66% or better

Scavenging ambient electromagnetic energy

energy_harvesting_from_radio_waves

At this very moment, unseen radio waves are bouncing off almost everything that surrounds you. Emitted by everything from radio and TV stations to cell phone networks and satellites, these waves are full of unharnessed energy. That is, until now. Researchers at the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering have been working diligently to harness this unused energy, and recently unveiled their new antenna technology at the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium.

The team, led by professor [Manos Tentzeris] has been working to develop ultra-wideband antennas to tap into the energy all around us. Using printers filled with a specially-formulated ink compound, they have been able to print these antennas on paper and polymer substrates. The antennas can harness energy stored in radio frequencies ranging from 100 MHz all the way up to 60 GHz, depending on the printing medium.

The team can currently power temperature sensors using television signals, and is preparing a demo in which they will power a microcontroller simply by holding it up in the air. The technology is still in its infancy, but the list of applications is almost endless. We doubt you’ll be powering your TV with this technology any time soon, but it definitely holds promise for things such as wireless sensor mesh networks and the like.

[Thanks, morganism]

Hand-built car made almost entirely from scavenged parts

shrimpmobile_scrounged_car

So you’ve swapped out your car’s motor or added new tranny. Perhaps you’ve rewired your ancient VW bus from 6v to 12v. Do you think that makes you a car expert? [Orismar de Souza] might beg to differ.

The homeless Brazilian native has spent the last four years of his life building a car from sheet metal and junked parts. He searched high and low across the region looking for parts, scoring a 125cc motorcycle motor, among other various components – mostly from old Fiats. He scraped together $270 while panhandling and simultaneously fighting off starvation over the span of four months in order to purchase enough sheet metal to skin the vehicle. Crafting the body panels by hand using a borrowed hammer and chisel, he nearly gave up, but was resolute in not letting his dream die.

The car features more amenities than you would imagine. It can hit 50 mph on the freeway and includes a real car ignition, which replaces the old motorcycle kickstarter. It was recently fitted with a new gearbox that allows him to go in reverse, and if you look at the picture above closely enough, you will also see that he even took the time to install a stereo.

We are totally blown away by [Orismar's] “Shrimpmobile” – it definitely takes scavenging to a whole new level. Got any amazing stories of scrounging and hacking? Share them with us in the comments.