So, your Geek Squad application was turned down, and now your dreams of driving the ultimate Geek-Mobile have vanished like Minovsky particles in the wind? No worries, here are 10 geeky car mods and must-have car accessories–listed in order of increasing awesomeness–that will make you forget all about the blank space on your door where that flippin’ sweet GS decal should be.
10. WEDGE TECH: How To Break Into Your Car In Less Than a Minute
So, let’s just say that you’ve locked your keys in your car, and you don’t have time to wait for a locksmith, and you’d rather not smash the glass on your mom’s La Sabre. What to do? Simple. You pull out your Emergency Locksmithing Kit you keep in your backpack for just such an occasion.
This kit includes one or two plastic wedges, a 3 to 4 foot long piece of sturdy wire (with a 90 degree bend about half an inch from the end), and a rubber band.
Now, you use the wedge to pry open the space between the door and the window. Then, having wrapped your rubber band around the end of your wire, you insert the tool and begin searching for the locking mechanism hidden inside the door jam. When you find it, you’ll be glad you had that rubber band handy to give you a good grip on the locking mechanism.
For first timers, it should take you 10 minutes tops to get this. Pros (who would predictably be very absent minded) will be able to do this in less than a minute.
A full locksmithing tutorial is available here detailing the entire process.
9. NINJA ROCKS: How to Break Into Your Car In Less Than a Second!
Okay, let’s say that–for undisclosed reasons–you didn’t bring your backpack with you, and you absolutely must get in your car, now! Hopefully, you have some Ninja Rocks handy. Don’t know what Ninja Rocks are? No problem.
Ninja Rocks are relatively obscure burglary tools, composed simply of tiny shards of crushed insulator ceramic (technically “aluminum oxide ceramic”) usually found in, believe it or not, spark plugs.
That’s right. You can take any spark plug, crush the insulator ceramic tip into 1/4” or 1/2” pieces, and with a simple toss shatter any piece of tempered glass instantly. They won’t work on the windshield of your car, but if you’re trying to get in through the driver’s side window, this is the easiest and quickest way to get in.
It seems incredibly unlikely that a minuscule object like this would have such a devastating effect, but it’s sound science, having to do with the relative hardness of the materials in question (glass is a 6.5 on Mohs hardness scale, while ceramic is a 9).
For proof of the effectiveness of tiny bits of spark plugs over, say, a brick, I submit to you the following video:
For more information, consult your local crack head, or visit this site here for a detailed write up from a victim of Ninja Rocks.
8. Super Grip Dash Pad Keeps Your Stuff Stuck
Sometimes the simplest devices can also be the most useful. Take for instance a dash pad. It’s just a rubber square, uses no adhesives of any kind, yet it’s capable of keeping your iPhone, your keys, spare change, even your radar detector (if you’re into that sort of thing) from sliding off your dash, even under spirited driving. They are movable, washable, completely reusable. And best of all, they’re very affordable, with most kinds priced between $3 and $10.
7. Get An OBD II
OBD stands for On-Board Diagnostics, and it’s a system built into almost every car made after 1996. For those who have already done the geeky thing by installing a computer in their car, you can purchase a special cable that will allow you to monitor every sensor and read out in your car, real-time. You think the Nissan GT-R’s PlayStation style gauges are cool? Well, now you can check the precise speed of your left front wheel. You can keep track of datastreams ranging from horsepower and torque numbers at any RPM, to recording your own 0-60 runs and determining your actual fuel consumption rate.
Hate those check engine lights? With OBD II, you can run your own vehicle diagnostic, and determine whether your engine is indeed in peril, or if it’s just a malfunctioning sensor, all without making a trip to your local mechanic.
6. Stop War Crafting And Start War Driving
Wardriving is the act of searching for Wi-Fi hot spots using a laptop or PDA while driving. The etymology of the word itself was derived from the term wardialing as used in the 1983 film War Games, which involved searching for computer systems using software which dialed numbers sequentially to check if they answered.
There are many free wardriving software services out there, including NetStumbler for Windows, Kismet or SWScanner for Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFly BSD, and Solaris, and KisMac for Macintosh.
Some use wardriving in conjunction with GPS to map out the location of specific networks as well as network neighborhoods.
The actual legality of wardriving, which only seeks to collect and log Wireless Access Points, has come under scrutiny through its confusion with piggybacking, where users actually connect with and gain access to networks without explicit permission. Since wardriving only collects information which must be given anyway (much in the same way one may make a map of a neighborhood’s phone numbers or mailbox numbers) wardriving has never been prosecuted as an actual legal offense.
5. One-Up BlueTooth With a State of the Art Voice Command Technology
Just a few years ago, bluetooth was cutting edge, and the hands-free operation of a cell phone connected to your car’s electronics seemed like science fiction come true. And recently, Ford’s Sync technology have taken voice activation technology to the next level by integrating it into our entertainment systems. But there is still more that can be done.
Take Galpin’s Scythe, a Mustang GT that was the victim of a serious techno-orgy at the hands of Galpin Auto Sports to create their vision of the car of the future.
The Scythe features a Shuttle XPC onboard computer, which manages every function of the car and it entirely voice programmable. You think lambo doors are cool? These reverse-opening vertical doors open on command. And once inside, you’ll notice something quite odd indeed: two steering wheels. That’s right, the Scythe can be driven from either the driver’s side or the passengers side, all per voice command. Given the word (which may include “please”) the Scythe will retract the driver’s side wheel into the dash, and extend the passenger’s side wheel to your guest eagerly awaiting the chance to unleash those 1,000 methanol-powered horses.
If that’s not enough, the Scythe features a “personal assistant” connected through a digital uplink to a 3G network capable of relaying traffic and weather conditions, sports, news, and stock market updates real time, as well as managing your daily calender. Other features include flush-mounted cameras that offer 24 hour monitoring of your precious vehicle via cellphone or computer.
Any way you look at it, the technology lavishly incorporated into the Scythe is available now. And any geek determined enough (and well financed enough) is capable of recreating this technology in their own car.
For more info on this one-of-a-kind ride of the future, visit Galpin Auto Sports.
4. Trade In Your Spinners For Osmos Orbital Wheels
While everyone else goes for bigger, larger, and flashier rims, why don’t you try something a little different, and truly extraordinary?
In the 1980s, Dominique Mottas, an avante gaurd entrepreneur and automotive enthusiast had a startling idea: reinvent the wheel! It sounded ludicrous even then, and it took 10 years to reach his first patent, but by 1990, Mottas had created a revolutionary new take on a very old idea.
The design is straightforward. Reduce rotating mass and the number of working components to a bare minimum. This is accomplished by hollowing out the wheel, and instead attaching the steering mechanism to the wheel directly via a stationary non-rotating section. The rotating sections, including the brake discs and a central 300mm rim all slide through this stationary bit. Really, the layout is pretty obvious in the pictures.
There had been hubless designs postulated before, but Mottas’ “Osmos Orbital Wheel” was an improvement over previous models. And even today, we have been unable to truly unlock all the potential afforded this stunning technological achievement.
Benefits of a Orbital wheel versus a typical wheel are principally steering accuracy, reduced weight, and solidity. But this design allows incredible braking advantages as well, as multiple brake discs may be installed in each wheel, and the orbital design reduces rotating mass while increasing cooling potential, allowing brakes to perform at optimum capacity for longer periods of time.
Orbital wheels vibrate less than typical wheels, lower the center of gravity in your car, and the empty cavities in each wheel provide free space for all sorts of new technology to fit. They are also a sight better looking than the old models as well.
For a complete history of the Orbital wheel, and a full list of the advantages and applications of this technology, visit osmoswheel.com.
3. LAYAR: The World’s First True ‘Augmented Reality Browser’
Okay, this one next one is purely speculatory, but it’s based on the possible use of a state of the art program called Layar, a new mobile application being heralded as the first true ‘augmented-reality browser’.
Layar uses your cell phone camera to overlay information on top of objects in the real world. For instance, suppose you’re in the market for a new house. Activate your Layar application, and simply by pointing your camera phone at a house you’re passing by, you could see if it’s for sale, what it would be selling for, seller’s information, and information on other houses nearby. Or, you could be in the mall, and again, by using your camera phone, you could determine precisely where “Tweets” are coming from, where friends may be, and so forth. Really, the benefits and possibilities attached to this program are obvious.
So then, what does this have to do with your car? Well, that’s certainly open to debate. You can certainly do all the same things with it as you could on foot, but the prospect of having an overlay interface at your fingertips from within your vehicle transforms your mode of transportation. Depending on how accurate the technology is, you could feasibly keep track of your social network (Facebook friends, Twitter feeds, etc.) in a spatial format. Instead of “For Sale” signs being posted in car windows as they drive by you, you could instantly download seller information right from your phone. Are you lost? Instead of relying on turn-by-turn instructions, simply scan your horizons with the Layar equipped phone and discover that you’re not nearly as lost as you thought you were.
There are certainly more uses, and no doubt Geekdom will find them.
And yes, expect a iPhone 3G S app this fall.
And for your convenience, here are two videos of the device in action:
Visit Layar for more details.
2. Screw a Radar Detector, Get A Liquid Cooled Infra Sonic Wave Pulse Generator
There are some among you who may have no idea what the hell a liquid cooled infra sonic wave pulse generator is. And you fear you’re techno-savvy reputation is in jeopardy. Well, you’re in good company.
This gadget started making the rounds around the internet last year as the mysterious secret weapon of Audi R8 Blackbird, which is perhaps the most technologically advanced road-going stealth car ever built. It was made for use in Bullrun races, an event where obnoxiously wealthy individuals compete in a no-rules contest to see who can go from New York to California the quickest. Obviously, to do this, you need to bypass numerous hazards, including traffic, patrol men with nasty radar guns, and even gentle forest creatures roaming the roads at night.
The Blackbird comes equipped with a warehouse full of goodies, all of which have been well documented elsewhere. But the true purpose of the little box in front has never been officially determined.
Most seem to think that it’s some form of radar avoidance. Others cite that infrasonic waves are a new form of non-lethal weapon which causes anxiety, fear, and hysteria in individuals exposed to it, meaning it may be used to clear motorists blocking the driver’s way, or even deter animals from wandering into the car’s path on roads near heavily wooded areas. Finally, some think it is an IR light transmitter with a night camera attachment. At speeds of 150mph, headlights become useless. So an IR camera would illuminate areas much further ahead than typical headlights, allowing a driver traveling at high speed to see what’s ahead of him much easier and more clearly.
Whatever it is, it certainly looks menacing, and the mystery surrounding this one gadget is enough to whet the palate of any tech-loving autophile.
Here’s a video of Alex Roy, another Bullrun race driver, giving the Blackbird a once over.
The most detailed write-up of this vehicle, along with the various possible uses of the generator, can be found over at RideLust.
1. Convert Your Car to Run On Trash
Finally, what could be a better way of flexing your Geeky brilliance than by recreating the Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future? Sure, a Flux Capacitor would be better, but converting your car to run on trash is comparatively much simpler than messing with the fabric of the space-time continuum.
While this may sound new, this technology is almost a seventy years old. During World War II, over one million Europeans ran on board gasifiers to make fuel from food and wood while diesel and gasoline were rationed or otherwise unreliable.
Gasification uses heat to transform solid biomass into a “natural gas like flammable fuel,” and nearly any dry, solid, organic compound can be converted into a clean burning, carbon neutral, gaseous fuel.
If you’re interested, there is an extremely detailed website with a step-by-step guide to helping you convert your own vehicle to run on trash, and save the world by reducing your dependence on fossil fuels as well as your carbon footprint.
It sounds complicated, and depending on how tech savvy you are, it may be. But even an English major could, with a bit of patience, make this in his garage on weekends when they want a break from Ulysses.
Here’s a video of a Honda Accord that’s been outfitted with its own gasifier:
Finally, for all the DIY’s out there interested in converting their own vehicles to run on trash, please head over to Instructables immediately.
By John S., Guest Blogger