Who needs brakes? When you're converting a junk-stuffed shopping cart into an electric joy-ride-mobile, they're the last thing you worry about. MIT undergrad Charles Guan's LOLriokart—the name is a mash-up of Web and videogame-speak—grew out of his membership in the MIT Electronics Society, a student engineering club. With no plans to build a vehicle, he looked around the club's shop and spotted the shopping cart, some discarded wheels and an electric engine normally used in high-performance golf carts.
I love rebar. It's most often used in concrete as a reinforcement, but it has a ton of uses. I've made a fence, a shed, and my future dome home armatures all from rebar. And since it's often made locally from old cars, it's relatively planet-friendly, too, and not very expensive. A 20-foot-long, 3/8-inch thick stick normally costs me about $4. I've purchased more than three tons of the stuff from a metal plant near the El Paso border, about 100 miles from my home.
Without any sort of approval from my girlfriend, I bought a 1984 diesel Mercedes-Benz through eBay. Two years later, the vehicle has provided me with nearly 10,000 miles of service on waste vegetable oil (WVO). The fuel may technically be free, but it has not come without a price. Here's how I converted my car, affectionately known as "Chance," to a veggie-oil roadster, and some of the hard-learned lessons I picked up along the way.
Can pulsing 36 high-powered LEDs invoke sea-sickness? Adafruit have put together a $250 non-lethal weapon modeled after a 1 million dollar government project. The source code, schematic, and circuit board files are available. Included is a helpful video describing how she learned about these weapons and tests her own unit out on her boyfriend.
Arduino is a great microncontroller package for entry-level electronics tinkerers, but once you've got your sea legs, cheaper DIY microcontrollers used to build anything from grow-lights to irrigation systems are what you might reach for next
The Arduino platform is doing something amazing: bringing hardware development to the masses. It's a sweet little system, with a built-in hardware programmer, simplified programming language, and lively user base that offers plenty of sample code and assistance in the online forums. While this fully assembled solution is a good way to get your feet wet, there are a lot of good reasons to just buy an off-the-shelf processor, make your own circuit board and write in a low level language like C. It can be cheaper, quicker and easier to debug. Here, check out some of the projects I've made and how I pay for my hobby, as well as my hardware setup.
We recently installed the panel roof system over the kitchen area and hit the first of our inevitable early-adopter glitches. The roof panels are 11 inches thick and much heavier than the wall panels, as they have much more embedded steel to carry both my green roof and the snow load here in upstate New York. The things are dense and required a serious effort for two to carry around. Even with all that beefiness, the engineer asked me to put a horizontal steel beam through the middle of the room for added support. The panels were supposed to meet at the beam and fit seamlessly together. The key words there: supposed to. Read on for the reality.
The last time I tried making beer, we were up until 3AM standing in a kitchen that looked like tornado had struck. My last wine-making attempts ended in grape-flavored vinegar. Even PopSci staff photographer John Carnett (or rather, his wife) endured a wort explosion the first time he tested his prototype DIY all-in-one brewing machine. Clearly, adult-beverage-making benefits from precise control and automation. Check out a few of my favorite electronic brewing projects after the jump.
Ferrofluids are made up of tiny magnetic fragments of iron suspended in oil (often kerosene) with a surfactant to prevent clumping (usually oleic acid). The fluid is relatively easy to make at home yet extremely expensive to buy on-line. How does $165 a liter sound? Pretty bad, right? Read on to learn how to make ferrofluids on the cheap.
To get rid of the mess of wires from his many videogame consoles, PopSci reader Brian De Vitis decided to repurpose his R2-D2-shaped cooler. The engineering student modified its legs and repainted it to look more realistic. Then he stacked the motherboards from the eight consoles on shelves inside, added a sound system, and rearranged the inputs so he could plug in controllers from the outside. To watch all the gaming action, he added a projector in the rig's dome, just like the real R2's.
Almost four years ago I swapped out my fancy lad IT job in New York City for a 100 percent DIY lifestyle in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The only problem was that I didn't have any building skills. Fortunately, I came across an advertisement for Smartflix: A DVD-rental service sorta like Netflix except all the videos are how-tos. The library covers everything from how to silkscreen a t-shirt to building energy efficient homes. At only $10 per disc rental (a few are more) and over 6,200 titles this service saved my DIY life. Follow the jump to check out my favorite titles.