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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
Whether you're in an airport, restaurant or waiting room, the insidious grip of televisions on human life is omnipresent. Sometimes it's nice to talk to other human beings while looking at them directly—actually hearing what they have to say.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Sputnik was the very first man-made object to be sent into space. Though it was a truly epic accomplishment, all this Soviet sky surfer actually did was transmit a constant beeping noise back to the surface.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The big fireworks day is almost here, but most of you are limited in what you can do when it comes to celebrating the 4th of July with a bang. Unless you live in a dry area prone to wildfires, one type of fireworks you can probably still legally buy are sparklers.
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.
In a previous project, I showed how to build an electrical Jacob's ladder using an old microwave oven transformer (MOT). In this project, I modified the secondary coil on the MOT, which converts it from a high voltage/low current device into a low voltage/high current metal melter!
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:
Nothing to do this summer? Then spark things up with a little baking soda and some vinegar and make a tiny, working rocket. Best of all—you probably already have most of the materials and ingredients lying around the house. What You'll Need
One of the coolest things about chemical reactions is that they can be so unexpected. I mean, who would think you can make water explode?
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.
For those of you who enjoyed the oogoo tutorial we did, this tutorial from instructables shows you how to make molds from 100% silicone gel for casting resin! I wonder if you could also cast other silicone shapes using a silicone mold...
We've all heard of the power that red wine holds. It can help lower risks of heart disease, boost your brain power, and can even recharge your car battery. But last year, a group of Japanese physicists made headlines when they announced that they could induce superconductivity by soaking metals in red wine. But why red wine?
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.
You're never too young to start building your vast swarm of robotic minions. Taking over the world requires a whole lot of robots. The sheer volume of robots needed means your first wave will have to be made of cheap materials. After they take over key resources, you can upgrade to Kevlar and titanium. But to start, let's make popsicle stick insect robots!
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.
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.
You knew that the food you eat gives you energy, but did you know it can actually power a thermal lance with enough heat to burn through steel? A thermal lance, as in, the tool used to demolish buildings and bridges.
I finally got around to trying out this jam jar jet project. The most successful and longest lasting pulse was somehow the only one I did not record. You can imagine how frustrating that probably was, though my tenth and final attempt was nearly as satisfying. But even the failures were fun to watch, especially the blue flame floating, almost dancing, around the jar. I especially liked the small foghorn sound that my first failed attempt produced.
3D printing has been around for a while, but until recently it was used mostly for prototyping and research. Now, with technological advancements, it seems like everyone is using 3D printers, from crime scene investigators to garage hobbyists and hackers. Below are some of the most innovative uses people have come up with so far.
Here are three awesome videos on whipping up lab quality instruments in your garage! Science is accessible!
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.
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.