Popular Mechanics June 2017

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

4 min
from the editor

CANCER IS Cancer is fear. Cancer is a waiting room full of orange chairs with worn wooden armrests and a doctor with a white beard mouthing words that sound distant and muffled until you feel so hot and so cold that you run to the bathroom, where you kneel over the toilet. Cancer is pain in your bones and your eyes, pain so intense it makes you cry out. Cancer is the metronomic, mechanical grind of the small machine that pumps liquid food through a tube into your stomach. Cancer is watching the blue number on the heart-rate monitor, and checking the color of the urine, and wincing at the needle, and waiting for the results, and the incessant ringing of a phone at the nurses’ station in the hallway. Cancer is two…

1 min
popular mechanics everywhere

ONLINE! When one of your two jet engines fails over the Atlantic Ocean on your way from Zurich to Los Angeles, what do you do? In the case of Swiss Flight LX40, pilots made an emergency landing on the tiny airstrip on Baffin Island, Canada. And then it got worse. The world’s largest jet engine had to be replaced. In nearly minus-40-degree temperatures. Read about the amazing mechanical feat exclusively at popularmechanics.com/engineswap. INSTAGRAM! Confused about the difference between a hammer drill and a rotary drill? Looking for the best cutting pliers? Senior home editor Roy Berendsohn has started posting quick and helpful videos on Instagram, so you can get DIY tricks anytime you need them. Check him out @AskRoyPM or at Instagram.com/AskRoyPM. PODCAST! The Most Useful Podcast Ever just got even more useful. In addition…

2 min
an ac-130 gunship bristles with sensors.

It has advanced radar, forward-looking infrared cameras, and laser rangefinders—all used to help the 13-man crew direct a barrage of lethal fire to the ground from 12,000 feet. But for all of this advanced technology, the vision of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command gunships can be thwarted by the threatening adversary known as a cloudy sky. The Air Force has a solution: Launch a small unmanned aircraft from the gunship to drop below the cloud cover and serve as the eyes of the AC-130’s crew. Special Operations officials last year spoke publicly about using a drone called the Coyote—the wings of the Coyote unfold as the drone launches from a sixinch- wide tube. A higher-endurance version is in development. Weapons are getting smarter and drones are getting smaller, and pretty…

3 min
the arsenal

01 MINIATURE AIRLAUNCHED DECOY (MALD) • MALD is a trailblazer. In the mid-1990s DARPA started researching this small jet-engine-powered craft, fired from a warplane’s wing, that could fly along GPS waypoints and emit signals to mimic a fullsize aircraft. Hidden air-defense systems shoot at MALD and expose themselves to counterattack. After a stutter-step start, the technology caught up with the idea and in 2009 Raytheon delivered the first MALD to the Air Force. Recent upgrades include a carbon-composite fuselage that lightens the airframe. An upcoming datalink ability will enable pilots to reprogram MALD’s flight path after launch. • STATUS: Currently deployed. 02 COYOTE • Dropped from an airplane, these disposable drones are launched from a six-inch tube and unfold in flight. They are currently launched from National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes to study hurricanes. The…

2 min
a stodgy barroom syrup gets a jolt

“Every category of spirits has been through a revolution in the last decade, from vodka to bourbon. I thought it was time to consider traditional liqueurs found on the bottom shelf of every bar. I decided to be the guy who starts with coffee liqueur, turning it from that overly sweetened syrup we all know into a deeply rich spirit in which the sugar takes a backseat to the coffee flavor.” That’s Jeff Kessinger, founder of a tiny operation called Firelit Spirits in Napa Valley, California. He set out to find a flavor you can’t achieve by dropping a shot of whiskey into a mug of hot coffee. “The coffee’s temperature is already opening up your taste buds, and the heat makes the alcohol so volatile it becomes overpowering,” says Kessinger. Irish…

3 min
how to create a workshop on wheels

When I’m running to a volunteer job or helping out a friend, I can’t take everything with me. And since I don’t always know exactly what we’ll be doing, I have to improvise. I need tools that can handle wood, metal, and plastic. PVC and sheet metal. I prefer cordless tools, because you never know what the power supply will be, but my heavyduty tools are corded. After decades of refinement, this is the most versatile group of tools I’ve discovered. The real trick is getting it all to fit in the car. TRUNK EDGES Sawhorses • No matter the job, you’ll always need to get something off the ground, whether it’s for cutting or painting. Slide them along either side of the trunk. Hand Truck • For demolition or lugging anything remotely heavy, take…