Tech & Gaming
Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics

November/December 2020

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

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3 Min.
my pop life

ROY BERENDSOHN Test Editor Tester, editor, writer. More importantly, husband, dad to five kids: two born to me and three by marriage. BEST THING POP EVER TAUGHT ME Take your time. Do it right. Do it once. I’ve edited countless stories where you see the author apply those three simple principles to get the job done. It’s a compact motto for life. Best Money I Ever Spent $6,500 for the 1979 Chevy truck that I bought after working a year between high school and college. That pickup was transportation into the middle class, and I drove it for the next 25 years. My Favorite Products to Test Hands down: chainsaws. Once you know how to disassemble a tree, it’s amazing how fast the job gets done with a saw that has high power-to-weight ratio and good balance. LIVING MY…

4 Min.
the beloved volkswagen vanagon’s true successor is a pop-top benz

BACK IN 1951, A BRITISH MILITARY officer asked engineers at Westfalia, a storied German coach and trailer maker, to turn his Volkswagen bus into a camper. Westfalia installed a rear sofa, cabinets, and hand-sewn curtains to create a charming, self-contained rig they called a “camping box.” The little wünderbus was neither powerful nor reliable, but it was simple to work on, and would make Westfalia a household name. A couple of decades and generations of Westfalia-modded camper vans later, VW debuted the Vanagon. It possessed a sharp, boxy, Millennium Falcon-esque aesthetic all its own. When Westfalia turned the Vanagon into a camper, the result was utilitarian art, comfortably seating and sleeping four. Its 1992 successor, the Eurovan, was fast and safe, but lacked the Vanagon’s quirky mojo. North American sales…

1 Min.
the best camper van rental services

Not ready to commit the tens of thousands of dollars on your own rig, or don’t need a camper van full time? Borrow a loaner. ‣ Outdoorsy (outdoorsy.com) and RVshare (rvshare.com) both function as Airbnb meets Vrbo for camper owners, with a variety of rigs. $134 average per night on Outdoorsy, $150 on RVshare ‣ Peace Vans (peacevansmodern.com) loans Getaway Metris campers along with its own “full camper” (read: full galley) Metris. $225 per night ‣ Though it’s more set up as a peer-to-peer car rental company, Turo (turo.com) and its owners offer plenty of Vanagon- and Microbus-based campers. From $75 per night ‣ If you’re traveling to Southern California, Vintage Surfari (vwsurfari.com) is a good, reliable source for a Bay Window, Vanagon, or Eurovan camper. From $149 per night.…

1 Min.
what are these shapes, anyway?

MÖBIUS STRIP (fig. 2) Known as the “twisted cylinder,” the Möbius strip is a one-sided, non-orientable surface. In other words, it’s a shape that, if you trace a line along it, will bring you back to the mirror image of your starting point (that initial point’s reflection on a 2D coordinate plane). You can make your own Möbius strip if you give a strip of paper one half-twist and tape the ends together to form a continuous loop. Most simply of all, a Möbius strip is essentially the infinity symbol manifested in 3D space. KLEIN BOTTLE (fig. 3) The Klein bottle is a type of non-orientable surface that is impossible to consistently plot in a two-dimensional space. And because it is a one-sided surface, you will gradually flip upside down while traveling along…

17 Min.
he builds the world’s greatest magic tricks.

THERE IS A CENTURY-OLD MAGIC TRICK THAT JIM STEINMEYER FINDS PARTICULARLY FASCINATING. A group of random audience members file on stage and each place a personal possession inside a sturdy, commercialmodel safe, out of view of the magician, Charles Morritt. The safe is locked before anyone looks inside, and after a beat, a burglar appears. The lock-picking bandit looks at the closed safe with a pair of field glasses and disappears. Moments later, a telegram arrives for Morritt. It’s from the master thief. It says, in essence, “I’ve decided not to crack that safe and steal the contents—it’s not worth my time. But here’s a list of everything inside.” When the safe is opened, the list matches up, item for item. By almost any estimation, Steinmeyer is the greatest creator of illusions in…

12 Min.
the future of farming is inside this bomb shelter

DEEP BENEATH THE STREETS OF LONDON, in a complNex of bomDb sheltersO left abandNoned since World War II, something is growing. Thousands of green sprouts burst from their hydroponic trays, stretching toward glowing pink lights that line the arched ceilings. These plants, along with tens of thousands of other salad crops, are being grown from seed without soil or sunlight, in tunnels transformed into a high-tech commercial farm. The farm is known as Growing Underground (GU), and it’s located 108 feet below the main street in Clapham, a south London suburb. Every year, in 6,000 square feet of old bomb shelter, more than 100 tons of pea shoots, garlic chives, cilantro, broccoli, wasabi mustard, arugula, fennel, red mustard, pink stem radishes, watercress, sunflower shoots, and salad leaves are sown, grown, and…