If you're like me, you were always jealous of the kids with rich parents who got to ride around in their own Power Wheels cars. Now that I am tall enough to sell my body and time, I find myself attaining childhood dreams like buying my own Power Wheels car. I would not have chosen the Barbie Jeep given the choice, but 40 bucks on Craigslist is an amazing deal.
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.
Fans of Doctor Who know that the sonic screwdriver is the ultimate tool. It can unlock doors, turn on lights, detect life forms, solder wires, and sabotage weapons.
Since the invention of the mechanical clock, enclosure of the commons, and proletarianization of labor, the alarm clock has been the bane of our existence. While not actually evil, it does represent the constant and uncompromising glare of our owners shaking a patronizing finger at us, telling us to get to work so they can use our labor to grant themselves bonuses.
I have an absolutely wonderful time making projects and writing articles for all of you mad scientists! Today, I will bring you behind the scenes for a look at the workbench, tools, and software that make the Mad Science World possible.
Creating any object you want is as simple as point and click if you have a 3D printer at home. If you don't have one handy, there are a few companies that offer printing services online. But to help services realize your design in extruded plastic, you have to make a 3D computer model for the printing machine. For beginners, the free Google SketchUp application is the best choice of software. Using only a few tool bar buttons and a scroll wheel computer mouse, you can model literally any obje...
Making your own circuit boards can be a daunting challenge. You have to design a schematic, test it on a breadboard, design the board layout, and then after all of that, you still have to print and etch a board!
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.
Graffiti is a great way of getting your message out to the masses. The earliest known graffiti dates back to 30,000 years ago and used the traditional apply-paint-to-wall technique. Though our paint now comes in cans and not from scavenged berries, the actual graffiti process hasn't really evolved from those first cave paintings.
I love making my own printed circuit boards. It really gives a professional look to a finished project, and having all the design files means I can whip up another batch whenever I need to. However, when I need to make, say, three thousand swarmbots or fill an order for a dozen PCBs, the traditional etching process can slow down the operation to a crawl.
Homemade circuits are amazing. You can build any kind of circuit on a simple perfboard, as we have seen in previous projects. However, some projects require very tiny circuit boards. We could special order some boards from a printed circuit board (PCB) factory, but that will most likely involve a high price per board and a few thousand miles of delivery service to pay for.
Hobby rockets are tons of fun. Vicarious astronaut adventures abound with every launch. What if you want to be closer to the action though? What if you want to feel what it's like to be in a rocket at takeoff? With the discovery of tiny keychain cameras, we have technology small and cheap enough to fit inside a model rocket!
I think it's fair to say that every maker yearns for a 3D printer. You can replace circuit board connectors, fix your glasses, create ski grips, and make whole machines out of printed plastic parts—even a 3D printer. But without a 3D printer on hand, you can always resort to Sugru.
Home chemistry is great, but what happens when you forget to label your chemicals? How do you know if you turned a clear glass of ammonia into a clear glass of unobtainium? Chemists have a tool for just that.
As some of you Mad Science readers will remember, we recently covered the separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. Passing a current through water can rend it apart, but we can also recombine that oxygen and hydrogen to make electricity! This is the principle behind those vehicles run by hydrogen fuel cell engines.
When I was attending college, my friends had a phantom thief in their dormitory. Almost every night, a different item of food would go missing, never to be seen again. There was constant speculation as to whom the thief was and how to catch them. Security cameras were deemed too invasive, but none could think of another method of surveillance... until today.
Bikes are a great form of transportation. They use human energy more efficiently than any other machine. You can keep it in your closet or hallway. You can even take it on the train in a pinch. However, this portability is also the bike's biggest draw back. If you own a bike in the city, chances are it will be stolen. Locks barely deter thieves armed with bolt cutters and crowbars. Throw the bike thieves for a loop and make a tilt-sensitive alarm. It will hopefully startle your bike's assaila...
House plants are a refreshing reminder of the rich biosphere teaming with life just outside of our hermetically sealed human dens. They calm us and clean our air. But what would you do if you came across a glowing green flower on your dinner table? I would be startled, but not shaken.
It turns out that the popularity of soft circuit electronics has leaked out of the interwebs and into the hands of the U.S. military. Soft circuit electronics allow you to literally sew electronics circuits into fabric using flexible conductive thread instead of wire. Soft circuits can be used for all sorts of fun projects, like the TV-B-Gone Hoodie and the Heartbeat Headband.
Rockets are lots of fun when you are launching them. However, finding them can be an arduous if not maddening task. Fancy space rockets have lots of tracking equipment to make touchdowns as simple as pie. Today, we look at embedding LEDs into your hobby rocket for easy night flight fun!
Since the rise of private property and industrial production, modern capitalism has been on a undeniable crash course with Mother Nature. It's no so much that we'll end up murdering the entire planet, but just that the planet will quietly smother us with a pillow of famine, heat, cold and hurricanes. We over-farm land and replace the nutrients in the soil with oil. To package our oil-based produce, we wrap them in synthetic oil-based plastics, soon to be discarded in a trash heap or ocean.
If you've ever been inside of a real laboratory, you probably noticed how expensive the equipment is. You'd never be able to afford even just one of those ultra high-tech machines required to splice genes or split atoms. Even the lesser machines can be prohibitively costly, including a stir plate.
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...
Science-fiction writer Jules Verne predicted many scientific breakthroughs, including the moon landing, tasers, and nuclear submarines. In his 1874 book The Mysterious Island, Verne writes:
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.
Around the world, X-People (yes... there are X-Women, too) are under attack from an intolerant sapiencentric ruling class. Integration without equality is a farce. Autonomy is denied outright. Human prejudice cannot abide a mutant state. Human fear, born to hate, imposes itself on the life of every mutant.
The agents of empire do not always arrive with warning. When you are besieged, surrounded, and infiltrated, imagination is often your best weapon against the oppressors. If all you have at hand is some duct tape and a disposable camera, fear not, you have the makings of a powerful taser!