My Dangerous DIY Projects In Poster Form

As the weather turned gray this fall, I decided that my workshop needed a bit of color and excitement. What it really needed was a colorful poster or two to liven things up. Because it was such a visible part of my workspace, I really wanted a wall poster that truly reflected what I was interested in.

Now personally, I like big, edgy, and highly kinetic science; where things go whoosh, boom, or splat. But I also wanted something that reflected the DIY part of me, the part that enjoys making interesting things. Why not combine the two?

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Get Medieval: How to Build a Metal Forge

Make a propane-powered forge in your garage and get your hammer and anvil ready

Forging steel is significant for several reasons. It's one of the oldest metal-forming operations in existence. Blacksmiths throughout history have (and continue to) forge steel to create things ranging from practical to beautiful and everywhere in between. Industrial processes often involve forging not only for the efficiency with which it forms metal, but also for the way in which it strengthens the part by aligning the grains in the steel along the lines of its shape. Did you know that you could be doing this same time-tested technique at home? Here is how I built my own propane forge.

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How I Converted My Mercedes-Benz To Run On Veggie Oil

Lessons learned from my conversion of a 1984 Mercedes into a grease-mobile

Without any sort of approval from my girlfriend, I bought a 1984 diesel Mercedes-Benz through eBay. Two years later, the vehicle has provided me with nearly 10,000 miles of service on waste vegetable oil (WVO). The fuel may technically be free, but it has not come without a price. Here's how I converted my car, affectionately known as "Chance," to a veggie-oil roadster, and some of the hard-learned lessons I picked up along the way.

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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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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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Now This is the Droid We're Looking For

PopSci reader Brian De Vitis's R2-D2 cooler, converted into the ultimate mobile gaming 'droid with eight consoles, a projector and a sound system

To get rid of the mess of wires from his many videogame consoles, PopSci reader Brian De Vitis decided to repurpose his R2-D2-shaped cooler. The engineering student modified its legs and repainted it to look more realistic. Then he stacked the motherboards from the eight consoles on shelves inside, added a sound system, and rearranged the inputs so he could plug in controllers from the outside. To watch all the gaming action, he added a projector in the rig’s dome, just like the real R2’s.

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How To Take Photos From the Edge of Space For $150

MIT students build a high-altitude, photo-snapping balloon using off-the-shelf components

Icarus Touches the Edge: A $150 view of space  1337arts
Scientists and students alike have previously launched low-budget balloons that rise to the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, snapping unbelievable photos from near-space. But MIT's Icarus team managed the same feat using only off-the-shelf items, and for a measly cost of $150. Here's how they did it.

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Green Dream Gallery: Breaking Ground

A few photos on site from the early stages of the build

Even though I spend most of my time thinking about geothermal heating systems and backyard solar plants for my green home, in the end, a house is a house; holes must be dug, foundations must be laid, steel delivered and erected, and so on. Here's a look at our progress in that less glamorous but wholly necessary department.

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Musical Typewriter Turns Your Essays Into Aural Masterpieces

Yamaha and Fabian Cappello teamed up to deliver this modified typewriter, which has each key wired to play a different musical note as you type. The end result is a sentence that also plays out as a melody.

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MIT Students Love iPhone-Powered Doors, Hate Actual Keys

Chris Varenhorst, the MIT engineering student responsible for this hydraulic-powered door that can be opened with the tap of an iPhone app or the rap of a secret knock sequence, says that after a long day of studying, he doesn't want to waste time messing with keys. We have a different theory.

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So We Put a Jet Turbine On Our ATV...

Meet the Whirl: the world’s first side-by-side ATV powered by a screaming 114 dB turbine

Don your Nomex firesuit and industrial-grade ear protection: It’s time to soak in some nature at 60mph. PopSci staff photographer/madman John Carnett has realized an unholy dream long in the making: an ATV powered entirely by a jet turbine.

And then he took it to the woods and pushed it to the limit; to the edge of logic, control and sanity.

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Converting an Old Bike Into An All-Electric Cruiser

Add an electric motor to your beater for pedal-free cycling

If you've ever wanted to strap yourself into one of those modern electric rides from Currie Technologies, now's your chance. A veritable smörgåsbord of surplus motors, gears, and controls is now available from All Electronics. Don't worry about this selection being a bunch of mismatched DIY surplus junk, either. All of these electric vehicle components are genuine Currie Technologies parts.

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Make Invisible Speakers By Sacrificing Six Books

Turn your boring library into one full of sounds!

Tired of speakers that stand out on your bookshelf? Solve the problem by sacrificing a few books to turn an old pair of speakers into some that will fit right in next to your copy of Upgrade Your Life.

We’ve shown you how to build your own speakers and what to do with old ones, but Instructables user Technochicken’s ingenious little guide turns six old books into a pair of invisible book speakers. And while the result may not produce the highest quality speakers you’ve ever heard, this clever DIY could be perfect for the right application.

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Stop! Who Goes There?

Detect motion with itty-bitty embedded PIR sensors

Would you like to reduce the size of your home security system? Like something on the order of magnitude of motion detectors that can fit on a postage stamp? These tiny rectangular sensors are actually powerful passive infrared (PIR) detectors that can be easily slipped into an area where their larger PIR brethren couldn't even dream of fitting.

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Resistance is NOT Futile

Make your own resistors with paper and pencil

Have you ever needed a low-value resistor for a low-voltage battery-powered circuit? Say, something in the range of 10-100 ohms? Finding this value of resistor can be difficult, if not impossible. In cases like this, you might be better off making your own resistor.

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