Mad Science Features

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: 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

How To: Create Practically Anything, Part 2: 3D Models in SketchUp

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...

Robot Basics: Using an H Bridge to Move Your Bot Backwards

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.

Contest: Spud Gun

Well here it is, this is an older pic but it still works, the only change from this pic and the current cannon is that I have put some duct tape around the PVC bonds and am planing on spray painting it. The compression chamber is over a foot and a half long at 2" diameter PVC to push the spud or what ever you can out the cannon. The barrel is a little more than a foot long. This was originaly a prototype with all 1" PVC pipe but I cut it all off and attached a few PVC sizers and made the barr...

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: 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...

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: Are Your Gadgets Safe from Solar Storms and Nuclear Attacks?

It's September 1st, 1859, and the Earth looks more or less like something out of an apocalyptic movie or Sci-Fi novel. All communications have failed, it's so bright outside at midnight that people are getting up and making breakfast, and people all over the world are seeing auroras. The solar storm that produced the electromagnetic pulse and caused all this mayhem is known as the Carrington Event, and storms like it happen about about once every century.