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Awesome Engineering

How “Gecko Skin” Material Works

How “Gecko Skin” Material Works

Geckos can climb up smooth surfaces and even walk upside-down, thanks to the microscopic structures that have evolved on their skin. Derek from Veritasium met with Stanford mechanical engineering professor Mark Cutkosky to learn about synthetic materials he’s developed which can mimic the capabilities of gecko skin.

Air-powered LEGO Truck

Air-powered LEGO Truck

Compressed air can pack an impressive amount of energy in a small space. Brick Technology shows off how it can power LEGO Technic engines, then moves on to a brick-built, remote-controlled semi that’s powered by compressed air in the tanks that it’s towing. The custom pneumatic parts came from Green Gecko Workshop.

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Kinetic Sine Wave Machine

Kinetic Sine Wave Machine

Kinetic sculpture maker JBV Creative shows off one of his coolest builds yet, a machine that creates a sine wave motion as ball bearings roll along its horseshoe-shaped ribs. He sells an STL template for 3D printing your own, along with a detailed assembly video. He’s also made a version that’s twice as long.

Pocket-Size Typewriter

Pocket-Size Typewriter

Typewriters might be obsolete, but devices that can print on paper are still useful. One problem with typewriters is that they’re big and heavy. Attoparsec engineered a typewriter that fits in your pocket. He took the striker bars from a typewriter and linked them together in a machined metal case with a built-in ink pad.

Dropping a Paper Airplane from Space

Dropping a Paper Airplane from Space

Zealous and his pals set out to break the record for the highest paper airplane drop. So they engineered a plane that could handle the weight of a camera and a GPS module, launched it to the edge of space on a balloon, and waited for it to fall back to earth. Naturally, it was much more complicated than they thought it would be.

Knife-throwing Machine

Knife-throwing Machine

The idea of a machine optimized for throwing blades as quickly and accurately as possible seems like a terrible idea. But this is the internet, so someone had to go and make one. Quint BUILDs shows off his dangerous invention, which can launch and fire up to 10 knives with precision and from different distances.

Glitter Bomb 5.0

Glitter Bomb 5.0

After embarrassing numerous porch pirates, engineer Mark Rober is back with the final and most ambitious iteration of his electromechanical glitter bomb. Version 5.0 is packed with autonomous glitter drones and even more fart spray to ruin any criminal’s day. He also built a stripped-down version for car break-ins.

Rope-making Machine

Rope-making Machine

Traditional ropes are made by winding hemp or other strong plant fibers. NightHawkInLight got his hands on an industrial machine he found on AliExpress that can take fibers like tall grass and braids them together to create rope. It required a bit of fine-tuning to make it work properly, but it did its job in the end.

28 LEGO Mechanisms Destroyed

28 LEGO Mechanisms Destroyed

The Brick Technology channel is always making interesting machines from LEGO Technic parts. In this video, they show off more than two dozen satisfying LEGO mechanisms and then let them self-destruct by overpowering each one. The demolition starts at the 6:23 mark, followed by slow-motion footage.

Time Twister 5 Electromechanical Digital Clock

Time Twister 5 Electromechanical Digital Clock

We’ve seen a couple of Hans Andersson’s unique digital clocks in the past. Now he’s back with another intriguing design that uses servo-powered layers and colored dots to tell the time. Each layer needs just three faces to form all 10 digits. As the digits rotate into view, all we can think of was how it looks like a Rubik’s Cube.

Science and Nature Washi Tape

Science and Nature Washi Tape
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Washi tape is a paper tape that’s ideal for wrapping gifts and embellishing journals or notes. Cognitive Surplus makes a fun series of washi tapes in patterns inspired by biology, botany, astronomy, chemistry, math, engineering, and more. Our favorites include the microbiology, Mars rovers, heartbeat, and skeleton designs.

High-Jumping Robot

High-Jumping Robot

This 12″ tall robot can launch itself more than 100 feet into the air, making it the highest jumping robot. It stores up energy using a tiny motor and a fishing line to compress its springy legs before launch. Its lightweight feet efficiently transmit energy to the ground, and its dart-like shape once airborne helps it cut through the air.

Tiny Working Escalator

Tiny Working Escalator

Artist Luke Towan specializes in building models and dioramas. He recently finished making a 1:87th scale escalator that actually works. It took him almost a year to finish, but the completed piece is a marvel of miniature engineering. The 3D printing and laser cutting templates are available for download on Tinkercad.

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3D Printing Rockets

3D Printing Rockets

Building full-size rockets typically requires the creation of costly custom tooling. But Relativity Space is taking a different approach to the problem, using a giant 3D printer and additive manufacturing to melt and form aluminum into the shape of a rocket. Veritasium takes us inside of their facility for a look at how it works.

Making Giant Wire Rope

Making Giant Wire Rope

Germany’s Fatzer Brugg is one of the world’s leading producers of industrial wire rope. These thick braids of wire come together to form incredibly strong cables which are used for gondolas, ropeways, and bridges. This short clip shows one of the machines they use to twist together spools of wire to form a finished rope.

Ugears Hexapod Explorer

Ugears Hexapod Explorer

Wood model maker Ugears was clearly inspired by robots when they engineered this mechanical marvel. Once assembled, the six-legged creature ambles along on smooth surfaces when you wind its spring. The 388-piece, flat-pack model takes about 8 hours to assemble.

How a Mechanical Watch Works

How a Mechanical Watch Works

If you’ve ever looked through the case back of a mechanical watch, you know they can be incredibly complicated inside. Jake from Animagraffs created this detailed 3D animation which shows how all of those intricate gears, axles, springs, and dials work together to accurately tell time without batteries or electronics.

Plasma (Reveal Trailer)

Plasma (Reveal Trailer)

This engineering sandbox game lets players make their own working machines, structures, and interactive objects. It features a robust visual programming interface for controlling movements and encourages players to share their creations. Coming to Steam in early 2023. A PC demo is available now.

Giving Legs Their Snakes Back

Giving Legs Their Snakes Back

After seeing a video by Allen Pan in which he gave a snake legs, engineer James Bruton thought his robotic legs could use a more snake-like motion. So he got to work building a 6-legged robot which incorporates a mechanism he got from LEGO builder Akiyuki. Now he needs to give a snake a ride on it like Allen did.

Robot Breaks Record for the 100-Meter Dash

Robot Breaks Record for the 100-Meter Dash

We’ve seen Cassie, the Ostrich-shaped robot strut her stuff before. Now the speedy automaton has set a record for the fastest 100-meter dash ever run by a bipedal robot. With a time of 24.73 seconds, she’s no Usain Bolt, but it’s still an impressive achievement for the engineers from Oregon State University.

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The Treadwheel Crane

The Treadwheel Crane

Guédelon is an attraction in France that’s in the process of building a castle and its technologies based on authentic 13th-century drawings and artifacts. Among its features are these giant hamster wheels that use human power to lift stones. Tom Scott got a chance to give one of these treadwheel cranes a spin.

20 Mechanisms Explained with LEGO Machines

20 Mechanisms Explained with LEGO Machines

Engineering geeks will get a kick out of this video from the Brick Experiment Channel. Using LEGO Technic components, they demonstrated various mechanical principles, including a Schmidt coupling, a Scotch yoke, and a Chebyshev lambda linkage. Even if you don’t know what any of that means, it’s fun to watch.

How a Manual Transmission Works

How a Manual Transmission Works

Most cars sold these days have an automatic transmission. But it’s hard to beat a manual gearbox and its three-pedal setup when it comes to driver engagement. Jake O’Neill from Animagraphs created this 3D animation that shows us how the clutch, gears, and shifter work in concert to send power to the drivetrain.

How Mechanical Scales Work

How Mechanical Scales Work

3D illustrator Jared Owen loves to take things apart to show how they work. In this video, he looks at the mechanisms inside of two old-school mechanical scales to see how they use springs, gears, and plates to measure how much something weighs. It’s all about something called Hooke’s Law.

Realistic Engine Simulator

Realistic Engine Simulator

Cars in racing games don’t have the most realistic-sounding engine sounds. AngeTheGreat’s Engine Simulator not only can replicate the mechanisms and physics of a car engine, but it also produces realistic procedurally-generated sounds. You can grab the source code for Windows on GitHub.

Drone Motor Flying Machine

Drone Motor Flying Machine

A paramotor is a single-person flying machine with a parachute wing to keep it aloft and a large fan to propel it. Aviation buff Peter Sripol wanted to see if it was possible to create a version powered by a bunch of individual drone motors instead, and as you can see from the thumbnail, he succeeded. It’s insanely loud, though.

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