AMagill 9:04am, 17 August 2005
The two pictures I posted today of my RFID dog door controller got me wondering.. what kinds of things have other geeks been making or modifying?
I also posted pictures a while back of a prototype for a pano head I'm (slowly) working on.
Once, long ago when headsets for phones were still hard to come by, I took apart my phone and modified it so it would connect to my stereo or a home-made headset.
When I was a kid, I made and installed a jar opener out of some wood and a hacksaw blade (it really works, and doesn't even mar the lid!) that remains under the kitchen cabinet to this day.
I have a friend that made some ingenious modifications to NERF and super soaker guns, including a NERF sniper rifle that would leave welts and had a silencer that worked quite well.
This same friend made a potato canon that had, best as we could work out, over a mile range.

How about you?
_escalade328s_ 13 years ago
lol, i want that potato canon.
i had this idea based on something i saw while my mom was watching regis and kelley, howie mandell was on it and he had this payphone headset wired to his v220 cell, and i want to make it bluetooth and keep the metal cable that comes out of a payphone hanging out of the end with cables coming off of that so it looks like i am talking into a headset that i ripped off of a payphone.
AMagill 13 years ago
*laughs* Interesting idea.. wouldn't be too hard to do- problem is getting the payphone handset.
_escalade328s_ 13 years ago
lol, my friend already has one [no comment on how he got it...] so all i have to do is put a bluetooth headset into it, which is easy based on the HOW-TO i've seen on putting one in an old 1900's phone headset.
AMagill 13 years ago
I think I've heard of that one, too. Do you read Hack a Day?
I also thought this idea was funny.
AMagill 13 years ago
Anybody else? I'm going to be very dissapointed in you people if escalade328s is the only other tinkerer in here.
boncey PRO 13 years ago
I "built" a music player to sit under my TV.
I bought the case but I wrote the controlling software to make it all work together.

ThenAndAgain 13 years ago
mmm, sadly, no pics of it but, I've built two styles of potatoe cannons myself.

First was just a single barrel. Approx 1.5 in in diameter at the mouth. That goes back about 4 feets where there's a coupler to the propellant tank which was about 2 and a half inches wide. an that was there for about a foot. Finally, the end cap was a modified screw on plug. There was a hole drilled in the center of it to allow for a barbeque igniter to be inserted, which had to be snug and surrounded by glue so as to not be shot out by the blast.

The mouth of the barrell was tapered on the outer edge so you could just jame it down on a spud and it would fill the chamber. Finally, after it's been loaded, use something like hairspray or propane, fill up the propellant chamber, srew the cap on, and fire away. Only problem with this design was that hair spray would eventually gum up the igniter and make it useless. Not too much fire power to it either.

Then had a flash of insight. There's the large sprinkler valves that are used to control sections of the sprinkler set up. So, we separated the propellant tank from the barrel, giving us more room for propellant. Instead of a combustible fuel, we used pressurized air. So, in place of the igniter, there was an air valve, much like you see on a bike or car. And then, because of the valve, we needed a 9-volt battery and a little jury-rigged push button to control the electrical switch.

Though a little awkward to hold, these things were far more malleable. You could launch almost anything that fit the barrel properly. For instance... potatoes... water... water ballons... PVC "rockets" ... the list goes on. Had a shit load more kick than the propane powered one.
/J PRO 13 years ago
My first PC for instance:

Pinky2 in a cardboard box


Was very short on money at the time.
_escalade328s_ 13 years ago
yes, i do read hack-a-day, i think that is where i saw the old phone BT headset idea, and that other idea is sweet too.
it seems like you guys have some sweet plans for potato cannons, my friend's dad built one with a BBQ igniter but it is at his uncle's house now, so i think it is time we build another one... i will have to borrow some of your sweet plans i see here.
AMagill 13 years ago
My friend and I came to the same conclusion about the propellent vs compressed air question. 300psi from his compressor beat hair spray easily. We could have gone with other volatile gasses, but we decided that would require a metal potato cannon, since 300psi air was already pushing the limits of PVC (the first two he made exploded- parts of #2 were found on the other side of the house).
When you're designing the potato cannon, you also have to be careful to keep in mind the ratio of the volume between the pressure tank and the barrel- the pressure tank often has to be larger than people expect. (Dang, now I'm tempted to work out the math behind the acceleration of a potato..) Anyway- do some research. There are people on the net who take this WAY too seriously, and have already worked out all the math and engineering issues and posted them up on the web for you.
I've also heard that nowadays you can get rifled PVC to use for the barrel. That ought to do a lot for your range. :)
Scooter Simpson 13 years ago
yeah i've done both types of potato gun...propellent and pneumatic powered. very simple, very powerful! i want to do the clear one like in MAKE this quarter :D
VivaAntarctica 13 years ago
I did something once in the field re: sat uplink dishes, and back up generator...a helicopter was involved... there was a suburban in there involved taking off the wheels and cement blocks...

I mean come on...who here hasn't hacked atlest one thing to no end. I do it atlest once a week (saved my pc by booting up from an sd card etc etc)
13mx 13 years ago
I kick myself for not taking pictures. about 3 months ago I bout a cheap DVD player($29.99)and I put it inside an old Nintendo box. It was awesome. I kept it for about 2 weeks, and one of my dads friends offered me $250 for it.

what a profit, when i get around tomaking a new one I'll post some pics
ThenAndAgain 13 years ago
does this count as making something...

Fire in the hole!
Thats great! ...

If it wasn't for BF2 I'd so be trying to do that right now.

Have you seen the hl2 domino vid?
ThenAndAgain 13 years ago
no, but if you'd kindly provide a link, I'd be happy to change that :D
AMagill 13 years ago
I was just about to ask the same thing. :)
VivaAntarctica 13 years ago
griffjon 13 years ago
How is it that all geek-tinkering conversations always end up being about potato cannons? What do we have against our tuberly friends?
pvc pipes = legal
potatos= legal
co2/compressed air = legal

potato cannon= if...but...well...
ThenAndAgain 13 years ago
They're simple, inexpensive and hella fun. Not to mention you can use party balloons(the ones with thicker skin) filled with water and launch them or just fill the bloody barrel with water and fire it. But that has a hell of a lot of kick.

In any case... yeah.. they're fun :D
13mx 13 years ago
Whats up with patatoe guns, I made one it middle school and shot tennis balls out of it, But it did not compare to the SprayPaint Can Rocket launcher I made.

We took a peice of PVC pipe, and shoved a spray paint can upside down into it. We then rigged up a tourch underneath the can.

Nobody knew what to expect, we all wanted it to shoot off like a rocket, but we all thought that it would just explode.

After we lit the tourch we ran like crazy to a nearby ditch. After about 20sec we heard a loud sizzle, and then it took off. For about a 150ft the can had a fire trail behind it, but I would say it traveled about 350ft. It was awesome
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