At-Home Experiments – WIF Mad Science

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– Mad Scientist –

Experiments

You Can Do at Home

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For any of you who grew up watching the Back to the Future series, Dexter’s Lab, or anything that showcased zany inventions, then you probably love the idea of mad science. Experiments and projects that look really cool, and provide a lot of fun and awe factor, but may not necessarily be something with a lot of practical value. Below are several cool projects that will make you feel like Doc Brown himself.

While these types of projects can be a lot of fun, and a great way to learn new things, some of them can still pose some small dangers. Always exercise caution, especially when working with electricity or tools of any kind.

10. Make Your Own Miniature Tesla Coil

Tesla himself has basically become an internet celebrity, partly because of a Tesla revival movement, but also because the internet tends to appreciate a good showman. The inventor of the Tesla coil knew what he had created, and used it constantly to wow crowds to help increase his funding.

You can make your own smaller version to wow your friends and wow yourself. Using a capacitor, a small lightbulb, some wire and a few other parts, you will be showing everyone what a science genius you are in no time. You can check out the video above for a full tutorial.

9. Make A Sweet Potato Gun For Cheap

Potato guns are a somewhat controversial project — for those who aren’t aware, a potato gun doesn’t shoot whole potatoes, just little chunks from them. They are hardly truly dangerous for the most part, but some people have abused this childhood “weapon,” and gotten it banned in certain localities. However, the truth is that both when building them or trying to use them, the dangers generally come when trying to build an incredibly large pneumatic potato gun.

This is unnecessarily dangerous, especially for what should just be a fun project. In the video above, there is a tutorial from youtube for how to build a small potato gun using an empty spray bottle and a few other fairly common items.

8. Hack A Nerf Gun To Make It Way More Awesome

Most of us remember Nerf guns from our childhoods. They were incredibly cool, decked out in bright colors that excited the children of the time period, and often had all kinds of cool features. Some could shoot in multiple directions, some had secret hidden attachments and so on — they were the epitome of cool. However, the one thing we all wished was that they shot a bit farther and a bit harder.

It’s not like they would have hurt if they hit harder. They were soft foam and rubber, designed to be absurdly safe. However, the manufacturers made sure that the guns would be incredibly lawsuit and fun safe, and kept the pressure on them quite low. Some have found with some tinkering though, that the pressure can actually be increased. In the video a modder takes a nerf gun apart, and shows how to remove the installed inhibitor device that keeps it from shooting as far as it truly has the potential to. With just a little work, you can unleash the true power of the Nerf.

7. Build Your Own Drone For Whatever Fun Purposes You Wish

When most people think of drones, they think of gigantic remote controlled airplanes with bombs that shoot enemies in the Middle East. However, drones are becoming increasingly common, both commercially and as a hobby, and most of them are quite small. The average hobby drone involves a small body with some parts salvaged from old fans, enough electronic equipment to control it remotely, and usually a mounted camera as well.

In the video above, you can see a full tutorial that many hobbyists have found useful. While it takes a little bit of work, the parts are fairly easy to acquire, and the build is within reach for someone without much experience. Alternatively, if you are feeling really cheap, perhaps you could try strapping a GoPro to an RC helicopter.

6. Construct Your Own Theremin At Home

The Theremin is pretty much the musical instrument for mad scientists, and a must have if you want to have both the coolest and nerdiest way to make music possible. For those who aren’t familiar with them, a theremin is an instrument where you essentially move your hands through a magnetic field to make very otherworldly sounding notes. There are not many people who can play a Theremin well, but those who do provide some amazingly haunting sounding melodies.

And now, you can too, without paying huge amounts to buy a large sized Theremin you may never fully take advantage of. With the help of the YouTube tutorial above, you will be well on your way to making your own theremin. An amplifier, and a power supply are going to be some of the biggest ticket supplies you will need, and even those can be acquired for fairly cheap if you aren’t trying to be picky about sound quality.

5. Make Your Remote Controlled Robot Out Of Cheap Materials

Pretty much everyone wants their own robot. Especially those who want to impress their friends, or their enemies, with their knowledge of insane science. While a truly autonomous robot isn’t that practical and requires extremely complex programming, a remote controlled minion can still be very impressive and requires much less effort.

In the video above, you can see a tutorial on how to build a remote controlled robot that can even walk on uneven paths, and looks quite cool doing so. This robot was built with incredibly cheap and easy to use parts, such as styrofoam, glue, small pieces of crafting wood, and a small motor and battery. Most of it is incredibly easy to acquire and safe to work with. Using the same basic principles, you could easily modify the look a bit to make it feel more like your own personal robot minion.

4. Make Your Own Plasma At Home And Impress Your Friends

If you have ever seen a plasma globe, you have probably wanted to own one at least as a passing thought, and many of you probably have splurged on one at one point or another. Plasma globes are extremely cool, especially the way you can move your fingers across the globe to make it dance around inside. For those of you love science projects, making your own plasma globe is actually quite easy — although it won’t be quite as big or impressive as the commercial ones.

In the video above, you can see the full tutorial, but the parts you need will be minimal. A spark coil, a spring, an incandescent lightbulb and a capacitor. You will also need electrical tape, and you will want to read up first on safety precautions for working on electricity if you aren’t already familiar, to ensure that you stay properly grounded, just in case.

3. Make Your Own Solar Powered Radio Using Recycled Materials

For those of you who have ever went camping for a while, you may have brought along a solar powered radio. They can also be incredibly useful if the power goes out, and they often have lights built into them so you can see in an emergency as well. However, if you like to tinker, you can also take your own old radio, then salvage a solar panel from something else and put together your own solar powered radio.

In the video above, you can see an example of how the project can be completed. However, keep in mind that you really don’t need to buy your own solar panel from a manufacturer, as than can be expensive. There are many different, easy to acquire objects, that you could salvage solar panels from. And, if you are feeling really adventurous, you could always make your own solar panels.

2. You Can Build A Segway At Home For A Fraction Of The Price

Many people are familiar with the Segway, a device that was incredibly popular about a decade ago, and was more recently feature in the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop. For those of the latest generation, a Segway is sort of like those recent hoverboards — the ones that don’t hover — except it has a giant handle on it to make standing long term easier. The segway goes for an asking price of several thousand dollars, and while the recent “hoverboards” are fairly cheap, they have been known to be fire hazards, and generally made as toys for smaller people, and aren’t high quality.

Using the video tutorial below, which also has a link to the original instructable, you can build your own full Segway, with all the power of a real one, for a fraction of the price — just a few hundred dollars. You can learn and get practice in several new skills, and the project is designed to be approachable even if you don’t have prior experience in any of them. If you want a hoverboard, you can just leave off the handle, and feel safer knowing yours is probably less likely to catch on fire abruptly.

1. You Can Do All Kinds Of Fun Experiments With Non-Newtonian Fluids

Making a non-newtonian fluid is really easy to do at home, perfectly safe, and incredibly fun to play with. Non-newtonian fluids are fluids that act differently under stress, and not just due to changes in temperature. One example of this is ketchup, which acts like a solid in the bottle when upside down, until you apply force to change its viscosity. For those who want to experiment with the properties, the best way is to use a mixture of two parts cornstarch to one part water.

Experimenting with it will show very strange results. When hit, it will act like a solid in that particular spot, even while the rest will ripple. If you pick it up and apply force you can form it into a ball, but if you release the force it will turn back into a liquid and drip through your fingers. With a large enough pool of it, you can basically walk across it and when it is put on top of speakers, it moves around like a strange alien being dancing to the music.


At-Home Experiments

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– WIF Mad Science

Drones – The View from Above

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Drones –

Life in a Remote Control World

With the FAA still figuring out how to speed-up the process of incorporating commercial drones safely into U.S airspace, European authorities have realized thepotential and possibilities for growth in both the economic and technology sectors.

It might also be an exciting time for those business owners who have already tried using drones towards fresh and innovative marketing ideas, or even a boost in productivity, only to be kept back by current restrictions.

With Google already working on ways to track UAV’s safely beyond the FAA’s ‘line of sight’ rule, it’s obviously just a matter of time as unmanned aerial systems for commercial use have created a slight buzz over the last few years, but it will prove to be much more than that …

10. Farming

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Even Old McDonald knows that optimization is the key to running a successful farm, as an ever growing world population will require future agriculture to maximize gain from a minimum amount of input. “High-throughput plant phenotyping” (HTPP) revolves around a combination of technologies where scientists use aerial data to determine the health and identify problem spots within a crop field.

Previously, helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft could be used to spot differences in the colour of crops and diseased areas not always seen from ground level, but at great cost.  The combination of software and infrared capability, standard on almost all high-end commercial drones nowadays, will allow any farmer to utilize these crucial scientific methods on a regular, cost effective basis and implement the necessary procedures before crop diseases has time to spread.

Farmers will be able to manage resources and expenses like pesticides more accurately, eliminating overuse and keeping their negative environmental effects to a minimum.

9. Real Estate Marketing

 

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Some real estate agents have already started using drone photography and video footage, but removed it due to uncertainty and possible legal issues. Marketing homes and properties in ways that has not yet been seen created a slightenthusiasm across the country with real estate marketers.

Houses located closer together might be an issue, like in Washington or in forested areas for instance, but those will not be a real estate agent’s only clients. With the FAA easing up on regulations for the use of commercial drones in the next few years, realtors will welcome a change that will most likely lead to agents’ using drone footage more often, maybe even permanently.

The real estate marketing business is booming. Client demands, pressure from competitors, or just being able to show-off scenic views around a clients home in a creative way, is guaranteed to cause major changes in the industry.

8. Motion Pictures

 

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The action packed motorcycle chase over rooftops in the Bond film “Skyfall” was shot in Istanbul with a UAS. Of course their function in the U.S. motion pictureindustry could become invaluable, after FAA regulators gives the final word.

As Hollywood has also been battling for years to use drones, its no real surprise that the first legal use for a UAV has only been recently, marking an era where filmmakers could be allowed more chances for experimenting with clever camera angles and shots that were previously not possible with a helicopter.

Drones suddenly open up all kinds of opportunities for smaller film companies to acquire aerial footage more easily and filming of various other cinematography productions in the U.S., creating economic growth and more jobs. It is all-good and simply means that once drone-use is permanently established in the industry, filmmakers will be wondering: why has it taken so long?

7. Photography

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With wedding photographers across the country describing it as an “arms race,” almost half of their potential clients now inquire about capturing aerial drone footage during ceremonies, sometimes inside the church.

Other wedding photographers risk serious penalties trying to sneak their way around FAA-regulations, but it all just points towards how big the dronewedding industry could possible become, once more permissive structures are put into place.

Nature photographers have taken spectacular aerial shots of meandering rivers and glowing green forests from a fix-wing or rotor aircraft before, so it’s nothing new, but the profound effect that some nature photographers have experienced while using drones can only be described as revolutionary.

From the usual 1,000 feet with a helicopter and telephoto lens to 100 feet with super wide-angle lens, the sudden change in perspective and elevation from a drone, now creates more intimacy and allows for views never seen before.

6. Humanitarian Logistics

 

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Recent disasters like Hurricane Sandy have compelled the American Red Cross and other major logistical companies to study, evaluate and predict performance of unmanned aerial systems during times of crises.

Research and input from various other organisations also show the substantial benefit that drones could provide, especially to first responders and those emergency services operating in difficult terrain, after a disaster has occurred.

The ability to deliver small packages of lifesaving antibiotics, or vital surgical components to remote areas without risking further loss of life, makes it hard for aviation authorities around the world to ignore. Once certain bans and restrictions are lifted, the advancement of commercial drone technology will most likely spill over into these areas, making it an obvious future tool for humanitarian aid

5. Construction

 

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With some of the biggest projects in Europe already using them for aerial surveying, drones are starting to form a vital component in the way construction companies plan, build and improve on major projects.

The future of construction will mainly focus on energy resourcing, conservation and efficiency as images and aerial data obtained from scanning sites is then relayed to teams during the building process. Together with software, the data provides thermal images and offers builders with different ways to improving and optimizing areas towards maximum energy efficiency.

The use of drones during massive construction projects is offering an increased level of accuracy that is sure to be implemented on a permanent basis once local construction companies make aviation regulators in the U.S. aware of this.

4. Anti-Poaching

 

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The war between poaching syndicates and wildlife conservationists are very real, with the price of rhino horn now standing at US$60,000 per-kilogram, bloody battles are fought on a daily basis.

Rhinos have been around for 50 million years. Unfortunately the current rate of decline due to continued ignorance, this magnificent animal will be no more in less than 20 years.

Since 2013, drones have been used to catch poachers, but considering some parks in Africa are the size of New Jersey, the role and value of UAV’s towards the future of conservation becomes apparent. Recent upgrades to drone software, algorithmsand technology, combined with analytics and data, forms a type of system that tries to predict, thru patterns, where poachers might attempt to strike next.

Conservationists have in fact been using drones to outsmart poachers and achieve a measure of success, due to constant maneuvering and correct placement of anti-poaching patrols. The understanding, advancement and full support from local government institutions toward the use of drones will be critical in curbing the rampant slaughter of all endangered species.

3. Deliveries

 

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A restaurant chain in Singapore has already started experimenting with drone waiters, leaving staff free to improve customer service in general. After testing and approval of cheap transmitters in the next few years, drones will be able to operate beyond the aviation authorities’ “line of sight” rule, making the future for deliveries by a unmanned aerial system limitless.

Research and development by Amazon focuses on perfecting the algorithms and software that will keep a drone flying in the event of signal loss and also deals withavoiding birds, trees, buildings, thrown rocks, kites, bullets, other drones, profanity and anything else the human race will be hurling at it coming D-day.

With Amazon intent on using a section of airspace between 200 and 500 feet, it seems logical that other companies would also be focusing on the same corridor, while maintaining a maximum standard of safety, especially over populated areas. Taking delivery vehicles off the road would also do well towards easing congestion, pollution from vehicle emissions and people in general wanting to beat each other up due to road rage.

2. Storm Chasing

 

An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft like the one shown is currently flying non-military mapping missions over South, Central America and the Caribbean at the request of partner nations in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bobbi Zapka)

Predicting extreme weather conditions like tornadoes, hurricanes and tropical storms have always been a major challenge for scientists. The best they are able to manage is 20 minutes, which leaves almost no chance of safely evacuating a relatively populated area or town.

Some scientists believe that UAS and drones could access certain areas in the lower atmosphere that was previously inaccessible, leading to an increase in warning-times from threats like tornadoes and hurricanes by 40 minutes.

Thru the years, universities and researchers have looked at the idea of using drones for gathering storm data, but serious commitment only happened in 2010, when NASA flew its Global Hawk drone over a tropical storm for the first time.

Tornadoes have claimed the lives of many researchers thru the years. Future advancements in commercial drone design and power will enable storm-chasing scientists to gather crucial data from a much safer distance.

1. Search-and-Rescue

 

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People with Alzheimer’s and autism have been known to walk away from their homes, only to be found hours later and a few miles away. Organisations like Project Lifesaver also aid families by tracking registered persons with a cognitive condition, but these searches could sometimes take up an enormous amount of time, cost and resources from local authorities and emergency services.

Drone design in the coming few years will make them more compact and versatile, able to be deployed by first responders, or by the family member of someone with a cognitive condition, once more permissive laws are in place.

With UAV’s already saving countless lives around the world in search-and-rescue efforts, even regular drone-hobbyists are now establishing the value of the technology after assisting authorities in numerous cases of missing persons. By incorporating UAS with helicopters during routine exercises, search-and-rescue teams have also found cost effective ways of extending their search areas by well over 5 miles, making the future-use of more than one drone for search-and-rescue purposes, obviously.

1b. Guilt-free Bombing

When the United States entered the Global War on Terror, U.S. military officials found difficulty in fighting irregular warfare. The U.S. military turned to Harlan Ullman and James Wade’s Shock and Awe doctrine, which states “the most efficient way of fighting asymmetric threats in irregular warfare is to conduct fast and destructive operations in order to incapacitate the enemy”

MQ-1 Predator UAVs armed with Hellfire missiles have been used by the U.S. as platforms for hitting ground targets. Armed Predators were first used in late 2001 from bases in Pakistan and Uzbekistan, mostly aimed at assassinating high profile individuals (terrorist leaders, etc.) inside Afghanistan. Since then, there have been many reported cases of such attacks taking place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The advantage of using an unmanned vehicle rather than a manned aircraft in such cases is to avoid a diplomatic embarrassment should the aircraft be shot down and the pilots captured, since the bombings take place in countries deemed friendly and without the official permission of those countries.

The “unmanned” aspect of UAVs has raised moral concerns. Some believe that the asymmetry of fighting humans with machines that are controlled from a safe distance lacks integrity and honor that was once valued during warfare. Others feel that if such technology is available, then there is a moral duty to employ it in order to save as many lives as possible.

Drones –

 

The View from Above