The set of 5 "Yo-Yo Physics" zines by Don Watson. They are dated between 200 and 2001. The topics of each book is listed on the front. They say" "Radius of Gyration, monograph I in a series", "The sleeping Yo-Yo, Monograph II", "Mechanics of Gyroscopics, Monograph IV", and "Yo-yo RPM, Monograph V"

Don Watson’s “Yo-Yo Physics” Zines

One of my most cherished possessions is my collection of “Yo-Yo Physics: An Engineer’s Notebook” books by Don “Captain Yo” Watson. Don is often cited as the creator of the modern yo-yo. His rim-weighted design changed the game with the Silver Bullet, then again with the Silver Bullet 2 when he created one of the first ball-bearing yo-yos.

Captain Yo at 2008 California State Yo-Yo Championship
photo by Amy Snyder, 2008 for the Exploratorium

Don is a charming fellow, often seen wearing a bolo tie and cowboy hat. I seem to remember Don having a curly handle bar mustache when I met him at the 2000 National Yo-Yo Contest, but my mind could be playing tricks on me.

Don was a retired engineer before he got into yo-yoing, but it’s clear that he never fully retired. He applied his love of math and physics to yo-yos to create radical new yo-yo designs along with Dr. Tom Kuhn, founder of Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos. Later, he started documenting what he learned in a series of engineer’s notebooks called Yo-Yo Physics. Each of these handwritten notebooks covered a different yo-yo topic, like the Radius of Gyration or Yo-Yo RPM, and explained them using complicated diagrams and mathematical formulations.

The hand-drawn art and fun details really clicked with me because I had been making and collecting zines for many years. So these yo-yo books fit nicely with the punk rock, cooking, DIY, and personal story zines in my collection.

Don isn’t selling these books anymore, but you can download pdfs of the series here (or here). You can also read this Make article about Don here.






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