Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics May 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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10 Números

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2 min.
upgrade the faucet

DIFFICULTY: (FOR MINOR PLUMBING) REPLACING THE FAUCET AND DRAIN ASSEMBLY can brighten the heck out of a bathroom, and it’s not very difficult, although it does involve minor plumbing. First, turn off the hot and cold water valves supplying the faucet, and use an adjustable wrench to undo the nut that holds each supply line to its valve. (1) Now, drop out the parts that hold the faucet to the sink. (2) How you’ll do this will depend on whether you have a faucet that is a single handle (a), center set (b), or spread fit (c). Undo the nuts that clamp the faucet body in place or that otherwise prevent the parts from being lifted up and out. Also undo the lift-rod assembly, all the parts that lever the stopper up…

3 min.
11 editors’ choice

OtterBox Elevation 36 Growler Whether you’re carrying piping hot coffee to a job site or icy cold water into the woods, bring your beverage in the Elevation. During our test, the double-wall stainless steel construction kept hot water at 125°F over 24 hours, while most competitors' water cooled to 100°F or lower. The spread was closer for cold water, but this 36-ounce thermos was one of the top performers there, too. Still, it was the system of five interchangeable lids—including a French press and an easy-to-use flip top—that won us over in the end. $45 BioLite BaseLantern XL Light The BaseLantern is like the iPhone of camp lights: powerful and intuitive. At its simplest, it does just what you want, through either the single button at the top or BioLite’s app, where you…

3 min.
building da vinci’s forgotten bridge

WHEN SULTAN Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire requested proposals for a bridge connecting capital city Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) with the neighboring city, Galata (Karakoy, Turkey) at the turn of the 16th century, famed inventor Leonardo da Vinci was eager to win the contract. He didn’t get the job, but more than 500 years later, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that maybe he should have. Karly Bast, who graduated from MIT in 2019 and is now at Buro Happold Engineering, worked alongside structural engineer and MIT professor John Ochsendorf and undergraduate Michelle Xie to analyze Leonardo’s sketches and letters (pulled from Manuscript L, a small Codex stored in the Institut de France in Paris). They also researched historically accurate materials and construction methods to…

2 min.
should you attempt a gut renovation yourself?

1 How good are you at planning? A. I have a master’s degree in engineering and am also a CPA B. I planned a family reunion once C. How much do you know about that Fyre Festival that I put together a couple years ago? 2 True or False: A gut renovation is more difficult if it’s the only bathroom in the house. A. True: Taking your home’s only toilet out of commission is always a bad idea, even if you rent a porta-potty B. False: Doesn’t matter. You can always rough it, right? 3 How should your bathroom release water vapor and gases? A. Through a flexible, hose-like duct to a closet in the attic B. Out a window C. Through a cast-iron or plastic pipe leading to a vent on the roof D. Into the toilet 4 Which of the…

11 min.
the best tech, appliances, and gadgets for a smarter, safer home

For more than 100 years, Popular Mechanics has been a go-to resource for DIY home projects. And while we’ve had experience with consumer electronics and small appliances for years, we’re now bringing our deep expertise and rigorous testing to even more home goods—from products that help you sleep better to security systems you install yourself. As the market becomes saturated with smart home technology, it’s more essential than ever to investigate and celebrate these products. These are the best new innovators, long-term top performers, and terrific value picks that will upgrade your home and simplify your life. BEST POWER STRIP Belkin Pivot-Plug 12-Outlet Surge Protector Never struggle with reorganizing your cables again, thanks to Belkin’s Pivot-Plug surge protector. Eight out of its dozen outlets swivel, so you can position them to prevent plugs…

2 min.
lay fresh flooring

DIFFICULTY: (FOR PLUMBING, FLOORING, AND HEAVY STUFF) IF YOUR BATHROOM TILE IS SOUND, FRANKLY, you’re better off cleaning it, sealing it, and leaving it alone. Tearing out porcelain tile and replacing it is a huge deal. If the bathroom has an ugly vinyl floor, however, a good fix is to install a form of waterproof floor known as solid core LVL (luxury vinyl tile). Solid core LVL is a form of plank flooring that looks very similar to the laminate floor types that have become popular in the last 20 years. The biggest difference: The base of each plank is water-resistant, and the center is made of pulverized limestone and plastic resins. The faces can be printed to look like stone or wood. Some solid core LVL planks can be installed directly over…