Popular Science

Popular Science

Backyard Ballistics
Backyard Ballistics ›
By William Gurstelle
Price 16.95

Published Sep 2012

This bestselling DIY handbook now features new and expanded projects, enabling ordinary folks to construct 16 awesome ballistic devices in their garage or basement workshops using inexpensive household or hardware store materials and this step-by-step guide. Clear instructions, diagrams, and photographs show how to build projects ranging from the simple match-powered rocket to the more complex tabletop catapult and the offbeat Cincinnati fire kite. The classic potato cannon has a new evil twin—the piezo-electric spud gun and the electromagnetic pipe gun has joined the company of such favorites as the tennis ball mortar. With a strong emphasis on safety, the book also gives tips on troubleshooting, explains the physics behind the projects, and profiles scientists and extraordinary experimenters such as Alfred Nobel, Robert Goddard, and Isaac Newton. This book will be indispensable for the legions of backyard toy-rocket launchers and fireworks fanatics who wish every day was the fourth of July.
The Art of the Catapult
The Art of the Catapult ›
By William Gurstelle
Price 16.95

Published Jul 2004

Whether playing at defending their own castle or simply chucking pumpkins over a fence, wannabe marauders and tinkerers will become fast acquainted with Ludgar, the War Wolf, Ill Neighbor, Cabulus, and the Wild Donkey—ancient artillery devices known commonly as catapults. Building these simple yet sophisticated machines introduces fundamentals of math and physics using levers, force, torsion, tension, and traction. Instructions and diagrams illustrate how to build seven authentic working model catapults, including an early Greek ballista, a Roman onager, and the apex of catapult technology, the English trebuchet. Additional projects include learning how to lash and make rope and how to construct and use a hand sling and a staff sling. The colorful history of siege warfare is explored through the stories of Alexander the Great and his battle of Tyre; Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Third Crusade; pirate-turned-soldier John Crabbe and his ship-mounted catapults; and Edward I of England and his battle against the Scots at Stirling Castle.
The Way Toys Work
The Way Toys Work ›
By Ed Sobey, By Woody Sobey
Price 14.95

Published May 2008

A Selection of the Scientific American Book ClubProfiling 50 of the world’s most popular playthings—including their history, trivia, and the technology involved—this guide uncovers the hidden science of toys. Discover how an Etch A Sketch writes on its gray screen, why a boomerang returns after it is thrown, and how an RC car responds to a remote control device. Leaving no detail unrevealed, the guide includes original patent-application blueprints and photos of the “guts” of several devices. Inventors and museum curators also offer their observations of favorite gizmos while dispelling (or confirming) several toy legends. Complete with explanations of do-it-yourself experiments and tips on reverse engineering old toys to observe their interior mechanics, this entertaining and informative reference even provides pointers on how budding toy makers can build their own toys using only recycled materials and a little ingenuity.
A Field Guide to Automotive Technology
A Field Guide to Automotive Technology ›
By Ed Sobey
Price 11.99

Published Jun 2009

Written for mechanical novices who may not know their catalytic converters from their universal joints, this practical guide helps teach a basic understanding of how automobiles function. Devices are grouped according to their habitats—under the hood, inside the car, and more—to help identify the technology in question. Solving automotive puzzles such as where exactly does a dipstick dip and what is rack and pinion steering, this handy reference illuminates what’s going on under the hood without all that grime and grease.
The Way Kitchens Work
The Way Kitchens Work ›
By Ed Sobey
Price 11.99

Published Apr 2010

How does a microwave heat food? Why is only one side of aluminum foil shiny? and Is it better to use cold or hot water in a garbage disposal? are among the questions answered in this guide that reveals the hidden science of the kitchen and its trappings. Profiling more than 50 common appliances and utensils, this handbook describes each item’s history, reveals interesting trivia about the piece, and discusses the technology involved. In addition to featuring the original patent blueprints and photographs of the "guts" of the culinary tools, this guide recounts quirky side stories such as the role a waffle iron played in Nike’s inception and the real reason why socialite Josephine Cochran invented the dishwasher in 1886. Those whose stovetop skills are still in development will appreciate the information on the invention and use of the smoke detector and hand-held fire extinguishers.
Unscrewed
Unscrewed ›
By Ed Sobey
Price 13.99

Published Jun 2011

Perfect for the do-it-yourselfer, this handy guide to household electronics gives the weekend workbench enthusiast a multitude of ideas on how to salvage valuable parts from old electronics and turn them into useful gadgets once more. This handbook is loaded with information and helpful tips for disassembling old and broken electronics. Each of the more than 50 deconstruction projects includes a “treasures cache” of the components to be found, a required tools list, and step-by-step instructions with photos on how to safely extract the working components. Projects include building a desk lamp from an old flatbed scanner, a barbeque supercharger from a Dustbuster impeller, and a robot from the gears, rollers, and stepper motor found in an ink-jet printer. Now, old VHS players and fax machines will find new life with these fun ideas.
Absinthe & Flamethrowers
Absinthe & Flamethrowers ›
By William Gurstelle
Price 16.95

Published Jun 2009

Written for reasonable risk takers and suburban dads who want to add more excitement to their lives, this daring combination of science, history, and DIY projects explains why danger is good for you and details the art of living dangerously. All of the projects—from throwing knives, drinking absinthe, and eating fugu to cracking a bull whip, learning baritsu, and building a flamethrower—have short learning curves; are human-focused, as opposed to technology-centric; are affordable; and demonstrate true but reasonable risk. The guide maintains that risk takers are more successful, more interesting individuals who lead more fulfilling lives. What would the world be like if Thomas Edison retired after 30 years working for the railroad, it asks, instead of getting fired for blowing up a rail car with one of his experiments? Though the manual doesn’t advocate getting fired, it does reveal that making black powder is pure excitement. Unlike watching an action movie or playing a video game, real, edgy life experience changes a person. Each potentially life-altering project includes step-by-step directions and illustrations along with sidebar tips from experts in the field.
Building Bots
Building Bots ›
By William Gurstelle
Price 26.95

Published Dec 2002

This is the definitive guide to designing and building warrior robots like those seen on BattleBots, Robotica, and Robot Wars. It walks robot enthusiasts of all ages step-by-step through the design and building process, enabling them to create any number of customized warrior robots. With a strong emphasis on safety, chapters include designing a robot, choosing materials, radio control systems, electric motors, robot batteries, motor speed controllers, gasoline engines, and drive trains. Clear instructions are accompanied by photos, line drawings, and detailed diagrams throughout. A color section showcases a variety of glorious fighting machines. For beginners, there is machine shop 101 and robot physics, and, of course, chapters on weaponry that include spinner robots, thwackbots, cutting blade robots, lifters, and chameleon robots. When the bot of their dreams is built, suggestions on where to compete and game-day strategies and tactics help readers take the next step. An extensive resource section lists parts suppliers, pertinent Web sites, a radio frequency chart, and a glossary.
The Practical Pyromaniac
The Practical Pyromaniac ›
By William Gurstelle
Price 13.99

Published Jun 2011

Combining science, history, and DIY pyrotechnics, this book for the workbench warrior explains humankind’s most useful and paradoxical tool: fire. William Gurstelle, author of the bestselling Backyard Ballistics, presents 25 projects with instructions, diagrams, photos, and links to video demonstrations that enable people of all ages to explore and safely play with fire. From Franklin’s stove to Diesel’s engine, explosive and fascinating tales are told of the great pyromaniacs who scientifically revealed the mysteries of fire such as “Gunpowder” Joseph Priestly, who discovered oxygen; Antoine Lavoisier, the father of chemistry; and Humphrey Davy, whose chemical discoveries and fiery inventions saved thousands of lives. By following the directions inside, the curious can replicate these breakthrough scientists’ experiments and inventions from the simply fascinating one-candlepower engine to the nearly magical fire piston and an incredible tornado of fire.
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare ›
By John Austin
Price 16.95

Published Oct 2009

With the advent of modern household products and office supplies—binder clips, clothespins, rubber bands, ballpoint pens, toothpicks, paper clips, plastic utensils, and matches and barbeque lighters—troublemakers of all stripes have the components needed to build an impressive, if somewhat miniaturized, arsenal. Detailed, step-by-step instructions for each project are provided, including materials and ammo lists, clear diagrams, and construction tips. The 35 devices include catapults, slingshots, minibombs, darts, and combustion shooters—build a tiny trebuchet from paper clips and a D-cell battery, wrap a penny in a string of paper caps to create a surprisingly impressive “bomb,” and convert champagne party poppers and pen casings into a three-barreled bazooka. Finally, plans are provided for a top secret concealing book to hide your stash, as well as targets—cardboard critters, big-headed aliens, and zombies—for shooting practice. Never let your cubicle, home office, or personal space go undefended again!
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2 ›
By John Austin
Price 16.95

Published Oct 2011

Culling common household items to create an uncommon arsenal of miniature gadgets and sidearms, this guidebook provides do-it-yourself spy enthusiasts with 35 different surveillance tools and weapons. From a mini-catapult in a breath-mint tin to milk-jug cap blow-dart wristwatches, this handbook details how to achieve clandestine ends practically and inexpensively. In addition to creating weapons such as periscopes, bionic ears, and grappling hooks, spies-to-be will find ideas on how to hide their stash—a deck of cards, a false-bottom soda bottle, or a cereal box-brief case—and tips for target practice. Clear diagrams and instructions make construction simple, while easy-to-follow safety tips help ensure DIY builders avoid injuries. Projects include a paper throwing star, a bowler hat launcher, and a Q-pick blow gun.
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 3
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 3 ›
By John Austin
Price 16.95

Published May 2013

Utilizing easy-to-find and inexpensive materials, this handy resource teaches desktop warriors how to build a multitude of medieval siege weapons for the modern era. Novice combatants will learn to build 35 defense weapons, including a marshmallow catapult, a chopstick bow, a bottle cap crossbow, and a clothespin ballista. In addition to beefing up their Dark Age arsenal, would-be warriors are provided with a number of targets on which to practice their shooting skills. Clear diagrams, instructions, and safety tips for each project are included, making construction of each of these weapons simple, safe, and fun.
Soda-Pop Rockets
Soda-Pop Rockets ›
By Paul Jarvis
Price 16.95

Published Oct 2009

Anyone can recycle a plastic bottle by tossing it into a bin, but it takes a bit of skill to propel it into a bin from 500 feet away, and this fun guide features 20 different easy-to-launch rockets that can be built from discarded plastic drink bottles. After learning how to construct and launch a basic model, readers find new ways to modify and improve their designs, including built-on fins, nosecones, and parachutes that enable a rocket to float safely back to earth. More complex designs include two-, three-, and five-bottle rockets, gliding rockets, long-tail rockets, cluster rockets, whistling rockets, ring-finned rockets, and a jumbo version made from a five-gallon water-cooler tank. Clear, step-by-step instructions with full-color illustrations accompany each project, along with photographs of the author firing his creations into the sky.