10 Great and Fun Examples of Domestic Engineering
Just because you're at home it doesn't mean you have to stop engineering things. These examples to Domestic Engineering (not to be confused with doing odd jobs around the house) are both fun and practical.
You can try these DIY engineering projects for yourself at home.
1. This chap made a homemade battery
If you have a lot of spare change laying around you might want to try this great example of domestic engineering. Instead of putting them in a piggy bank why not consider making your own battery?
Assembly is pretty straightforward and the battery is powerful enough to power a small calculator or LED bulb. To make it you can follow these simple instructions.
As for materials you'll need a few simple things.
These include some post-1982 pennies, sandpaper, an electrolyte (salt water, vinegar etc), zinc washers, cardboard, and scissors. You can also acquire a small cheap calculator or some LED bulbs to test the battery after assembly.
2. Check out this hand-crank rechargeable flashlight
With this ingenious example of domestic engineering you'll never have to worry about running out of batteries for your flashlight ever again. By making a hand-crank homemade flashlight being left in the dark during blackouts will be a thing of the past.
You could, of course, buy yourself some cheap flashlights instead, but where's the fun in that?
Assembly is pretty straightforward and you can make your own using fairly common materials. You will need some specialist pieces like a unipolar stepper motor, the capacitors from some old PV motherboards and some rectifier diodes, but the rest should be easy to source.
3. This guy made his own simple bio-fuel cell
This piece of domestic engineering is both elegant and useful. Not only is this example practical, but it will also help you understand the principles behind microbial fuel cells.
This fuel cell harvests electrons from the byproducts of bacteria breaking down organic matter.
To make this project you'll need some basic components which include common or garden soil, a glass beaker, some gelatin or agar, and materials to make a cathode and anode.
The particular bacteria you are after is called Geobacter which readily releases hydrogen ions (protons) as it munches its way through organic material.
The rest of the device mixes these ions with oxygen to create water and electricity as a byproduct. Simple yet effective!
4. Here's a great, cheap, portable solar phone charger
With ever-increasing demands on your phone's battery nowadays anything that can help you top up the charge is always welcome. Instead of pulling your hair out trying to find a charge point you could just make your own and recharge it using the sun.
This chap managed to make a portable solar phone charger using materials that cost less than $5! The finished product is as small as a smartphone and works well with both Apple and Android phones but it may not work for tablets and other higher amp devices.
Assembly is both cheap and quick and can easily fit into your pocket for ease of transport. It also comes complete with an inbuilt stand.
You will need some specialist components like a 6V mini solar panel and 5V step-up inverter USB circuit, but it is otherwise pretty straightforward to make yourself.
5. Check out this homemade wind turbine
If you fancy making something both practical and educational for your kids, you could have a go at making this wind turbine. Assembly is pretty easy and children will love helping you make it.
This piece of domestic engineering is pretty cheap to make, costing less than 6 Euros total, and produces enough electricity to power a small light.
To make this you will need to buy some specialist pieces of kit like a small motor, some balsa wood, a gear of some kind, washers and screws and some other electrical and mechanical components.
Obviously, adults will need to make the actual generator 'gubbins' of the turbine but children can help make and decorate the blades.
6. Do you need a solar powered light for your bike?
This absolute genius of a domestic engineer made a working solar-powered bike light using a used deodorant stick.
To make this he also needed to scavenge an old garden solar light but otherwise just needed some silicone for assembly. The build itself is very easy and the final product looks pretty neat.
This bike light doesn't have an on-off switch (as the garden light has a cadmium cell instead) but you could add one in yourself if you wanted.
Once assembled you'll get a 'free' bike light with the added bonus of smelling good all day long.
7. This DIY Tesla Coil is awesome
If you ever wanted to build your own Tesla Coil now is your chance. It should go without saying, however, that you need to take some safety precautions everytime you fire it up so bear that in mind.
For example, they tend to generate Ozone and other gasses so make sure the area is well ventilated and can damage or destroy hearing devices and pacemakers.
With that being said assembly is pretty easy and doesn't require too many specialized pieces of kit. You will need to source a 15kV 60ma transformer, computer fan, capacitors, resistors, and battery holder but other materials are pretty easy to find at a DIY store.
Once built you can impress your friends with your new toy - but please use responsibly and safely!
8. Fancy your own real-life talking potato from Portal 2?
This clever clogs managed to build talking potato for a college project that also doubles as a new house pet.
According to the instructions page "This Instructable is for a light up and talking PotatOS from Portal 2. She was made as a college project which had a size restriction of 1ft cubed."
The materials used are pretty easy to find but you will need a 6V and 9V battery and holder, a sound recording module, speaker, on/off rocker switch, push buttons, resistors and other electrical components and tools.
Other than that assembly is pretty easy and fun. At the end of your labors, you'll be rewarded with a new light-up and talking companion for life - at least until the potato rots away of course.
9. Here's a solar-powered mini radio in an Altoids Tin
This great piece of domestic engineering is not just fun to make but will be really handy in an emergency. The whole assembly is compact and robust and should cost less than $3 to make from scratch.
The device even comes complete with a headphone port. It looks amazing and is incredibly fun to make.
The creator's inspiration was to help out his Japanese friends during crises.
"In honor of all my good friends still over in Japan, I've decided to create an Instructable for a $3 Emergency Solar Radio. It's a great thing in case of tsunami, nuclear meltdown, or zombie invasion. Plus it's really cute when put into an Altoids tin."
You will need to scavenge or buy some ready-made parts but it's otherwise a simple project to complete.
10. This guy turned his VHS player into a toaster!
Chances are, if you're old enough, you'll have an old VHS player gathering dust somewhere. Unless you still have a large collection of VHS tapes why not re-purpose the old player into something both fun and practical?
One interesting option is to convert into a fancy bread toaster and make it an invaluable and unique kitchen appliance. According to the genius who designed this project their inspiration was from an old BBC TV show called "The Young Ones".
To make this you will need an old VHS player (obviously) as well as an old toaster. Other than that assembly isn't too taxing.
You should read the assembly guide carefully and make sure you adhere to its safety warnings.
Award-winning artist and engineer Dan Morrison talks to us about the design process of his whimsical and functional statement pieces. According to him, his work is a celebration of architecture and engineering.