Mad Science Features

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.

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.

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.

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.

Force Lightning: How to Make a Shocking Cookie Jar Any Sith Lord Would Be Proud Of

There is nothing more annoying than a greedy roommate. It's absolutely infuriating to wake up and find the cookies your mother just made for you gone without a trace. Your favorite drink is empty and the homemade meal you worked so hard on the night before is nowhere to be found. This irked me so much that I made this shocking cookie jar. When a cookie burglar touches the side and the lid of the jar simultaneously, a small electric shock stops them in their tracks.

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...

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.

DIY Scientists Beware: When NOT to Use Household Chemicals for Your Projects

The only thing better than successfully pulling off a new experiment is doing it with household materials. You get to laugh in conceit as professional scientists everywhere spend all their grant money on the same project you just accomplished with some under-the-sink chemicals! However, there are times when DIY gets dangerous. Some household chemicals are not pure enough to use and some are just pure dangerous. Let's take a look at two problems I have encountered in the course of mad sciencing.

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: DIY Flanagan Neurophone Lets You 'Hear' Sounds Through Your Skin

In 1958, Patrick Flanagan invented the Neurophone, a device patented in 1962 that allows radio signals to be picked up by the human nervous system. The skin is the organ that receives the signal, converting it into a modulated molecular vibration, which the brain interprets into sound. Basically, it gives one the ability to 'hear' through the skin, making it sound like the audio you're hearing is actually in your head. It's kind of like having headphones in your brain. The only problem was th...

How To: Want Detailed Flight Data for Your Backyard Rocket? Use Your iPhone

Rockets will always be cool no matter what age you are, and building your own rocket is even better. If you have an iPhone that you aren't afraid to blast off into the sky, then you can try and build your own iPhone Rocket to record and analyze flight data, like Byte Works did. The list of parts is a little hefty, but their blog provides you with all of the information you need to make sure you have everything. The most important thing you need is the sensor tag, so that you can record the am...

News: This Levitating Light Bulb Defies Gravity (And Ditches Unsightly Power Cords)

Helping to prove that science is way awesome, an 18-year old electrical engineering student has successfully made a light bulb float. His name is Chris Rieger, and he's been working on his "LevLight" project for about six months now, with pretty amazing results. This feat of ingenuity was accomplished by using magnetic levitation, although that over-simplification masks how considerably difficult this undertaking was.

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...