Build your own steel reinforced storm shelter

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The last few years have seen a lot of dangerous storms rip through middle section of the United States. We’re surprised to hear that many residents in that part of the country don’t have basements to take refuge in when in imminent danger. But a resourceful hacker will always be able to find a way to improve their own situation. This example is particularly useful. It’s a steel storm shelter which opens into the garage.

It all starts with a cage made of square tube. With the skeleton fully assembled it is wrapped in steel plate, adding weld joints running nearly the entire length of each of the cage’s ribs. The image at the left shows the steel door frame clamped in position. Check out the finished version on the right after the shelter has been slid into place and bolted to the concrete slab.

The Reddit discussion includes a debate on whether the door should swing in or out. Swinging out means you could be trapped if the opening is blocked by debris. But there may be scientific research that proves this is a better orientation. Either way, we hope the three dead bolts, door latch, and heavy-duty hinges will stand up to the pressure if this is ever used.

Building a tornado in a bottle

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Recreate the look of a tornado by building this water vortex art piece. The components that go into it are all very simple and can be found in your recycling bin with the exception of a motor and a way to drive it. The hard part is going to be getting to the point where you don’t have any leaks.

[Ixisuprflyixi] went with an empty salsa bottle to house the vortex. It’s a pleasant shape for the project since it’s both tall and narrow and it’s got a bit of a sexy curve to it. The base of the machine is a plastic bottle which looks like it might have been for Metamucil, but we’re not sure.  The important part is that it needs to be made from HDPE, as a portion of the container will be used to make the impeller. That’s the part that attaches to the motor shaft inside of the container. Give it a spin and you’ve got yourself a tornado in a bottle. See it in action after the jump.

This is a much quicker and easier version than the one we saw [Ben Krasnow] build. He ended up doing some repair work on the gasket that seals the motor shaft. It’s an interesting read if you are thinking of building one of these yourself.

Continue reading “Building a tornado in a bottle”

Forever.fm: Infinite Beat-matched Music

Forever.fm is [Peter]’s combination of SoundCloud and The Echo Nest that plays a continuous stream of beat-matched music. The result is a web radio station that just keeps playing.

[Peter] provided a great write up on how he built the app. The server side is Python, using the Tornado web server and Tornadio2 + Socket.IO for handling live updates in the client. To deal with the challenge of streaming audio, he wrote a LAME interface for Python that handles encoding the raw, beat-matched audio into MP3 blocks. These blocks are queued up and sent out to the client by the web server.

Another challenge was choosing songs. Forever.fm takes the “hottest” songs from SoundCloud and creates a graph. Then it finds the shortest path to traverse the entire graph: a Travelling Salesman Problem. The solution used by Forever.fm finds an iterative approximation, then uses that to make a list of tracks. Of course, the resulting music is going to be whatever’s hot on SoundCloud. This may, or may not, match your personal tastes.

There’s a lot of neat stuff here, and [Peter] has open-sourced the code on his github if you’re interested in checking out the details.

Phone/webapp written in ploy to appear more popular

That title’s not really fair to [Evan], but he did write a cellphone tetris game that causes your handset to automatically telephone him if you win. He’s using two applications that we’re not very familiar with, Twilio and Tornado. The former handles control input from the cellphone via their simple API. The latter is a web server and web framework that runs the actual game.

If you’re interested in how he put the two together you can poke around in the code. If you really don’t care about how it is done, you might just want to win the game, automatically giving [Evan] a call, running up his wireless bill in the process.

Help us add some value to this article by leaving a comment.  We’d like to know how Twilio compares to Google Voice which doesn’t seem to have a published API (but there is some work in that area). We also think web-based cell phone interactivity, already popular in hacks, is just beginning to build some steam. What are the tools you use to make cellphone interfaces easier and quicker to implement?