Mikey Sklar

How to Give Your Car Its Very Own $300 Google Street View Photo Rig

Google is reported to have spent millions of dollars on its Street View project. Roy Ragsdale, a student at West Point, has done a pretty nice job of putting together a portable panorama camera setup that includes GPS and Google Earth file output for under $300, using exclusively open source tools.

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Best Tool for the Job: Cutting Rebar

The best tools for trimming one of the most versatile and affordable materials you can get

I love rebar. It's most often used in concrete as a reinforcement, but it has a ton of uses. I've made a fence, a shed, and my future dome home armatures all from rebar. And since it's often made locally from old cars, it's relatively planet-friendly, too, and not very expensive. A 20-foot-long, 3/8-inch thick stick normally costs me about $4. I've purchased more than three tons of the stuff from a metal plant near the El Paso border, about 100 miles from my home.

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Open Source Homeland Security: The $250 DIY Bedazzler Induces Nausea via LEDs

Can pulsing 36 high-powered LEDs invoke sea-sickness? Adafruit have put together a $250 non-lethal weapon modeled after a 1 million dollar government project. The source code, schematic, and circuit board files are available. Included is a helpful video describing how she learned about these weapons and tests her own unit out on her boyfriend.

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What Comes After Arduino?

Arduino is a great microncontroller package for entry-level electronics tinkerers, but once you've got your sea legs, cheaper DIY microcontrollers used to build anything from grow-lights to irrigation systems are what you might reach for next

Arduino Duemilanove:  Adafruit Industries
The Arduino platform is doing something amazing: bringing hardware development to the masses. It's a sweet little system, with a built-in hardware programmer, simplified programming language, and lively user base that offers plenty of sample code and assistance in the online forums. While this fully assembled solution is a good way to get your feet wet, there are a lot of good reasons to just buy an off-the-shelf processor, make your own circuit board and write in a low level language like C. It can be cheaper, quicker and easier to debug. Here, check out some of the projects I've made and how I pay for my hobby, as well as my hardware setup.

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Making Alcohol Making Easy

A collection of our favorite automated brewing and winemaking setups

The last time I tried making beer, we were up until 3AM standing in a kitchen that looked like tornado had struck. My last wine-making attempts ended in grape-flavored vinegar. Even PopSci staff photographer John Carnett (or rather, his wife) endured a wort explosion the first time he tested his prototype DIY all-in-one brewing machine. Clearly, adult-beverage-making benefits from precise control and automation. Check out a few of my favorite electronic brewing projects after the jump.

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How To Make Ferrofluid

Ferrofluid:  Andrew Magill
Ferrofluids are made up of tiny magnetic fragments of iron suspended in oil (often kerosene) with a surfactant to prevent clumping (usually oleic acid). The fluid is relatively easy to make at home yet extremely expensive to buy on-line. How does $165 a liter sound? Pretty bad, right? Read on to learn how to make ferrofluids on the cheap.

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Get More Life From Your Li-ions

A few DIY tricks and must-read resources for making your lithium-based laptop batteries last

I'm not sure what sparked my battery obsession. Perhaps it was the installation of 3,000 lbs of lead-acid batteries used to power my homestead. Shortly after that, I found myself zapping old Ni-CD based battery packs with a welder to bring the once-dead batteries back to life. Then I began repacking the cells of other household items, including my iRobot vac and my Macbook. Now I regularly visit a local auto supply, combing through batteries for signs of life. My office is littered with a hodge-podge of Ni-CD, lead-acid and lithium-based cells that are patiently awaiting repairs and a new purpose.

Here's what I've learned about keeping batteries in shape, and rehabbing old ones from the junk heap.

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