Popular Mechanics May/June 2021

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!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

2 min
the 4 advantages of professional grade tools

No matter what you’re building or fixing, professional-grade tools make a difference. Their purpose-built design adds power, durability, and efficiency, which makes them a wise investment. Even the toughest jobs get done faster and more precisely. Popular Mechanics Senior Home Editor Roy Berendsohn headed to the Pop Mech Test Zone in Easton, PA, to test the new FLEX series of power tools. Below are the four FLEX features that stood out—and what you should look for in your pro-grade purchase. SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE The higher a tool’s power-to-weight ratio, the better. The top-of-the-line FLEX ½” 2-Speed Drill-Driver and ¼” Quick Eject Hex Impact Driver with Multi-Mode have sensor-free brushless motors that boost performance, increasing torque in all situations. Engage the Drill-Driver’s Turbo Mode Speed 2 for a whopping 2,500 RPM and industry-leading torque at…

1 min
// on the cover //

POPULAR MECHANICS (ISSN 0032-4558) is published six times per year by Hearst, 300 West 57th St., NY, NY 10019 USA. Steven R. Swartz, President & Chief Executive Officer; William R. Hearst III, Chairman; Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Executive Vice Chairman; Mark E. Aldam, Chief Operating Officer. Hearst Magazine Media, Inc.: Debi Chirichella, President & Treasurer; Kate Lewis, Chief Content Officer; Kristen M. O’Hara, Chief Business Officer; Catherine A. Bostron, Secretary. Copyright 2021 by Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Popular Mechanics is a registered trademark of Hearst Communications, Inc. Customer Service: For changes of address, and subscription orders, visit service.popularmechanics.com or write to Customer Service, Popular Mechanics, P.O. Box 6000, Harlan, IA 51593. Popular Mechanics (PM) cannot be responsible for unsolicited material. Mailing lists: From time to time we…

3 min
1 my pop life

MATT ALLYN Features Director My hand calluses are old enough to buy beer. My Favorite App Audible. While knocking out chores, I listen to classic novels I had avoided in school. Turns out Moby Dick is pretty funny. Reminiscing on My First Ride It was a ’65 Pontiac Tempest four-door, which I sold to buy a ’63 Pontiac Bonneville. Three months after rebuilding the 389 V-8, the transmission blew up. So I sold it for a mountain bike. I still miss that car. PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW 1 Fresh Roast SR540 This miniature coffee roaster offers excellent temperature and air flow control with minimal smoke. 2 Flexispot Electric Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Best office upgrade—my sitting and standing heights rise and lower at the press of a button. 3 Google Pixel 5 Great camera and wireless charging, but its toughness is underrated. 4 Wesn…

2 min
who should buy an electric car in 2021?

THEY’RE ROLLS-ROYCE QUIET. SOME ARE Lamborghini fast. No oil changes. No exhaust smell to remind you that parts of Miami will be underwater in 30 years. But after testing a bunch of new electric vehicles (EVs) for Pop Mech’s Auto Awards—live on our site—I kinda get why, for the past few years in the U.S., the number of Ford F-Series pickup customers alone is greater than the number of all new electric-car customers combined: EVs are still a hassle. Specifically, driving them far is a hassle. Through no fault of the manufacturer, even a $105,150 Porsche Taycan 4S’s technical excellence becomes irrelevant when you’re nervous about finding power to run it. Three days of testing a Taycan required five apps’ worth of downloading, password creation, and email confirmation. And of the…

3 min
the air force is putting death rays on fighter jets. yes, death rays

HOW CAN OLDER FIGHTER JETS STAY ALIVE WHILE flying the deadly skies? With a little help from lasers. The U.S. Air Force is working with Lockheed Martin on a defense system called Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD), a pod-mounted laser that will protect fighters from incoming air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. The system, which the Air Force wants to place on planes by the mid-2020s, will likely initially protect older fighters that can’t take advantage of stealth to hide from the enemy. Lockheed is also working on a separate weapon, Tactical Airborne Laser Weapon System (TALWS), that will use program data from SHiELD. Today’s fighters are largely limited to passive defenses against incoming missiles. Pilots can try to take evasive action by flying outside an incoming missile’s sensor arc, launching flares…

1 min
a brief timeline of military laser history

1972: THE DESTRUCTION OF THE DRAGON’S JAW During the Vietnam War, the U.S. spent years trying to destroy the “Dragon’s Jaw” bridge, expending hundreds of tons of bombs and losing 11 jets to anti-aircraft fire. Finally, in May 1972, 14 Air Force F-4Cs put the bridge out of action with Paveway bombs, which homed in on laser energy that another aircraft pointed at the bridge. 1991: OPERATION DESERT STORM The U.S. used its next-gen Paveway III laser-guided bombs to attack the Iraqi military from low level and hit a target within 10 feet of the laser-aiming point. The F-117A stealth fighter destroyed targets in Baghdad with Paveways, while F-15E, F-111, and A-6 bombers smashed airfields, bunkers, tanks, and other Iraqi targets. 2014: THE FIRST LASER WEAPON GOES TO SEA Lasers only “painted” targets for bombs…