Hot Mad Science Posts

How To: Create a PCB Etchant That Automatically Improves After Each Use

Etching your own circuit boards is tons of fun, but etching requires strong chemicals to dissolve the copper plating on blank circuit boards. The normal ferric chloride solution works well, but can be expensive and leaves permanent stains. Luckily, we can whip up our own etchant at home with everyday chemicals! Better yet, our new etchant will turn an eerie green color rather than the dull brown of ferric chloride.

How To: Design Your Own Custom Arduino Board Microcontroller

Microcontrollers are great. You can do anything from water your garden to catch wildlife trash diggers in the act—and on the cheap. I prefer to use the Arduino microcontroller because of the large and helpful community built around the website. Though it is my favorite, there are some drawbacks to using an Arduino board in every project. It gets expensive, the board can take up too much space, and the rat's nest of breadboard wires are a pain to repair.

DIY Blacksmithing: Forge Your Own Steel at Home!

Metal is a great material to work with. It's rigid, tough, malleable and conductive, but sometimes the part we need doesn't exist in any store. In order to create custom pieces, you need to either melt the metal and cast it in a mold, or heat it until it's soft enough to shape with your hammer. Properly melting metals can be a bit dangerous in our home shop, but we can make a coffee can forge for all of our home blacksmithing needs.

How To: Build a Long Range Laser Spy System for Eavesdropping on Your Neighbors

Eavesdropping from a distance can be tricky because it usually requires some sort of bug or transmitter. It's easy to transmit audio through lasers, but you can also use lasers to build a microphone that picks up audio from a distance. LucidScience built the Laser Spy System for about $20. To make your own, you'll need a cheap laser pointer, an NPN phototransistor, a headphone amp, and a few other small pieces listed below. A light-to-sound circuit is installed in a small plastic box with the...

How To: Build Your Own Mini Altoids Guitar Amp for About $5

I love making beeps and bloops with the Arduino pitches library, but sometimes archaic 8-bit tunes just don't cut it. Whether you want your robot to terrify your enemies with a demonic synthetic voice, you just need a pocket boom box on the go, or you want to a miniature guitar amp, a simple LM386 amplifier can crank up those signals loud enough to play through any speaker.

How To: Make a Simple Fog Machine to Prank Your Roommates

Like theme music, I always feel that I need more fog in my life. Fog can be useful for many reasons—warding off smaller siblings from your bedroom, keeping curious hands out of your cupboard, and tricking your friends into thinking there's something horribly wrong with their vehicle. So, today we'll be making a very simple fog machine for small scale applications.

How To: Wildlife Photography with a DIY Motion-Triggered Camera

Even if you live in a big city, chances are you have some wild raccoons or foxes that cannot abide a vertical trash barrel. While apparently omnipresent, these phantasmic critters usually vanish in the night leaving only a shameless trail of refuse you never wanted to see ever again. While I haven't found a way to stop them, I can help you snap some photos of the dastardly creatures.

How To: Build a Bomb-Defusing Robot Tank for the Revolution

War leaves a lot of stuff behind. Torn families, delegitimized institutions, mass graves, and unexploded ordinances litter the post occupation landscape. Whether or not you have driven the imperialist out, or are still in the phase of armed resistance, you will need the ability to safely diffuse bombs. My bomb defusing Silvia-bot can do it all. She can catch grasshoppers, cut wires, collect samples, tase enemies and even play chess! Materials

News: This Giant Glass Globe Turns Moon and Sunlight into Power—Possibly Even Solar Death Rays!

André Broessel of rawlemon has developed a solar energy generator that can use both sun and moonlight to create usable power. Oh... and it's gorgeous. The device is essentially a huge glass sphere filled with water that uses a ball lens to refract light in a way that increases energy efficiency by 35 percent. It's completely weatherproof and has an optical tracking device, meaning that it can be incorporated into architecture. Here's a concept design of how it could be used to power buildings...

Spice Rack Explosives: How to Make Gunpowder with Salt and Sugar

The best chemistry experiments are those you can perform with items already laying around your house. With only some sugar, salt substitute and an instant cold pack, you can make your very own gunpowder! Being able to make homemade gunpowder without a trip to the store can be a lifesaver, no matter if it's just for testing out a Civil War-era musket, blowing up stubborn tree stumps, or preparing for battle when imperialists overrun your country.

How To: Make These Sonic Distance Sensors for the Bad Driver in Your Life

Today's fancy cars come with all sorts of options, from power mirrors to working seat belts. Some of us condemned to live in the reality of capitalist recession have no car, or perhaps a very modest one. But your modest car can still have some cutting edge technology wedged into the trunk and dashboard if you know what you want and where to look for parts. Today, we make a parking sensor using a sonic range finder, just like in the vehicles our owners drive!

News: This DIY Mini Tesla Coil Packs 380,000 Volts of Lightning

At one point in time, Tesla coils were actually used for things like wireless telegraphy and electrotherapy, but as technology advanced, they shifted to a slightly more enjoyable purpose—entertainment. What's even more entertaining than using a Tesla coil? Building your own. One of the best portable Tesla coils out there is this mini acrylic version by Daniel Eindhoven, aka TeslaCommander. It's made almost entirely of acrylic plastic, minus the steel sphere, and copper wire and tubing. When t...

Fire Texting: How to Write Secret Messages with Fire

Writing secret notes with lemon juice was one of my favorite pastimes as a child. All it took was a small flame to lightly scorch the paper and reveal the hidden message. Now that I'm tall and pay bills, lemon ink just isn't exciting enough anymore. Luckily, we can use another kind of invisible ink to write in fire! By using the saltpeter, we can whip up invisible fire ink in no time.

Get Into the Kit Business: How to Build and Sell Your Own Arduino Shields

The DIY industry is booming, despite the desperate blackmailing of society by finance capitalists. Companies like Adafruit and Makerbot are grossing well over a million dollars a year, and Evil Mad Science Laboratories just recently dedicated themselves to running a full-time kit business. Making kits is fun, but starting a business can be scary. If you already enjoy making gadgets and want to take the plunge into selling your own kits online, this article is for you.

The Sweet Smell of Success: DIY Smoke Mix with Sugar and Potassium Nitrate

I finally got around to trying out another one of Will's mad science experiments and found out that this one was actually more satisfying (and less frustrating) than my slightly uncooperative jar jet. There's something very pleasing about making potassium nitrate at home in the kitchen and then watching the transformation from semitransparent liquid to spiky, frozen crystals. That was the best part for me, second only to igniting it with its sugar companion.

Glass Cutters Are for Tools: How to Dissolve Glass Using Sodium Hydroxide

Glass is one of the least reactive substances known to chemistry. It is the standard container material for almost all lab chemicals because it's so inert. But there are a couple of substances that have strong reactions with glass. Sodium hydroxide, aka solid drain cleaner or lye, can easily be stored in glass as a solid, but when molten, it reacts violently with glass and can actually dissolve it away! So, the next time you clog up your drains with broken glass beakers and flasks, rest assur...

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