to create various dimensions. But it’s not all just for show — these varying dimensions claim to give way to extra padding on the backside and shoulder straps of the Radius, optimizing comfort levels for the wearer. “Radius is constructed out of a single continuous knitted piece and tailored to explorers on a short escape,” van Dongen noted. “Specialty yarns, such as expansion yarns are mixed with high shrinking effects.

This creates a variety of densities and give an additional structure and form to the engineered patterns. By utilizing the double jersey machine the material smoothly combines single layer fabric with double layer fabric.” This isn’t the first time that the Dutch designer has brought together solar charging technology and fabric; in 2013, she created a capsule collection that featured solar-powered panels under cleverly-placed flaps to turn clothing into a portable phone charger.

It’s unclear if you can buy the Radius backpack, and if you can, how much it’ll cost.

But it’s certainly an interesting concept that, fingers crossed, could one day go mainstream.

Editors’ Recommendations

Schiit’s tiny gizmo breaks a cardinal audiophile rule – CNET

The Schiit Loki equalizer.

Lee Shelly

Tone controls and equalizers went out of fashion in the 1980s, and I’ve missed them ever since. Audiophiles in their search for ever greater sonic purity saw any deviation from “flat” frequency response heresy, but that’s not always my goal, so I was thrilled to check out Schiit’s Loki four-band equalizer. This ultra-compact component is priced at just £149, GBP140 or AU£299, and is the best audio “SB© toy” I’ve played with in ages.

Loki is a tiny thing, just 5 by 3.5 by 1.25 inches (12.7 by 8.9 by 3.18 centimeters), with four knobs squeezed onto its front panel. The knobs from left to right control 20- and 400-Hertz, 2- and 8-kHz, and the toggle switch on the front right engages the equalization in the up position, and bypasses the EQ in the down position. With the knobs set to their 12 o’clock positions they are “flat.” So it’s easy to switch between flat and equalized sound.

The 20 Hz and 8 kHz knobs have +/- 12 dB of adjustment range; the 400 Hz and 2 kHz knobs have +/- 6 dB of adjustment. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze to get my fingers in there to turn the center two knobs. Loki is a fully analog device you hook up between a source — such as a phono preamp, digital converter, radio or preamp — and your receiver, integrated amp, headphone amp or power amp.

Loki is a fully discrete, all-bipolar, symmetrical current-feedback design with no capacitors in the signal path. The rear panel has stereo RCA inputs and outputs. Loki is made in the US, and it’s sold with a 2-year warranty.

Audiophiles’ disdain for tone controls and equalizers notwithstanding, virtually every commercial recording you’ve ever heard was equalized during its mixing and mastering stages, so a little fiddling on your part might make sense. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings to learn what EQ can do to the sound of your speakers, headphones and best of all, your music. For example, those nasty and harsh latest recordings from Arcade Fire and the National were tamed by just nudging the 2- and 8-kHz controls down a bit.

The 400 Hz and 2 kHz controls can be used to bring vocals forward or lower them in the sound mix. You can have a ball just experimenting with all four controls and learn how they change the sound of your speakers, headphones and music.

I found Loki particularly useful with headphones, where for example I could bump up the deep bass to add weight to the sound, and tame brightness by shelving down 8 kHz. While a lot of audiophiles are biased against EQ or tone controls, most don’t actually have ears-on experience with a great sounding EQ like the Loki.

I hope Schiit incorporates the Loki design into a future preamp, but as it stands Loki is pretty darn cool, I really enjoyed using it.

Gene, one of my old audio buddies bought a Loki a few months ago, and he absolutely loves it.

Try it, you might like it.

The Rogue Packraft rolls up to the size of a roll of paper towels

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Packrafting allows you to go farther in the outdoors than you’ve ever gone before. It’s a sport that can be paired with bicycling, hiking, skiing, and other activities — if you can imagine it, you can do it. That’s because packrafts are easy to transport due to their small packed size and relatively light weight. Kokopelli has been designing packrafts for the past five years, and the Rogue Packraft is their latest addition.

The Rogue weighs just 5 pounds and rolls up to the size of a roll of paper towels — so you can take it with you anywhere the trail might lead. The Rogue series encompasses the standard Rogue and the Rogue-Lite. The Rogue is designed for performance and durability while the Rogue-Lite is for the minimalist at heart, boasting the smallest size and lightest packed weight.

The Rogue measures 90 inches in length and tips the scales at 7.5 pounds, including a seat and a backband. The Rogue-Lite measures 85 inches in length and weighs in at just under 5 pounds, including the seat. Both products are constructed with a Kevlar- reinforced floor and feature V-tape reinforcement.

There is double reinforced seam tape on the outside seam, ensuring the packraft will remain afloat even through the harshest of rapids and during contact with sharp rocks or other debris. Both products include the diamond ripstop seat but the kayak style backband is unique to the standard Rogue. The Rogue and the Rogue-Lite include a leafield D7 valve for inflation.

The best part? No pump is required — the Rogue series includes a nifty inflation bag. While the delivery of crowdfunded products is not guaranteed, you can pledge £725 for the Rogue-Lite or £800 for the Rogue on Kokopelli’s Kickstarter campaign page.

Both pledges include the packraft, inflatable seat, inflation bag, and repair kit. The Rogue includes a kayak backband. The company stresses that specs are estimates based on prototyping and design and that actual weight may vary plus or minus two ounces based on final material specifications.

Buyers should proceed at their own risk, even though the campaign has met its original funding goal. Find out more about crowdfunding projects.

Editors’ Recommendations

Sling your suds in style with this DIY beer caddy made from a pallet

If you’re just getting into woodworking, this pallet wood beer carrier is a fantastic project to cut your teeth on. In addition to having a rugged look, it’s sized to accept all sizes of bottles and cans, from old-school shorties up to 22-ouncers, and even wine bottles. It’s also dead simple to put together, and can easily be completed in a few hours.

You’ll only need the most basic tools for this project, though there’s just one specialized piece of gear we recommend: a Forstner drill bit or a hole saw. These will help you make the holes for the dowel, though you can use almost any kind of saw to cut out the pieces (we recommend a jigsaw). In the end, it all goes together with a hammer and nails.

Despite the simple tools, materials, and techniques (or maybe because of them), the end result looks awesome. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step breakdown of how to build one yourself. Along the way, you’ll learn some cool techniques, like using one part to trace another, and making bridle joints: the simple interlocking notches that connect the parts of the interior grid.

Your jigsaw is the big star here, as it can cut make every cut needed in this entire project — even the tight notches in the grid. Here’s everything you’ll need:

Tools and Materials

Pro tip: Replace your all-purpose jigsaw blades with blades designed for smooth cuts in wood, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Step-by-step instructions

Cut out one end and use it to trace the other

  1. Square up the board for the ends of the caddy. We used a miter saw to get a square cut on both ends of this 3/4-in.-thick board, so we could get both ends of the tote from this one board.

    A jigsaw or handsaw would also work well here.

  2. Lay out one of the ends. Mark the width (6-3/8 in.) all the way down the board, measuring over from its straightest edge. Then mark where the top ends, 13 inches from the end of the board.

    Now measure down 1-1/4 inches from the top and place your compass point there, centered on the width of the workpiece. Set the compass to mark the dowel hole, then set it to 1-1/4 inches to mark the parallel arc at the top. To finish the layout, draw in the angled edges of the ends.

    The angles start 7-1/2 inches from the bottom, and connect to the arc at the top.

  3. Drill the hole for the handle. Clamp the board onto a piece of waste wood, which will prevent splintering on the back side of the hole while you drill through. Then use a big bit to make a hole that matches your dowel diameter.

    A cheap spade bit will work here, but we went with a more specialized Forstner bit because it makes a smoother cut.

  4. Cut out this end piece. With the hole drilled, cut out the entire end piece. You are cutting the extra width off the board here, as well as the angles and the curve near the top.

    Two handsaws (backsaw and coping saw) will do the job, as will a bandsaw — but a jigsaw is arguably the cheapest, most effective option.

  5. Sand it smooth. Use 80-grit paper, backed with a wood or rubber block, and smooth the curves and angles for a clean, finished look.
  6. Trace one end onto the other. To lay out the second end of the caddy, just trace the first one onto the other end of your board.

    Be sure to trace the hole too. Then just drill, saw, and sand this end like the first.

Cut the side slats and handle, then assemble the caddy

  1. Cut the other parts to length. The side slats, bottom slats, and dowel are all 11-3/8 in. long, which makes things easy.

    A jigsaw or handsaw will make all of these cuts, but feel free to use bigger power tools if you have them. For each of these parts, cut one end square before measuring and cutting the other end to length. Be aware that the side slats need to be trimmed down to 2 in. wide, and at least one of the bottom slats needs to be cut narrower as well.

    This is another instance where a jigsaw or handsaw would work just fine.

  2. Start the assembly process with the round handle. Put the dowel in place in the holes you drilled into the end panels of the caddy, and drive the 16-gauge panel nails into it to hold the dowel in place. Be sure to drill 1/16 in. pilot holes first, so the wood doesn’t split (pallet wood is notoriously prone to cracking).
  3. Nail on the side panel boards next.

    Once again, drill 1/16-in. pilot holes first, which will help keep the nails on track and keep the wood from splitting.

  4. Now attach the bottom slats. The bottom slats are nailed on the same way.
Build the divider grid and drop it in

Note: You can simplify this project by leaving out the divider grid, but we don’t recommend it. The snazzy gridwork serves an important function: it keeps bottles and cans from banging around, especially when the caddy isn’t full, and it adds an overall feeling of quality.

  1. Cut the parts to size and knock off the corners.

    The thin slats are already cut to the right width, so cut them all to length now and make a 45-degree cut on the upper corners. These little chamfers look nice along the sides of the caddy where the dividers show. Again, almost any saw will do here.

  2. Lay out the joints.

    Start by laying out one side of each notch. Then use another slat to lay out the other side of each notch, lining it up with the first layout line and tracing the second along the other side with a sharp pencil. That way, you can be sure the slots will be the right size.

  3. Cut the notches.

    The jigsaw (or a bandsaw) works great here. Saw along each side of the notch — using a jigsaw blade designed for wood — and then nibble away the waste and square off the end of the notch. Lastly, try to fit the mating piece into the notch you just cut.

    If it’s too tight, take tiny slices off the sides of the notch.

  4. Assembly is simple. Try the assembly first without glue to be sure it comes together properly and will drop into the caddy afterward (If it won’t, you might need to cut some of the slats just a hair shorter). It’s all right to tap on the parts with a hammer and a protective piece of wood to get them to slide home, but if you need to bang on them, you have more work to do with the jigsaw.

    To finish, add some yellow glue to the little mating surfaces before sliding the pieces together for the last time.

  5. Drop in the grid and admire your handiwork. The grid just drops into the bottom of the box, where it will happily sit and do its job. Now drop in some cold bottles and cans and grab that Instagram pic.
Important measurements (for reference)

  • Ends of caddy: pallet wood, 3/4 in. thick by 6-3/8 in. wide by 13 in. high.
  • Side slats: pallet wood, 3/8 to 1/2 in. thick by 2 in. wide by 11-3/8 in. long
  • Bottom slats: pallet wood, 3/8 to 1/2 in. thick by 6-3/8 in. wide total by 11-3/8 in. long
  • Dowel hole: 1-1/8 in. dia., centered 1-1/4 in. from the top.

    Feel free to use a 1-in.-dia. dowel if a 1-in. drill bit is easier to find.

  • Radius of top curve is 1-1/4 in.
  • Angles start at 7-1/2 in. mark and connect to arc at the top.
  • Interior divider grid: oak slats from home center, 1/4 in. thick by 3-1/2 in. wide
  • Center slat is 9-3/4 in. long
  • Cross slats are 6-1/4 in. long
  • End spacing, 3-1/6 in.
  • Middle spacing, 3-1/8 in.
  • Joinery notches are 1/4 in. wide by 1-7/8 in. tall.
Bonus tip: The easy way to harvest pallet boards

When you lock horns with your first wood pallet, your inclination will likely be to start pulling nails and harvesting whole boards. Good luck with that. Aiming for strength at all costs, pallet-makers often use ring-shank nails that are very tough to pull out.

We’ve heard tell of pallets joined with staples, making the boards a cinch to remove, but we haven’t found one of those unicorns yet. There are a few ways to defeat the nails (just ask Google), but none are fun, and you’re likely to split or damage as many boards as you save. If you can avoid pulling nails or pounding boards loose from the back side, we say do it.

Our favorite way to harvest pallet wood is the simplest: Just run a circular saw along the top of the slats, as close as possible to the frame pieces below, and the slats will drop free.

You end up with pretty short pieces, but for projects like this one, those are fine.

The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise.

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