Do-it-yourself science toys from everyday objects

Posted by jerry on August 18th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Technology

My neighbour a few years ago thought I was mad when I told him I was making an electric motor. “You can’t make one, you buy them!” he said. Nevertheless he was intrigued when I took a piece of dowel, a large steel bolt, a reel of insulated copper wire and a tin can that I set about demolishing with some tin snips. He was even more amazed when I connected up three ‘Dolphin’-type square batteries and started the thing spinning. He even brought his young son over to watch the contraption. Yes it cost more than a new small electric motor, and yes it was less efficient than a bought one. but I had the satisfaction of knowing exactly how it went together. The instructions came from a 1950s children’s encyclopedia that I had picked up from a Lifeline bookfair.

I was therefore delighted to find a website devoted to all these neat things you could build out of household (or nearly household) items. Ever tried to build a ‘hero’ steam engine or thermopile? How about a crystal radio – or even a laser communicator powered by a cheap laser pointer used in lectures and presentations? They are all here on this site! It’s like that children’s encyclopedia, but updated and includes how to make your own solar power panels! It’s well worth poking around – and maybe you too will get inspired to find out how much of our modern ‘black box’ technology you can build yourself 🙂


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