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2013 Breakthrough Awards

S P EC I A L R E P O RT :

ARIZONA
WILDFIRE TRAGEDY
p. 76

TECH HOME AUTO SCIENCE ADVENTURE

The
Years
Best
Tech

NO PILOT? NO PROBLEM!
In July, the X-47B became the first unmanned jet ever to land on an aircraft carrier.

Science
Gear

& Big
Ideas

MARS LAB-ON-WHEELS
ROBOTS THAT FEEL
3D PRINTED BODY PARTS
GMS SELF-DRIVING CAR
EXOSKELETON LEGS
XPRIZE GENIUS PETER DIAMANDIS
AND THE AMAZING

FLYING MINI
BOTS
THE FUTURE BEGINS ON PAGE

ISSUE

NOVEMBER
2013

Wear it. Mount it. Love it.


GoPro App

Dream it.
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3D print it.

The Afinia H-Series 3D Printer.


Ready to go right out of the box, with easy-to-install software for both the PC and Mac.
Its a fast and easy way for anyone to explore the possibilities of 3D printing. Choose
between compostable PLA and recyclable ABS laments to build an object up to 5 inches
cubed in dimension. The high print quality creates a clean look and sharp corners.
Take your ideas to another dimension. With 3D printing, anything is possible.

Now available at RadioShack.com/3Dprint

PHOTOGRAPH BY NICHOL AS CA LCOT T

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

05

Breakthrough Awards
2013 We honor the years

IGNITION

best in ingenuity, from selfdriving cars to stunning virtual


reality to custom-printed
medical implantsand
innovators, such as X Prize
founder Peter Diamandis.
BY LOGAN WARD .......................

55

Line of Fire A PopMech

11.13

exclusive on the increasingly


deadly relationship between
housing developments in
wildre-prone areas and the
reghters who protect them.
BY KALEE THOMPSON ...............

76

Why Is This Rock


Worth $400,000?
Chronicling the travails of
meteorite hunters, who put it
alleven their liveson the
line in the hope of striking it
big with cosmic geology.
BY CHRIS RAYMOND ..................

84

Meet NASAs Curiosity roveror


its earthbound twin, at leastwinner of one of this years Breakthrough Awards.
ON THE COVER

Landing itself on this months cover


sX
is the Navys autonomous
X-47B
prototype, illustrated
ated by Sou
South
Walesbased
ased Graham Hutchin
Hutchings.

Finally, the waterproof phone.

p. 3
30
0

Ignition:

Column:
CinemaTech Thanks to a synchro--

TechWatch:

nized quartet of industrial robotic arms,


s,
Alfonso Cuarns latest thriller, Gravity,
simulates weightlessness with a realism
that sets a new visual-eects standard for
space-based movies.

Letters, Complaints, Events .................... 06


News, Trends, Breakthroughs ................ 19

Upgrade:

Gear, Tools, Gadgets ................................. 29

Auto Intel:

Test Drives, Top Tech, Hot Rides ............ 41

BY STEVE DALY...............................................

50

06

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

What You Said


21 Pages of DIY

(ABOUT OUR SEPTEMBER ISSUE AND MORE)


We read all of your comments, tweets, and letters. Were often
impressed by your penmanship. Curated by Steve Rousseau

W
92 Tech

Under
$375!

Drones are used for covert surveillance and air


strikes, but theyre also used for fun! Here, our
introduction to the eld of hobbyist UAVs.
Digital Clinic New apps allow customers to deposit
checks with their smartphone, but is it secure?

p. 108

102 Home
We update a classic single-unit, two-person lunch table
originally featured in a 1939 Popular Mechanics. The
best part? You can still build it in a day.
Tool Test Four mid-duty chain saws cleared debris
and ripped logs. Two emerged as champs.
Home Clinic Cold weather is coming. Its time to
winterize your mower. Should you stabilize the fuel
left in the engine, or just run the mower dry?

Readers had plenty to say in


response to Mike Rowes recent
column highlighting the
widening gap between college
and trade-school graduates and
pointing out the potential aws
in platitudes such as work
smart, not hard (The Worst
Advice in the World, September). I applaud Mike for his
insight into what Ive always
considered a basic aw in our
countrys perception of success,
writes Jordan Smith of San Juan
Capistrano, Calif. We cannot
outsource reghters, police
ocers, mechanics, or any of the
dirty jobs that are essential to
everyday life. Commenting via
Facebook, Joe Dean writes: I
couldnt agree more that it is a
fallacy that a more expensive
education will always be better.
Stephen Orbon of Greensburg,

114 Auto

132 A Brief History of . . .


TA L K T O U S
Email
popularmechanics@hearst.com
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Snail mail
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k NY 10019
Subscribe
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IGNI
GNI TION

Life on Mars.

P H O T O G R A P H B Y G R E G G D E L M A N ( C H A I N S AW )

Its not a rental: Our guide to the brave new world of


car-sharing services evaluates the strengths and
weaknesses of this rapidly expanding industry.
Car Clinic How to diagnose and x a heater
er that
refuses to get hot, just in time for winter.

08

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Pa., notes that he got a college


degree but doesnt believe its a
prerequisite of success.
During my 44-year tenure as
an engineer there was one
observation that stood out:
There is no correlation
between education, position,
age, and intelligence. But the
positive feedback for Rowes
column was not unanimous.
He uses the phrase work
smart, not hard in a dierent
sense from which Ive always
dened it, writes Bill Piccirilli
of Lutherville, Md. Its always
meant, in my opinion, that
COMPLAINTS
D E PA R T M E N T

any workincluding blue-collar


workis done more eciently
if you accomplish it in a smart
way. Trey Reich, writing via
Facebook, disputes Rowes
claim that marketing is the key
cause of the sharp rise in
college enrollment and,
subsequently, tuition. Many of
these students chose college
because their fathers were
welders and dirt workers, and
those job environments
literally kill you, slowly, he
writes. You cant blame a
person for not wanting to
follow the same path. Tom



ADAM URAYNAR, SHEBOYGAN, WIS.

What Were
Up To
(POPMECH NEWS &
EVENTS & STAFFERS ON
THE SCENE)

?#@*&%!

Carroll of Ridgeeld, Wash.,


enjoyed our balanced coverage
of the regulatory quagmire
related to the imminent surge
of unmanned aerial vehicles in
the U.S. (Drone Skies). This
is one of the few articles on
this contentious subject that
objectively examines both
sides of the drone issue, he
writes. Richard Whittle nailed
the good drone/bad drone
argument with nesse. In
Digital Clinic (September, page
109) the recommended router
transmission frequency is
70 milliwatts, not megawatts.

IGNITION

Testing structural integrity is a vital step in building a table. Associate photo


editor Devon Baverman and contributing photographer Reed Young pause
for the camera while ensuring that our single-unit lunch table featured in
DIY Home (page 102) is well-built. Executive editor David Dunbar (center,
right) and contributing editor John Galvin discuss the intricacies of disaster
preparedness and survival in an upcoming PopMech video series. Associate
editor Andrew Del-Colle takes Jaguars racing-heritage-inspired Project 7
concepta modied F-Type with more power, more carbon ber, and more
aerodynamic elementsfor a spin during Monterey Car Week in California.

WERE REALLY BUSY IN NOVEMBER

 Launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN)


spacecraft to orbit Mars; Cape Canaveral, Fla.
L.A. Auto Show; Los Angeles
 Comet ISON makes its closest approach to the sun

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NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

J AM E S B. M EI G S

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IGNITION
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Popular Mechanics Interactive


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Employee of the Month

In the oice hes known as Superhero Mike Austin. He doesnt have


cybernetics or superpowers but
hes a super guy! Just watch this
auto editor play broomball and youll
understand.

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T H E K I D WA N T S T O K N O W
Are you a kid with a question? Ask Steve!
Email popularmechanics@hearst.com.

Is there a legal
limit to the
amount of
g-forces a
roller coaster
can exert?
Kimball S., 13,
Monterey, Calif.

An exciting question with a less exciting answer!


Currently, roller-coaster regulation varies by state,
but many amusement parks and ride engineers
adhere to a set of standards developed by ASTM
International (formerly, the American Society for
Testing and Materials). When it comes to high
g-forces, the key factor is exposure time. ASTM
advises that rides should keep changes in acceleration under 15 gs per second. S T E V E R O U S S E A U

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NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

ON T HE W E B

.com
A U T O M O T I V E S C I E N C E T E C H N O L O G Y H O M E H O W -T O C E N T R A L V I D E O

On popmech.com see the


worlds largest self-anchored
bridge, check out the top
football-stadium tech, and
read these great stories:

PECULIAR PLANETS
See the pink planet, the diamond
planet, the doomed planet, and other
space oddities. popularmechanics
.com/strangeplanets

REAL-LIFE SUPERPOWERS
Eight ways technology is quickly
closing the gap between the
human and the superhuman.
popularmechanics.com/superpowers

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P H O T O G R A P H B Y C F A / D AV I D A G U I L A R

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POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

Tech

W AT C H

Beyond the
Hyperloop Hype
NEWS
TRENDS
BREAKTHROUGHS
Edited by
JENNINGS BROWN

Not content with overturning two transportation industries, Elon Musk,


head of the space-launch
company SpaceX and
electric-car manufacturer
Tesla Motors, in August
unveiled a super-highspeed-transit concept
that would allow passengers to travel from Los
Angeles to San Francisco
in 35 minutes. But will it
actually run?
B Y M ICHAEL B ELFIORE

19

20

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

The Hyperloop concept is bold:


pods with 28 passengers
whizzing through a tube at 760
mph, with a price tag of $6
billion$62 billion less than the
planned California High Speed
Rail that would reach only 220
mph. Still, Musks idea isnt as
outrageous as it might sound.
Dean Peterson, a retired scientist from Los Alamos National
Laboratory, where he worked on
a maglev-cargo-transport concept for the Navy, says there are
challenges that need to be overcome, but he remains optimistic.
With existing technologies we
could potentially build this, he
says. It isnt so far-out that its
beyond being a possibility.
Here are some of the issues
developers would have to face in
order to make Musks fth mode
of transportation a reality.

MAINTAINING
LOW PRESSURE
The 350-mile elevated tube
would provide a highly depressurized conduit for passenger
pods that accelerate by electromagnetic elds in a manner similar to maglev trains. However,
instead of magnetically levitat-

ing, each 28-person pod would


ski on a thin lm of air generated
by a compressor at the front
of the vehicle. Given the low air
pressure and the air-cushion ride,
the propulsion system would
have to boost the pods only at
widely spaced intervals, saving
energy and operating costs.
Marcel Jufer of the cole
Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne headed the team working
on the Swissmetro, a concept
for an underground low-pressure
maglev. He cites the much lower
tube pressure in the Hyperloop
as a potential stumbling block.
The Hyperloops 0.001 of an
atmosphere (a unit of pressure
equal to the pressure of the air
at sea level), he says, would be
diicult and costly to maintain and would complicate any
rescue eorts. The main safety
concerns are related to the
vacuum, he says. How would
they evacuate passengers?

COOLING
The tubes stators, or eld magnets, and the pods aluminum
rails, which are magnetically propelled by the stators, would experience signicant heatingabout

160 F added at each acceleration


and braking point, Jufer estimates. Keeping them cool would
be especially challenging in the
low-pressure environment, since
convection would be minimal.

POLITICS
The biggest barriers to the
Hyperloop may, in fact, be regulatory and economic. Building a
high-prole elevated transport
system would surely face resistance from property owners and
municipalities along the route
who fear having their views
ruined. And Musks $6 billion
cost estimate doesnt take into
account purchasing rights of way
through some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

DEVELOPMENT
Many of these issues could be
resolved after signicant computer modeling, followed by
real-world testing. This project would greatly benet from
the investment, not just the
endorsement, of an inuential
visionary. Musk has said hes
considering funding development, perhaps at the SpaceX
rocket-testing facility in West
Texas. That might be the only
way the Hyperloop ever becomes
more than a 57-page plan.

ELON MUSKS HYPERLOOP

PROPULSION / An
electric linear-inductionmotor system drives
the pods up to 760
mph; a magnetic eld
generated by stators
located in the capsules
pushes sled-like aluminum slats forward.

POD / Each pod holds 28 passengers. A compressor at the front of


the pod takes in air and pushes it
out at the bottom to suspend the
vehicle on a 0.020- to 0.050-inch
lm of high-pressure air. Compressors in the front also pump air to
the back, reducing the air owing
around the pods.

TUBE / Segments
are welded together
and depressurized
to about 0.001 of an
atmosphere to reduce
resistance and friction
of the pods. Power
comes from solar panels on the roof.

PYLONS / Approximately 25,000


concrete pillars,
each 20 to 100
feet tall, support
the tube along
the 350-mile Los
Angeles-to-San
Francisco route.

I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y M A R T I N L A K S M A N ( H Y P E R L O O P ) , R I L E Y R O S S M O ( M U S K )

HOW IT WORKS:

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GET INTO

YOUR
CHEESE
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Introducing Campbells Chunky Cheeseburger Soup.


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MARINE TECH

Robotic Aquatics
Drones arent just proliferating in the skytheyll soon populate the seas,
where engineers are drawing inspiration from natures own designs. Dispatched
by governments and researchers, these unmanned craft will patrol harbors,
track wildlife migration, and investigate shipwrecks. B Y E R I K S C H E C H T E R

A THICK, FLEXIBLE
SILICONE COVER
MIMICS THE UMBRELLA
OF A JELLYFISH.
EIGHT ROBOTIC
ARMS UNDER
THE SKIN
CONTROL
M O V E M E N T.
A RECHARGEABLE
N I C K E L M E TA L
H Y D R I D E B AT T E R Y
P O W E R S T H E R O B O T.

1.

3.

Cyro

ACM-R5H
M-R5H

Crabster CR200

Engineers at Virginia Tech, funded by the U.S.


Navy, developed Cyro to be an endurance
undersea-monitoring machine. The 170-pound,
silicone-skinned robotic jellysh can operate in
the ocean for months. The university researchers
are considering how the Cyro could help clean up
oil spills, but the Navy might use the technology
for subtle underwater surveillance.

This amphibious snake comes


with a glowing, cyclopean
camera head and ridges
tiny wheels and paddles for
motionthat line its segmented body. The system,
developed by Japanese company HiBot in conjunction
with the Tokyo Institute of
Technology, is designed for
search-and-rescue operations
that would require wriggling
through gaps too narrow for
human rst responders.

Developed at the Korea


Institute of Ocean Science
& Technology, the Crabster
is a 6-foot-tall 1322-pound
tethered robot that next
July will be used to inspect
shipwrecks and track marine
life. The giant bot is armed
with LED spotlights, sonar,
cameras, and navigation
sensors, and its legs are
powerful enough to stay on
course, even when going
against the current.

FUTURE FOOD

Test-Tube Hamburgerr
in the
TURNS OUT STEM-CELL BURGERS ARENT AS TERRIBLE AS THEY SOUND.
SOUND In August scientists
s
Netherlands unveiled a technique that could use a tissue sample from a cows rump to create 175
million patties. Once stem cells are plated onto a petri dish, a gel made from calfs blood is used to
nourish them, and they start dividing. The cells clump into bers called myotubes, which are transferred
to a new dish with a small column of gel at the center. The cells contract around the gel, bulking up
into a ring of muscle tissue. When 20,000 of the muscle rings bond, the result is a 100 percent lean
burger withreportedlythe same taste as traditional meat. Sure, its gross. But lab-grown meat could
eliminate factory farmings big environmental footprint. S A R A H F E C H T

P H O T O G R A P H S B Y H I B O T ( A C M - R 5 H ) , D AV I D P A R R Y / P A W I R E ( H A M B U R G E R )

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NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

60-SECOND
SECOND
GENIUS
ENIUS
J. Craig Venter,
author,
geneticist,
2010 Breakthrough
Awards
rds Leadership
Award
ard recipient

A:

News
Brief
FiveDimensional
Data Storage

Wh iis bi
What
biological
l i l
teleportation?

One day we will be able to send digital information


and then re-create biology at the other end. This could
mean downloading medicine such as insulin from the Internet
directly into a 3D printer in your home. When the H1N1 u
pandemic struck, it took about nine months to get vaccines
to some places. With life at the speed of light, we could send
the digital information for the new vaccine around the world
in less than a second. Then every place with a digital decoder
could download the vaccine. And with the rst synthetic cell,
we can actually send living bacterial instructions and recapitulate that at the other end. But thats just now. Its going to
advance very rapidly.

How will synthetic biology aect


evolution? With synthetic biology and
synthetic genomics, humans are in
charge of evolution. We can make
biological evolution happen thousands
to millions of times faster than it
did before. Biological evolution will
be able to catch up with social
evolution. And thats exciting, because
humanity needs a lot of changes
if were going to survive. Biology will
be one of the key contributing
approaches to that survival.
A S T O L D T O A LY S O N S H E P P A R D

In October J. Craig Venter, who was one


of the rst geneticists to map the
human genome, published his latest
book, Life at the Speed of Light, in
which he focuses on the science of
synthetic life and biological engineering.

ALEX H UTC H I N SO N

P H O T O G R A P H S B Y P H I L I P F R I E D M A N ( B O O K ) , B R E T T S H I P E ( V E N T E R ) ; I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y M A R T I N L A K S M A N

Is anything like this happening now? Were currently setting


up the rst digital biological converter at Novartiss vaccinemanufacturing plant in North Carolina. As soon as any new
strain of u virus appears, we can send it immediately to them
in a digital form. Then, in less than 24 hours, the robotic
device we have there will synthetically make the new vaccine,
which can be scaled up and taken into production right there.

No, theyre not warping the spacetime


continuumbut
optoelectronics
researchers at
Britains University
of Southampton have
gured out how to
encode computer data
in ve dimensions.
The rst three dimensions are the standard
spatial dimensions,
with data encoded
at dierent depths
in an optical disc
made of transparent
quartz. The two extra
dimensions come from
varying the intensity of the high-speed
writing the
laser beam writi
data. The result is
capable
a technique cap
of saving 360
terabytes onto a
standard-size disc.
standard-size
di
More importantly
importantly, the
quartz discs sho
should be
stable for thousands
thous
of years and resist
res
temperatures of more
than 1800 FpropFpr
erties that may be
attractive enoug
enough to
justify the highe
higher cost
of the new technique.
tech

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SOLAR STUDIES

Seeing Under the Sun


Soon after its launch in June, NASAs Interface
Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft
sent back images and spectral analyses of the
sun never seen before. This data focuses on
the thin layer between the suns surface and its
scorching, 1.5-million-degree-Fahrenheit corona,
and could help us predict solar storms and mitigate their eect on our communications network.
IRIS can pick out small features, even those
merely 150 miles across. Were just oored by
the quality of the images and the spectra, says
Bart De Pontieu, IRIS project lead scientist at
Lockheed Martin. According to De Pontieu, the
team sees a lot of dynamic, violent events happening at hundreds of kilometers per second
in the images. The researchers hope to discover
what role these events play in producing the
enormous temperatures of the corona. We realized that we need to look at this area in a
lot more detail, he adds. It hasnt been studied
as much because its a region of changes, of
transitions. W I L L D I E T R I C H - E G E N S T E I N E R

News
Brief
Intelligent
Scalpels

A.H.

how it
works
IRISs ultraviolet telescope snaps images about once every 20 seconds,
onds, while the spectrograph
captures information on the light wavelengths. The probes onboard computer
omputer then processes the data and beams it down to NASA 13 times a day. This information is
s combined with 3D
numerical modeling to piece together simulations of what is happening on the
he suns surface.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY LOCKHEED MARTIN (IRIS), REUTERS (IKNIFE)

Removing a tumor
is tricky surgery,
largely because
its often unclear
where the cancer ends and
the healthy tissue begins. An
intelligent knife
developed at Imperial College London
oers immediate feedback on
whether the tissue
its cutting through
is cancerous. The
iKnife uses a precise beam of electric current to slice
through tissue, and
it sucks the smoke
given o by the
burning esh into
a mass spectrometer to identify the
specic chemicals
icals
present. Results
sults
are available
able
within 3 seconds
seconds-a dramatic
improvement
provement
over the halfhour wait
needed for
traditional
midsurgery lab
analysis.

!
T
S
A
P
E
H
T
F
O
S
E
Y
E
E
TH
H
G
U
O
R
H
T
E
R
U
T
U
F
E
H
SEE T

or more than a century, scientic and


military experts have imagined a world
of weaponry that included death rays,
robot spies in outer space, and dirigible
mother ships holding dozens of planes.
Some predictions were shockingly prescient; others hilariously wrongand
youll nd them all in this new book alongside the stunning original color art.

Edited by Nebula-award winning author


Gregory Benford.

ALSO

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AVAILABLE
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AND I GET TO LIVE IN NONE OF THEMAND NO,
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ITBUT AT LEAST I HAVE THIS BOOK, WHICH
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Available in hardcover or as an ebook wherever books are sold.

TAKES YOU

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19 40: T

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car of to

mor r o w

Over the decades, scientists have peered


into their crystal balls, envisioned the world
to comeand shared their predictions with
readers of POPULAR MECHANICS.
What did they see? Flying ambulances.
Space suits made from paper. Utopian cities
with elevated sidewalks and sunken streets.
Even the cure for the common cold.
In our brand new booka collection
of these speculations with original text by
Nebula winner and NASA advisor Gregory
Benfordthe bizarre, wildly imaginative,
and (occasionally) eerily accurate
WONDERFUL FUTURE THAT NEVER WAS
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1950: Clean your waterproof home with a hose

PHOTOGRAPH BY A A RON DY ER

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

29

Upgr ade
GEAR
TOOLS
GADGETS

S T Y L I N G B Y D E V O N B AV E R M A N A N D A N N A B U L L E R

Edited by
JENNINGS BROWN

Nemo, Phone
Home

Give people phones that provide Internet access and theyll take
them everywhereincluding into the bathroom and to the swimming
pool. Waterproof phones have been a long time coming, and we nally
have the rst models that arent ruggedized clunkers. These new
submergible phones look and work like their water-averse counterparts. Here, we take three of the latest for a dip. R A C H E L Z . A R N DT

30

PHOTOGRAPH BY A A RON DY ER

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

sony xperia z ($630/$580


with t-mobile plan)
The Xperia Z is the most
elegant-looking of the bunch,
and its functionality is nearly as
good as the S4s (also reviewed
here). But its sharp, angular lines
make one-handed operation
uncomfortable, and opening the
tiny protective aps that shield
the charging and headphone
ports requires some tricky
ngernail maneuvering. We also
nd the user-interface design a
touch cheesy, and the 13-megapixel camerawhich takes quick
and clear shotstends to give
images a blue tinge.
1

kyocera hydro edge


($230/$70 with sprint
contract)

samsung galaxy s4
active ($595/$200 with
at&t contract)

The Hydro Edge oers the


best solution to keeping
water out of the charging port,
which opens and closes with the
ip of a switch, and the phone is
inexpensive. Unfortunately, the
positive aspects of this device
stop there. Supported by the
spartan Sprint network and its
poor 4G LTE coverage, and
powered by a dinky 1-GHz
processor, the Hydro Edge is
just plain slow. Though its
screen is almost the same shape
as the 5-inch iPhone display, it
looks overcrowded, because
its a widget-supporting Android
phone with awkwardly shrunken
app-name text.

Samsung comes out at the


head of the Android-phone
pack with the water-resistant
version of its Galaxy S4
smartphone. The S4 Active
doesnt have the crystal-clear
OLED screen of the regular S4,
but its 441 pixels per inch look
plenty goodeven submerged,
where you can use the Aqua
Mode camera setting to choose
a physical button to control the
shutter (since the screen is
disabled underwater, like on the
other phones). In addition to
being the most comfortable to
hold and use, the S4 Active, with
a 1.9-GHz quad-core processor, is
also the fastest in our test.

BY THE NUMBERS

19

percent of
Americans have
dropped their
phones in the toilet.
NEW
COOL

59

percent of Americans would retrieve


their phones if they
fell into the can.

OLD
SCHOOL

german kerosene lantern ($30)


If it wont break, dont x it. This tough lantern has been lighting the way since 1902.
The heat-resistant glass globe withstands
rain or snow without cracking, while the
steady burner element prevents ickering
or sooting. Though originally intended for
kerosene, any cool-burning fuel will do.

snow peak hozuki lantern ($90)


Too cool for fuel? Hozuki combines the
ancient beauty of a Chinese paper lantern with the modern functionality of
LEDs. The orb works on a tabletop or
hangs overhead via a detachable hook;
the ickering candle mode responds to
sound and wind. A M A N D A G R E E N

SOURCES (FROM LEFT): 11 MARK, PLAXO, T-MOBILE

percent of Americans have used


their phones
in the bathroom.

Everybody
hates
you.

You dont see


bullying like
this every day.
Your kids do.
Teach your kids how to

be more than
a bystander.
Learn how at

StopBullying.gov

32

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

PHOTOGRAPH BY A A RON DY ER

COMET WATCH
the cometron 12x70 binoculars ($90)
Your birding binocs are not going to cut it when the comet of
the century careens past Earth. Sun-grazing comet ISON, on
a 10,000-year-long suicidal voyage from the Oort cloud to the
sun, could potentially light up our night sky for weeks, but to
get a good look at the heavenly body, youll need some serious
hardware. The Cometron 12x70 binoculars provide 12x magnication through huge 70-mm objective lenses. The larger the
objective lens, the more light it can gather, bringing the blazing
tail into plain view. Multicoated, antireective optics and -inch
exit pupils let in ample cosmic light, and the wide 4.6-degree
eld of view means you wont miss other astronomical events
you know, like a wayward satellite tumbling out of control. (Yes,
that actually happened, in 2012.) A LY S O N S H E P P A R D
Scientists estimate that the comet ISON will be visible to Northern
Hemisphere earthlings. Later in December and into January, ISON could
be visible all night long.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY NOA H K A L IN A

FIELD TESTED

Axes
Its not often someone claims
to have improved upon the
design of the ax, which has
been serving us just ne for at
least 35,500 years. So when
two bizarre new choppers
came to the PopMech oice,
we sent them to a man who
knows a little something about
splitting woodlumberjack
and Stihl Timbersports competitor Nathan Watereld.
AS TO LD TO J EN N I N G S B RO W N

Council
Tool
Splitting
Maul, $49

COMPARISON The new, heavy-duty Wilton BASH splitting maul is great


for busting up hard-to-split pieces. However, it takes some serious vigor
to swing that thing all day. The handle itself is indestructible, which
the Council Tool mauls wood handle is not. The BASHs thicker wedge
means its less likely to get stuck in wood.
BEST FOR The BASH is therapeutic when you really want to work out
your aggression by obliterating some timber with abandon.
WINNER Id pick the BASH just so I could go out with that green hulk
and not worry about breaking anythingbesides wood, of course.

AXES

Vipukirves,
$255

COMPARISON The Vipukirves is designed to twist o to one side as


soon as it strikes the wood. Seasoned wood splitters know how to do
this with a wrist ick, but its helpful for beginners. The classic Council
Tool Hudson Bay Axe simply travels straight down.
BEST FOR Vipukirves is ideal for straight-grained wood that is easy to
split, like white ash.
WINNER If I had to go into the forest with one tool it would be the
Council Tool Hudson Bay Axe. Whenever I used the Vipukirves to split
wood with tension, it would get stuck.

SPLITTING MAULS

Council Tool Hudson


Bay Axe, $37

Wilton BASH, $85

Keep in mind with every swing that it is one of many repeated motions. Pace yourself, and use your entire
bodyparticularly your legs. Make sure the wood is as low as possible so momentum is on your side.

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details. Program and pricing specications and availability are subject to change without notice. 1&1 and the 1&1 logo are trademarks of 1&1 Internet, all other trademarks are the
property of their respective owners. 2013 1&1 Internet. All rights reserved.

36

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

PHOTOGRAPHS BY P HIL IP F RIEDM A N

milwaukee m12 led


stick light ($79)
With the end of daylight
saving time (heads up:
Nov. 3), you might want to step
up your garage luminosity. We
recommend the 220-lumen
Milwaukee M12 LED Stick Light,
which has proved as handy as it
is bright. Hang it, magnetize
it ($20 magnet accessory, sold
separately), or grip itthis
blazing torch is butterngersproof. J A I M E N E T Z E R
1

tylt band car


charger ($30)
The TYLT Band Car Charger
turns maintaining battery life
into a thing of beauty. The
exible, tangle-free, brightly
colored silicone cable is a cinch
to spot in a cluttered glovebox.
At 2 feet long, its also easy to
keep plugged in. If you roll with
multiple devices, the 2.1-amp
circuit and extra USB port can
juice up two gadgets at a time.
The Band comes in Apple 30-pin
or micro-USB connectors, so
your charger can be smart,
even if your phone isnt.
2

AMANDA GREEN

logitech alert 750n


indoor master system
with night vision ($300)
As I write this at the
PopMech oice, Im watching
over my home. The 130-degree
lenses on these night-vision
security cameras allow me to
easily check in on every room in
the house, 24 hours a day, from
my phone or computer. There are
a few things I would change to
improve this very good security
3

system: I would design and


outt it so that it could
(1) rotate and (2) alert local
authorities in the event of a
break-in. Still, it has all the
functionality I need. I can take
screen shots for evidence and
set up the system in any area
to deliver motion-triggered
reports. But perhaps the best
thing about the camera is that I
can pull out my phone and show
o my house whenever I want.
Its like my own version of MTV
Cribs. A N T H O N Y V E R D U C C I

HELP CARRY OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS HOME.

Wounded Warrior Projects purpose is to raise awareness and enlist the


publics aid for the needs of injured service members; to help injured
servicemen and women aid and assist each other; and to provide unique,
direct programs and services to meet their needs. Learn more or nd out
how you can help at woundedwarriorproject.org.

2013 Wounded Warrior Project, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

38

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

TUPELO HARDWARE
Tupelo, Miss.

UPG RADE

HARDWARE STORE WE LOVE

PHOTOGRAPH BY BR A DY F ON T ENOT

IN BUSINESS SINCE 1926

Pure coincidence: This


photo was shot by PopMech
on Aug. 16, 2013, the 36th
anniversary of Elviss death.

HE STORE LOOKS MUCH LIKE IT did in 1945, when a boy named Elvis came strutting in with
his mother on the eve of his 10th birthday. Same door. Same oorboards. Same glass display
cases. Elvis walked right to the .22-caliber rie hanging on the wall. When the man behind
the counter saw the horried look on Gladys Presleys face, he reached for a $7.75 guitar
and convinced the boy to give it a try. The rest is rock n roll history. And so, local customers often discover fans from Europe and Asia shopping for souvenirs. George Booth, whose
granddaddy founded the store in 1926, doesnt have time to greet every visitor, so he hired
vice president of tourism Howard Hite, whose Elvis talks now nd their way onto YouTube. At
the store Hite has given tours to ardent music acionados including Joe Perry of Aerosmith
and Prince Albert of Monaco. But hardware store patrons have plenty to marvel at too. Tupelo
has a huge selection of specialty items, including Lodge camping ovens and Case pocketknives. Booth happily gives The King top billing, though: Weve got Elvis. Walmart, Home
Depot, the othersthey cant say that. C H R I S R AY M O N D
Whats your favorite hardware store? Email us at popularmechanics@hearst.com.

I WAS THERE.
Now Im a member of the
World Trade Center Health Program .

Were you there? Providers in the New York City area, and across the country,
monitor and treat conditions related to the September 11th terrorist attacks like
asthma, heartburn, certain cancers, depression, and PTSD. These providers treat
responders and volunteers who participated in rescue, recovery, or clean-up on or
after 9/11, as well as those in the WTC dust cloud or who lived, worked, or went to
school or daycare in lower Manhattan south of Houston or into parts of Brooklyn.

Learn More.

WTC Health Program

Call 1-888-982-4748 or visit www.cdc.gov/wtc

World Trade Center | Pentagon | Shanksville, PA

Image is a model portraying an


actual member of the World Trade
Center Health Program.

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POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

Auto
TEST DRIVES
TOP TECH
HOT RIDES

41

INTEL

Edited by
ANDREW DEL-COLLE

Gaming
The System

CAN YOU REALLY LEARN


ELITE RACING SKILLS
FROM VIDEO GAMES?
A RISING GROUP
OF RACERS SAY YES.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y A N D Y G I L M O R E

BY J O H N P EAR LEY H U FFMAN

Chevrolet Spark EV
Buick LaCrosse

TEST
DRIVES
Jeep Cherokee

es
MercedesBenz S-Class

Mazda3

Nissan NV200
Compact Cargo

Driver Jann Mardenborough earned his


racing stripes on his
PlayStation instead of
on the track.

42

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Its a bunch of engineers spending days walking around sniing dirt, explains
Taku Imasaki, a senior producer at Sony PlayStation America, about the process of
creating digital replications of real racetracks for Gran Turismo. Tracks dont t on
a atbed scanner, so software engineers have to measure everything. And there
are no fancy tools or shortcutsjust tape measures, distance wheels, digital cameras, and patience. That time spent collecting data is followed by months of programming to create the painstakingly detailed replica.

Academy. Last year more than


400,000 gamers ran o against
one another on Sonys Internetbased PlayStation Network during the month-long tournament.
The leap from virtual to realworld racing might sound daunting, but a racing simulation such
as Gran Turismo is light-years
beyond early arcade games such
as Out Run or Pole Position. And
the latest versions (Gran Turismo
6 hits stores this December) are
specic in both the behavior of
particular cars and the contours
of particular tracks. Along with
developments such as forcefeedback controllerssteering
wheels and pedal sets that actually bite backthe result is an
lation of reality.
lat
amazing simulation
eres
s the
th science.
Then theres
elier of the UniverU niver
niv Daphne Bavelier
ester and University
sity of Rochester
as found that playof Geneva has
mes can essentially
ing video games
rain. In tests, parrewire the brain.
ying a firstfirst-person
ticipants playing
person
me were up to 50
shooting game
ter at identifying,
percent better
s
locating, and tracking objects
objects
e also critical in real
skills that are

race drivingthan nongamers.


But this doesnt mean that
the transition to reality is
always easy. In my room I had
a fairly small TV, so my eyes
were constantly xated on that
screen, Mardenborough says. In
racing for real you need to look
deeper into the corner. I found it
really diicult to retrain my brain
to look into the corners instead
of just focusing straight ahead.
Still, the simulation is spookily accurate. Before GT Academy
Mardenborough had never been
sliding in a car before. During the
national nal I was sideways in a
370Z and I was just doing what I
was doing in the game, he says.
Mardenboroughs ultimate
goal is to race in Fo
Formula 1, and
for that he needs to continue
stocking real-world track time.
Consider Sebastian Vettel: The
curr
three-time and current
Formula 1
champion is only 26 and already
has 22 years of kart and car
racing experience. In
Indeed, a video
tak you so far.
game can only take
ra
But for aspiring race
drivers, it
might be enough to get started.

P H O T O G R A P H B Y R YA N Y O U N G ( M A R D E N B O R O U G H )

Great racers start young. Seventime Formula 1 world champion


Michael Schumacher won his rst
kart championship at age 6. Fourtime Nascar Sprint Cup champ
Jeff Gordons parents moved
from California to Indiana when
he was 14 so he could drive 650hp sprint cars. By conventional
wisdom, if youre not on a track
by 12 or 13, youre already too old.
But a new breed of drivers who
spent their formative years playing racing video games instead of
behind the wheel are challenging
these traditional notions.
Ta k e W e l s h d r i v e r J a n n
Mardenborough. At 22 hes
ancient in driver years, but hes
also running strong in his first
season in the tough European
Formula 3 open-wheel series. I
had no experience on a track,
Mardenborough says about his
rst time on a full-size racetrack
at 19. I was the biggest novice
you could get.
Mardenborough honed his
driving talent playing Gran Turismoa $60 racing video
gameon the Sony PlayStation
gaming console in his bedroom.
Mardenboroughs migration from
virtual to real racing came with
his victory in the 2011 European
Gran Turismo Academy online
competition sponsored by Nissan
and Sony. Started in 2008,
GT Academy awards the winner a comprehensive race development course with Nissan
and, in Mardenboroughs case,
the chance to codrive a racing
version of the Nissan 370Z in the
Dubai 24 Hours in January 2012.
Mardenboroughs other three
codrivers? All previous GT Academy winners. Mardenborough
drove the final anchor leg, and
the team of gamerracers earned
a spot on the winners podium by
nishing third in their class.
With such a delicious opportunity as a prizeplus the chance
to appear on a TV reality show
built around the competition
thousands are flocking to GT

Take the

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TEST DRIVES

2014 Chevrolet
Spark EV

2014
2
014 Jeep
Jee Cherokee
A BLOCKY PAST

19972001

19841996

Is a car-based Jeep worthy of the sevenslot grille? Based on the same architecture that underpins the Dodge Dart, the
resurrected Cherokee makes a strong case
for a yes. Although a lighter chassis cuts
200 pounds from the Liberty the Cherokee
replaces, the heaviest V-6 model still tips
the scales at 4100 pounds. So even though
the standard 184-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder
has the potential to yield 31 mpg highway, the optional 271-hp 3.2-liter V-6 is the
engine you want. Both come paired to the
industrys rst nine-speed automatic, which
took some time to nd the right gear in the
preproduction V-6s we drove. Most models
are light-footed and easy to drive quickly
on rough and twisty roads. But on Moabs
slickrock trails, the Trailhawkequipped
with a 1-inch-taller suspension, skid plating,
a locking rear dierential, and 8.7 inches of
ground clearanceis the best. Then again,
the Hawk starts at $30,490, and the loaded
V-6 we drove was $38,660. A lesser-grade
Cherokee is a better deal, for surebut its
also a lesser Cherokee. B E N S T E W A R T

Under the hood: A


140-hp electric motor
with a mighty 400 lb-ft
of torque. But 560
pounds of lithium-ion
batteries brings limited range (82 miles)
and lengthy recharging
times (20 hours at 120
volts, 7 at 240).
On the gas: The Spark
EV can dust its internal
combustion twin
in stoplight sprints:
0 to 60 in 7.6 seconds
versus about 9.
Inside the doors: It still
seats four comfortably
and oers an impressive 9.3 cubic feet of
storage space, considering its 12-foot 2.5-inch
length. Also notable: a
7-inch color LCD-instrument-cluster display
similar to the Volts.
Between the lines:
Despite being pudgy,
the Sparks 52:48 front/
rear weight distribution
yields better balance
and quicker handling
responses than the gas
versions. With attractive leasing and pricing
options, its too bad this
EV is only available in
California and Oregon.
TO NY SWAN

PRICE: $27,495
AVA I L A B L E : N O W
MPGE (CITY/HWY):
128/109

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NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

TEST DRIVES

2013 Nissan
NV200
Compact Cargo

SCHNAZZY

Whats good: The 2013 Nissan


NV200 Compact Cargo arrives
with its sights squarely set
on the venerable Ford Transit
Connect. Driving the NV200
revealed a fun compact cargo
van with a solid steering feel,
an excellent turn radius, smooth
braking, and enough pickup to
feel zippy around town and even
on the highway.

PRICE: $34,060
AVA I L A B L E : N O W
MPG (CITY/HWY): 25/36 (I-4),
1718/2628 (V-6)

Whats questionable: We only


drove the NV200 with its 122
cubic feet of storage empty.
We have concerns about how
slow things get if you saddle a
131-hp 139 lb-ft 2.0-liter four
with the maximum 1500-pound
hauling weight.

2014 Buick LaCrosse

AUTO IN TEL

WHEELHOUSE
AUTO ODDS &
ENDS

Whats convenient: Fleet


drivers will appreciate the new
NV200s fold-down passenger
seat that is designed to double
as desk space when an improvised oice is needed.
Whats exciting: For New Yorkers
and tourists, that is. This fall the
NV200 will start taking over as
the citys oicial taxi, trading its
utilitarian cargo bay for friendlier
accommodations. JAMES TATE
PRICE: $20,835
AVA I L A B L E : N O W
AV
MPG (CITY/HWY): 24/25

95.

51
L

The price that General Motors stock would


have to sell at for the U.S. government to
break even on bailing out the company,
according to a recent government watchdogs
report. The closest the stock has been to this
number was when it hit $93.63 in April 2000.
In other words, dont hold your breath.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y M A R T I N L A K S M A N ( C O N C E P T L O G O )

With a new grille, hood, and LED lamps, the 2014


LaCrosse looks fresh and more like its Regal and
Verano stablemates. The interior also gets a thorough upgrade, with higher quality materials, more
comfortable seats, and the second generation of
GMs IntelliLink infotainment system. Standard and
optional safety features, a big part of the refresh,
include up to nine sensors to provide drivers with
numerous alerts. The car will either beep or, if
so equipped, vibrate the drivers seat if you drift
from your lane, a car is in your blind spot or behind
you, or even if theres cross traic approaching as
you back out of a parking spot. We drove several
examples, all with the 304-hp
p V-6 (a no-cost option,
rather than the standard 2.4-liter
-liter I-4 with eAssist),
and found the car nimbler
than its big dimensions would
d
ew
imply. With several recent new
entries in the full-size sedan
segment, these improvements
ts
should keep buyers, ahem,
LaCrosse-shopping at Buick
dealerships. K E V I N A . W I L S O N

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

47

trim gets the new


184-hp 2.5-liter four.
Behind the wheel the
extra power of the
2.5 results in noticeably stronger pull. At
$5000 extra, though,
PRICE: $17,740$25,390
AVA I L A B L E : N O W
wed skip that option
MPG (CITY/HWY): 2930/40
and nd contentment
(2.0-LITER), 2829/3740
with the 2.0-liter.
(2.5-LITER)
If you want goodies such as adaptive
cruise control and
blind-spot warning,
youll need to stick
to s
s models and
pay extra. But those
features are window dressing.
Driving an economy car doesnt
What really matters is that even
mean you should have to forgo
the cheapest 3 makes us wish all
style. At least, thats Mazdas
cars were this fun to drive. Hit a
take with the new 3, which apes
bump while screaming around a
the long nose and sinewy curves
corner and the car stays settled.
of its big brother 6. In the 3,
And if you need to make a correchatchback and sedan are identition, the steering is incredibly precal all the way back to the rear
cise and accurate. Even the autodoors, and the rest of the car
matic transmission (optional on
is based on a shared architecthe 2.0-liter, mandatory for now
ture with the 6 and the CX-5,
in the 2.5) gets with the program,
including engines. The 155-hp
holding gears through bends and
2.0-liter comes in i models,
downshifting during braking. If
as before, while the costlier s
youre looking for a big back seat,
the back of the Mazda3 might be
too cramped for you. But, otherwise, theres a lot to love about
this car. M I C H A E L A U S T I N

2014 Mazda3

CADILLAC MATH

Cadillacs new concept


p
(and likely future) logo

The
T Porsche 918 Spyder
d hybrid prototype.
We
W nally got behind
the
t wheel. Still smiling.

Attaching the letter E


to the names of hybrid
and electric vehicles.
Lets step it up, folks.

TEST DRIVES

AUTO TECH:
T
STEER-BY-WIRE
D

2014 MercedessBenz S-Class


The 2014 S-Class is smartreally
ly
smart. Equipped with the most
advanced suite of cameras, sen-sors, and radars in a production vehicle, the car can almost
drive itself. By far its cleverest new feature is Magic Body
Control, which uses cameras to
o
read the road and then adjusts
the suspension to mitigate any
approaching bumps (though it
does occasionally miss). New
headlights, each housing 56
separate LEDs, and a heavily
styled face lend the car a dramatic demeanor, while clean
sides replace the last gens awkward rear bulges. The interiors
most noticeable updates are two
sprawling 12.3-inch screens that
serve as the instrument cluster
and center displays. Warning:
They will ruin all other dashes
for you. The twin-turbocharged
4.6-liter V-8 paired with a sevenspeed automatic transmission
carries over, but, according to
Mercedes, all models get at least
20 percent better fuel economy.
From the drivers seat (capable
of giving hot-stone-like massages, of course), the 17-foot sedan
feels big. Yet we found it to be
lithe on the roads outside Toronto. The S-Classs price pointt
makes it exclusive, but the car
is also a showcase of technology
ology
that could eventually trickle
le into
mainstream vehicles. And in this
light, we should all be excited.
ted.
A N D R E W D E L- C O L L E

P R I C E : $ 9 3 , 8 2 5 ( E S T. )
AVA I L A B L E : N O W
M P G ( C I T Y / H W Y ) : 1 5 / 2 5 ( E S T. )

Innitis Q50
Q5
50 is the rst production vehicle
e without
a direct
c link to
o the
the wheels. It wont be the last.

Like
e it or not,
not, computers
already manage how
we steer a car. Electric
power-assist systems
can adjust for road
crowning, lter out
kickback from bumps,
and even direct us into
parking spaces. With
the optional Direct
Adaptive Steering on
the 2014 Q50, Inniti
goes one step further
by removing the connection between the driver
and the steering rack.
When the car is running,
an electronic clutch (A)
opens to disconnect the
steering. Dont panic:
The clutch closes when
the car is o or in case
of system failure. The
two electric motors ((B))
dont just move the
rack, but also detect
the load at the tires and

transmit sensations to
a feedback motor (C)
in the steering wheel.
Its all managed by
three control units (D)
that provide redundant
backup.
Why all the fuss?
Inniti says the system
acts faster. And with
steer-by-wire, the rack
is mounted directly to
the subframe without
bushings; the stier
mounting results in better steering response.
Road imperfections are
ltered out via software, along with some
desired steering feel.
But thats now a calibration issue instead of a
hardware issue, just as
with electronic throttle
con
controls. And as semiauto
autonomous features
con
continue to permeate
the automobile, other
man
manufacturers are sure
to a
adopt this approach
in th
the near future. M.A.

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NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

C I N E M AT E C H

B Y S T E V E D A LY

In this computer-generated scene, only Sandra Bullocks face is real.

The new space thriller Gravity


opens with an unbroken
12-minute shot of two astronauts installing a datagathering device on the
Hubble Space Telescope.
Sandra Bullock, playing a ustered medical engineer on her
maiden voyage, and George
Clooney, as a veteran shuttle
commander on his nal mission, oat in zero gravity while
bantering, chasing a stray bolt, and marveling at the sight of Earth far below.
Then things quickly go very, very wrong. A catastrophic accident triggered by a debris
eld cripples the shuttle and sends the astronauts pinwheeling into space, forcing them
to improvise their own rescue mission. At the core of this taut, 90-minute survival story
are the physical facts of life in low Earth orbit. Thanks to a combination of mechanical
ingenuity and breakthrough visual eects, weightlessness especially is conveyed with a
sense of realism unmatched by any other space-mission movie.
And no previous lm has depended so heavily on computer-generated animation that
looks as if its live action. In each of Gravitys nerve-jangling space-walk sequences, only
the heads inside the helmets are real. The spacesuits and all background elements
including the Hubble, the shuttle, and the International Space Stationare rendered
entirely in photo-realistic CG. When we started, the technology to make this lm did

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NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

C I N E M AT E C H

not exist, Alfonso Cuarn, the director


and cowriter, says. It forced us to invent
our own set of tools. Adds visual-eects
supervisor Tim Webber, who oversaw the
work of the more than 500 people involved
in both physical and CG trickery, There
was an awful lot of, you cant solve this till
you solve that, and you cant solve that
till you solve something else. You just had
to start somewhere and go around the loop
a few times till youd sorted it out.
The entire lm was essentially reverseengineered. Cuarn and a team of animators at Londons visual-eects shop
Framestore began by designing CG shots,
and then a physical-shoot crew worked
backward to create live-action footage
of the actors faces (and sometimes their
bodies) that exactly matched the choreographed CG. The key to that approach was
creating reliable robotic cameramen

BEHIND THE
SCENES
Adapted from
assembly-line
robots, the IRIS
motion-control
camera rigs (right)
used on Gravity
move on six axes;
a dolly track adds
a seventh axis.
Filmmakers played
back images of
Earth and space
in the light box, a
cube composed of
150 panels studded with more
than 600,000
LEDs. Actors were
clamped inside
the white cagelike tilt-plus rig
(center).

something that motion-control setups had never been


able to do with high consistency or ease of use.
The solution was a pioneering system called IRIS. A
San Francisco company, Bot & Dolly, created it by ingeniously redeploying robotic arms originally designed
for precision assembly-line tasks such as automotive
welding and painting. Instead of airbrushes or blowtorches, a quartet of IRIS rigs wielded cameras, lights,
props, and even the actors in appropriate synchronization. A custom computer interface translated the
data from the previsualized CG animation shots executed in Maya software into physical camera moves on
the set that captured the actors faces in just the right
positions and sizes. (Of course, there was rarely an
actual set. Mainly there were green screens and cardboard mockups for the actors reference.)
For some shots the massive IRIS rigs, which weigh
3200 pounds, rolled toward the actors at speeds of up
to 12 mph. At Comic-Con last July Bullock joked: If
that robot did decide to continue through my face, I
couldnt get out of its way.

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As much as possible, Cuarn and company tried to avoid placing the actors
in wire-rig harnesses that spun them
upside down to simulate weightlessness.
The problem: Its too obvious that gravity is pulling at face and body muscles.
But for sequences inside the ISS, where
Bullock moves horizontally as easily as
a swimmer through water, there was no
other option. Attired only in a T-shirt and
undies, like Sigourney Weavers Ripley
in Alien, Bullock wore a 12-wire rig that
was attached with harnesses molded to t
her hips and shoulders. Each of the four
attachment pointsone on each hip and
shoulderhad three wires attached to
computer-controlled servomotors. These,
in turn, were connected to a platform that
moved along the studio ceiling and congured Bullock into various positions like
a marionettes. On-set puppeteerstheir
actual job titlesupplemented preprogrammed moves with joysticks to smooth
out jerkiness. Extended shots were pieced
together from multiple fragmentary takes,
because even someone as t as Bullock
could ght gravity convincingly for only so
long. Sandra was amazing at it, Webber
says. She was incredibly adept at hitting
her marks and miming weightlessness.
Cuarn also placed his actors in something called the light box, an unprecedented innovation. This 9-foot cube of LED
panels was built on scaolding to match
the height of the IRIS camera rigs. Bullock
and Clooney were alternately clamped
inside a hip-hugging, gyrating tilt-plus
contraption, also controlled by IRIS, that
coordinated the actors positions with
camera moves while keeping them upright
but oscillating. CG footage of the Earth,
sun, and stars was played inside the cube
to create intricate plays of light over the
performersand also cueing them as to
where they were in space.
The result of all this wizardry is a movie
lled with zero-gravity shots that set a
formidable new standard. But for Cuarn,
it was all for the sake of honoring this
story. We wanted to make a lm about
facing adversity, with the possible outcome of rebirth. And to create something
cathartic for the characters and the
audience. Translation: Cuarn hopes
moviegoers will have a new appreciation
of life after watching these spacewalkers
defy death in so many ways. PopMech

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9TH
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BREAKTHROUGH
WORLD-CHANGING IDEAS,
A W A R D S CELEBRATING
INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS, AND REALLY,
REALLY SMART PEOPLE.

BY LOGAN WARD

THE DAY BEFORE SOMETHING IS A


BREAKTHROUGH, ITS A CRAZY IDEA.
PETER DIAMANDIS

PHOTOGRAPH BY BARTHOLOMEW COOKE

Leadership Award

57

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

9TH

1.
THE TECHNO OPTIMIST
PETER DIAMANDIS

ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

AWARDS

For a man with such outsize influence, Peter Diamandis


has a surprisingly small oce. Or maybe it just seems small
because its so lled with stua treadmill desk, a regular desk, a coee table, a couch, Star Trek memorabilia,
model planes, astronaut action gures, toy UFOs, dozens of
badges from conferences and speaking engagements, and a
framed poster of 28 Peters Laws, including The squeaky
wheel gets replaced and The ratio of something to nothing is innite.
That densely packed oce, located in Playa Vista, Calif.,
seems symbolic of the breadth of Diamandiss ambitions,
crammed into a single human life span. Through the X Prize
Foundation, which he started in 1995, he uses competitions
and cash prizes to jump-start innovation in the aerospace,
automotive, environmental, technology, and life-science
elds. He is an unagging optimist who believes that
humanitys challenges are surmountable through technology and ingenuity. PM senior editor Glenn Derene joined
him recently to discuss tricorders, ocean acidication, and
why the world will be a much better place in 40 years.

Q: Why does the world


need the X Prize Foundation? Does conventional
R&D not work for some
technologies?

A: A true breakthrough
requires taking extraordinary risk. The question is:
Where in our society do
we try crazy ideas? I would
imagine that it used to be
in government and large
corporations, but when you

Peter Diamandis, photographed by Art Streiber


Aug. 11, 2013, at Fifth & Sunset Studio, Los Angeles

58

ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

have a situation where,


like with Solyndra [the
solar energy company],
the government makes an
investment and it tanks,
and then there are congressional investigations and
the Department of Energy
is chastised, suddenly failure has a very high cost.
When failure has a high
cost, people dont like taking risks. What the X Prize
does is encourage intelligent risk taking. It creates
a very dened target. It
creates a winning moment.
It identies a place where
a breakthrough would be
transformational, and then
it says the rst person to
achieve this specic goal,
you win.

Q: Several of your current


projects involve sensors,
including the Qualcomm
Tricorder X Prize and the
Wendy Schmidt Ocean
Health X Prize. Whats the
connection there?

AWARDS

health world will become


proactive versus reactive, which it is right now.
And in the same way that
were creating sensors to
measure the human bodys
status, we want to create
sensors to understand the
oceans statuschanges in
acidity and how the ocean
is being transformed. Having knowledge of what
actually is going on allows
you to make smart decisions. We have changed
the atmospheric quality of
the United States by having regulations that require
catalytic converters,
that require smokestack
scrubbers. But regulatory
change doesnt come until
you have irrefutable data
to prove theres a problem.
And maybe the next X Prize
will be where scientists
gure out a mechanism for
reversing acidication or
regrowing reefs.

Q: What are the key

all enjoy high standards


of living. What gives you
that condence?

technologies of the next


few decades?

A: I think 3D printing
is going to transform a
$10 trillion manufacturing industry, enabling
the consumer to become
the designer and manufacturer.
Synthetic biology will
give us the ability to go
from evolution by natural
selection to evolution by
intelligent direction, where
life is a new programming
language. And articial
intelligence and robotics
are probably going to be
two of the biggest transformative factors, giving
people the ability to have
all of their needs met by an
electronic world.

Q: In your recent book,


Abundance, you paint
a picture of the future
where 10 billion people

A: Over the past 100


years, the human life
span has more than
doubled, the cost of food
has dropped thirteenfold, energy has dropped
twentyfold, transportation has dropped a hundredfold, communications has dropped over a
thousandfold. All of these
things have been enabled
by technologyand the
rate at which technological innovation is occurring is accelerating, not
slowing down. I think
were heading toward epic,
extraordinary change. I
think were going to transform the way we live, the
way we work, the way
we govern. I think every
aspect of society is going
to fundamentally change
over the next 30 years.

A: If you cant measure


something, you cant
improve it. And I believe
that this next decade will
have fundamental breakthroughs in the ubiquity
and capability of sensors.
In the future everybody will
be wired and well be dribbling bitsbits about blood
chemistry, cardiovascular
status, neural statusand
those bits will be analyzed
by AI and youll be told if
anything is in deviation.
Your physician might be
monitoring you. And the

THE
X PRIZE
COMPETITION S

O C E A N S : Wendy Schmidt Ocean


Health X Prize (launched 2013)
goes to the rst teams to develop
low-cost, accurate devices that can
measure global ocean acidication.
Purse: $2 million.
S E N S O R S : Qualcomm Tricorder
X Prize (launched 2011) goes to the
creator of an easy-to-use device
capable of quickly diagnosing a set
of 15 medical conditions.
Purse: $10 million.
S P A C E : Google Lunar X Prize (launched 2007) goes

to the rst privately funded team to land a rover on


the moon, drive 1600 feet, and send back video.
Purse: $40 million.

P R E V I O U S P A G E ( P E T E R D I A M A N D I S ) , S T Y L I N G B Y P A U L I N E L E O N A R D / C L O U T I E R ; G R O O M I N G B Y B A R B A R A F A R M A N / C L O U T I E R ; P R O P S T Y L I N G B Y K AT I E S H I P L E Y ; I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y M A R T I N L A K S M A N

9TH

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

2. MARTIAN CHRONICLER
Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory:
John Grotzinger (Caltech,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory),
James Erickson (JPL), and teams

On Aug. 5, 2012, after nine months in


space, the 2000-pound Curiosity rover made its
descent to the surface of Mars via a so-crazy-itjust-might-work rocket-powered sky crane.
Curiosity landed, drove 500 meters, and hit
pay dirt, says principal project scientist and
Caltech geologist John Grotzinger. That pay dirt
was a gray soil sample dug up by Curiosity from
just beneath Mars red surface. The soils chemical makeup proved Mars once had enough fresh
water to sustain life. Modern Mars is red and
inhospitable, Grotzinger says. Ancient Mars
was gray and habitable if you were a simple
microorganism. The Curiosity program has
proved that it is possible to deliver heavy payloads to Mars and to collect valuable samples.
Next NASA hopes to land a craft that can bring
those samples back to Earth.

John Grotzinger (left) and James Erickson, photographed by Nicholas Calcott


Aug. 8, 2013, at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

60

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Next Generation Award

4.
N O - C O S T W AT E R F I LT E R

3.
H I G H W AY A U T O P I L O T

General Motors Super Cruise: John Capp,


Jeremy Salinger, Eric Raphael, and team
The self-driving car started as a science-fiction fantasythen
DARPA and Google turned it into a real-world experiment. Now GM is
working to make automotive autonomy part of an option package. The
automaker has combined two existing technologiesadaptive cruise
control and lane centeringinto its Super Cruise system, which allows
for hands-free driving at highway speeds. It could be available in a production vehicle as soon as 2018.
HOW IT WORKS

Collision avoidance

A long-distance radar system


detects vehicles more than
300 feet ahead. The vehicle
will automatically accelerate or apply the brakes to
maintain a preset following
distance.

Lane centering

Using a combination of GPS and


infrared optical cameras, the
Super Cruise system watches
the road ahead and adjusts
steering to keep the car in the
middle of its lane.

Moringa-Seed Water Filter:


Meghan Shea
Sometimes the way to
address an epic problem is
to search for a simple
solution. Meghan Shea, an
18-year-old from West
Chester, Pa., designed an
inexpensive water lter
that removes up to
99percent of E. coli
bacteria and can be built
by anyone, potentially
saving lives in the worlds
poorest regions.
While attending a summer science fellowship at
Texas Tech University in
2012, Shea learned about
the miracle moringaa
common tropical tree with
seeds that turn foul water
potable. Crushed moringa
seeds act as a occulant,
causing contaminants in
water to clump. Shea engineered a simple, segmented lter that can be built
of PVC, plastic bottles, or
bamboo. Inside, crushed
moringa seeds are used
along with other common
ltering materials such as
dirt, charcoal, and fabric.
Meghan has shown
remarkable innovation
and initiative, says Greg
Allgood, whose PUR water
ltration packets won a
2008 Breakthrough Award.
We need every bit of
creativity to address the
global water crisis.

Meghan Shea, photographed by Rachel Barrett


Aug. 2, 2013, at Echo, Fort Myers, Fla.

62

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

5.
ELECTROMECHANICAL MEDICAL MIRACLE

Indego Exoskeleton: Michael Goldfarb (Vanderbilt University), Ryan Farris (Parker Hannin Corp.), and team
Forty-two-year-old Michael Gore of Whiteville,
N.C., remembers when he couldnt wait to plop into
a chair after a 12-hour shift at the vinyl-fencing
plant where he used to work. Now its the opposite, he says. I cant wait to stand up. For the past
decade, Gore has been in a wheelchair, paralyzed
from the waist down after a workplace fall that
wrecked his spinal cord. But when hes strapped
into the Indego, a powered exoskeleton developed
by a team led by Vanderbilt University engineer
Michael Goldfarb and his former graduate student
Ryan Farris, Gore can stand, walk,
and even climb stairs.
The Indego ts tightly around
the torso and extends down to the
ankles. Powerful, battery-operated
electric motors drive hip and knee
joints. The user operates the system by leaning forward to stand
up or walk and by leaning back
to sit down. Standing and walking, even for a few hours a week,
addresses health problems that
plague paraplegics, including loss
of bone density and poor blood circulation. To commercialize the exoskeleton, Goldfarb partnered with
Cleveland-based Parker Hannin,
which hired Farris to join the
Indego team. The company hopes
to make the Indego available in
rehab clinics as early as 2014, with
a consumer model to follow.

Michael Goldfarb (left), Ryan Farris, and Indego exoskeleton, photographed by Daniel Shea
Aug. 7, 2013, at Shepherd Center, Atlanta

64
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ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

AWAR

6.
NAVYS SMARTEST JET
X-47B:
Capt. Jaime Engdahl,
Don Blottenberger
(U.S. Navy); Carl
Johnson, Tim Kesecker
(Northrop Grumman);
and teams
Landing a fighter jet on the
deck of an aircraft carrier is
a Navy pilots toughest challenge. On July 10, 2013, the
bat-winged X-47B jet landed
aboard the USS George H. W.
Bush in a split second of
smoke and squealing rubber.
It was a scene straight out of
Top Gun, with one key dierence: The X-47B had no pilot.
This historic rst marked
the nal stages of the Navys
Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D)
research project. Started
10 years ago with funding
from the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency
and help from Northrop
Grumman, the X-47B is
purely experimental and will
soon be retired. But the Navy
plans to use its technology to
create a new eet of carrierready unmanned combat jets
that will improve military
surveillance and reduce pilot
casualties. According to Don
Blottenberger, the Navys
deputy program manager
for UCAS-D, the technology
could also benet civilians
by leading to more accurate
autopilot systems in commercial aircraft and to safe, selfdriving cars.

Carl Johnson, Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Don Blottenberger, and Tim Kesecker (from left),
photographed by Nathaniel Welch Aug. 13, 2013, at Northrop Grumman, Falls Church, Va.

7.
REALITY MACHINE

Oculus Rift: Palmer Luckey


Palmer Luckey, photographed by Robert Maxwell
Aug. 1, 2013, at Studio 1444, Los Angeles

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

P R O P S T Y L I N G B Y J E S S E N E M E T H ; I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y M A R T I N L A K S M A N

9TH

Palmer Luckey is
obsessive about virtual reality. The 21-year-old from
Long Beach, Calif., has been
a hardcore gamer since
he was a boy and was so
disappointed by the high
prices and latency of existing VR gear that he set out
to develop his own device.
In 2012 he set out to raise
$250,000 on Kickstarter
and ended up with nearly
$2.5million. This past March,
Luckeys new company
shipped the rst development kits for the Oculus Rift,
a low-cost ($300) 3D headset
with sensors that track the
users motions at 1000 Hz.
Before it has even launched
as a consumer device, the
Rift has developed a cult following among game developers. The device lacks headphones, which Luckey knows
will be essential in a nal
product, but the experience
is so immersive that videos
of stunned and stammering
rst-time users have become
a YouTube meme.
The excitement around
the Oculus Rift extends
beyond game designers to
educators, architects, and
even medical researchers.
The Rift is a game changer,
says Albert Rizzo, a University of Southern California
psychologist who treats posttraumatic stress disorder
with virtual-reality therapy.
Ive been waiting for this
moment for nearly 20 years.

ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

67
AWARDS

8.
CUSTOM-MADE LIFESAVER
3D Printed Tracheal Splint: Glenn Green,
Scott Hollister (University of Michigan)

HOW IT WORKS

A CT scan creates
a 3D image of the
young patients collapsed bronchus.
Using that image, a
3D printer creates
a custom splint
from a biopolymer.
The splint acts as a
scaold as the tissue repairs itself;
then it is absorbed
by the body.

Tracheobronchomalacia is a rare condition that


causes the windpipe to collapse. Its especially deadly for
infants, whose airways are small and weak. In February
2012 pediatric surgeon Glenn Green and biomedical engineer Scott Hollister from the University of Michigan were
researching a way to create custom 3D printed tracheal
implants, when Green got a call from a surgeon in Ohio. I
know youre not ready for human trials, he told Green, but
Ive got a patient who needs it now.
It was clear that this child would die if we didnt do
something, says Hollister. The team got emergency clearance from the FDA and used a CT scan of the 6-weekold boys trachea and bronchi to print a custom splint.
The boys breathing normalized immediately after it was
implanted, and today he is a healthy toddler.
Cornell engineer Hod Lipson, who shared a 2007 Breakthrough Award for the Fab@Home open-source 3D printer,
sees the work of Green and Hollister spawning a new age of
on-demand medical devices. As surgeons learn about this,
well see more innovations of this type.

68
9TH

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

AWARDS

9.
ROBOTIC TOUCH

BioTac Sensor: Gerald Loeb


(USC), Jeremy Fishel (SynTouch),
and team

Much of the fine motor control in the


human hand relies upon its ability to sense
temperature, vibration, and pressure. If
your ngers are numb from the cold, your
hands are almost useless, says University
of Southern California biomedical engineering professor Gerald Loeb. Loeb and
former graduate student Jeremy Fishel,
cofounders of a company called SynTouch,
have developed bionic ngers that give
machines humanlike touch. Using a exible polymer skin and a variety of sensors,
the robot ngers were able to correctly
identify test materials 95 percent of the
time by touching them, outperforming
blindfolded human subjects. BioTac sensors could eventually lead to prosthetic
arms with sensory neural feedback as well
as to worker robots that operate safely in
close contact with humans.

HOW IT WORKS

PRESSURE
SENSOR

ELECTRODES
ES

THERMIST0R

CONDUCTIVE
FLUID

TEXTURED
SKIN

Bio
BioTac
ngertips,
such as the ones on
this robotic hand,
each have sensors to
detect heat, pressure,
and vibration. Taking
a cue from human
anatomy, BioTac digits even have textured
ngerprints to
improve sensitivity.

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trademarks of Lorillard Technologies, Inc. (Photography by Francesco Carrozzini)

10.
TINY DRONE SQUADRON
Swarm Micro-UAVs: Vijay
Kumar, Shaojie Shen, Matthew
Turpin, Daniel Mellinger, and
Alex Kushleyev (University of
Pennsylvania); Nathan Michael
(Carnegie Mellon University)
Vijay Kumar, Daniel Mellinger, Matthew Turpin,
and Alex Kushleyev (from left),
photographed by Nathaniel Wood
Aug. 16, 2013, at Penns GRASP Lab

In the future the first


responders for many
disasters could include
ying robots, sent in to
map dangerously compromised buildings. A team of
engineers, led by the University of Pennsylvanias
Vijay Kumar, is developing autonomously ying
nano quadrotors that can
y in squadrons and pull o
incredible tasks. They can
spontaneously create maps
or assemble a miniature
truss structure out of a kit
of parts. Each quadrotor has
an onboard mobile processor and sensors for gauging
how to move through the air
while also accounting for
obstacles and wind, plus a
short-range wireless antenna for communicating with
other drones. Those capabilities help the drones weave
gure-eight patterns in
the air and stream through
windows without crashing.
The long-term applications
include construction and
environmental monitoring.
But disaster response
may come rst. Nathan
Michael, a former student of
Kumars who is now a professor at Carnegie Mellon,
predicts the search-and-rescue community will be using
small ying-swarm robots in
the next three to ve years.
In the long term, UAVs may
change how we think about
the whole cycle of disaster, Michael says. Not just
responding to the aftermath but preventing losses
beforehand by mapping out
challenging environments.

BREAKTHROUGH
PRODUCTS

WHETHER DEVELOPED IN A GARAGE OR IN THE LAB OF


A MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION, THESE ARE THE YEARS
MOST INNOVATIVE AND TRANSFORMATIVE PRODUCTS.

A.

PEBBLE WATCH ($150)


It doesnt promise the inyour-face info stream that
Google Glass does, but at
one-tenth the price, the
Kickstarter-funded Pebble
smartwatch may introduce
more people to the benets
of wearable technology. The
Pebbles e-paper display
links to a smartphone via
Bluetooth, allowing users
to control their music, view
text messages or tweets,
and screen calls. And thanks
to a software development
kit, programmers can create
apps to run on the watch.
With just a twist of the
wrist, a user gets a quick
and stealthy peek at the
wider world.
A

B.
CUB CADET RZT-S ZERO
MOWER ($4500)
The RZT-S Zero combines
cutting-edge innovations: Its
a steering-wheel-controlled,
zero-turn mower that is
entirely electric-powered. A
48-volt battery pack powers
four brushless motors
two for the rear wheels
and two for the blades
inside a 42-inch deck. The

72
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ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

design enables 60 minutes


of near-silent operation,
which is ideal for earlymorning mowing, when
temperatures are cooler.
A steering wheel, rather
than traditional lap bars,
operates all four wheels for
ultra-responsive control.
Once the mower is fully
discharged, it plugs into
a standard wall outlet for
overnight recharging.

AWARDS

C.
OTHERFAB OTHERMILL
(ABOUT $1500)
Desktop manufacturing
isnt limited to 3D
printers. The Othermill
brings aordabilityand
portabilityto computercontrolled milling with a
three-axis machine thats
smaller than a toaster
oven and about as quiet
to operate. The mill uses
standard -inch shank
bits, such as those used
by Dremel rotary tools, to
cut away layers of metal,
wood, wax, and plastic
from above. Thanks to
high tolerances of up to
0.001 inch, its well-suited
for creating electronic and
mechanical prototypes.

D.
SEIKI 50-INCH 4K TV ($1300)
Seiki who? When we rst
heard that this previously
unknown discount
television company would
oer a 4K TV for less than
$1500, we were skeptical.
Then we saw it with our
own eyes, and its the real

deal. Major electronics


manufacturers were
planning to introduce
similar-size ultra-highdenition (3840 x 2160)
sets at prices around
$5000, but Seiki beat
them all to market with
a no-frills TV that has no
Internet connectivity and
no 3Djust super-high
resolution at a good price.

E.
THALMIC LABS MYO ($149)
Just like the Xbox Kinect
ct
sensor and the Leap
Motion Controller, the MYO
o
turns human motion into
ose
digital control. Unlike those
technologies, however,
d to
the MYO is not conned
e
a room or a desktop. The
bracelet uses a variety of
s to
motion-tracking sensors
nd
measure the position and
rm
orientation of a users arm

in space. More remarkably,


it senses the electrical
activity of muscles that
corresponds to nger
movements, allowing for
complex gesture controls
such as pinch, point, and
grasp. The possibilities
for this device range from
rst-person gaming to
sifting through large data
sets, Minority Reportstyle.

F.
MAKERBOT DIGITIZER 3D
SCANNER ($1400)
E

One of th
the companies that
made it e
easy to turn data
into matt
matter with 3D printing is ma
making it just as
easy to tturn matter into
data with a 3D scanner.
The Digit
Digitizer creates a
high-reso
high-resolution 3D image of
any objec
object that ts within
its 8 x 8 x 8inch scan
space, an
and then turns it

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74
9TH

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

ANNUAL

BREAKTHROUGH

into a virtual 3D model for


editing and printing. At
$1400, the Digitizer costs
a fraction of the price of
industrial scanners and
can sit on a desktop. When
used with a 3D printer
such as its sister product,
the Replicator 2it eectively becomes a Xerox
copier for solid objects.

AWARDS

G.
BOOSTED BOARDS
LONGBOARD ($1300)
At 15 pounds, this motorized longboard created
by PM Backyard Genius
honorees John Ulmen,
Matt Tran, and Sanjay Dastoor may be the lightest
battery-operated vehicle on earth. But its no
novelty: Powered by two
1.3-hp brushless motors,
the board has a range of
6 miles, a top speed of
20mph, and a recharge
time of 2 hours. Its a
smart, no-sweat form of
alternative transportation
for short commutes.

H.
BMW i3 ($42,275)
With a range of up to 100
miles from its lithium-ion
battery pack, the BMW i3
is a lot like other electric
vehicles. Whats innovative is the way its built: A
passenger cell made from
carbon-ber-reinforced
plastic means a curb
weight of around 2800
poundslight for any kind
of car. And by reexamining the production process
all the way down to the
raw materials, BMW found
a way to oer a car made
from exotic materials for a
little over $40,000. Aord-

able, mass-produced carbon ber has the potential to make every vehicle
safer and more fun to
drive. The i3 goes on sale
in Europe late this year
and will be available stateside in spring 2014.

I.
MICROSOFT XBOX ONE ($500)
Some products are
evolutionary, others are
revolutionary. The Xbox
One is both. The most
notable improvement is
the new Kinect sensor,
which is integral to the
operation of the console.
It can see in total
darkness, track the ne
movements of your hands
and muscles, and even
sense your heartbeat.
Gamers may have taken
issue with the Xbox
Ones price ($500) and
paywall restrictions (some
features require a $50
per year subscription),
but technologically its
a huge upgrade from its
predecessor. The platform
is so advanced that
developers have barely

begun to grasp all its


possibilities.

J.
RUST-OLEUM NEVERWET
LIQUID REPELLENT ($20)
A spray-on coating may
seem humble, but this
superhydrophobic treatment is so eective that
it has virtually limitless
potential. NeverWets
nanotechnology repels
moisture at a high contact
angle, meaning droplets
wont atten out and saturate a surface. Its not a
permanent nish and it
doesnt dry completely
clear, but spray it on wood,
metal, plastic, concrete, or
even circuit boards, and
any water-based liquid that
comes into contact beads
up like mercury and rolls
right o. PopMech

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76

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LINE OF

FIRE

SPECIAL REPORT BY

KALEE THOMPSON

IT STARTED WITH A
THUNDERSTORM. AROUND 5:40

PM ON FRIDAY, JUNE 28, RESIDENTS OF THE


SPARSELY POPULATED MOUNTAINS 75 MILES
NORTHWEST OF PHOENIX REPORTED A WILDFIRE SPARKED BY LIGHTNING. THE BURN GREW
SLOWLY AT FIRST. ON SATURDAY MORNING,
A HELICOPTER CREW DOCUMENTED THE
AFFECTED AREA AT 8 ACRES. AT 7:38 PM,
THE FIRE WAS 100 ACRESTINY AS WESTERN

PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM S TORY

Nineteen men died ghting Arizonas Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30. The re was smallone-thirtieth the size of the
Rim Fire in Californiabut it raised big questions about who accepts the risk when we build homes in harms way.

wildres go. It was still 2 miles from


the closest town, the isolated community of Yarnell, population 650.
By Sunday morning, a couple of
hundred firefighters were on the
scene. Among them were the Granite
Mountain Hotshots, a municipal team
out of nearby Prescott. The men were
highly trained and meticulously fit,
one of 110 specialized hotshot crews

in the country. The 20-person squads


are expert in manipulating the path
of wildfireoften battling to protect
homes and businesses built as close
as possible to some of the countrys
most scenic but fire-prone landscapes. For both their expertise and
the dangers they face, hotshots are
often referred to as the Navy Seals of
their field. Fifteen of the 20 Granite

78

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

faster than a forest. The temperature was edging above 100 F, and
the relative humidity was only about
10 percent.
The men carried 40-pound packs
that held their line geartools, gas for
the saws, food, water, and, attached
to the outside for quick access, a
4.4-pound shelter nicknamed the
shake-and-bake, to be used only
as a last resort if they were being
overtaken by fire. These high-tech
blankets of layered aluminum, silica,
and fiberglass reflect 95 percent
of radiant heat and trap a bubble
of breathable air for an
hour or more. Such shelters have saved reghters
lives in the past, but they
have their limits. If the temperature directly outside
the shelter reaches 500 F,
the glue holding the layers
of material together breaks
down and the insulating
air gap between them is
compromised. The shelters,
the hotshots understood,
were something you always
needed to have but never
wanted to use.

Monday
Monday
7/1
8400 ACRES
7/1

Saturday
Saturday
6/29
100 ACRES
6/29
YARNELL
LL
L

Friday Friday
6/28
6/28
2 ACRES

Nobody saw

the
hotshots die. The exact
circumstances of their
deaths will be pieced
together from forensic
evidence, which at press
time was being analyzed
along with the chain of
decisionmaking that led up
to their nal momentsby
an independent investigative team appointed by the
Arizona State Forestry Division. What is understood is

The deadly wildre burned north


and west of Yarnell, a 650-person
town located at 4780 feet in central
Arizona. B ELO W : A track was cut to
recover the remains of reghters who
died in a chaparral-lled gully, just a
half-mile from safety. Both locations are
visible in the photograph.
A B O V E:

P H O T O G R A P H B Y M A R K J . T E R R I L L / A S S O C I AT E D P R E S S

Mountain Hotshots were in their 20s,


three just 21. Several had reghting
in their blood. Wade Parker, 22, was
the son of a local re captain. Thirtyyear-old Chris MacKenzie and 21-yearold Kevin Woyjeck, both from California, had followed their fathers into
the profession. Capt. Jesse Steed, 36,
was a former Marine who had worked
as a municipal reghter. Superintendent Eric Marsh, 43, the crews leader
and oldest member, was originally
from North Carolina; he caught the
reghting bug while attending college in Arizona.
Collectively, the men were fathers
to a dozen children, with three more
babies on the way. For much of the
year they trained together, lugging
their heavy gear on conditioning runs
and competing for bragging rights at
Captain CrossFit, a gym near the re
station. During the summer re season, they spent weeks at a time on
the road, logging 16-hour days in blistering heat as they swung axes and
worked chain saws to cut fire lines,
bare strips of earth meant to halt
approaching ames.
The hotshots reported for duty
at 8:00 am. After weather, operational, and safety briengs they were
assigned to cut fire lines along the
southern flank of the fire, far from
the active, northern side of the burn.
That would protect Glen Ilah, a neighborhood of modest homes about a
mile west of central Yarnell and closer
to the blaze. They parked their white
buggiesboxy trucks that doubled
as portable toolboxesnear Route
89, the main road through town,
and hiked up into the hills. The men
skirted boulders and pushed through
dense chaparral and pinyonjuniper
stands (PJ, firefighters call it), scrub
growth that can burn hotter and

that 19 men were trapped and burned


by a rush of wind-fueled flame that
consumed the landscape with a speed
that few firefighters have ever witnessed. And that they were ghting
to protect a town located in the heart
of terrain that was highly vulnerable
to re. When they died, the men were
only about a half-mile from the outskirts of Yarnell.
The burn was compactabout 3
percent as large as this summers
California Rim Firebut it caused
the largest death toll of professional
wildland firefighters in more than a
century. Only the Great Fire of 1910,
which charred large swaths of Idaho
and Montana and killed dozens of
reghters, was deadlier. That disaster provided the edgling U.S. Forest

REPORTING BY DARREN ORF

W H A T
W E N T
W R O N G

I L L U S T R AT
M AI O
PN
S BY I N T E R N AT I O N A L M A P P I N G

Before the last embers were extinguished on the 8400-acre Yarnell Hill Fire that killed
19 reghters, investigators were already seeking answers: What went wrong? Their
report, to be released this fall, will focus on decisionmaking by the crew as high winds
developed and shifted direction by 180 degrees, pushing the re across their path
at speeds of up to 12 mph. This was the highest wildre death toll in more than a
century, but professionals die ghting wildland res every year in the United States.

S U N D A Y, J U N E 3 0

8:00 am

3:26 pm

4:10 pm

4:47 pm

6:35 pm

FIRE CREW
DEPLOYS

WIND ALERT
ISSUED

HOTSHOTS
LEAVE RIDGE

SHELTERS
DEPLOYED

19 DEATHS
REPORTED

The Yarnell Hill Fire,


one of 37 active
wildres in Arizona,
has grown slowly
since igniting on
Friday (1). On
Saturday, aircraft
dropped 7430 gallons of retardant;
the re reached
just 100 acres.
Sunday morning,
the Granite Mountain Hotshots are
assigned to the
southern end of the
burn. It is now 1000
acres in extent
and is spreading
toward the small
town of Yarnell.

Warnings spread by
radio: The National
Weather Service is
reporting a thunderstorm approaching from the northeast, with 50-mph
winds. The NWS
has also warned
of 30-mph downdrafts. The hotshots lookout (2),
positioned to the
north of the rest of
the crew, hikes to
safety.

The Yavapai
County Sheris
Oice orders the
evacuation of residents. As the re
approaches, the
19 remaining hotshots descend from
the ridge where
they have been
working (3) into a
shrub-choked gully,
headed toward the
Glen Ilah subdivision (4). It proves
to be a fatal decision.

Arizona Dispatch
is told that an air
crew has spotted re shelters
deployed (5),
indicating a crew
in danger. Heavy
winds and smoke
keep a rescue helicopter grounded.

An EMT arrives on
the scene and nds
no survivors. A
group of colleagues
and relativesall
reghterssit
vigil overnight
and remove the
remains the next
day. By then, the
re has stopped
spreading, and
10 days later it is
100 percent contained. An oicial
investigation is
announced on
Tuesday, July 3.

IGNITION POINT

5:01 pm Yarnell records winds


from the north-northeast at
26 mph, with gusts up to 41 mph.

HOTSHOTS APPROX.
RIDGETOP LOCATION

3
LOOKOUT POSITION

5
WHERE THE HOTSHOTS
WERE FOUND

RANCH, FIRE-FREE AREA

4
GLEN ILAH
NEIGHBORHOOD

Route 89

4:01 pm A Yarnell weather station


records winds from the southwest at
13 mph, with gusts up to 22 mph.

YARNELL

80

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Service with an overriding purpose


the elimination of wildfirethat
resonated with the public but ironically helped lead to the volatile fire
conditions we face today. The following decades saw a steady stream of
casualties, punctuated by disasters.
The 1949 Mann Gulch re in Montana,
made famous by the book Young Men
and Fire by Norman Maclean, overtook 13 smoke jumpers, many of them
just teenagers, as they raced up a
steep slope trying to escape. More
recent tragedies include the 1990 Arizona Dude Fire, which took the lives
of six reghters, and Colorados 1994
Storm King Mountain blaze, in which
14 reghters died.
After each of those disasters, ocials tried to improve the tools and
tactics of reghting to prevent further deaths. That process will be
repeated with the Yarnell fire tragedy. But the discussion shouldnt stop
there. Wildland reghters die every
year74 of them in the ve years ending in 2012even when there is no
large-scale disaster such as Yarnell.
A painful question looms over these
losses: Are wildland reghters dying
because of where people choose to
build their homes?
In the United States, wildfires
are becoming bigger, more extreme,
and more expensive. The average
length of the summer re season has
increased by about 75 days since the
1970s, and the total area burned each
year has more than doubled in just the
past decade. In the 1980s, about 600
American homes were lost to wildres in an average year. Since 2000,
the average has been closer to 2700.
One reason is that a century of aggressive fire suppression has resulted in
an unprecedented fuel buildup that
feeds larger, more violent blazes.

Decades of rising temperatures across


the Westa climate trend that is
expected to intensifyhave made
matters worse. (Some blazes may
be bigger, as officials withhold firefighters from the most dangerous
situations, a reform put in place after
1994s Storm King disaster.)
Relatively little attention, however,
has been paid to what may be the
greatest hazard to property and lives:
housing developments encroaching
on what used to be considered wilderness. Between 1990 and 2008 there
were about 17 million homes built in
the United States. Ten million of those
were constructed in the dangerous
frontier between developed land and
fire-prone open space, a boundary
that policy experts call the wildland
urban interface, or WUI.
Stephen J. Pyne, an Arizona State
University historian, worked 15
seasons as a wildland firefighter.

He has authored a dozen books on


the topic and has become a leading authority on Western fire management. We all want dispersed
communities so we dont have to deal
with neighbors, he says. But if youre
in town then the only structures that
are really at risk are the ones on the
outer perimeter. If you took that same
number of houses and you scattered
them equally through the scrub, then
theyre all at risk.
The most effective way to tamp
down wildfire risk would be to stop
building in dangerous locations. A
more palatable step for many people
would be for vulnerable communities
to speed the adoption of urban-style
building codes and zoning rules. In
the 19th century, conagrations tore
through places such as Chicago and
Boston, eventually leading to universal fire regulations. We dont have
cities burning anymore, Pyne points
out. For a city to burn it has to be
either an earthquake or a war.
Of course, the freedom to live and
build without following a lot of rules
is one of the reasons people move to

The Granite Mountain Hotshots were


a municipal reghting team based
in Prescott, Ariz.
More than 8000
people attended
a public memorial
for the men on
July 9, 2013, including the crews sole
survivor, Brendan
McDonough (standing at far left). A
team investigating
the mens deaths
is expected to
release its report
early this autumn.

WILDLAND
FIREFIGHTERS DIE
EVERY YEAR
74 OF THEM IN THE FIVE YEARS ENDING IN 2012EVEN
WHEN THERE IS NO LARGE-SCALE DISASTER SUCH AS
YARNELL. A PAINFUL QUESTION LOOMS OVER THESE LOSSES:
ARE WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS DYING BECAUSE OF WHERE
PEOPLE CHOOSE TO BUILD THEIR HOMES?

remote areas in the first place. New


regulations could reduce re losses,
but they might not be popular.

Three days after

the
hotshots died, on the morning of
Wednesday, July 3, I stood at a roadblock on Route 89, about 4 miles south
of the charred remains of Yarnell. I
was one of a couple of dozen journalists scattered along the blacktops
edge. On the other side of the road
were a long line of TV news trucks, a
half-dozen sheris deputies handling
the road closure, and a couple of A-list
Forest Service public-aairs specialists brought in from as far away as
Wisconsin and Oregon.
Beyond the roadblock, the re still
burned. Six hundred reghters were
working an 8400-acre blaze that was
just 8 percent contained. Right now,
though, they were standing down,
observing a few moments of silence
in tribute to their fallen brothers.
Finally, we saw the first of the hotshots empty buggies. The officers
stood at attention, hands in salute
above tear-welled eyes, as a procession of municipal trucks escorted the
vehicles out of the re zone and home

to Prescott. The human remains had


been removed two days earlier
Once the procession had passed,
the PR folk handed out green Nomex
pants, canary-yellow shirts, and
matching helmetsthe same clothing worn by reghters. I layered the
protective gear over my own clothes
and joined a chaperoned caravan
into the re zone. We stopped along a
dirt road that connected a handful of
homes, each spaced at least an eighth
of a mile apartpart of a subdivision
northeast of Yarnell called Model
Creek. There were no visible ames,
but all around were burned slopes
and the blackened skeletons of trees.
Wisps of smoke and ash rose in the
light breeze. The neighborhood was
empty of residents, but for the past
ve days reghters had been working to save the homes. Scattered reghters were visible in the distance,
specks of yellow against a black horizon. They were mopping upmethodically treating remaining hot spots
that might be prone to reignition if
the wind were to pick up. It was hard
not to feel like the entire region was
one big funeral pyre.
Firefighter Todd Pederson had
been working in this area on Sunday

afternoon, when the Granite Mountain Hotshots died. Everybody wants


to know why, why it happened, he
told a handful of journalists staring up
at the scorched hills. He didnt know
those men personally, but he did
know they were skilled professionals
with years of training and experience.
It puts you in one of those positions
where youre like, would we all have
chosen to do what they did? Its obviously not just part of doing business
for us, he said. People shouldnt be
dying doing this job.

Throughout Sunday
afternoon, 19 of the hotshots worked
establishing fire lines high in the
rocky, scrub-lled hills about 1 miles
west of Glen Ilah. On a ridgetop to the
north, closer to the active re, was the
last member of the team, 21-year-old
Brendan McDonough. It was standard
procedure for a hotshot crew working
in active re conditions to designate
a lookout, and McDonough, who was
in his third season with the hotshots,
was on the job, charged with ensuring
the safety of the crew by watching and
reporting the movement of the fire.
Each team was also expected to designate at least one safety zone, an area
of retreat if the work area became too
dangerous. Later reports speculated
that the Granite Mountain Hotshots
had chosen a cleared area around a
small ranch located down the ridge
from their work zone, about a quartermile west of Glen Ilah.
Around 3 pm, McDonough and
crew captain Jesse Steed had a radio
conversation about the changing
weather. The captain said to expect
180-degree wind shift and that we
could expect gusts up to 50 to 60
mph, McDonough later told the

82

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

BUILDING
FOR
SAFETY

Aftermath: Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 28, 2012

Since 1990, wildres have killed more than 400 reghters,


and the risk is growing as real-estate development expands into
re-prone terrain. Fireghters will always be needed, but a new
approach could help save lives by requiring homeowners to take
responsibility for preparing their property to resist a wildre.

Building Materials:

Forty-three million homes in the United


States are vulnerable to wildre. A program called Firewise recommends that builders employ metal, clay, or cement tile for roofs;
re-resistant siding; and dual-paned windows with tempered glass,
along with taking other measures. A small but growing number of
communities are adopting building codes to protect against wildres. However, the codes apply only to new construction.

Landscaping: The shrubs and trees that help dene suburbia


for many Americans increase risk in re-vulnerable areas. Experts
recommend establishing concentric zones for landscaping. Within 30
feet of a house, vigilant plant management and strategically placed
pathways and driveways can create rebreaks. Up to 200 feet from
any structure, debris should be removed and tree canopies thinned.

Evacuation:

Australians practice a Stay and Defend method,


where homeowners protect their homes during low-intensity brush
res. U.S. oicials have rejected this approach, instead developing
a program called Ready, Set, Go. The program advocates hardening
homes and evacuating as early as possible. Last-minute evacuations
increase risks, both to residents and rst responders. More than
500 re departments have adopted the program. D A R R E N O R F

PHOTOGRAPH BY RICK WILKING/REUTERS

Prescott Daily Courier. As wildland


firefighters reach a new work zone,
theyre required to set trigger points
geographical conditions under which
they agree to retreat to their safety
zone. Soon after his conversation
with the captain, the shifting winds
caused McDonough to reach his own
trigger point. Both he and his supervisors could see the edge of the active
fire to the north, and could tell that
the wind had changed direction.
McDonough radioed to crew superintendent Eric Marsh, and told him
that he was moving out. Call me if
you need anything, McDonough said.
Then he walked down to a dirt road,
where he was picked up by the superintendent of another hotshot crew. It
wasnt until McDonough was off the
hill that he looked back up at his lookout spot. It was already burned over.
Everything was gone.
At 4:04 pm, the Granite Mountain
Hotshots were still on the ridge above
Glen Ilah. Soon after that, they headed
downhill into a narrow box canyon that was smothered with dense,
10-foot-high chaparral. The hike
from the ridge to the oor of the gully
would have taken about 20 minutes,
Darrell Willis, a division chief with the
Prescott Valley Fire Department, later
estimated. Though its clear that the
hotshots were aware of the forecast
calling for high winds moving in their
direction, there is no indication that
any of them hesitated before descending the slope.
The growing winds were the result
of seasonal thunderstorms that locals
refer to as monsoons. The storms typically make June and early July the
worst re months in Arizona and New
Mexico. By mid-to-late June, a hot,
high-pressure system typically builds
to the north. That ridge of high pres-

sure causes prevailing winds in the


region to shift from the southwest to
the south-southeast and to drag in
subtropical moisture from the Gulf
of Mexico and Gulf of California. That
Sunday, strong winds heightened the
danger, but there was also another
factor, explains Michael Crimmins,
a climate scientist at the University
of Arizona. The moisture was concentrated at 15,000 to 25,000 feet in
the atmosphere. Precipitation fell,
but it never reached the ground.
That rain would evaporate and then
become very cold air, and that cold
air was heavy, so it would fall to the
ground and spread out in every direction, Crimmins says. Heavy air ows
through complex topography the way
that water would, and creates complicated wind patterns, including
outflows, the outdoor equivalent of
what city reghters know as a backdraft: a rush of fresh air that feeds and
propels the ames.
It was around 4:30 when it became
obvious from radio transmissions
that something was going horrically
wrong on the south end of the Yarnell
re. You could hear the guys trying to
get Air Attackthe aerial supervision
of the fire, says Pederson, the firefighter who was working Model
Creek. They wanted those guys
because they can get you help in the
way of helicopters or retardant. They
wanted them to know where they
were at because they were in trouble.
By the time the hotshots reached
the oor of the canyon, their mistake
must have been clear. They started cutting out an emergency safety
zone, a patch of bare earth that they
hoped would protect them from the
fire that they could presumably see
approaching the mouth of the gully
from the northeast. They had enough
time to cache their saws and fuel outside their safety zone, just as their
training had taught them. A final
radio transmission revealed that they
intended to burn out around them,

BY THE TIME THE


HOTSHOTS REACHED
THE FLOOR OF

THE CANYON, THEIR MISTAKE MUST HAVE BEEN CLEAR. THEY


STARTED CUTTING OUT AN EMERGENCY SAFETY ZONE, A PATCH
OF BARE EARTH THAT THEY HOPED WOULD PROTECT THEM FROM
THE FIRE THAT THEY COULD PRESUMABLY SEE APPROACHING.

purposely setting a smaller fire that


would consume some of the surrounding chaparral and manzanita shrubs
andthey hopedlessen the intensity
of the approaching blaze. Finally, they
clustered close together inside their
safety zone, and the men deployed
their emergency shelters.
At 4:47 pm, Air Attack reported
what no incident commander ever
wants to hear: Have a deployment
unknown how many shelters at this
time, the air crew told their supervisors. Incident commanders waited
until the thunderstorms had passed to
allow a helicopter, carrying an EMT,
to take o and land inside the charred
canyon. At 6:35 the medic reported
that hed counted 19 shelters. And
19 bodies. Just minutes later, at 6:39,
the re jumped Route 89 and invaded
the town of Yarnell.

By midnight

on Sunday, the
fire had expanded to 8400 acres
about 13 square miles. One hundred
and fourteen buildings had burned.
Then it stalled: There were no additional casualties or homes lost. By
weeks end the re was contained. By
size, it doesnt rank in the top 50 res
of the 2013 season.
Almost all mass-fatality res are
small res, or they are small portions

of large res, says Pyne. But theyre


in circumstances where the vegetation fuels can react very quickly to
a change, particularly a change in
wind. The deaths often occur in what
can be thought of as topographic
chimneys, he says. People are moving across in a gully, across a mountain up top, and something blows up
below them and they cant get out. It
just roars up like its going up a ue.
Three weeks after the re, Darrell
Willis stood at the site where the 19
hotshots had died, surrounded by a
cluster of journalists. The encounter was recorded by reporter John
Dougherty of investigativemedia.com.
A flagpole had been erected, and a
chain-link fence protected the site. It
was still a couple of months before
the final investigative report would
be released, but it was already clear
that the Granite Mountain Hotshots
had taken a series of calculated risks.
And, tragically, on that day, in those
re conditions, their calculations had
been wrong.
Willis was one of the founders of
the municipal hotshot team, and he
knew the men well. His gut is that they
left the ridge not to retreat to safety, as
some have suggested, but to protect
homes. I believe that they felt that
they werent doing good where they
were, he said. They had to abandon

LINE OF FIRE
CONT INUE D ON PAGE 12 4

W H Y

IS

W O R T H

T H I S

$ 4 0 0,0 0 0 ?

METEORITE HUNTERS RISK PRISON,


EVEN DEATH, TO FIND MONEY FROM
THE SKYRARE SPACE ROCKS THAT
ARE OLDER THAN EARTH ITSELF.

For 13 days in 2011 Michael Farmer and Robert Ward


combed the southern desert of Oman, seeking treasure in
the sands of Dhofar.
The pair were not on the southeast coast of the Arabian
Peninsula to hunt for gold, gems, or fossils. They were
there for meteorites. Omans untouched landscape, monotone taupe background, and arid climate make for ideal
hunting conditions. The trip was proving to be particularly
successfulFarmer claimed a find that had once rested
on the moon. He knew a collector who would want it, so
he called from the eld to arrange a $45,000 sale. For his
part, Ward found a watermelon-size specimen, weighing
nearly 100 pounds, that could easily be worth $60,000.
Then, on the 14th day of the trip, the two Americans
were stopped at a roadblock on a mountain pass near
Adam. Omani soldiers armed with M16s pulled them from

B Y

C H R I S

P H O T O G R A P H S

R A Y M O N D
B Y

G R A N T

C O R N E T T

O C K

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

85

In 2007 Robert
Ward found this
32-pound meteorite
in New Mexico. The
pallasite, studded
with olivine crystals,
formed 4.5 billion
years ago during a
deep-space collision.

their vehicles and started riing through their


belongings. When they found that big rock of
Roberts, they really went nuts, Farmer says.
The next thing I knew we were handcuffed
together and thrown in the back of a truck.
Ward and Farmer were taken in shackles to
a military base, locked in solitary connement,
and interrogated around the clock. Weeks
later the bewildered Americans were given a
15-minute trial, which took place entirely in
Arabic, and convicted of illegal mining.
Oman has no clear law against meteorite
hunting. For centuries it had overlooked the
rocks. Now that those stones have great value
on the world market, the authorities in Muscat have become ercely protective. The International Meteorite Collectors Association has
been trying to nd out the nations legal guidelines, to no avail.
Convicted of illegal mining, Farmer and
Ward were sentenced to serve time with
criminals from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
and Egypt. The Americans could hear riots in
other parts of the prison. Their ordeal would
stretch on for 54 days, until a retrial freed
them. (Their attorney successfully argued that
plucking rocks from aboveground could not
be considered mining.) The meteorites were
conscated, and the two Americans are now
banned from entering Oman.
For weeks after returning from the Middle East, Ward had had a hard time forcing
himself to leave his Prescott, Ariz., home and
when he did drive somewhere, to step out of
his car. Although he cant imagine having the
courage to jump from an airplane, chasing
meteorites in the worlds wilds makes perfect
sense to him. Would he pay for this passion
with his life? Im sure I will, he says. But the
question is are you going to die sitting on the
sofa or doing something interesting?

SPACE FOR SALE

The specimens meteorite hunters collect


and occasionally risk their lives to obtainare
an increasingly treasured commodity. Like
money from the sky, famed U.S. meteorite
hunter Robert Haag once said.
In this eld, cosmic geology meets market
economics. A common stony meteorite, called
a chondrite, can sell for $25 or less, but a slice
of ironnickel pallasite laced with olivine crystals can easily fetch a thousand times that.

The stories behind them also matter. A meteorite collected


after a witness sees its fall brings gobs of money. Meteorites that strike objectscars, tin roofs, mailboxespush the
prices higher.
Most meteorites originate between Mars and Jupiter,
where a belt of asteroids has lingered for 4.5 billion years,
since the solar system was young. No rock on Earth is as
old as a meteoriteall terrestrial material has been ground,
melted, and reformed by plate
tectonics. Meteorites have other,
less common, origins. Meteor
impacts on the moon or Mars can
eject surface material into space
that ends up on Earth. Last year
a 10.5-ounce meteorite that originated on Mars fetched $94,000. A
4-pound lunar meteorite, the most
expensive ever auctioned, sold for
$330,000 in 2012.
As the public becomes aware
Favorite:
that they can own these things,
Robert Ward
we are seeing more and more
This is one of my finest
interest, says Jim Walker, direccenterpieces.
tor of ne minerals for New York
Citybased Heritage Auctions.
Formed: Mars
Its the romance of having someFound: Morocco
thing not of the Earth, rst. SecSize: 1.1 pounds
ond, the oldest thing that you can
Meteor impacts throw debris from
Mars into space. The pieces that
lay your hands on is a meteorite.
make it to Earth hold clues to the
Meteors (a meteor is not called
geology and atmosphere of the
a meteorite until it hits Earth)
Red Planet.
carry with them the secrets of
the universe, clues not only to
the dawn of our solar system, but,
many believe, to the origins of life on this planet. Scientists theorize that meteors seeded Earth with organic molecules, enabling life to form.
And so, meteorites are coveted by museums, scientists,
and private collectors. Auction houses entered the game
in the mid-1990s, catering to clients such as Steven Spielberg, Nicolas Cage, and Yo-Yo Ma. Such celebrity involvement has driven up prices. Now the Internet has opened
the eld to even more peoplesome interested in science,
others only in the investment.
There are many meteorite hunters and collectors who
actively collaborate, to help to characterize newly found
meteorites, says Mike Zolensky, a NASA astromaterials
curator. There are also some problems. Many collectors
will get a sample and tuck it away. Many meteorites are not
Robert Ward, 36, hunts meteorites for fame, fortune, and personal glory. He has tens
of thousands of dollars worth of space rocks in a private vault in Prescott, Ariz.

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

87

known to science for that reason.


Full-time hunters, including Farmer and
Ward, often donate a portion of their discoveries to university labs in return for help with
authentication. Carl Agee, director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New
Mexico, says hunters play a central role for science, even if they have ulterior motives. You
have to put a lot of effort into searching for
meteorites, he says. When the hunters nd
them and ask us to help classify them, it benets everybody.
Agee notes that researchers interested in
microscopic analysis dont have to bid against
high-dollar collectors, the way museums do.
We have plenty of meteorites that are small,
perfect for research, he says. In the past few
decades display pieces have become much
more popular. The more demand there is,
prices will naturally increase.
Randy Korotev, who studies lunar meteorites at Washington University in St. Louis, says the rise in interestand valueis not
welcomed by everyone. I have colleagues,
particularly those associated with museums,
who are irate about this, Korotev says. I cannot buy meteorites from Oman or northwest
Africa with my NASA grant money because the
U.S. government would consider them stolen
property. Museum people think its like stealing artifacts out of Egypt.
Farmer donates some finds but is also a
professional and is certainly in it for profit.
And, as his peers readily admit, hes one of the
best. A meteorite paid for his house in Tucson,
Ariz. Another put solar panels on the roof. And
a third earned him a trip to Bora Bora with his
wife.
Like many others in the business, Farmer
is both a meteorite hunter and a dealer. His
most famous discoverya 117-pound pallasite unearthed on a farm in Canadawas
purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum in
Toronto for $600,000. Like every hunter,
though, Farmer has had his share of disappointments. On the patio behind the kitchen
sits a brick-size stone he purchased for
$10,000. Its what people in this field call a
meteorwronga worthless piece of terrestrial rock. I keep it around, he says, as a
reminder. Youre not always right.
Inside his home, meteorites recovered on
a recent trip to Chelyabinsk, Russia, lay scat-

tered across the glass top of the dining room


table. Tiny onesno larger than a grain of sea
saltdot paper towels. Others rest in glass
vials. Walnut-size nuggets ll white cardboard
cartons and wooden cigar boxes. Those waiting to be sorted sit in two glass Pyrex dishes.
A few months ago this sucker was out past
Mars and now its here, he says, holding up
one of his nds. Makes you feel insignicant.
Despite his candid demeanor, the nature of
his work can be shadowy. He balks at describing how he transported all those rocks home
from Chelyabinsk. I use methods Id prefer
not to discuss, he says with a smile. My Russian friends might behead me.

ON THE HUNT

This looks just like Oman, Robert Ward


says, eyeing the sea of sand that stretches
out before us. Two nights earlier a fireball
appeared in the heavens above Arizona, so
were riding a ribbon of highway in Wards
black Ram pickup in search of its remains. A
half-hour into the desert north of Winslow, we
leave the asphalt for a dirt road.
Ive had guns pulled on me, people shooting over my head, Ward says. And that is just
in this country.
Ward is a hunter who cultivates partnerships with scientists. He is studying Doppler
radar images of a meteorites descent assembled by Marc Fries of NASA. Using National
Weather Service data, Fries plots the mass and
velocity of the falling debris on a map. Marc
tracks meteorites as they fall, then I hit the
eld to recover fragments, Ward says. This
has brought a great increase of material from
witnessed meteorite falls to science.
Technology only takes you so far, though.
The rest is footwork. Ward has a host of metal
detectors, but to conrm the location of the
strewn field, we will have to rely on hand
examinations of promising rocks.
With the wind rustling our hair, we set out.
The ground is a patchwork of brown and red.
Its hard to say what exactly were hoping to
nd. Rocks that dont belong here. What does
that mean? We search for hours, but the ery
meteor that found its way to Earth this week
remains elusive.
Michael Farmer, 41, uses a metal detector and determination
to nd meteorites: They dont tend to fall in nice places.

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

Favorite:
Michael
Farmer
More rare than
diamonds, the peridot
gems and the silvery,
nickeliron matrix
surrounding them,
truly are forever.
Formed: Asteroid Belt
Found: Saskatchewan,
Canada
Size: 5 pounds
Peridot is gem-quality
olivine formed in deep
space. It is also found on
Earth, but experts can
identify extraterrestrial
peridot because it has
dierent levels of lithium,
iron, manganese, cobalt,
and zinc.

How
w to ID a Meteorite
The rock
k you found in your backyard might be from space.
Location: According to the Meteoritical Society, authentic meteorites have
been found in every state except Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and
Vermont. Novices, however, are better
o hunting in the deserts of Arizona or
the dry lake beds of Nevada, where the
rocks can be seen with the naked eye.
Color: Fresh falls have a black fusion
crust. (Contrary to popular belief,
theyre also cold to the touch.) In time
layers of rust give the rocks a reddishbrown patina.
Regmaglypts: These thumbprint-like
depressions form on the surface of a
meteor as it passes through Earths
atmosphere.
Magnetism: Magnets react to the iron
nickel alloy common to most meteorites.
Weight: Because of their unusual density, meteorites can be up to 3.5 times
heavier than Earth rocks of similar size.

For more info, consult Field Guide to


Meteors and Meteorites by O. Richard
Norton and Lawrence Chitwood.

89

The excursion reveals the reality of meteorite huntingit takes a great deal of patience
and a good measure of faith. Most of the
search time is quiet, boring, and far from
being an Indiana Jonesstyle adventure. Many
legendary nds come with stories of dedication rather than of danger. For example, people have been searching the hard-scrabble
lands outside Santa Fe, N.M., for pieces of the
Glorieta Mountain meteorite since the first
pieces were found in 1884, but none has
searched as relentlessly as Steve Schoner,
who shuttled the 400 miles between his Arizona home and the impact site at least
70times, hunting for two weeks each visit.
Fifteen years of persistence paid o in 1997,
when he uncovered a 45-pound Glorieta pallasite. A 2 x 2inch slice of the meteorite
fetches between $900 and $1200.
Like gamblers hoping to hit it big, Ward
and other meteorite hunters know the slim
chances only improve with each hour in the
eld. You learn a lot about odds and coincidences in this job, Ward says.

SPACE-ROCK PASSION

A day later, during a tour of Wards Prescott


home, I glimpse the allure that keeps these
men dedicated to the hunt. Beneath a lofty ceiling just inside his front door stands a small
herd of animalstaxidermy trophies from boyhood safaris with his father. Butteries hang in
frames and fossils sit on shelves.
He walks me to two rust-colored doors on
the far side of the room and inserts his finger in the biometric lock. The bolt gives way
and Ward steps through the open door, turns
to his left, and punches a security code into
the alarm system. The shade on the back
window begins to rise, lling the dark room
with sunlight. This is what keeps me going,
he says.
Two massive boulders jut through the granite oor. Perched on their anks are a dozen
or more meteoritesevery one the size of a
watermelon. Against one wall are four display
cases lled with stones. A fth, next to the far
wall, houses moon rocks.
Its a breathtaking displaya world-class
natural science museum hidden just beyond
the couch in his living room. PopMech
Additional reporting by Sarah Fecht

The WORX SD SemiAutomatic Driver is the most convenient cordless


screwdriver ever. Theres always a loose screw around the house,
and you can never nd the right size screwdriver until now.
The WORX SD stores all the bits directly in the tool, so they never
get lost and theres no wasted time fumbling around. Plus, the 4V
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PHOTOGRAPH BY REED YOUNG

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

91

W
WEEKEND

we ekend

Pick up a beer after you


put down the tools
say, when youre done
making a cozy table for
two. p. 102

TECH

Fancy yourself in command


of a UAV? Read our guide to
drone control. p. 92

PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRI A N F INK E

d iy
Tech
SMARTPHONE
BA N K I N G
AUTOCORRECT
BLUES
ROKU WI-FI

DJI Phantom

YOUR VERY OWN DRONE


TH E D E L I C ATE A RT O F F LY I N G
P I L O TL E S S A I RC RA F T. B Y G L E N N D E R E N E
Drones have gained a reputation for hunting terrorists and
spying on both foreigners and
Americans alike. So its easy to
overlook the fact that these hovering, loitering aircraft have quite
a following in the hobbyist world
as well. To the people who build
and y them recreationally, modern unmanned aerial vehicles (the
terms drone and UAV are pretty
much interchangeable) are just
a technological advancement of
the radio-controlled planes and
helicopters that amateurs have
been ying for years. The Federal Aviation Administration is still
struggling to work out the rules

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

for operating UAVs commercially,


but for private use, the agencys
regulations are remarkably lenient
(Drone Skies, September)no
license is required, and so long as
you keep your drone below 400
feet and dont do anything dangerous over densely populated
areas, youre free to y around as
you please.

93

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

WEEKEND

The ABCs of UAVs


Like many hobbyist toys, drones
have a sliding scale of sophistication and cost. The more you
spend, the more a drone can do,
and the more a drone can do, the
harder it is to learn to y reliably.
Drones come in two avors: xedwing aircraft that operate like
airplanes, and multicopters that
take o vertically and can hover
like helicopters. You can build a
drone yourself with kit parts from
online merchants such as HobbyKing, 3D Robotics, DJI, or Team
BlackSheep, or you can do as I
did, and pay a little extra to have
one of these manufacturers build
it for you. There are also several
open-source movements designing ight-control and autonomous-ight software for UAVs,
including OpenPilot, APM:Copter,
and APM:Planealthough not all
software works on all hardware.
Large RC planes and helicopters are typically powered by
combustion engines and can be
diicult and (as the death of an
RC hobbiest in Brooklyn, N.Y., this
August demonstrates) sometimes dangerous to y. But a new
breed of small and accessible aircraft uses digitally controlled electric motors and high-discharge,
rechargeable, lithium-polymer batteries. These are not your average
cellphone batteries. Li-Po batteries are powerful and highly volatile, have specialized connectors,
must be charged carefully, and
have a vocabulary all their own
(see Anatomy of a Battery).

3D Robotics Y6

mportantly, many h
obb
bbyist
Most importantly,
hobbyist
e w
ith a
drone aircraft dont come
with
hi h can th
batterywhich
throw your
weekend plans in the ice bath
when you excitedly open the box
of your rst drone, only to nd
youve got another online order to
place before the fun times begin.

Rotary Club
Over a four-month period I
learned how to y three multicopters: a super-simple $300
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0, a $680
DJI Phantom, and a tricked-out,
six-rotor $1300 3D Robotics Y6.
Multicopters have anywhere from
three to eight rotors, are highly
maneuverable, and can hover
and y in virtually any direction.
These are good starter drones,
because they are generally quite
controllable and wont disappear
over the horizon in a hurry, the
way xed-wing craft tend to do.
But as I found out, multicopter ying is not without its challenges. Things can sometimes go
haywire faster than you can react.

n be
be a mindPlus, piloting one can
bending exercise in relative positi i
M
lti
t
t
tioning.
Multicopters
are symmetrical, so its not always obvious
which way your drone is facing.
Remote control usually involves
either a radio-control unit with
dual analog sticks and a dizzying
array of switches and buttons
(many of which do nothing), or, in
the case of the Parrot AR.Drone,
an iOS or Android smartphone or
tablet with onscreen virtual controls. Regardless, operation can
get a little complicated. When
your drone ies behind you and
you turn around to face it, the
directional controls are now the
reverse of what they were when
it was in front of youlikewise, if
you swivel your drone to face a
new direction without reorienting
your own body, the drone moves
sideways relative to you. For this
reason, I suggest keeping your
rst ights low and close by, and
that you nd a wide, open area
to practice inI used a local dog
park. Also, purchase a few extra

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propellers, because youre going


to crash your drone. And thats
okay, because repairing your
drone is part of the hobby.
In terms of accessibility, the
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is the newbies top choice. It is aordable,
durable, comes with a battery
and an onboard camera, and is
controlled via a smartphone.
You can even y it indoorsit
comes with a removable hull that
protects the rotors from bumps
into walls, pets, and people.
Takeo and landing are accomplished with a single button. The
AR.Drone has a sonar sensor that
keeps it a xed distance from the
ground, and its 720p camera records a video to your tablet or
phone as it ies.
I had fun ying it, and my
nerdy little toy impressed my
nerdy friends. But the limitations
surfaced quickly. The standard
battery for the model I tested
was rated for 1000 milliamperehoursgood for a paltry 12 min-

utes of air time. The company


now sells a 1500-mAhr battery
for longer ight times. Also, since
the AR.Drone is controlled via WiFi, it is constrained in its range to
about 165 feet from the controller. Theres plenty of fun to be
had within that range, but more
sophisticated choppers put it to
shame.
For instance, the Phantom, a
ready-to-y quadrotor from DJI,
has a range of almost 1000 feet
from the controller. But I wouldnt
suggest sending it that far
aeldat any distance greater
than 500 feet, the drone becomes
a coin-size white blob against the
clouds. The Phantom is also fast,
with a top speed of more than
20 mphalthough that kind of
hot-dogging will chew through a
2200-mAhr battery (which is not
included) in 10 to 15 minutes.
The quadrotor also uses a
GPS sensor and digital compass
to do away with the orientation
problem that plagues most mul-

KNOW YOUR STUFF

ANATOMY OF A BATTERY

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Power Density

Discharge Rate

Lithium-polymer batteries for radio-controlled


vehicles are chemically similar to the batteries in
cellphones, but the voltage, power density, and
discharge rates are considerably higher. Read
the specs of your aircraft to match the cable
connector and voltage of your battery and nd
the minimum milliamp-hour and discharge rates.
Also, to prevent re or battery damage, youll
need to use a balance charger to maintain voltage across the batterys cells.

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WEEKEND

ticopters. Phantom has two


Intelligent Orientation Control
settings that normalize its
forward motion regardless of
which way the drone is facing. One IOC setting xes the
Phantom to a grid, which still
reverses the controls if you
y it behind you. The other
setting xes the craft to a
radius around its launch point;
forward motion moves it away
from you, reverse brings it
back. I found this massively
useful once I attached a GoPro to the Phantoms camera
mount. I could then steer the
camera in any direction yet
still y the aircraft relative to
my own postion. It was like
having a helicopter cameraman at my disposal for home
movies. Now I have tons of
aerial footage of my kids playing with the neighborhood
dogs in the park, and a few
high-altitude pans that give a
view of my entire town.

The berdrone
On the upper end of the
(or, at least, my) cost-andcomplexity curve is the 3D
Robotics Y6 hexacopter, using
the APM:Copter software
platform, which was the last
and most ambitious drone I
tried. You can build this threearm, six-rotor craft yourself
for $400 to $600 in parts
(depending on the options you
select), or you can have 3D
Robotics build it for you for
$700 to $1300. Fully tricked
out, a 3D Robotics multicopter
can be own manually with a
remote control, or it can do
autonomous waypoint navigation. It can be accessorized
with a wireless-telemetry kit
that communicates with your
laptop and a rst-person-view
camera that broadcasts back
to a screen or video goggles.

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96

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

D I Y T E C H / D I G I TA L C L I N I C

And it can also support a servodriven tilting gimbal for real-time


control of a second video camera.
The idea is that you guide the
aircraft with the low-res broadcast camera and record with a
hi-def camera on the gimbal. Its
six motors make the Y6 a strong
beast, capable of lifting a heavy
payloadsome of which is its
own large battery (the company
suggests at least 4200 mAhr).
The drone can also survive one

Digital Clinic

or more motor failures while maintaining ight.


These high-end aircraft dont
ship with straightforward programming and ight instructions.
There is, however, an active online community with plenty of
advice for new yersexactly
the sort of advice I should have
consulted before my rst attempt
at ying the Y6. It shot up 4 feet
in the air, tilting violently to one
side. It made a beeline for a pub-

lic road, so I cut the throttle and


sent it props-rst into the dirt.
After replacing a motor and two
props, I learned that calibrating
the compass and testing and tuning pitch and roll rates is generally
a good idea before any multicopters rst ight. A quick tuneup
helped the Y6 achieve a stable
hover. Next up, Im mapping out
its rst autonomous ightwith
a machine this sophisticated, Ill
never run out of challenges.

BY

RACHEL Z. ARNDT
I L L U S T R AT I O N
BY CHRIS KIM

WEEKEND

Is That an ATM in Your Pocket?

What happens when I deposit


a check using my banks phone
app? Is it secure?
When it comes to depositing checks, smartphone
apps function a lot like ATMs: A machine takes an
image of the check and uses character recognition
or manually entered numbers to record the amount
deposited. (Your phone uses its camera to image the
check, while an ATM uses a scanner.) To nalize the

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Available only at

D I Y T E C H / D I G I TA L C L I N I C

Auto-Incorrect
My friends and I often text
each other about meeting up
at the same two restaurants,
which have names that our
phones always autocorrect to
completely dierent words. Can
we teach our phones to stop
doing this?
Smartphones tend to do pretty
well in their correctionsbut
sometimes they can be a tad
overzealous, automatically changing what you mean to say into an
absurd malapropism. If you catch
your phone in the act enough
times you can x the problem by
xing out the suggestion on an
iPhone or long-pressing the word
on an Android device and pressing the check markeventually
it will internalize your feedback.
You also can go straight to your
phones dictionary. On an iPhone,
head to the Keyboard menu under
General settings, and enter any
nonstandard word by choosing
Add New Shortcut. Type the word
in the Phrase area, and leave the
Shortcut blank (unless you want
to add a shortcut while youre at
it). The place to add words to the
Android dictionary depends on
the phone youre using, but its
usually in the Language and Input
section of Settings. Some phones
have a user or personal-dictionary
option there; others require you
to choose the keyboard youre
using, edit predictive text, and,
within that menu, add or remove
words from your own word list or
the auto-substitution list.

Driving iTunes Crazy


I just got a new laptop with a
solid-state drive thats much
smaller than my old computers
hard drive, so Ill have to move
my music and movies to an
external hard drive. Can I still
play them in iTunes?
Yes, but youll need to do some

WEEKEND

transaction, your bank veries the


routing and account numbers on
the check against nancial databases to make sure the check is
legit, isnt being deposited more
than once and that the account
its coming from has enough
money. Whether those account
and routing numbers come from
your phone or from an ATM doesnt
matter to the bank.
What does matter is whether
or not the data are collected and
transmitted securely. With both
phones and ATMs, those data are
encryptedeven if a digital thief
were able to grab information on
its way from your phone to the
banks servers, he wouldnt be
able to decode it. Plus, according
to a representative from banking
giant Citi, which supports mobile
check processing through its
app, not only is the information
about the check encrypted, it is
also never stored on the device
itself, so you neednt worry about
images of your paychecks ending
up in your Instagram feed.
Still, you should never use a
mobile banking app on an open
Wi-Fi network (in fact, never access any sensitive accounts over
public Wi-Fi). And if youre going
to use such an app, make sure to
secure your phone with a passcodea dierent one from the
code you use to log in to the banking app. To prevent accidentally
downloading malware that could
grab the information you enter
into the app, only download apps
from the oicial Google Play Store
or iOS App Store; this includes,
of course, the banking app itself,
which can be trusted only if its
created by your bank. Finally, the
FDIC recommends staying away
from SMS-based mobile banking
because text messages cant be
encrypted. If your phone doesnt
run apps, stick with brick-andmortar or traditional computer
transactions.

D I Y T E C H / D I G I TA L C L I N I C

folder rearranging to get your


iTunes library to turn to the media on your external drive instead
of to the les in the iTunes folder
on your computer. As with everything that involves moving les
around, back up everything rst.
(Its best to back up to a hard
drive other than the one where
youll ultimately store your iTunes
library.) Next, youll move the media
stored in the iTunes folder of your
old computer to the external drive.
Then, attach the hard drive to your
new computer, open iTunes, and
go to the Preferences menu. In
the Advanced tab of the iTunes
Preferences menu, let your computer know where the les are
by changing the location of the
iTunes Media folder to the folder
on the external drive. You could
stop here and your music would
play normally, but youd run into
trouble when importing new les.
Thats because the iTunes Library

lethe organizational database


iTunes uses to know whats in
your library and how its organizedlives on your computer,
and it would instruct your computer to put new les there, not with
the others on the external drive. To
x that, put aliases of each of the
media folders (movies, music, etc.)
you moved to the external drive in
the iTunes folder of your new computer. On a Mac, drag them while
holding down the command and
option keys; on a PC, right-click and
choose Create Shortcut.

Mystery Network
I just got a Roku 3 and set it up
on my home network. I love the
device, and it works properly,
but every time I log on to Wi-Fi
with my laptop now, I see the
Roku on the list of available Wi-Fi
networks. I thought the Roku
was supposed to join an existing

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Send your questions to


pmdigitalclinic@hearst.com.
While we cant answer
questions individually, problems
of general interest will be
discussed in the column.

WEEKEND

WANTED
INVENTORS

network, not create a new one.


Would this allow an outsider to
tap into my home network?
What youre seeing on your computer is actually information meant
for the Rokus remote control. The
remote for Rokus latest videostreaming device connects via
Wi-Fi Direct, which is a high-bandwidth connection based on the
Wi-Fi protocol. The Roku remote
needs that bandwidth because
of its audio-streaming capability,
which lets users plug headphones
into the remote and hear the audio
track from their device without
using their home-theater speakersthis is sometimes known as
let-your-spouse-sleep mode. The
connection between the Roku and
your remote is an ad hoc, deviceto-device connection, so logging
on to that network shouldnt
allow access to your home network. According to Kevin Robinson
of the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi Direct
devices can simultaneously maintain a peer-to-peer connection and
a connection to a conventional
Wi-Fi network. So, technically,
such a network could serve as a
bridge to your home network. But
a Roku representative assured
PM that the Roku 3 has security
measures that prevent any nonRoku hardware from pairing with
the main device, and the device
is not configured to act as a
bridge between networks. In fact,
the Roku rep suggested that the
company may be able to make
the network invisible to third-party
devices with a future software
update. PopMech

g
du
cin
tro
In

by

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102

diy

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Home
STORING
ENGINES
L AW N C A R E
TESTING
C H A I N SAW S

TABLE FOR TWO


IT S C H IC, B UT T H I S R EI MAG I N E D
C L ASSIC PM PRO J EC T C AN B E
B UILT W I T H SC R AP MAT ER I AL .
B Y T E D K I LC O M M O N S

PHOTOGRAPHS BY REED YOUNG

We found this single-unit lunch


table in a 1939 POPULAR MECHANICS
book. Its midcentury-modern styling caught our eye, but it needed
updating. A few tweaks, such as
adding contours to the tabletop,
allowed us to reduce its size and
make it more practical for todays
lifestyles. The result is a compact table for two thats ideal for
a casual afternoon snack or evening drinks.
The shopping list is short and
thrifty, and you can build this
table in a day. But that doesnt
mean you need to downscale the
design. For a contemporary look,
use kiln-dried cedar lumber for
the supporting structure and add
hardwood edging to the contrasting walnut-veneered plywood.

WEEKEND

Miter saw / No. 8 countersink bit / clamps / cordless drill / jigsaw / table saw with dado set /
circular saw / finish nailer / router with flush-trim bit / Kreg Jig / flush-cutting saw / palm sander

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104

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHA

D I Y H O M E / L U N C H TA
1

Lumber Supports
mortises in one end of each table
upright. On the other end of each
table upright, use a table saw
with a dado stack to cut a rabbet
inch deep by 3 inches long [4].
Cut a matching rabbet on one end
of each table support to fabricate
a half-lap joint [5]. If you dont have
a dado stack, make relief cuts
with a miter saw or handsaw, and
remove the waste with a chisel.
On the other end of these pieces,
make 45-degree cuts 1 inch down
from the top edge. To complete
the table support subassemblies, glue the pieces together at
right angles and fasten with four
evenly spaced, 1-inch countersunk screws [6].
Spread glue on the tenons
of the table uprights and insert
them into the mortises of the
stretcher [7]. Clamp and fasten
them with 3-inch countersunk
screws. Attach the apron to
this assembly by rst spreading
glue along the aprons edge and

Shopping List
Four 8' lengths of 2 x 4 lumber
One 4' x 8' sheet of "
cabinet-grade plywood
4/4 hardwood stock
for plywood edging
12 1" No. 8 wood screws
Six 2" No. 8 wood screws
10 2" No. 8 wood screws
14 3" No. 8 wood screws
1" nish nails
30 " wood plugs
PVA wood glue

then driving six 3-inch screws


through the top of the stretcher
and into the apron. Position the
screws within 12 inches of each
end to ensure they will be hidden
by the benches.
Attach the tableapron
assembly to the leg assemblies
by driving four 2-inch countersunk screws through the apron
into the legs.

WEEKEND

Begin by crosscutting the 2 x 4


lumber to size according to the
materials list on the following
page. Trim o any factory ends,
which are often rough, cracked,
and dirty. To get the most out of
your lumber, cut the longest parts
(the stretcher and apron) rst, and
work your way down to the shortest parts (the table uprights).
Use a No. 8 countersink bit to
predrill four holes into each leg.
Position two holes inch from the
top and inch from each edge.
Position the other two 6 inches
from the bottom and inch from
each edge [1]. Clamp the legs
to the crossbraces, and drive a
3-inch screw into each hole [2].
On the stretcher, mark two
mortises 1 inches wide by
1 inches deep and positioned
18 inches from each end. Drill a
relief hole in a corner, then cut
out the mortise using a jigsaw [3].
Cut a tenon 1 inches long and
1 inches wide to match these

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106

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y G E O R G E R E T S E C K

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

D I Y H O M E / L U N C H TA B L E
8

D
E
F

TABLETOP
29"

BENCH
7"
105

10

17"
23"

1120
12
120
20
0

4"
22"

Part Qty. Description

4
4
2
2
1
1
1
2
1

Legs
Crossbraces
Table uprights
Table supports
Stretcher
Apron
Tabletop
Bench tops
Edging

Material

Size

2 x 4 lumber
2 x 4 lumber
2 x 4 lumber
2 x 4 lumber
2 x 4 lumber
2 x 4 lumber
" plywood
" plywood
hardwood

15"
17"
13"
18"
50"
50"
12" x 23" (blank)
23" x 29" (blank)
" x " x 22'

Plywood Surfaces
Use a circular saw to make the
angled cuts in the plywood
blanks illustrated above. (Note
that these dimensions assume
youll be installing -inch edging.
If youre not, add inch to each
dimension.) Clamp a straightedge
to the plywood to guide the saw
and keep your cut straight. To
prevent the plywood from chipping out, apply blue masking tape
to the top surface [8].
For the edging, rip 4/4 hardwood stock into -inch strips.
Use a miter saw or handsaw to

trim the pieces to size. You can


overlap the pieces or miter them
at the corners. Glue and nail them
into place, leaving them slightly
proud on the surfaces. Once the
glue dries, trim the excess with
a router and a ush-trim bit [9].
Fasten each bench by clamping
it to the leg assembly and driving
three 2-inch screws through the
stretcher and into the underside
of the bench. Be careful, though:
Go too deep and the tips will penetrate the bench surface.
Attach the plywood tabletop

11

WEEKEND

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I

12"

with 1-inch pocket screws. Clamp


a Kreg Jig to each table support,
and bore two holes on the inside
of each support [10].

Finishing Up
Put a little glue into all visible
countersunk holes [11]. Plug the
holes with -inch wood plugs,
tap them in gently, and once the
glue has dried, trim the plugs ush
with a ush-cutting saw. Sand the
table with 120-grit paper, followed
by 180-grit paper. Apply two coats
of clear polyurethane, sanding
lightly between each coat with
220-grit paper.

Rockwells unique Universal Fit System allows


Sonicrafter accessories to fit tightly on all oscillating
tools. It doesnt matter the brand, the model or
the year purchased. No more paying too much
or driving across town to get the right blade.

The Universal Fit System on the New Rockwell Sonicrafter


accepts every blade out there. The
tool-less blade change clamps any brand of oscillating
tool accessory with 1-ton of clamping force to prevent
slipping or stopping no matter how tough the cut.

W W W. R O C K W E L LTO O L S . C O M

108

PHOTOGRAPHS BY GREGG DEL M A N

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

DIY HOME / TOOL TEST

45-CC
CHAIN SAWS

Our recent mid-duty chain-saw test was a tristate aairrst, Pennsylvania


and New York to cut up hurricane-downed trees, and then to Riepho Sawmill in Allentown, N.J., where we sawed discs from carefully graded logs. We
nished in the woods behind the mill, ripping and snipping till sundown. By
the time the sawdust settled,
d, we were left with a big pile of rewood and
two chain-saw champs.
ps. BY ROY BEREN
BERENDSOHN

CLE

ARI
NG
A
THI ND
NNI
CHA NG
MP

FIRE
W
CHA OOD
MP

ECHO

HUSQVARNA
RNA

STIHL

CS4518

CS-450

445

MS 251 C-BE

Price: $170

Price: $380

Price: $310

Price: $370

Engine: 45 cc

Engine: 45 cc

Engine: 45.7 cc

Engine: 45.6 cc

Horsepower: 2.1

Horsepower: NA

Horsepower: 2.8

Horsepower: 2.95

Bar length: 18 inches

Bar length: 18 inches

Bar length: 18 inches

Bar length: 18 inches

Working weight: 14.9 lb*

Working weight: 14.1 lb*

Working weight: 13.65 lb*

Working weight: 14.5 lb*

Likes: If youre cutting a


little wood for the campre,
this saw is a good and
inexpensive choice. It has
enough power for
small-diameter hardwood
and for occasional users
cutting stumps, branches,
and roots in suburbia.

Likes: Echos equipment


always does well in PM
tests, and this saw
continues that long
tradition. Running the Echo
couldnt be simpler: Flip
up the toggle switch, pump
the purge bulb, pull the
choke, and light the engine
with a pull or two. The saw
also has plentiful torque
and a crisp chain brake.

Likes: The 445 proved to


be our most aggressive cutter. At full throttle it just
pulls its way through a log.
Its X-Torq engine evacuates
burned fuel using a burst of
fresh air instead of the
incoming fuelair mixture,
which improves emissions
and fuel economy.

Likes: The MS 251 excels in


the start-and-stop-and-start
world of landscaping, brush
clearing, and small-tree
felling. Thanks to the springloaded Easy2Start feature,
the saw restarts with a
gentle pull. We also like its
dial-adjust chain tensioning
and outstanding vibration
isolation.

Dislikes: The sprocket


cover is a bit fussy to put
on, and the oil-ll location is
inconvenient.

Dislikes: None.

*Weight includes power head, 18-inch bar, fuel, and bar oil

Dislikes: Could use a


slightly more robust
bumper spike.

Dislikes: The bar oil port is


too close to the handle.

WEEK
WEEKEND

ARDISAM EARTHQUAKE

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YOU!
Give Us a Piece of Your Mind and Enter to

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The editors of Popular Mechanics would love to hear your
opinion of the issue youre reading right now. Your responses
positive, negative, lukewarmwill help us shape future issues
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to win $5000.

Visit novsurvey.popularmechanics.com
to get started.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Reader Feedback Sweepstakes. Sponsored by Hearst Communications, Inc. Beginning January 1, 2013 at 12:01 AM (ET) through December
31, 2013 at 11:59 PM (ET) go to novsurvey.popularmechanics.com and complete and submit the entry form pursuant to the on-screen instructions. One (1) Grand Prize winner will
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110

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Home Clinic

BY ROY BERENDSOHN
A N D D AV I D A G R E L L
PHOTOGRAPH BY
CHAD HUNT

Storing
Gasoline Engines

Im getting ready to
store my mower for
the winter. Whats
better for the engine:
leaving fuel in it or
running it dry first?

WEEKEND

Thats an important question.


Visit any repair shop and youll
see the problems that E10 gasolinewhich is actually 10 percent
ethanolcan cause in small aircooled engines. The alcohol in the
fuel dissolves plastic and rubber
parts in the fuel system. It also
attracts moisture, which leads to
corrosion of metal parts. And even
if the engine escapes damage, it
experiences a loss of performance
from chemically degraded fuel, because ethanol-based gasoline can
spoil rapidly, often separating into
layers of alcohol and fuel.
If your mower is equipped with

a Briggs & Stratton engine, as


many are, the advice is straightforward. Theres no need to drain
gasoline from the engine prior
to winter storage if stabilizer is
added to the fuel according to its
directions, says Steve Lavender,
the enginemakers senior director
of engineering. Put the stabilizer
in the gas can, add fuel, and then
pour the fuel into the gas tank.
Problem solved? Not quite.
A review of owners manuals for
other engines weve tested indicates a variety of methods for
storage. The same manufacturer
may have dierent recommendations depending on how long the
machine is kept out of service.
For example, one manufacturer
advises storage from 30 to 90
days with fresh fuel in the tank,
provided that stabilizer is added.
The company advises running the
engine so the fuel makes its way
into the carburetor and then shutting down the engine and closing
the fuel valve. Beyond 90 days,
it recommends just the opposite:
Empty the fuel tank or simply run
the machine until it stops.
Some equipment manufacturers recommend running the
engine dry and then draining what
little fuel remains in the carburetor
bowl. Finally, they advise pulling
the recoil start handle to position
the piston at the top of the cylinder in order to seal the combustion chamber. That will prevent any
remaining fuel in the combustion
chamber from turning into varnish.
Your owners manual will also
shed light on specics that arent
related to fuel. Some manufacturers want you to spray fogging
oil into the engine to lubricate

The new Rockwell VERSACUT compact circular saw is


capable of tackling most tasks handled by traditional circular
saws but without the added size and weight!
The VERSACUT comes with three different cutting blades
and a precision depth setting, so you can cut virtually
any construction material right where you are working:
hardwood, backerboard, sheet metal, plastics, even tile.

W W W. R O C K W E L LTO O L S . C O M

112

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

DIY HOME / HOME CLINIC

THE FOREVER ENGINE


MANUFACTURERS MAY DIFFER ON SPECIFICS, BUT THESE GENERAL TIPS WILL HELP KEEP ALL ENGINES HEALTHY.

(1) Clean any machine before

(2) Use the gas-to-oil ratio

(3) Never use E15 in your

storing it. This removes


moisture-trapping debris and
reduces the possibility that
youll get dirt in the gas tank.

recommended by the manufacturer for two-stroke equipment such as leaf blowers


and chain saws. This reduces
engine wear and will make the
machine easier to start after
storage.

outdoor power equipment. If


E10 is bad, E15 is worse. In
fact, avoid lling your gas
can at stations that dispense
both through the same nozzle, because there can be E15
residue in the fuel line.

the cylinder bore before storage.


Others say to dribble as much as a
half-ounce of clean engine oil into
the cylinder through the spark
plug hole, then pull the recoil handle several times without starting the engine to distribute the oil
over the cylinder wall.

Fall Lawn Care

Woodstove Upgrade
We heat part of our home with
a wood-burning stove thats
outdated and dirty. Should we
replace it with another woodstove or something else?
Were big fans of modern woodburning stoves. When used correctly, newer models that are
certified by the Environmental
Protection Agency produce about
70 percent less pollution and are
50 percent more eicient than
a typical old woodstove. That
means theyre not only cleaner
but also cheaper to operate. In

fact, around 4 million Americans


rely on EPA-certied stoves for affordable, eective heating.
Now is a good time to upgrade
because there are tax credits and
manufacturers rebates available
that will absorb much of the cost.
U.S. customers who upgrade to an
EPA-certied stove in 2013 are eligible for a federal tax credit of up
to $300. Several stove manufacturers and retailers are also oering cash incentives for swapping
out old stoves with newer, less
polluting models.
Now that weve got you interested in cutting-edge woodstove
technology, watch for this years
Wood Stove Design Challenge,
in which 14 stove designers and

TOOLS & TECH


T
DEWALT DCF680 GYRO DRIVE SCREWDRIVER
($99 WITH TWO BATTERIES AND CHARGER)
Its not the rst battery-operated screwdriver with gyroscopic
technology, but its the rst powered by a comparatively beefy
8-volt lithium-ion pack. Thanks to its microelectromechanical
systems (MEMS) gyroscopesimilar to those found in smartphonesuse is simple and intuitive: Twist your wrist to the right
to turn the driver clockwise. To back up, twist to the left. The
further you turn the tool, the faster it runs.

WHY
WE LIKE
IT

This is a professional tool, not a kitchen-drawer special. We


drove 242 1-inch drywall screws into a 2 x 4 before the battery died, and the adjustable clutch prevented stripped heads.
For brawny work, the tool recongures into a pistol grip.

WEEKEND

Is it better to fertilize my lawn in


the spring or the fall?
If you live in the northern U.S. and
grow cool-season grasses such
as fescue and bluegrass, autumn
application is critical to see the
lawn through the winter. It will
help roots store carbohydrates,
and the lawn will be more likely to
bounce back in the spring. Use a
fertilizer that consists mostly off
e
slow-release nitrogen just once
e
after the rst frost but before
zthe ground freezes. Avoid fertilizm
ing during any brief autumn warm
o
spell. This can cause the grass to
p
shoot up and will do more for top
growth than root growth.
d
For readers in the South and
d
West, our advice is more nuanced
d
because the winter climates and
s
grass species vary so much across
e
these regions. Some parts of the
South and West require one lightt
application of a nitrogen fertilizerr
n
in the fall to feed warm-season
tgrasses. In other areas youre betg
ter o fertilizing only in the spring
n
and summer. Your best information

comes from a local nursery or a


state cooperative extension oice.

(4) Never store any machine


with raw, unstabilized gas in
itunless its packaged fuel,
which does not contain ethanol and is sold in steel cans
at hardware stores, home
centers, and outdoor-powerequipment dealerships.

Lim
25 ited
00 t
thi ordeo the
s a rs fir
d o fro st
nly m
manufacturers compete to
build a cleaner, more eicient,
and user-friendly stove. A panel
of judges, which includes POPULAR MECHANICS editor in chief Jim
Meigs, will test the stoves and
select a winner at the National
Mall in Washington, D.C., from
November 16 to 19. For more
information, visit forgreen
heat.org/stovedesign.html.

Calling This a Diamond


Would Be an Insult

Obsolete Lighting
I light my workshop with T12
uorescent xtures. When
I went to buy new bulbs for
them, the store clerk said
they dont make them anymore. What am I supposed
to doreplace all my light
xtures?
The Department of Energy
mandated the phasing out of
T12 uorescent bulbs in favor
of the more energy-eicient T5
and T8 bulbs. But that doesnt
mean you have to replace your
xtures. Instead, retrot them
so they can accept T8 bulbs.
To do that, you can buy a kit,
such as the one made by Keystone Technologies. These
cost around $20 at electrical
supply stores, and they allow
you to leave the existing xture housing on the ceiling and
retrot everything else.
Theres also an upside to
doing this: The T8 bulbs will reduce your electric bill. PopMech
GOT A HOMEMAINTENANCE
OR REPAIR
PROBLEM?
ASK THE EDITORS.
Send your questions to
pmhomeclinic@hearst.com
or to Home Clinic, Popular
Mechanics, 300 W. 57th St.,
New York, NY 10019-5899.
While we cannot answer
questions individually, problems of general interest will
be discussed in the column.

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114

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y A L C O N I C

LETS
GO!

diy
RENT
ME!

ME
FIRST!

OU R C ONN E C T E D LI V ES C H ANG E
T HE WAY WE R ENT C AR S. H ER E S A
P R I ME R ON NAV I G AT I NG T H E NEW
A U T O C OL L E C T I V ES. B Y C H R I S R AY M O N D
There was a timenot too long agowhen the very idea
of sharing a car would have seemed absurd. This was back
in the days before smartphone apps made it possible to
nd a set of wheels within walking distance of your home
and rent them for a trip to a big-box store in the suburbs.

C O L D H E AT
L E AT H E R C A R E
TORQUE
WRENCHES

NO, ME!

When Zipcar launched in 2000 as


a membership-based car-sharing
company, it had four vehiclesall
parked in Cambridge, Mass. Today
it has a eet of 11,000 autos at the
ready in North America and Europe
for people in need of a quick ride
that might last only an hour.
Roughly 900,000 Americans use
such car-sharing services, according to Susan Shaheen, codirector
of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeleyand
with good reason. Between loan
payments, insurance, fuel, and
maintenance, the average vehicle
costs $8776 a year. And yet most
vehicles sit idle much of the day.
Thats why people with alternative transportation options,
such as city dwellers and college
students, have started to pass
up car ownership in favor of car
membership. Its also why some
owners are willing to hand over
their keys to strangers via peer-topeer services such as RelayRides
and Getaround.
If you still think it sounds crazy,
consider this: In January Avis paid
$500 million to purchase Zipcar.

WEEKEND

CAR SHARING
HOW-TO

Auto

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TwoShot Process

The Rubber Goes Through

Non-Slip TractionSquares

Snaps
Together!
Tile System Components

Attractive Color Options

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800-441-6287

Specialists in Original Equipment and


Aftermarket Automotive Accessories

116

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

DIY AUTO / CAR SHARING

Hertz, BMW, and GM are now in


the market too. When youre ready
to give car clubbing a try, heres
what you need to know.

CAR-SHARING BASICS
Rates and membership fees vary among companies, as do the cars. In a
peer-to-peer program, you actually drive somebody elses car. Corporate
programs operate a full-time rental eet.

CONVENIENCE
Flexibility is the chief selling point.
With car sharing you can start your
trip at any time of the day or night,
even if youre under 21. Using a
mobile app or the Internet, simply
nd the nearest available vehicle,
wave your membership card over
the windshield, andvoil!the
doors unlock. Inside are the keys
and a credit card for refueling.
Just like that, youre on your way.
Some services require you to
pick up and return the vehicle at
specic stations. Others let you
leave it somewhere near your destination, provided its within the
borders of the service area. Car2Gos vehicles, for example, can
be left in municipal parking lots
throughout Seattle; Portland, Ore.;
Minneapolis; and Austin, Texas.

PEER-TO-PEER PROGRAMS

CORPORATE TIES

NETWORK

MEMBERSHIP

RATES

COST
The rates are measured in minutes, hours, days, and/or miles.
At rst glance the price tags may
not look like a bargainat least
compared with rental-car rates.
But keep in mind that youre essentially only paying for the time
behind the wheel. Better still, gas,
insurance, and maintenance are
included in the feeand sometimes parking. So, do the math.
If youre just going to the local
supermarket, choose the mileage
optionthe numbers will work in
your favor. If youre making a lot
of stops, the hourly plan is a safer
bet. And if you intend to leave
town for the weekend, you may
be better o with good ol Hertz.

INSURANCE COVERAGE
If youre a renter, you dont have
much to worry about here. Zipcars
hourly rate includes $300,000
of liability coverage. Most peer-

PICKUP/RETURN

RelayRides

Getaround

GM Ventures

Ashton Kutcher,
Yahoos Marissa Mayer,
and Googles
Eric Schmidt

1500 cities
nationwide, mostly
face-to-face
key exchange

Five U.S. cities,


including Chicago,
San Diego,
and Portland, Ore.

Free

Free

$5 per hour and up

$7 per hour and up

At a spot designated
by owner

At a spot designated
by owner

to-peer companies provide up to


$1 million.
If youre the one who owns
the car, however, the insurance
picture is cloudier. Much like using
your Mini Cooper to deliver pizzas,
sharing a vehicle falls into the
gray area between commercial
and private use. Geico vehemently
opposes the idea. Its rivals? Well,
they appear to be playing wait and
see. California, Oregon, and Washington now have laws to protect
individuals who share their cars
from insurance-company reprisals.
But in New York, the Department
of Financial Services deemed
RelayRides coverage illegal and
inadequate. The conicting opinions are a natural oshoot of the

disruption caused by the sharingeconomy movement. The final


word is yet to come.

A CHOICE RIDE
Car sharing
can be a practical alternative for onecar families
that settle for
a sensible, fuel- efficient sedan
but want to order up a 4x4 on
any given Saturday at the height
of ski season. But saving money
isnt the only upside; dont forget
the style points. At Zipcar a BMW
328 runs you $15 per hour. At
Enterprise CarShare a MercedesBenz C300 goes for $13. Other

POPULARMECHANICS.COM / NOVEMBER 2013

CORPORATE PROGRAMS

DriveNow

Zipcar

Car2Go

BMW

Avis

Daimler

San Francisco

18 U.S. cities, including


New York, Pittsburgh,
and Minneapolis

Eight U.S. cities, including Miami, Seattle,


and Washington, D.C.

One-time $39
membership fee

$60 per year, plus


one-time $25
registration fee

One-time $35
application fee

$12 for rst halfhour, $0.32 for each


additional minute

$9.75 per hour and up

$13.99 per hour or less

At any DriveNow
station

Only at designated lots

At any legal parking


spot within the
designated service area

117

an empty gas tank or seats covered with dog hair. Online ratings
systems do help to keep irresponsible renters and owners in check,
though.
And, finally, dont expect
to nd a vehicle awaiting your
arrival at the start of Thanksgiving weekendor during rush hour,
for that matter. Like your carless
colleagues, you may well nd yourself taking the bus during peak
travel times.

THE NEXT STOP

status symbols include Toyota


Tacoma pickup trucks, Jeeps, Nissan Leafs, and Priuses. Getaround
even oers a few Tesla Roadsters.
And you can still reserve a minivan
for that all-important run to Ikea.

CONSERVATION
Cities and universities have been
quick to champion the concept
because car sharing reduces trafc. According to Zipcar, each of its
cars removes 15 personally owned
vehicles from the road. Whats
more, car-sharing services tend to
employ newer models, with better
fuel eiciency and cleaner emissions, not to mention electric and
hybrid technology. And because
members pay for each trip they
take, theyre more inclined to
travel by bicycle or mass transit
when possible.
Theres even evidence to suggest that car sharing persuades

owners to give up a vehicle or


two. Among the 6281 households
that participated in a 2008 North
America survey conducted by the
University of California Transportation Center, there was a drop
from 2968 cars to 1507 after giving the experience a try. Thats a
reduction of nearly 50 percent.

THE DOWNSIDE
Of course, there are compromises.
For starters, you have to decide
in advance how long you want
to keep the car, which makes it
hard to accept last-minute dinner
invitations while visiting friends. In
fact, its wise to add an extra hour
to the reservation just in case you
get caught in traic heading back
to the drop-o location. The penalties for late returns are steep.
And because most services
operate on an honor system, every
now and then you get stuck with

In the past year


car-sharing
services have
expanded into
an even more
inviting marketplacethe nations airports,
where rental-car companies log
up to half of their $25 billion in
annual sales. Its an obvious move.
Airports are lled with inbound
travelers in search of vehicles,
and outbound travelers in need of
parking. If you connect the two,
life gets much simpler, and consumers save money.
FlightCar operates near San
Francisco International Airport and
Bostons Logan Airport. Hubber
set up shop near LAX. Both oer
free parking, shuttle service, a
complimentary car wash, and gas
money to car owners. Renters
make out by bypassing many of
the airport fees. FlightCars rates
are often half those of Hertz or
Avis, with up to $20 a day going
to the car owner.
Not everyone is happy with the
arrangement. In June oicials in
San Francisco sued FlightCar for
poaching potential rental-car customers. Established companies
typically only buy or sue startups
that have the potential to steal
customers or chip into profits.
Legal compliance aside, the lawsuit signies that car sharing is
more than just a fad.

SCRATCH,

MEET
YOUR
MATCH
Dont stress about
your car-paint repair.
See how easy it is to restore that like-new
nish in just an afternoon. Watch our
online how-to videos to show you how.

118

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

Car Clinic

B Y B E N W O J DY L A

PHOTOGRAPH BY CHAD HUNT

Turn Up the Heat

In the recently chilly mornings Ive noticed


my heater isnt putting out hot air. With
winter approaching, Id like to get this
sorted out before the cold weather turns
me into a commute-cicle.

Buy only the amount you need


for the repairs you have.
Paint pens
oz and 2 oz bottles
12 oz spray cans
Ready-to-spray pints, quarts and gallons

QUAL

WEEKEND

COL H
MATC
UA
R A NTE

.
O.E.M
OR

ANC

TY A S S UR

SO LONG, SCRATCH. A like-new


paint nish is just a click or call away.

Automotivetouchup.com/pm

888-710-5192

The method used to warm a


cars cabin isnt a whole lot different from the one used to keep
its engine cool. In fact, its all
hooked together and runs on the
same circuit. Coolant circulates
through the engine and absorbs
engine heat, which is exchanged
with the outside air by way of
the radiator. A much smaller radiator called the heater core uses
the same hot coolant to keep the

THE CANCER VIRUS ANSWER?


Who would know better than the founder of the American Cancer Society?
About John Ellis Water
FOR A
FREE WATER
SAMPLE CALL
(570)-296-0214

This is the entrance to our 418-acre estate in Shohola, Pa.a gorgeous property
on top of a mountain we bought overlooking the Delaware River. Most of our
business profits go to this property to support 3,000 boy scouts, girl scouts and
disadvantaged youngsters.

The 83 year old inventor is a Choate


School, Lafayette College Engineering
graduate, Douglas Aerospace and
Honeywell Engineer that discovered the
KEY to a HYDROGEN ECONOMY.
In the past, it took too much power to split the water
molecule into hydrogen and oxygen. He has found a way
to do it using very little power. If you click on the two
red click here spots at the top of www.johnellis.com,
it explains it. Watch a VIDEO adding ONLY 20 DROPS
of water from his home water machine to ordinary water
that saps your energy! UCLA Med Center M.D. stating
the hydrogen bond angle change to 114: You cant argue
with measurable results. Nothing is even close to your
water for Blood Flow (94% water) to the extremities!
Washington Post investigative article: 10,000 people/day,
cures anything! www.WaterCuresAnything.com

DEAD WATER SCAMS REVEALED at johnellis.com VIDEO!!


ADD ONLY 20 DROPS to ordinary DEAD WATER
(Your KEY to virtually FREE ENERGY!
Click the Ryter Report) and watch the Ammeter
Video go from 30 amps to virtually ZERO!
The video PROVES any other Miracle Water is a FRAUD! It
CANT cure you with no MEASURABLE energy! No scientist
in the world has produced ENERGY from dead water before
(starting with low levels: 1/27/92 Washington Post investigation:
Cures Anything 10,000 people/day) The Washington Times.
The video proves ordinary filters/distillers CAUSE DISEASE
because of LOW ENERGY. They dont allow ENOUGH Virus
and Bacteria Destruction Time (Scientific Data, website)
CANCER VIRUSES, MS etc With a HYDROGEN BOND ANGLE
CHANGE from a SLUGGISH 104 degrees to 114 degrees it
increases Blood Flow to the extremities (Doppler Ultrasound.
Regulators let us use this because its non-invasive). At 114
degrees its also easier for the Body Electric to split water
into hydrogen and oxygen! Read the Ryter Report on Green
Energy that can save the planet from environmental pollution
and YOU as it LOWERS your energy bill to mere pennies!!

THE WORLDS BEST WATER PURIFIER (332


FDA Approved Tests because it REPURIFIES
water 100s of times/gal! NOT ONCE!!).
Ordinary products violate FTC Order C-3220
as a result of tests on our older versions
and complaint led with the FTC in 1987!

LISTEN TO A TOLL
FREE RECORDING AT

1-800-433-9553
BUY BOTTLED WATER!!!
www.WaterCuresAnything.com
Call us for a FREE sample of
our water at 570-296-0214

Watch an online video of John Ellis, 83 year old Inventor

www.WaterCuresAnything.com
Order a machine 845-754-8696

120

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

DIY AUTO / CAR CLINIC

BACK TO BASICS
TORQUE WRENCHES
An essential tool to ensure properly
tightened bolts, here are the common types and how to use them.

a BEAM
Simple, cheap ($15$50), and robust.
A bending beam moves relative to
the stationary pointer that shows
the applied torque. Tip: Apply force
through the pin, not the handle.
b CLICKER
Easy to use and aordable ($25
and up). Torque is set by turning
the rotating handle, which sets a
spring-and-clutch mechanism that
clicks when you reach that amount
of twist. Note that it must be stored
with settings returned to zero.

c DIGITAL
Expensive ($80 and up) but dead
simple. Set your desired gure and
go to townthe tool will beep or vibrate when the correct
torque is reached. It works by reading the varying resistance of
a strain gauge attached to a torsion rod.

FAST
EASY
WORKS EVERY TIME
Save Money
- Sharpen what you already own

Durable
- 3 year warranty

Sharpens:
- Carbide, HSS, Cobalt, Titanium
bits from 3/32 to 3/4
WATCH DEMO

com

flow of coolant in the heater


core may be restricted by builtup goop. Sediment and grime
can accumulate between coolant
changes and collect in the heater
core. A ush can be done by disconnecting the heater hoses at
the water pump (when the car is
cold) and using compressed air to
push the coolant and gunk backward, out the inlet hose. Be sure
to capture all the old coolant and
dispose of it properly. Follow that
with a few rounds of lling the
core with tap water and flushing it out in the same way, then
rell the core with mixed coolant
and reattach the hoses. None
of these fixes is hard, but the
heater-core flush is messy, so
you might want to take your car
to a shop for service.

WEEKEND

YOUR BITS

cabin toasty. In general, there are


two things that can go wrong
with this setup.
The first item to check is
the engine temperature. To help
cold engines warm up fast, the
flow of coolant is restricted by
way of the thermostata thermal valve that opens when its
hot and closes when its cold.
When the thermostat wears out,
it remains stuck open or shut,
which leads to either overheating or cool operation. A worn-out
thermostat might be preventing
the coolant from getting warm
enough to heat the cabin. Replacing the thermostat can be a 20minute job or a real hassle. Check
your service manual to see how
involved the replacement is.
If the thermostat is ne, the

The Easy Way to a


Leaf-free Lawn!
Keeping Leather New
I just bought my rst really nice
car, a BMW 335i, and I want to
make sure the leather interior
stays pristine. Whats the best
way to maintain it?
The bulk of wear on leather surfaces comes from the abrasive
quality of built-up dirt, but cowhide also loses essential oils and
UV protectants over time that
need to be replaced. Ignore leather care and the surface nish will
dull and cracks will begin to form.
Fortunately, its fairly easy to
keep your seats clean. To start,
set up a monthly or quarterly
interior-maintenance reminder
on your phone. There are plenty
of one-step cleaner and conditioners on the market, in lotion,
spray, or wipe form. They all work
roughly the same way: A gentle
oil helps remove dirt and keeps
the leather supple. If youre more
obsessive, you can buy dedicated products for each step
and use a leather conditioner
more frequently than a cleaner.
Avoid vinyl cleaners as well as
those with petroleum-based solvents or siliconetheyll leave
your leather looking too shiny.
Most high-end products give the
leather a low gloss similar to its
original appearance. If you have
perforated leather, stay away
from lotion-based stu as it can
get stuck in the tiny holes and
dry white. Also, dont forget to
read all the instructions. PopMech

GOT A CAR PROBLEM?


ASK BEN ABOUT IT.
Send your questions to
pmautoclinic@hearst.com or
over Twitter at @PopMechAuto
or to Car Clinic, Popular Mechanics, 300 W. 57th St., New York,
NY 10019-5899. While we cant
answer questions individually,
problems of general interest will
be discussed in the column.

1 Yea
Risk-Frr
e
Trial e

Keeping your property looking great doesnt have to mean


long weeks of back-breaking labor. With the Cyclone Rake,
FOLDS FLAT
youll turn all those weeks into a few easy hours.
The Cyclone Rake hitches to almost any riding mower or ZTR. It has it own
powerful engine-driven vacuum-mulcher that delivers 10 times the lifting
power and up to 415 gallons of hauling capacity. Youll clear tons of
leaves, pine straw and other lawn debris, saving you time and your back.
Plus, when your done, it folds up flat, just 8 inches thick for compact
storage no need for a barn or spare garage!

Call for a FREE Information Kit

1-800-596-6055

or visit CycloneRake.com
Follow us on

Mention the Discount Code PM1113 when you call, or enter it on our web
site for a special discount on any Cyclone Rake unit. (Expires 12/27/13)
2013, Woodland Power Products, Inc., 72 Acton St., West Haven, CT 06516

HARBOR
FREIGHT TOOLS
Quality Tools at Ridiculously Low Prices
FACTORY DIRECT TO YOU!
How do we sell high quality tools at the
lowest prices? We cut out the middle man
and buy direct from the factories who
supply other major brands. Its just that
simple! Come see for yourself and use
this 25% Off Coupon on one of our 7,000
products*, plus pick up a Free 9 LED
Aluminum Flashlight, a $6.99 value.
We stock Automotive Tools, Power Tools,
Air Tools and Compressors, Engines and
Generators, Welders, Hand Tools, Tool
Storage, Tarps and much more.

R !
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CO

LIFETIME WARRANTY
ON ALL HAND TOOLS!

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FREE
25%

OFF

3-1/2" SUPER BRIGHT


NINE LED ALUMINUM
FLASHLIGHT

Item
65020
shown

ITEM 65020/
69052/69111
REG. PRICE
$6.99

ANY SINGLE ITEM!

1 Year Low Price Guarantee


No Hassle Return Policy
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Over 25 Million Satised Customers
450+ Stores Nationwide

LIMIT 1 - Save 25% on any one item purchased at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by
calling 800-423-2567. *Cannot be used with other discount, coupon, gift cards, Inside
Track Club membership, extended service plans or on any of the following: compressors,
generators, tool storage or carts, welders, oor jacks, Towable Ride-On Trencher (Item
65162), open box items, in-store event or parking lot sale items. Not valid on prior purchases
after 30 days from original purchase date with original receipt. Non-transferable. Original
coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

WITH MINIMUM
PURCHASE OF $9.99
LIMIT 1 - Only available with qualifying minimum purchase (excludes gift value). Coupon
good at our stores, HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with
other discount, coupon or prior purchase. Offer good while supplies last. Shipping &
Handling charges may apply if not picked up in-store. Original coupon must be presented.
Non-transferable. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

NOBODY BEATS OUR QUALITY, SERVICE AND PRICE!


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15" x 13" ALL PURPOSE


SHOP TOWELS
PACK OF 50
LOT NO.

SAVE 6844246163/
/69649
43%
Item 46163
shown

$ 99

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580

SAVE
$160
Item 95659
shown

LOT NO.
95659/
61634

LB. CAPACITY
FOUR DRAWER
TOOL CART

99

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MECHANIC'S GLOVES
MEDIUM

SAVE
64%

Item
93640
shown

LOT NO. 61235

LARGE

LOT NO. 93640/60447

YOUR CHOICE!

99

REG.
PRICE
$259.99

$ 59

X-LARGE

REG. LOT NO. 93641/60448


PRICE
$9.99

REG. PRICE $15.99

LIMIT 7 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 9 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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2.5 HP, 21 GALLON,


125 PSI VERTICAL
AIR COMPRESSOR

4-1/2" ANGLE GRINDER


LOT NO.
95578/69645/
60625

LOT NO. 67847/69091/61454

SAVE $
$70

SAVE
REG.
PRICE
50% $ 99$19.99

14999

REG.
PRICE
$219.99

Item 67847
shown

Item 95578
shown

ACCURACY TORQUE
WITHIN 4%

SAVE LOT NO.1/4"2696DRIVE


/61277
71% 3/8" DRIVE

"Impressive Accuracy,
Amazing Value"
Car Craft Magazine

YOUR
CHOICE!

WRENCHES

LOT NO. 807/61276

$ 99

REG.
PRICE
$34.99

1/2" DRIVE
LOT NO. 239

Item 239
shown

LIMIT 3 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 9 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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WIRELESS DRIVEWAY
LOT NO. ALERT SYSTEM
93068/69590

SAVE $
99
56% REG. PRICE $29.99

12

2.4" COLOR LCD DIGITAL


INSPECTION CAMERA

Requires four AA
batteries (included).

SAVE
$62 $

9" x 6 FT. 2 PIECE STEEL


LOADING RAMPS
Item 44649 shown

LOT NO. 67979

6799

SAVE
50%

REG. PRICE $129.99

LOT NO. 44649/


69591/69646

1000 LB.
CAPACITY

39

99

REG.
PRICE
$79.99

Item 93068 shown


LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 3 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

R !
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SU UP 68050/60678
CO

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SAVE
$60

WEIGHS
102 LBS.

RAPID PUMP
2 TON LOW PROFILE
LONG REACH HEAVY DUTY
STEEL FLOOR JACK

Item
68050
shown

10999

REG.
PRICE
$169.99

LIMIT 3 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

AUTO-DARKENING
WELDING HELMET WITH
BLUE FLAME DESIGN
LOT NO. 91214/61610

SAVE $
99
50% REG. PRICE $79.99

39

Item
91214
shown
LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

SAVE
$35

1.5 HP ELECTRIC
POLE SAW
LOT NO. 68862

6499

REG.
PRICE
$99.99

LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-4232567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases
after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good
while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented.
Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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8 FT. 4" x 11 FT. 6"


FARM QUALITY TARP

SAVE
41%

LOT NO. 2707/


60457/69197

$ 99

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MOVER'S DOLLY

LOT NO. 93888/60497

1000 LB.
CAPACITY

R ! 70 dB Noise Level
PE ON
SU UP SUPER
3200
QUIET!
CO

4000 PEAK/
RUNNING WATTS
6.5 HP (212 CC)
GAS GENERATORS

SAVE
46%

Item
93888
shown

REG. PRICE $11.99

$ 99

Item 2707 shown

SAVE
$200

REG.
PRICE
$14.99

LOT NO. 68528/69676/69729


LOT NO. 68527/69675/69728,
CALIFORNIA ONLY

Item 68528
shown

29999
REG. PRICE $499.99

LIMIT 9 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 7 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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17 FT. TYPE 1A
MULTI-TASK
LADDER
LOT NO.

Item
68236
shown

17 PIECE AIR TOOL


ACCESSORY KIT

23 CONFIGURATIONS

67646

300 LB. CAPACITY

SAVE $
$55

114

99

SAVE
50%

LOT NO.
68236/
61449

REG.
PRICE
$9.99

REG. PRICE
$169.99

$ 99

18 VOLT CORDLESS
3/8" DRILL/DRIVER
WITH KEYLESS CHUCK

SAVE
54%

Includes one
18V NiCd
battery and
charger.
Item 68239
shown

LOT NO.
68239/69651

1599

REG.
PRICE
$34.99

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 7 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 6 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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R !
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CO
67421/

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12" RATCHET
BAR CLAMP/SPREADER
LOT NO. 46807/
68975/69221/
69222

Item
46807
shown

SAVE
66%

$ 99

REG.
PRICE
$5.99

LIMIT 8 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

R !
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U
P
S U
CO

Item
67421
shown

30", 11 DRAWER
ROLLER CABINET

SAVE
99 58%

SAVE
55%

INCLUDES:
6 Drawer Top Chest
2 Drawer Middle Section
3 Drawer Roller Cabinet

SAVE
$150

14999

REG.
PRICE
$299.99

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

4 CHANNEL
SURVEILLANCE DVR
WITH 4 INFRARED
CAMERAS

NON-CONTACT INFRARED SU UPO


THERMOMETER WITH CO
LASER TARGETING SAVE
LOT NO.
96451/69465/60725

LOT NO. 90984/


60405/61524

61485

R !
PE N

Item 69465
shown

4 PIECE 1" x 15 FT.


RATCHETING TIE DOWN SET

$150

Item
68332
shown

24

REG. PRICE $59.99

Item
90984
shown

$ 99
REG. PRICE $17.99

LIMIT 7 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

R !
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U
P
S U
Item
CO 42304

shown

9 PIECE FULLY POLISHED


COMBINATION WRENCH SETS
SAE
LOT NO. 42304/69043

SAVE
60%

Over 2500 hours of


recording time.

LOT NO. 68332/


61229/61624

METRIC

LOT NO. 42305/69044

YOUR
CHOICE!

24999

$ 99

REG.
PRICE
$14.99

REG. PRICE $399.99

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 3 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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29 PIECE TITANIUM
NITRIDE COATED
DRILL BIT SET

SAVE LOT NO. 5889REG.


60% $ 99$24PRICE
.99

R !
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NEW!

3/8" x 50 FT. SU UPO 68146


Item
NO. 68146/
HE
HEAVY
DUTY PREMIUM CO shown LOT61258
/61297
RUBBER AIR HOSE 2000 LB.
LOT NO. 69580
ELECTRIC WINCH
SAVE
REMOTE CONTROL
40% $
99 WITH
AND AUTOMATIC BRAKE

17

LIMIT 7 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

REG. PRICE $29.99

SAVE
$50

4999

REG.
PRICE
$99.99

LIMIT 8 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 7 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 2/15/14. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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SAVE
$130
Item 69512
shown

LOT NO.
69445/69512/93840

1 TON CAPACITY
FOLDABLE
SHOP CRANE
INCLUDES RAM,
HOOK AND CHAIN!

99

99

3-IN-1 JUMP STARTER


AND POWER SUPPLY
LOT NO.
38391/60657

SAVE 900 PEAK AMPS


36% $
99
Item 60657
shown

37

REG. PRICE $59.99

Item 60446
shown

ELECTRIC PAINT
SPRAY GUN

SAVE
40%
33 OZ.

LOT NO. 47274/60446

1499

REG.
PRICE
$24.99

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124

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

L IN E O F FI R E
C O N TI N U ED F R O M PA G E 83

their tactic of trying to anchor and


ank the re and go into what we
call point protection, and thats to
move fire around houses and protect structures. From the ridge
the men could see the vulnerable
homes in Glen Ilah below themthe
houses theyd been working all day
to protect. Willis believes they felt
an impulse, perhaps a duty, to save
them. They were in a safe location, he says, but they were not
satised ... sitting there and watching the re progress without taking
some action.
At the time of their deaths, the
hotshots had strayed from several
of the tenets of wildland firefighting: After they left the ridge, they
entered a confined area of dense
vegetation even though they knew
a fire was approaching. They
couldnt see the re but no longer
had a lookout. Willis described
that situation as common. Nevertheless, its likely that the investigation will look hard at the teams
decisionmaking. Willis himself
a man heartbroken for widows,
children, and the loss of 19 men
he considered adopted sonswas
already looking for lessons from
the tragedy. I dont want them to
have died in vain, he said, after
describing how he spent the night
of June 30 in the canyon with the
bodies. The next morning, after
county authorities documented the
scene, Willis and fellow firefightersincluding Danny Parker, the
father of one of the victims, Wade
Parkerpersonally transported
the men, whose remains had been
draped with American ags, out of
the wilderness.

After the fire,

some
local residents angrily questioned
whether state and federal authori-

DARRELL WILLIS
SPENT THE NIGHT
WITH THE BODIES
IN THE CANYON. THE NEXT MORNING, HE AND FELLOW
FIREFIGHTERSINCLUDING DANNY PARKER, THE FATHER
OF ONE OF THE VICTIMS, WADE PARKERTRANSPORTED
THE HOTSHOTS, WHOSE REMAINS HAD BEEN DRAPED WITH
AMERICAN FLAGS, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS.

ties had failed to react aggressively


enough in the earliest hours, before
the blaze became a threat to homes
and lives. It became clear that
on June 29 and 30 some of the air
resources requested were refused
or delayed, which wasnt necessarily a surprise; there were other
wildres burning in Arizona at the
time, and the national shortage of
reghting planes and helicopters
is a well-known problem.
What the country may need to
ask is how well residents of such
communities are preparing for the
inevitable. Yarnell, for instance,
was surrounded by low desert
scrub, much of it dead growth that
was preserved from year to year
by the arid climate. The region
was experiencing a decade-long
drought and had not been cleared
by a wildre in 45 years. The landscape was just waiting to ignite.
Surprisingly, its not that hard
to prepare a home to withstand
most wildfires. Stephen Pynes
home weathered the Wallow Fire
that burned 540,000 acres in eastern Arizona in 2011. Despite the
graphic photos we see, houses are
not taken out by a kind of tsunami
of ame rumbling across the landscape unstoppably, he says. They
are consumed by small embers,
what the Aussies call ember

attacks, what you might think of as


a shower of sparks.
Theres plenty that can be done
to prevent those embers from
destroying homes. If youve got
a combustible roof, just forget it,
Pyne says. Weve known that for
10,000 years. If you want to protect houses, he argues, youve got to
put your eort into hardening the
structure, essentially taking a hurricane-like approach to re preparation. A simple task is to remove
ammable vegetation and to clean
out gutters. Those become points
of ignition, or infection, if you will,
for the re to spread, he says.
Australia, which has experienced
drought and re problems far greater than those in the U.S., has for two
decades taken an approach that
relies on homeowners to prepare
their property to survive a wildre.
In addition, during all but the most
catastrophic blazes, Australian policy permits, even encourages, residents to remain in place to knock
out the embers that cause buildings to ignite, often hours after the
primary fire has passed. If you
mass-evacuate, you eliminate that
possibility, Pyne says.
U.S. officials have rejected the
idea of encouraging people to stay
in place and defend their homes.
However, a small but growing num-

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126

NOVEMBER 2013 / POPULARMECHANICS.COM

ber of American communities are


taking other lessons from the Australian strategy. Over a decade ago,
the Forest Service embraced an
interagency program called Firewise, which helps towns and cities
develop wildre protection plans
everything from taking steps to
make houses more resilient and
defendable, to establishing public
safety zones where residents can
retreat. Of the estimated 70,000
U.S. communities identied as being
in the wildlandurban interface, 943
of them have now prepared to survive a wildre, up from 400 in 2008.
Unfortunately, Yarnell wasnt
one of them. A few weeks after the
tragedy, scientists from the Pacic
Biodiversity Institute in Washington state conducted a limited
analysis of the areas homes. Using
Google Earth images from before
the re, they studied the 503 structures in Yarnell, including Glen
Ilah, and determined that just 53,
or 11 percent, met the most basic
re-safety standards, with no vegetation overhanging structures
and a minimal buer zone between
buildings and nearby plantings.
Only 14 of those 53 buildings met
the ocial Firewise criteria, which
call for a full 30-foot buffer zone
around each structure.
After theyd completed their
online analysis, the researchers
reviewed the destruction caused by
the re. Forty-seven percent of the
towns 503 structures had burned.
Of the 53 structures that were better prepared, the figure was less
than 10 percent. Not a single one of
the 14 buildings that met the Firewise criteria was damaged.
We have this attitude that
the firefighters are going to come
and rescue us and we dont have
to take responsibility, says Peter
Morrison, one of the researchers behind the study. That stance
worked better before the mass
migration into the chaparral, the
grasslands, and the forests that has

taken place over the past several


decades, he says. Focusing on preparedness and self-defense doesnt
eliminate the need for reghters.
But it means that theyre going to
be much more successful in doing
their job and much less likely to put
their lives at risk.
Wildres are unlikely to diminish on their own. A recent National
Research Council report concluded
that the amount of land burned
in the western U.S. could double
or even quadruple for every 1.8F
rise in global average temperature; even optimistic temperature
projections have that increase
occurring by 2050. Programs like
Firewise may only be the start.
We also need to consider disincentives to building in such areas
in the first place. Like the flood
insurance shoreline residents are
increasingly required to carry, specialized wildre insurance could be
mandated for people moving into
re-vulnerable areas. Some experts
have suggested that the mortgageinterest tax deduction should be
denied to residents of highly dangerous areas. Such actions, like
erecting regulatory barriers to
rebuilding in hurricane zones, are
likely to be wildly unpopular. They
would also be likely to save the taxpayer heaps of money and to preserve lives. After all, if we dont
want men and women to be killed

POPULAR MECHANICS (ISSN 0032-4558) is


published monthly except for combined July/
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by Hearst Communications, Inc., 300 West 57th
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protecting us, we can help by staying out of harms way.


Many of the homes in Glen Ilah
were reduced to ash and rubble.
But the ranch that the Granite
Mountain Hotshots had been
approaching did not burn. On my
dirt-road tour of the Model Creek
subdivision, I saw an uneven pattern of destruction. The homes had
been sprayed and prepared by refighters, and most of them were
intact. But then we rounded a corner and were feet from the gutted
remains of what appeared to have
been an average-size, single-family
house. There was little left but the
chimney.
What made this home burn and
not the others, I wondered. Was
there brush pressed up around
the house? Clutter lling the yard?
What if the home had been built
from the ground up to resist re
would that have made a dierence?
What if every homeowner in and
around Yarnell had hardened their
homes against rebeen required
to, even fined if they failed to do
so? What if our national re policy
put more onus on the homeowners who choose to live in re zones,
and less on the firefighters who
rarely hesitate to rush in to protect
them? Maybe then, 19 men would
be out there today, swinging, sawing, sweating, and living to fight
another day. PopMech

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A Brief History of . . .

Life on Mars

1877: Giovanni Schiaparelli discovers on Mars geometric


patterns that he dubs canali. Later the streaks are assumed
to be waterways made by advanced civilizations.
1894: Percival Lowell sets up an observatory in Flagsta,
Ariz., where he spends 15 years studying Mars and
popularizing the theory that the planet holds intelligent life.
1909: Nikola Tesla claims that Martianss are trying
to contact him via his wireless transmitter.
ter. This
doesnt help his reputation as a mad scientist.
e t st.
entist.

1938: A radio dramatization of H.G. Wells


lls
The War of the Worlds airs. Listeners
ignore disclaimers and freak out,
believing the Martian invasion is real.

1963: An exoanthropologist from Mars crash-lands on


Earth, where he befriends a reporter for The Los Angeles
Sun. My Favorite Martians 107-show run ends in 1966.
1965: Mariner 4 achieves the rst Mars yby, taking
the rst-ever closeup pictures of the Red Planets moonlike
craters, but, sadly, nds no Martian cities.
1972: David Bowie releases The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, in
which his alien alter ego, Ziggy, comes to Earth with a backup band of Martian arachnids.
1976: The Viking mission reaches Mars and provides
evidence that a polar cap is made of potentially lifesupporting water icebut soil samples show no signs of life.
1997: The Pathnder lander deploys
oys Sojourner, a micro-

wave-oven-size rover. Together the


e spacecraft return more
than 17,000 images, 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil,
and indications that the planet once
nce
ce had
ad running
u
g water.
ate .

2004: Spirit and Opportunity land


200
d on
Mar Over many years of exploration,
Mars.
tion,
the rovers turn up evidence that ancient
Mars was warm, wet, and habitable.
Mar
le. A
2010 reanalysis of the experimentss
shows that the landers found organic
show
anic
material, the stu of life on Earth.
mat

2012: Curiosity, the 1-ton roaming laboratory,

lands on Mars and tweets, GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!


!

2013: Curiosity nds clues that fresh


resh water
once owed in Yellowknife Bay, carrying
arrying
along carbon, hydrogen, and otherr organic
ingredientsproving that Mars once
nce had
conditions to support life.

SELFIE!

F AV O R I T E M A R T I A N ) , S C I E N C E A N D S O C I E T Y P I C T U R E L I B R A R Y ( S O J O U R N E R )

. . . BUT,
BOY, COULD
HE PLAY
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PHOTOGRAPHS BY GETTY IMAGES (BOWIE), EVERETT COLLECTION (LOWELL, TESLA, MY

From microbes to Martians, earthlings have suspected


for centuries that the Red Planet harbors life. Here
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