Rowan Birch

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Coins Become a Canvas for This Intricate Carver

Next time you have a pocket full of loose change, take a few moments to inspect your coins. You may be holding onto a work of art.<p>Shaun Hughes engraves coins with intricate and beautiful designs. This process of altering a coin with a new look isn’t exactly novel — people have been doing it for as …

Laser Cut a Dymaxion Globe for an Accurate View of the World

I was playing around with map projections one day and became a tad smitten with Buckminster Fuller’s “Dymaxion” Projection. It’s able to unwrap a spherical map of the Earth onto a flat plane with surprisingly little distortion. The flat Dymaxion map can then be divided up into triangles and folded …

The 5 Best VPNs for Protecting Your Online Privacy

Now is the time to get a VPN & start protecting yourself.<p>In an age where internet privacy is far from guaranteed, there's never been a better time for a VPN subscription. Use this guide to compare our best VPN offerings and find the one that's right for you.

5 Tips to Make Injection Molding Less Daunting

You’ve spent months (probably years) developing a product concept, your crowdfunding campaign was fully funded, and it’s time to deliver a product to your customers. Now what?<p>Making the leap into production can be intimidating. Not only does it require large financial commitments, but many …

3D Printing

Playing Chess on a Beautiful, Magnetized Globe

“I think I can do it better.” Having this thought is a moment that every maker knows and loves. It is exactly what came to mind when Ben Meyers saw a picture of a spherical chess set online. The version he had come across used jacket snaps to connect the pieces to the board. He immediately thought …

This DIY Vacuum Cannon Fires With No Fuel Required

The pressure of the Earth's atmosphere is all around us, might as well use it.<p>Cannons were first invented in China, with their first documented use in 1132, and generally fire with the help of gunpowder or other explosives. But you can get a similar result—shooting something out of a tube very …

New uses for your old phone, tablet, or laptop

How to breathe new life into an outdated device<p>In your excitement over the latest smartphone model, spare a thought for your old device. Tossing it into the trash is not only a waste of money, it's also bad for the environment. Instead, give a fresh lease on life to your now-outdated hardware.<p>Most …

Google Docs

10 Charging Station Projects

Let’s face it, one of the significant annoyances of our wondrous, electronically-charged age is the frequency with which we have to plug all of our portable and mobile devices in to maintain that charge. I, for one, have a spaghetti’d jumble of power strips, dongles, USB charging cables, brick and …

This Aircraft Boneyard Timelapse Is Eerily Beautiful

The sun has set on these aging vehicles.<p>When the military decides the time has come to retire a plane, its resent place is usually out in the desert, somewhere in the 2,600 acres of the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. This is the "Boneyard."<p>The arid …

This Isn't the Fastest Rubik's Cube Robot Around, But it May Be the Most Adorable

Speed isn't everything.<p>The record time for solving a Rubik's cube is now under 5 seconds. For a human, that is. Robots are better at this sort of thing, and the robot Rubik's record is now less than 0.7 seconds.<p>This Lego bot is... well, it's nowhere near any kind of record time, yet I could watch …

Steel Rebar Snaps So Fast You Can Barely Even See It, Even in Slow Motion

30,000 frames per second isn't nearly enough.<p>The last thing you want from a piece of rebar is for it to snap in half. That is, unless you're performing a tensile strength test in which case that's the inevitable result. Here, we see a piece of rebar not only stretched to the limits of what it can …

This Lego Machine Gearing Demo Is Mind-Blowing

Strain wave gearing rendered beautifully in Lego.<p>Strain wave gearing was invented in 1957 by C.W. Musser and hailed as beinger more efficient and lighter than traditional gearing systems. Musser probably couldn't have imagined that 60 years later his invention would be perfectly rendered in plastic …

How a Terribly Decayed 300-Year-Old Map Is Painstakingly Restored

The map, which was found rotting in a chimney, was painstakingly restored over several months.<p>When an old, decayed map was brought to the National Library of Scotland, the library thought it was in luck. But it turns out there was a bit of work they needed to do.<p>The map had been stuffed in a …

11 Ridiculous Engines You've Never Heard Of

Compared to these, most car engines are bland and boring.<p>By most accounts, the Dodge Viper's engine is completely over the top. After all, it's an 8.4-liter naturally aspirated V10 that's good for 645 horsepower. But even though it makes the Honda Civic's 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder look …

5 Ways To Make Learning to Fly More Affordable

It's not out of reach.<p>Maybe you've always wanted to be a pilot, but heard that you needs tons of cash to do it. Well, that's not entirely true. Yes, learning to fly takes money, but if you're smart, it can be accomplished on a budget that's more akin to what an avid golfer spends on tee time than …

Cessna

Watching This Old Pentax Camera Restoration Is Pure Gadget Zen

A brief reminder that SLR cameras are basically mechanical works of art<p>Old SLR's have been usurped by their digital ancestors. But that doesn't diminish their stature as mechanicals marvels as illustrated by this short video by a camera repair shop in Halifax, Nova Scotia.<p>This Pentax K1000, which …

Cameras

This DIY Vortex Tube Turns Your Compressed Air Cold

Build your own vortex tube, which cools compressed air with no electricity or moving parts.<p>So you've hooked up a source of compressed air in your shop. It's super useful for blasting away dust and stuff, but wouldn't it also be great if you could control the temperature? If you had easy access to …

You Can Build a Wooden Ammo Box From a Pallet

This DIY ammo box provides rugged and stylish storage for your tools and gear.<p>Vietnam War-era wood ammo boxes make great storage units, but they're tough to find for a decent price and in good condition. Metal ammo boxes are a popular DIY toolbox project, but not large enough to fit most power …

How GE Makes Filthy Aircraft Engine Parts Look Good as New

The part of the engine that contains the combustion needs to be kept in tip-top shape.<p>Gas turbine engines on airliners need to handle some serious power outputs. The General Electric CF6 high-bypass turbofan engine, which powers Boeing 747s and Airbus 300s, puts out as much as 41,500 pounds of …

Did a Solar-Powered Autonomous Boat Just Cross the Pacific Ocean?

I struggle to descend the stairs leading to the sandy beach at Half Moon Bay, California, awkwardly hefting the 60-pound solar-powered boat SeaCharger atop my shoulder. Amid the numerous “what-the-heck-is-that?!” stares of the beachgoers, I perform some last-minute checks of the boat’s propeller …

How to Convert an Arc Lighter Into Your Very Own Plasma Pen

Use it to brand your next woodworking project.<p>An arc lighter is a huge improvement over standard cigarette lighters. It doesn't require fuel or use an open flame, instead it works by creating a small electrical arc between two electrodes that is much hotter than a flame, and it's windproof.<p>Prolific …

I Proposed With A Synthetic Diamond

Spoiler alert: it worked<p>I proposed to <i>Popular Science</i> assistant editor Sarah Fecht last year, and I was lucky enough that she said yes! The experience of buying her engagement ring revealed to me just how high-tech jewelry has become in the past decade.<p>The diamond in her ring is a lab-grown jewel, …

Jewelry

It Takes a Whole Ton of Work to Transform a Tree Into a Longbow

And so many ways it could go wrong along the way.<p>Every dabbling woodworker has put together a box, or a table, or a chair. Maybe it's a little tough the very first time around, but it's not too bad to get the hang of and most importantly, the stakes for any given step are relatively low. Not so for …

Take A Look Inside A Black Box

Also, the outside is not black<p>You'd want it to be nearly impossible to penetrate an aircraft black box, right? We would too.<p>Black boxes, or flight recorders, are meant to take a lot of wear and tear. After all, they're supposed to survive plane crashes from tens of thousands of feet in the air, …

These “Balloongineers” Floated to 31km for the Global Space Ballooning Challenge

Every year the Global Space Ballooning Challenge (GSBC) connects teams from all around the world to send as many high altitude balloons into space simultaneously as they can. Using large weather balloons, cameras and sensors are sent to the edge of space in order to collect data and amazing aerial …

How a 4-Pound Engine Can Replace a 40-Pound Engine

Engine startup LiquidPiston has radically shrunk a go-kart engine, but it's the military applications that has everyone really excited.<p>Connecticut-based startup LiquidPiston announced today that they have built a small, compact engine that is powerful enough to drive a go-kart. Their X-mini engine …

Zone Out for a Minute and Watch This Floating Top Spin

And then try to make one yourself.<p>When it comes to exploiting physics with a toy that spins, you can get a get a pretty crazy performance out of something as simple as a wooden top. But if a top that stands on its head isn't quite enough for you here is one that floats.<p>The little sucker goes for …

How Much Gun Does It Take To Get Through a Slab of Bulletproof Glass?

A lot.<p>Bulletproof glass can do an amazing job of stopping pistol and rifle fire. Yes, explosives are a pretty surefire way to get through it, but if you're going to stick to guns, how big do you have to get?<p>Demolition Ranch—no stranger to shooting thick things with big guns—took to exploring the …

This Video of Japanese Papermaking Is the Calmest Thing You'll See All Day

No words, just paper.<p><i>Washi</i> is the oldest style of making paper known to Japan. It's over 1,300 years old, having come to Japan from China in the 7th century along with Buddhism. This video, filmmaker Kuroyanagi Takashi, shows exactly how it's done.<p>With his still, calm shots, Takashi emphasizes the …

Watch This Navy Ship Take on a Truly Gigantic Wave

Prepare to be seasick.<p>This footage of the Royal New Zealand Navy's HMNZS <i>Otago</i> is not for the faint of heart. On the day this footage was taken, the ship apparently encountered a storm packing 50 mile an hour winds and sixty foot swells.<p>As if that weren't bad enough, <i>Otago</i>'s bow begins to fall into a …