Awesome Engineering

The Pizza Compass

The Pizza Compass

A normal compass uses the Earth’s magnetism to point North. But wouldn’t it be useful if compasses could point to more specific things? WIRED challenged maker Joe Grand to build a compass that sniffs out places that serve pizza and points its user in the right direction for a pepperoni fix no matter where they are.

Restoring a Parking Meter

Restoring a Parking Meter

With the advent of pay stations and mobile parking apps, meters are becoming a rare sight. But these coin-collecting dinosaurs still have some neat mechanical bits worth exploring inside of them, as Rescue & Restore shows as they down a 1960s Duncan meter and makes it like new again. That shiny red coat is a thing of beauty.

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How a Bowling Pinsetter Machine Works

How a Bowling Pinsetter Machine Works

We’ve previously taken a behind-the-scenes tour of a bowling alley. This video from 3D animator Jared Owen offers a more in-depth explanation of the engineering and mechanics that go into the machine that magically straightens and resets the pins between balls.

Testing Spider-Man’s Web IRL

Testing Spider-Man’s Web IRL

After proving it’s feasible to create web-like fibers from liquid, Built IRL uses an off-the-shelf woven fiber to test the ability for it to work like Spider-Man’s webs. The main engineering feat is the multi grappling hook design he came up with. He first uses the web to take down a bad guy, then swings from it after tossing it over a bar.

How a Split-Flap Display Works

How a Split-Flap Display Works

Split-flap displays used to be common in everything from tabletop clocks to arrival and departure boards at airports. While not as popular these days, these electro-mechanical displays are still marvels of engineering. Scottbez1 walks us through how they work with a demonstration of his single-digit Arduino-controlled display.

Flexible Vine Robots

Flexible Vine Robots

Like some other bendy machines, these unconventional robots move with the power of compressed air. Veritasium shows how these inexpensive, inflatable tubes can access places that other robots can’t, and could be used on search-and-rescue missions, or helping to intubate patients. You can even make your own vine robot.

How Steel Chains are Made

How Steel Chains are Made

Think of how strong a steel chain can be. Then imagine the forces that must be necessary to shape and connect its links. In this video from Engineering and Architecture, we get an up-close look at a specialized machine that takes lengths of steel wire, then scores, cuts, bends, and presses the pieces together.

How Motor Coils are Wound

How Motor Coils are Wound

For a motor to work, it needs tightly-wound copper or aluminum coils to generate a magnetic field when current is applied. This fascinating video from NIDE shows how their machines do the work automatically, first loading an armature, then rapidly winding copper wire around its fins.

Ultimate Squirrel-proof Feeder

Ultimate Squirrel-proof Feeder

Like many of us, engineer Mark Rober has a backyard bird feeder. He also faces the common problem of squirrels pilfering bird seed. So what did he do? He and his buddy created an overly-complicated solution to the problem, frustrating fluffy-tailed rodents with an American Squirrel Warrior obstacle course.

Sandwich Assembly Robot

Sandwich Assembly Robot

Mechanical engineer Kuroki Yuto and his collaborators came up with a novel use for a 3D printer mechanism – using the 3-axis machine to manipulate and assemble parts. In this video, they show how the system can be used to put together a sandwich. They used the same technique to assemble a toy car and to fold a shirt.

Metal Hydroforming Experiments

Metal Hydroforming Experiments

Hydroforming is the process of shaping metal structures by inflating them with pressurized water or air. Maker Connor Holland has been experimenting with the technique, and shared this compilation of some of the more interesting and satisfying results. The pillow one looks like a metal whoopee cushion.

Chainsaw Robot

Chainsaw Robot

After creating a robot that gives haircuts to humans, Shane from Stuff Made Here has bestowed one of his robots with a far more dangerous tool than a set of clippers. While his chainsaw-wielding robot arm is designed for carving shapes from foam blocks, we could see it taking off an arm if there’s any bug in his programming.

Bowling Ball Balancing Machine

Bowling Ball Balancing Machine

Try to balance a bowling ball on a circular object, and you’ll almost certainly fail. But engineer Stepan Ozana shows how it’s possible to do just that with a machine. It uses a principle called LQR and REXYGEN control software to monitor the ball’s position and to rapidly move the wheel back and forth to keep the ball from falling.

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LEGO Slope-climbing Experiments

LEGO Slope-climbing Experiments

After impressing us with a LEGO car that can climb over a stack of books, the Brick Experiment Channel is back with a simpler vehicle design challenge. The plan? Dial in the right mix of traction, gearing, wheelbase, and weight balance to climb the steepest sheet of glass possible. And then, start cheating.

Wooden Car with Working Odometer

Wooden Car with Working Odometer

Generic Woodworking has built some pretty amazing mechanical wooden models, including a drill-powered wooden car, complete with a working engine, transmission, and steering. He recently upgraded the car with a functional odometer, which can track the distance that its wheels have traveled. See it in action at 10:55.

Robot Pool Cue

Robot Pool Cue

“I don’t have skill, but I do have technology!” Shane of Stuff Made Here adds to his collection of robotic sporting goods by engineering a pool cue that automatically lines up the best shot. We love how Shane shares his failures and troubleshooting process along the way. Also, we learned a cool new word: fiducial.

Chain: The Secret Life of Components

Chain: The Secret Life of Components

Engineer and inventor Tim Hunkin is the man behind the beloved UK educational series The Secret Life of Machines. Each episode of his new YouTube series will dive deep with a specific component. Episode 1 teaches everything you’ve ever wanted to know about chains and belts, along with their history, physics, and varieties.

LEGO 1×1 Gear Chain

LEGO 1×1 Gear Chain

Today’s most satisfying video comes in the form of this clip from the Brick Experiment Channel. Their goal? Create the longest possible chain of 1×1 LEGO Technic gears while retaining the same gear ratio from start to finish. We’re impressed that a single motor can drive that many gears.

How a Tank Works

How a Tank Works

Jared Owen always does a great job explaining how things work by creating 3D animations of their inner workings. This time, he walks us through the caterpillar-tracked M1A2 Abrams tank, which weighs in at an incredible 68 tons, and can cross just about any terrain. We had no idea these things were powered by jet fuel.

Making a Flywheel Trebuchet

Making a Flywheel Trebuchet

Engineer Tom Stanton is fascinated by the way in which flywheels can store up energy as they’re spun up to speed. In this clip, he combines a flywheel mechanism with a sturdy aluminum trebuchet, creating a durable machine that can toss a tennis ball at fast as 180 mph.

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DIY Cupcake Machine

DIY Cupcake Machine

What’s better than a delicious cupcake? A machine that can crank out cupcakes for you on-demand, that’s what. Skeyntific shows off a robotic factory line he built that first pours dough for each cupcake, moves it into a modified microwave for cooking, then applies toppings using motorized caulking guns.

Engineering a Climbing LEGO Car

Engineering a Climbing LEGO Car

If you slap wheels onto a basic motorized LEGO vehicle, it will have a hard time climbing over obstacles. The Brick Experiment Channel tested out a variety of design and drivetrain modifications to their car to see what it would take to climb over stacks of books with the best results.

Carbon Fiber Strength Comparison

Carbon Fiber Strength Comparison

Carbon fiber is an amazing material, combining strength and weight efficiency. When set into resin and woven properly, it can be used to build airplanes and cars. But this clip from JPRC shows the dramatic difference in strength that carbon fiber exhibits when its fibers are pulled in a straight line versus tied into a knot.

Custom Split-Flap Displays

Custom Split-Flap Displays

Oat Foundry builds electro-mechanical signboards, inspired by the ones that show schedules at older train stations and airports. Puzzle fiend Chris Ramsay commissioned one, and is here to show off just how cool it is. If you’re interested in having one built for yourself or your business, you can request a quote here.

Glitter Bomb 3.0 vs. Porch Pirates

Glitter Bomb 3.0 vs. Porch Pirates

After two two prior efforts to get back at package thieves, engineer Mark Rober kicks things up another notch. His latest Glitter Bomb is the most diabolical “gift” yet, adding the nasty glue from mouse traps, 4x the fart spray, eau de skunk, a police light effect, and a mechanism that makes it harder to shut off.

Hydraulic Press vs. Hot Steel

Hydraulic Press vs. Hot Steel

Here’s a hydraulic press video that’s not from the Hydraulic Press Channel. The clip, recorded in an unnamed metal shop shows how oxidization in the outer layer of steel results in a spectacular show of sparks as small amounts of the metal are shed under compression.

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