Engine Hacks – A DIY Methane Generator

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All “methane generator” jokes aside, This one actually serves a useful purpose. Although not an engine hack per se, methane can be used to run an engine. As the traditional method of powering an internal combustion engine, gasoline, gets more and more expensive, alternatives will have to be found. If you happen to live on a farm, or have access to a source of organic waste, this method could serve as a viable one.

One would need quite a bit of waste, as each kilogram yields around 400 liters of methane gas. This amount is enough to run a gas light for around 4 hours. Any sort of useful engine would require quite a bit more than this (chicken farm possibly?).

A process for converting waste to fuel is illustrated in the video after the break. Extreme caution should be used if attempting to do something like this. There is a danger of not only flammable gas leaking and catching on fire or exploding, but the organic material can be quite toxic as well. [Read more...]

Engine Hacks: Build a turbojet from junkyard parts

Turbo chargers from cars are readily available and easily modified, so why not modify a turbo into a jet engine?

While [Mike]‘s junkyard jet made the rounds on the Internet over a decade ago, the theory behind the homebrew turbojet is still sound. After pulling a turbo out of a 1983 Nissan Pulsar, [Mike] built a combustion chamber out of 2-inch pipe fittings. The propane fuel is ignited with a simple motorcycle spark plug and produces a hot and powerful blast of air twenty feet from the exhaust.

We suppose [Mike] wasn’t satisfied with such a puny engine made out of junk, so he decided to step it up a notch and improve his engine. After some development, [Mike] managed to build another jet out of a larger turbo that doesn’t require a constant spark. The newer engine produces ‘hurricane force wind’ 10 feet from the exhaust. We’re not sure how much thrust that translates into, but we’re a little surprised this engine hasn’t been mounted to a go-kart yet.

Check out the walk through and demo of the junkyard jet after the break.

[Read more...]

Engine Hacks: Riquimbilis, or: what we’d do if we couldn’t buy a car

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After the United States enacted a near-total economic embargo against Cuba in 1962, American export of Detroit Iron came to a halt. Since then, some Cubans have been lucky enough to own a classic Chevy or Buick. Soviet imports of Volgas stopped in the 1990s. With a dearth of any sort of motorized transport (and a public transport system that’s even worse than America’s), some Cubans went with the only reasonable solution: they built Rikimbilis, bicycles and engines hacked together into a moped.

Most rikimbilis are based around Chinese bicycles with a motor ‘obtained’ through ‘non-conventional means’. The exhaust can be fabricated from just about any metal tube available, and a plastic soda bottle is the gas tank of choice. Everything on these bikes is done for reasons of economy and availability, and the fuel efficiency is unbeatable with some rikinbilis getting 120 mpg.

Because they’re not especially safe, Riquimbilis are illegal in Cuba, but the police generally turn a blind eye to their use. Lately the Cuban government has begun cracking down on riquimbilis, but with not many cars to go around these machines of necessity will most likely continue plying Havana boulevards.

Engine Hacks: Electric drill made into a trolling motor

We knew our engine hacks theme would come down to an argument over the difference between “a motor” and “an engine” so after much deliberation, name calling, restraining orders, and a duel we’re happy to put up [Berto]‘s DIY trolling motor made out of an electric drill. The project is probably inspired by [Berto]‘s collapsible amphibious e-scooter that used the same electric drill propulsion setup.

The build is just a few pieces of wood, drill rod, some hardware and a prop. Definitely not the most complicated build. This isn’t the speediest motor ever when attached to a canoe, and isn’t meant to be a primary means of propulsion. That’s not a problem for this build – trolling motors aren’t designed to be fast or powerful. There’s no word on how much thrust [Berto]‘s motor can put out, but it is a nice bit of MacGyverism to build a boat motor out of spare parts.

Check out the build walk though video after the break to see the motor in action.

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Engine Hacks: A pulse jet UAV by any other name would still be a cruise missile

Imagine our surprise when we learned [Bruce Simpson], who made headlines in 2003 with his $5000 DIY cruise missile, is still alive, not illegally interned in a black ops prison, and still doing what he does best: building really awesome remote-control airplanes.

The first successful mass-produced pulse jet aircraft was the German V-1 flying bomb. The V-1 had a very primitive guidance system, but the unmanned pulse jet aircraft quickly evolved into a few target drones used by the US Air Force. There was never any significant advancement towards improving the fuel consumption, noise level, or heat signature of pulse jets, so they were superseded by the superior turbojet. Despite their failings, pulse jets are remarkably easy to build and amazingly fast.

Instead of being antagonized by the New Zealand and United States governments, [Bruce] spends most of his time now working on pulse jet projects. He’s flown quite a few modified R/C planes and has an electronic Engine Control Unit for his jets. One of his most impressive projects is the 100 pound thrust pulse jet that was later attached to a go-kart. His no weld version of a pulse jet can be built in even the most minimalist work shop and is the epitome of an easy-to-build jet engine.

To get an idea of how fast [Bruce]‘s planes can be, check out his Long-EZ R/C pulse jet in action after the break.

[Read more...]

Engine Hacks: Electrified Datsun is the ultimate engine swap

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Forget the Tesla Roadster, we want an electric car like [John Wayland’s] White Zombie!

If it wasn’t plastered with sponsor stickers and the like, you would never realize that this otherwise unassuming ‘72 Datsun 1200 is an absolute beast of a car. The gas engine that used to provide a mere 69 horsepower was swapped out for a pair of custom-built electric motors which propel the Datsun to 60 miles per hour in under two seconds.

The electric motors supply 500 horsepower and a staggering 1250 foot pounds of instant torque, providing one hell of a ride. The car is powered by 12 custom 29.6V battery packs which provide 2,400 Amps of current each! Aside from laying down a quarter mile in under 11 seconds, White Zombie can make a 90 mile trek before requiring a recharge.

Needless to say, this impressive car takes plenty of people by surprise each time [John] hits the track. Continue reading to watch one poor sap learn the hard way that his brand new Maserati is no match for White Zombie.

[via Discovery]

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Announcing the next theme: Engine Hacks

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We had some interesting High Voltage posts over the past couple of weeks. Today we are announcing the next theme: Engine Hacks. Each day for the next two weeks we will be doing a new post about some sort of interesting engine project. We’ll be showing projects where engines are built from scratch, engines are modified to work in a new way, or where an engine is used in an manner that it wasn’t originally intended. If you or someone you know has an interesting project that you think might fit well within this category, please let us know through our tip line.

Pictured above is an EVIC (Electronic Valve Internal Combustion) engine. This type of engine doesn’t have a cam shaft to actuate the valves. Solenoids are used instead and are paired with a small processor and some sensors to determine when and how long to open the valves. This type of engine allows you to do things like vary the amount of fuel coming into the cylinder on a continually variable basis. If you paired this with electronic ignition, you could even make the engine run in reverse!

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