#3. A Cruise Missile
New Zealand is home to Bruce Simpson, also known as the guy who built his own cruise missile.
The fully completed missile has little streamers on it.
While the idea alone sounds like supervillainy is afoot, it turns out that Simpson simply wanted to see if it could be done, and he posted all of his progress on a website for the whole world to read and copy. His specs call for less than $5,000 worth of parts (the missile is made of fiberglass, stainless steel, and polystyrene sheets), and the project can be completed by anyone who has access to regular shop tools. The electronics feature a video system, a radio transmitter, GPS and flight-control system, and the finished product can carry a 22-pound warhead.
For hunting turkey.
The U.S. and New Zealand governments seem to think that in this age of G3 Internet and crazy fundamentalists, maybe, just maybe, we might want to hold off on the whole "let's tell people how to build something that can't used for anything other than blowing shit up." Simpson says it's just a way to test jet engines. The authorities' repeated attempts to squash his projects have not prevented him from acquiring inexpensive parts from around the world, which he happily points out on his site can pass right through New Zealand customs without an issue, and he treats the government's objections with baffled indignation.
Also, he wrote a book about his "brave" attempt to create inexpensive weapons that anyone can build at home, proudly boasting that "Since childhood I've survived near-electrocution, exploding rocket motors, imploding jet engines and homemade mortar fire." We would like to point out that none of this would be necessary were he not trying to build devastating sophisticated weaponry in his goddamn garage.
This does not count as a home improvement project.
China not only spawned one of the homemade submarines mentioned earlier, but also is home to a man who built his own working helicopter.
But he isn't alone -- it seems that China holds a burgeoning force of men willing to risk their lives and the threat of imprisonment (homemade flying machines are illegal in China) for the dream of zipping through the sky in a rickety contraption made of garbage.
It looks like someone drove a windmill into a jungle gym. And it flies.
The chopper in the picture was made with "middle school physics" for about $1,600, and the builder claims it can reach 2,600 feet, which is truly living life on the edge, since it looks like you would be taking a risk just hanging clothes on it.
Then there's this one, which sounds like an old lawnmower but is shown here actually getting off the ground.
There isn't much else to do in rural China.
And then there's this model, which looks amazingly like James Bond's personal helicopter in You Only Live Twice:
He is about to discover that title isn't meant to be taken literally.
In every case, these guys are building at low cost (only as high as a few thousand, for a damn helicopter) from whatever parts they can find lying around their massive testicles.
#1. A Voice-Controlled AI Assistant
Chad Barraford thought Tony Stark's voice-operated AI assistant (aka Jarvis) was the single coolest part of Iron Man, and he decided that waiting for someone else to build it was for suckers. So in between offering tech support for Macs, he designed a voice-recognition system with the purpose of helping out around the house.
And in his sideline business, foiling supervillains.
While Stark's Jarvis is a multimillion-dollar home in Malibu, Barraford managed to make his for about $700. That includes the RFID reader, a home integration system, a wall speaker, a wireless microphone and a Mac mini. The system does everything from dimming the lights to telling Barraford the weather.
And telling him when there's Cheeto dust on his face.
Barraford's Jarvis also acts like an alarm clock, changes the lighting based on who is home both to save energy and to cater to the person's specifications, and turns the lights off when no one is home. He also reads Barraford his Facebook updates, unless he senses Barraford has company, in which case he keeps them quiet.
He has ... other functions, but Barraford doesn't like to talk about that.
Also, Barraford suffers from monthly brain-splitting migraines that put him out of commission for a day. In that case, all he has to do is send an IM to Jarvis, and the computer turns down the lights, emails Barraford's boss and updates his Facebook and Twitter so he can recuperate without being bothered. If he ever integrates Jarvis with a RealDoll, we assume he will never leave his house and will buy all his groceries online.
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For more products you can make yourself, check out 7 High Tech Products And Their Cheap Ass Ingredients and Nectar of the Broke: The World's 5 Worst Ways To Get Drunk.
And stop by Linkstorm to see Cracked's own Jarvis. (It didn't take long for the AI to become a raging alcoholic.)
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