Hot Mad Science Posts

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...

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: 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: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

News: Freaking DIY Magma! Syracuse University Creates Recyclable Red-Hot Lava Flows

Believe it or not, it's possible to make your very own lava—if you have a furnace capable of heating up to 1,200 degrees Celsius, that is. Bob Wysocki and Jeff Karson started the Syracuse University Lava Project to study basaltic lava and give students a hands-on way (hypothetically, of course) to learn about it. Oh, and they also want to use it for art projects. Sign me up for that class! It all starts with 1.1 billion-year-old basalt gravel, which apparently anyone can buy. They put the gra...

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.

How To: Find Hidden Blood Splatter Stains on Your Walls with This Infrared Photography Hack

I'm sorry to say, but Dexter Morgan hasn't thought of everything. Just because he's the best blood splatter analyst in the Miami metro area, doesn't mean he can't be taught a thing or two about blood. In fact, I'm sure this is something he'd be glad to know. Spotting a bloodstain is pretty easy at a crime scene, especially when there was no attempt to cover it up. When the scene has been wiped clean, there are still ways for forensic investigators to detect washed away blood, like using a rea...

News: This Real-Life, Working WALL-E Robot Is Absolutely Perfect (And Built Entirely from Scratch)

Want to build your own life-sized, working replica of WALL-E? Be prepared to take on a second job! Mike Senna spent two years perfecting his own version, working 25 hours a week and totaling somewhere around 3,800 hours for the whole project. He had no blueprints to go by, so he spent a lot of time watching the movie over and over to get everything just right. The video below shows some of the construction; skip to about the one minute mark to see WALL-E in action.

How To: Make Super Fizzy Carbonated Beverages at Home with Dry Ice

Want to make your own soda or maybe just bring a dull one back to life? Homemade sodas don't always live up to the store bought ones because they can taste flat by comparison. This quick and easy method makes super fizzy drinks with only four ingredients. Because putting dry ice in a sealed bottle would effectively turn it into a bomb, you'll need to make a safety valve for the bottle.

How To: Make Surface-Mount Electronics at Home for Smaller, Cheaper DIY Gadgets

Whenever we make a homemade circuit, we use what are called through-hole components. Any components with long metal leads is a through-hole component. They are great for soldering to, but it's tough to fit enough through-hole resistors and capacitors into a smartphone. To get those last microns, we have surface-mount components for SMDs (surface-mount devices). These are all of those teeny, tiny things you see when you crack open your digital camera or laptop case.

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