MacGyver Science Notes Season 3: Episode 10 Matty + Ethan + Fidelity

Using a drone to lift a human.

OK, maybe this isn’t exactly a Mac-hack since he didn’t build it.  But can you use a drone to lift a person?  Oh yeah—this is real.

The basic idea of a drone is that it provides upward lift by “throwing” air down.  In order to conserve momentum, the downward force on the air is equal to an upward lift.  This means a couple of things:

  • Faster air gives greater lift (because the air has greater momentum).
  • Larger rotor areas give greater lift (because there is more air thrown down).
  • The power required to hover is proportional to the air speed to the third power.  That means you don’t want to use fast air.
  • Instead, you want big rotors with slower air.

Here is a post with a bit more explanation. But it is indeed possible.  Oh, the drone MacGyver uses could work, but it would be better if the rotors were a little bit bigger.

Cricket Ball Flash Bang

MacGyver tosses a ball into a room.  It then explodes with a flash to stun the people inside.  Is this possible?  Of course—it’s possible to even make your own flash bang.

Since the build for this device is off screen, let’s just leave it like that.  But it’s clearly possible.

Water Cooler Bomb

MacGyver takes a water cooler bottle and puts some stuff in it.  He then rolls it into a room and it explodes.  Again, stunning the people inside.  Yes, very plausible.  

Instead of talking about explosives, here is a related demo using a cooler water bottle.  It’s the woosh rocket.  Check it out.

When you ignite the ethanol, it quickly uses up the oxygen in the bottle (because of the neck).  This causes a type of fluttering with the oxygen being used up and then entering the bottle.  It’s cool.

DIY Jaws of Life

OK, these aren’t actually jaws of life.  MacGyver gets some metal pieces to build a device to pry open a door using an electric drill as a motor source.

Here is a very rough sketch of how this would work.

 

OK, that’s not exactly the same—but it’s the same idea.  The spinning drill turns the threaded screw and pushes the metal bars apart.  The pivot makes the metal bars push apart on the other side.

Since the door side of the pivot is shorter than the drill side, the change in distance on the door side is smaller.  Why does this matter?  This matter because this is the way all simple machines work.  You can get a greater output force if you decrease the motion distance on the output.  That means on the drill side, there is a small force moving over a greater distance.

It’s the same idea as a basic lever. It’s how your basic garden sheers work too.

Here is something very similar (in physics at least)—a DIY floor jack.

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