10 Incredible Backyard DIY Projects

Photo: Popular Mechanics

The magazine Popular Mechanics has issued its Backyard Geniuses Award. It's like a Nobel Prize, but for people who complete amazing technical projects of questionable utility. Pictured above is a giant car-crushing mechanical hand by Christian Ristow, a former employee of Jim Henson's Creature Shop:

In 2007 Christian Ristow, an artist and former animatronics designer for the movie industry, demonstrated his first working incarnation of the Hand of Man at a robotics festival in Amsterdam. Much of his time since then has been spent re-engineering and refining the design of the 27-foot-long hydraulically actuated appendage, exhibiting more and more capable crushers at a series of public venues­. Ristow’s latest mechanical steel limb has 90-degree wrist rotation and improved mobility in the finger joints. It is powered by a 90-hp Perkins 1104C-44T four-cylinder diesel engine and is controlled through a glove worn by the operator. At demonstrations, that operator is usually a random member of the audience. “I’ve built other large-scale radio-control robots for shows over the years, but I always felt like I was the one having the most fun,” Ristow says. “This democratizes the crushing power.”


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