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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Old technologies are best
Old 06-22-2016   #1
Roger Hicks
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Old technologies are best

...especially when they fire spud pellets, as the Spudmatic Spud Gun does ( http://rogerandfrances.eu/toys/wham ). I found a cache of them recently from the 1960s or 70s and bought half a dozen. Who else had/has one?

Novelties are great when they work, but as Nassim Nicholas Taleb (one of the greatest thinkers of our time) points out in Fooled by Randomness, many don't: we are too heavily influenced by survivor bias: we tend to see (or remember) successes not failures. The Spudmatic was a great success, designed in the 50s or 60s and still in production today, albeit made in China instead of in the UK.

This is obviously a follow on from my previous wind up about the gramophone phonograph for American readers), http://rogerandfrances.eu/vide-greniers/wind-up which set me to thinking how many bits of old technology I really enjoy using.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 06-22-2016   #2
John Bragg
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Hi Roger, I had one in my youth. That exact model too ! Not limited to just potato as a staple ammunition either. I remember swede, (Turnip in Cornwall), being particularly effective.
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John
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Old 06-22-2016   #3
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bragg View Post
Hi Roger, I had one in my youth. That exact model too ! Not limited to just potato as a staple ammunition either. I remember swede, (Turnip in Cornwall), being particularly effective.
Cheers

John
Dear John,

No, turnip is the correct name. Calling 'un swede is only for them as can't talk proper, i.e. non-Cornishmen.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 06-22-2016   #4
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Pretty cool...
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Old 06-22-2016   #5
Fraser
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
...especially when they fire spud pellets, as the Spudmatic Spud Gun does ( http://rogerandfrances.eu/toys/wham ). I found a cache of them recently from the 1960s or 70s and bought half a dozen. Who else had/has one?

Novelties are great when they work, but as Nassim Nicholas Taleb (one of the greatest thinkers of our time) points out in Fooled by Randomness, many don't: we are too heavily influenced by survivor bias: we tend to see (or remember) successes not failures. The Spudmatic was a great success, designed in the 50s or 60s and still in production today, albeit made in China instead of in the UK.

This is obviously a follow on from my previous wind up about the gramophone phonograph for American readers), http://rogerandfrances.eu/vide-greniers/wind-up which set me to thinking how many bits of old technology I really enjoy using.

Cheers,

R.
I can still remember in the summer holidays me and my pals pistol in one pocket spud in the other.
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Old 06-22-2016   #6
greyelm
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I had one in the fifties and it still elicited the classic mum response of "be careful or you'll shoot your eye out", of course no one ever did.
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Old 06-22-2016   #7
Jack Conrad
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Ha. This brings to my mind this Zeiss Ikon Contarex Edsel I recently acquired.

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Old 06-22-2016   #8
AlexBG
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Mine is in my year 7 teacher's desk drawer. Never could bring myself to buy another one even though I see new ones here and there.
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Old 06-22-2016   #9
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The Lone Star variant that I had in Canada was modeled after a single-action revolver, not an automatic. One had to swing the cylinder out, pull out the single cartridge, load the front end with the spud bullet, and load the back end with circularly cut percussion caps.

With the entire assembly back in the cylinder, which is swung into position, the hammer has to be pulled back to cock the gun. Finally, the trigger pull sets off the charge in the cap, which releases propellant gases to drive out the spud bullet.

A rather tedious process indeed, and the spuds only gave the target a palpable sting when fired from short distances.
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Old 06-22-2016   #10
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I'm in the minority at this point...never had one, never seen one before...
We (I) had cap guns...most didn't work as advertised but on the occasion they did they were fun to have...most of the time you would unroll the paper caps and hit them with a rock...that was fun too...
Having something that would shoot a projectile...priceless...my whole childhood would be a different story today...
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Old 06-22-2016   #11
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The only Lone Star product I've had any experience with was their pioneering N gauge train. http://www.irwinsjournal.com/a1g/a1glocos/TrebleO.html

Interesting attempt, but rather too delicate and clumsy.
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Old 06-22-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Conrad View Post
Ha. This brings to my mind this Zeiss Ikon Contarex Edsel I recently acquired.

Edsel! Edsel! How can you say that, the Edsel was an outdated piece of design, an oversized lump of metal festooned with large protruberances and too much chrome...........oh, now I see your point. (Love the camera all the same)
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Old 06-22-2016   #13
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The toy from my childhood memory, that probably didn't work then either, was those gray plastic submarines that you put baking soda in and they were supposed to submerge and then surface by themselves. Came across a new reproduction and had to have it again.

Didn't work this time at all, even when I put some vinegar in the water to make sure the soda fizzed.
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Old 06-22-2016   #14
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Quote:
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The toy from my childhood memory, that probably didn't work then either, was those gray plastic submarines that you put baking soda in and they were supposed to submerge and then surface by themselves. Came across a new reproduction and had to have it again.

Didn't work this time at all, even when I put some vinegar in the water to make sure the soda fizzed.
That's because you need baking powder.
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Old 06-22-2016   #15
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We had red ones growing up, hours of endless fun. They also work with apples and any othe hard watery fruit or vegetable.
Now cap guns, the only ones that worked used the eight shot rotating cap 'magazine', the paper rolls never worked, except with a hammer - or as part of a ping pong ball smoke bomb
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Old 06-22-2016   #16
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My parents had a neighbor near their last house who's kids built propane powered spud launchers, increasing the distance with each new version, until they were up to 300 yards. Then the law came down on them pretty hard.

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Old 06-23-2016   #17
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Never had a spud gun. We used to make tennis ball cannons out of beer cans, though.

The best of old tech, metal ice cube trays. The twisty plastic ones might be more convenient, but are much less satisfying.

http://www.theebaylifeblog.com/wp-co...8/ice-tray.jpg
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Old 06-23-2016   #18
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Given the current discussion of tougher gun laws in the US after yet another mass shooting, children's toy guns seem quite odd, to put it mildly.
Obviously playing with them myself as a child it didn't do any harm to my character - at least I hope so.
I had a gun that was shooting little grey plastic pellets which were expensive to replace but dried peas worked just fine as well, just sort out the big ones, they would get stuck in the barrel
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Old 06-23-2016   #19
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Quote:
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I had one in the fifties and it still elicited the classic mum response of "be careful or you'll shoot your eye out", of course no one ever did.
Selection bias - the kids that shot their eyes out are unlikely to be spending much time on a photography forum.
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