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A Business-Card PSP Stand

Cardstand_485 What: A sturdy way to prop up your PSP or other device

How: 1. Divide a business card into thirds vertically. Fold the ends forward. 2. Cut it according to the diagram below. 3. Stand the card up, and rest your PSP on it to watch a movie.

Have an idea for a 5-minute project?
Send it to us at [email protected].

Cardstand_embed
 

5-Minute Project Video: Naked Flash Drive

A screwdriver, fan and a whole lotta spray-on plastic make for one sexy data storage device. In this week's edition, web editor Megan Miller demonstrates a foolproof technique for tricking out your flash drive by stripping it bare.

As always, our 5 Minute Projects are available in video podcast form—subscribe here. And check out the whole series at popsci.com/5minutes.

   

5-Minute Project Video: Parabolic Cookware Wi-Fi Antenna

 

Here we have yours truly demonstrating a quick and easy way to greatly enhance your computer's ability to detect and connect to Wi-Fi networks both near and far with a piece of Asian parabolic cookware. Yes, the steamer basket we used is perhaps not the most Asian member of the parabolic cookware family, but this project is most famously done using a wok or deep-fry strainer, and the term stuck. Basically anything parabola-shaped and made of metal soft enough to puncture will work to some extent—experimentation will determine which yields the best pickup.

And if you want to get really precise, you can plot the focal point of your improvised antenna and position the Wi-Fi USB stick there for greater reception. Much more info can be found here. —John Mahoney

As always, our 5 Minute Projects are available in video podcast form—subscribe here.

PopSci 5-Minute Project: Disposable Cam-Belt

Doug explains how to build perhaps the world's most fashionable high-tech belt using only leather straps, a disposable camera and some elbow grease. Oh, and a belt, of course. Far more complex than it sounds—launch the video for in-depth instruction and proceed at your own risk.

If you haven't yet, subscribe to our 5-Minute Projects video podcast via iTunes or our RSS feed.

5-Minute Project Video: A Musical Stash For Your Cash


Jake demonstrates how to keep prying coworkers out of your secret stuff with this Altoids-tin storage box, complete with an "alarm" fashioned out of the guts of one of those musical greeting cards. Ah, the "sound of punishment." Enjoy.

If you haven't yet, subscribe to our 5-Minute Projects video podcast via iTunes or our RSS feed.

New! The 5-Minute Project Series is Now a Video Podcast

5minute_podcast_logo Now you can get our five minute project videos delivered directly to iTunes or any other podcasting app. Subscribe here via iTunes, or use our RSS feed (http://popsci.libsyn.com/rss).

Some of you may be wondering what cruel fate may have befallen our brave podcaster Jonathan Coulton out on Lunar Base One. Well, a critical Doritos shortage after a lunar cargo supply chain error left Jonathan with a choice: continue to broadcast his weekly dispatches in solitude on the moon sans Doritos, or return to Earth to devote his full energies to being the interstellar rock star that he is, with the added benefit of all the Doritos he could eat. I think we can all see how the latter option won out. We wish our contributing troubadour all the best—you can still relive all the excitement via the same RSS feed in iTunes where every episode is archived.

5-Minute Project Video: Peephole Fisheye Lens

One from the "why didn't I think of THAT" department: a fisheye lens from a standard peephole just like in your front door. You can pick up a peephole (sans door) for around $10 at most hardware stores and be shooting cool ultra-wide-angle, amusingly distorted images with your point-and-shoot digicam in the time it takes to simply tape it to your lens. Adding similar capabilities to a fancier DSLR can easily cost 50 times as much. Yay, cheapness! —John Mahoney

5-Minute Project Video: Snooper-Proof Wallet


As more and more credit cards and other documents come equipped with RFID tags—the tiny radio-frequency identification chips that beam your account or ID info to readers used by various services (public transportation, toll road fees, etc)—the more speculation has surfaced on how malicious ID thieves could potentially use similar readers to lift your personal data without your knowledge. Thankfully, it's pretty simple to keep your info protected right in your wallet. Web editor Megan Miller demonstrates above. —John Mahoney

5-Minute Project Video: Old Hard Drive = New Fridge Magnet

Chances are, if you've been using computers for more than a few years, you've encountered a hard disk failure at some point or another. And if you don't have your data backed up, these failures can be heartbreaking to say the least.

To help you forget about the loss of those priceless photos of your child's first steps and the great American novel you were writing in your spare time, know this: a dead hard drive is a great source of some sweet and powerful magnets! Behold:

Hard_drive_2

At the base of the arm that rapidly whisks back and forth over the spinning data platters inside your hard disk are two strong rare-earth magnets (the area labeled "actuator" in this drawing). At the end of the actuator arm is a coil which acts as an electromagnet, moving back and forth within the magnetic field created by the rare-earth magnets allowing for quick and precise movements without any moving parts. These are your prize—all it takes is a special star-shaped Torx screwdriver set and a little patience to reveal them. Check out the video above to see how it's done. —John Mahoney

Illustration: Surachit

5-Minute Project Video: The Coffee Can Cellphone Antenna


Cellphones have been around for quite some time now; you would think that, by now, the technology would have evolved to the point where our homes would no longer be subject to cruel, phantom areas of poor reception. But alas, dense concrete, wire-mesh stucco and some kinds of metallic siding can still render your home an annoyingly cell-free zone.

Here, How 2.0 solder-meister Mike Haney shows you a quick and cheap method of using your phone's hidden antenna-out and the garbage from your coffee and cookie consumption into a workable solution for improving your cell reception at home.

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