String shooters are exciting because they adhere to the laws of physics in that peculiar way that makes us ask, “How?” and “Why?” After a bit of poking and prodding, maybe some light rope burn, we probably have a few ideas on how we’d make our own. [Nick Belsten] and [Joey Rain] saw some desktop models and thought, “Let’s make that puppy eighty feet long!” Video also embedded after the break.
Instead of hobby motors, flashlight batteries, and toy car wheels, they choose a washing machine motor and bike tires, then plug into an extension cord. The three-minute video isn’t a how-to build because once you start welding this kind of hardware together, you are already flying by the seat of your pants. You will see a front yard with people delighting in the absurdity of launching rope continuously over the treetops. There’s plenty of room for observing a wave traveling along the cord or polishing your fingernails in a hurry.
We want to make string shooters for the office and add our personal flavor, like lights or colored string so they’re safe to touch. If you have a unique twist on any physics experiments, drop us a line, but for insurance reasons, we’ll add that you should not make a chainsaw without a guide bar, aka, the forbidden chain-saber.
Continue reading “Attack Of The Eighty-Foot String Shooter”
Despite what the media might tell you, picking locks isn’t just for spies and guys wearing balaclavas. Those who pick as a hobby, or even competitively, think of locks as logic puzzles. Each lock is a unique challenge, and defeating it requires patience, dexterity, and perhaps most importantly the experience that comes from regular practice. But where does one start if they want to get into the world of recreational lock picking, also known as locksport?
Many people begin their journey on a practice lock, usually made of clear plastic so you can see its inner-workings. That’s fine for the individual, but what if you’re trying to demonstrate lock picking to a group? [John Biggs] may have the solution for you, assuming you’ve got the time and material. His huge 3D printed cutaway lock, and appropriately sized tools, allow even the folks in the back of the room to see how basic picking techniques work.
A print of this size is nothing to sneeze at; a quick peek on the reference printer here at the Hackaday Chamber of Secrets indicates you’re probably looking at the better part of 20 hours to print everything out. Once printed you’ll likely need to take a file and some sandpaper to all the surfaces to make sure things operate smoothly. It doesn’t appear to be a terribly challenging print all things considered, but we wouldn’t call it a beginner’s project either.
The only non-printed part in this design is the springs, which [John] mentions he hasn’t quite found the solution for yet. They need to be fairly weak or else the lock is too hard to pick, but springs large enough to work with the pins are usually pretty strong. This might be a perfect application for some custom wound springs.
After you’ve mastered the PLA lock, it might be time to make your own picks and see if anyone is giving free lock picking workshops in your area.
If you ever want to pique a kid’s interest in technology, it is best to bring out something simple, yet cool. There was a time that showing a kid how a crystal radio could pull in a radio station from all the way across town fit the bill. Now, that’s a yawner as the kid probably carries a high-tech cell phone with a formidable radio already. Your latest FPGA project is probably too complicated to grasp, and your Arduino capacitance meter is–no offense–too boring to meet the cool factor criterion.
There’s an old school project usually called an “electromagnetic train” that works well (Ohio State has a good write up about it as a PDF file). You coil some bare copper wire around a tubular form to make a tunnel. Then a AAA battery with some magnets make the train. When you put the train in the tunnel, the magnetic forces propel the train through the tunnel. Well, either that or it shoots it out. If that happens, turn the train around and try again. There’s a few of these in Internet videos and you can see one of them (from [BeardedScienceGuy]) below.
Continue reading “Electric Train Demonstrator”
What if there was a job where you built, serviced, and prepared science demonstrations? This means showing off everything from principles of physics, to electronic theory, to chemistry and biology. Would you grab onto that job with both hands and never let go? That was my reaction when I met [Dan Rosenberg] who is a Science Lecture Demonstrator at Harvard University. He gave me a tour of the Science Center, as well as a behind the scenes look at some of the apparatus he works with and has built.
Continue reading “Demonstrating Science At Harvard University”