Solar panels are an amazing invention. Catching energy from the Sun before it even enters Earth's food chain, photovoltaics are like an all-natural nuclear power plant. Unfortunately, the constituted parts of a solar panel are rare, valuable, and subject to the coercive forces of market competition.
With the microwave oven transformer (M.O.T.) salvaged in a previous project, a simple electrical circuit can be rigged to get high voltage arcs to fly outward and upward along a "V" shaped spark gap.
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.
To make soap, you need fat, and if you've seen Fight Club, you're probably well aware of where soapmaker Tyler Durden got his fat from. Liposuction clinics. If you're not willing to go that far for a perfect bar of homemade soap, you can just use some drain cleaner and America's favorite food instead—bacon!
Here's how to make dry-ice at home, or wherever you feel like it! All you need is a pillow case, and a CO2 fire extinguisher.
Just about every household gadget we own runs on 1.5 volt batteries of one size or another. Wouldn't it be great if you could reuse all of those dead AA, AAA, and D batteries after they've passed on? It turns out you can make a simple circuit called a "Joule Thief" to reanimate the undead flesh of your deceased batteries and create a zombie battery.
When it comes to melee combat, two swords can definitely be better than one. Throw a stun gun on top of that and you've got a seriously terrifying weapon. That's exactly what YouTuber jonathanj9969 did with his homemade double-bladed stun sword.
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!
If you're the kind of person who frequently does science experiments at home, you probably have a hot plate. But if you're more of an occasional amateur scientist (or just don't want to buy one), it's much easier to hack your own.
Ever wonder how all of those tiny chips and components can fit inside your laptop or smartphone? If you tried to squeeze them in there yourself, your laptop would quickly become too heavy for your lap, and your mobile phone would need wheels to stay mobile.
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.
Have you ever wondered what sort of microscopic critters are floating around in your water? Well, you can find out with just a few bucks worth of materials and a laser pointer. Really. That's all it takes to build your very own homemade laser projection microscope, aka a water drop projector.
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.
Here's a technique I used to whip up a batch of super cheap and easy to make smoke flares! WARNING: Ignition of an incendiary or explosive material may not be legal in your area, so check local laws before attempting. Use of this video content is at your own risk.
There is something special about a secret knock. It gets you into secret super villain meetings and is a surefire way to test for rotating bookcase passages. Secret knocks usually work with an intimidating drug lord and for policeman listening at the door for the correct pattern of raps.
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.
Here are three awesome videos on whipping up lab quality instruments in your garage! Science is accessible!
You've made a bottle rocket (or ten) and a sparkler bomb, and now you want to put those empty plastic bottles to a new pyromaniacal use. With a little rubbing alcohol and a match, this video by io9's Esther Inglis-Arkell will show you how to make your own homemade rocket booster in a bottle.
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...
Maybe not water per-se, but with this simple technique you can turn one of the most abundant materials on earth into a highly explosive gas.
Spring has sprung, which means it's time to plant all those delicious vegetables and lucrative cash crops. If you are like me, every year you meticulously plan every aspect of your garden before dutifully neglecting it all summer. I decided enough was enough and built this simple automatic watering system.
Not many people fly kites anymore. Most of us don't have the patience or attention span because, let's face it, we're used to smartphones and other gadgets that have games and apps galore to entertain us. Heck, you can even fly a kite on them if you really want.
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.
There's no denying the coolness of an iPhone. But what if you pulled a homemade wooden cell phone out of your pocket instead? You'd probably be the talk of the town. If you like that idea, then make it a reality by building your own cell phone!
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.
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.
How To: Send Your Secret Spy Messages Wirelessly Through Light with This DIY Laser Audio Transmitter
Looking to transmit some super-secret audio communications to your other spy buddies? A laser is the perfect tool for getting your sounds heard from a small distance—without anyone intercepting them— even if it's just a cover of your favorite pop song. A laser audio transmitter uses light rather than radio waves to transmit sound. This is a much more secure way to send audio communications because the laser is a focused beam of light, whereas radio waves are not controlled, so they can be pic...
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.
What's the first thing you would do once you realized you were lost in, say, a desert? If you're like me, you would immediately pull out your cell phone and start dialing every number. But what if you have no service? What if your battery is dead?
I love robots. They have the potential to evolve into Asimovian destroyers of the human species, but have only just mastered the art of cleaning my rug. They have an ever increasing cool factor and a growing number of cheap and simple components that let the hobby roboticist reach for the burning miasmas of plasma. But to get to the stars, we need to start with the basics.
The guitar is a double-edged sword. I've played all my life, and though I love the act of guitar playing, there are quite a few people I could live with never hearing play again—ever.
This video is by Adrian McLaughlin, aka plasticraincoat1 on YouTube, who shows us one of the most magnificent examples of explosive polymerization ever. In the video, what appears to be about 1/2 tsp of p-nitroaniline (which is short for para-nitroaniline, which is also referred to as 4-nitroaniline) is treated with a few drops of concentrated sulfuric acid, in a ceramic dish, over a Bunsen burner flame.
Magnetic ink is generally used by the banking industry to allow computers to read information off of a check, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun with it. The guys over at openMaterials have figured out a great recipe for a DIY magnetic ink that you can use for an interesting art project—or just to mess around.
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.
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...
Omniscience is not required to make some really cool shit happen. Yes, it took a while, but we can make fuel from the Sun! Solar panels are basically our answer to God. And now that we can make solar electricity, finding the most efficient way to harvest it is tricky.
Recreating one of Will's mad science experiments, I made some potassium nitrate crystals. This was definitely the most fun part of my DIY smoke mix. I can't win the contest, but I'm just putting it up here for fun, since I liked the pictures so much.
Computer viruses are terrifying. They are undetectable, dangerous, and operate constantly right under your nose. For the average computer user, there are only a few repair options. You could buy expensive antivirus software that causes more problems than it fixes, you can wipe your hard drive clean and lose all of your important data, or if all else fails—just switch to Linux.
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.
Fool your friends, scare your cat, play a game while also admiring your physique! This "magic" mirror lets you do all that and more by letting you display words, pictures, videos, and even some games—all controllable through a mobile phone.