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On November 17th, we’ll be launching the Alex Rider Dream Gadget Contest, to coincide with the release of the next chapter in Alex’s adventures, Crocodile Tears . The book comes out the same day that MAKE, Volume 20 (the kid-themed issue) hits newsstands! In case you’re unaware, Alex Rider is a young spy whose exploits are chronicled in a popular series of teen spy/adventure books. Alex uses all sorts of crazy high tech contraptions, made from things in his school backpack, to get out of sticky situations.

Attention all adventure-seekers, gadget lovers, and closet inventors. You are invited to join in the fun! If you were Alex Rider, what gadget would you want in the upcoming adventure Crocodile Tears? Design your Alex Rider dream gadget, inspired by an everyday object (i.e. an iPod, a toothpaste tube, a pen). The winning gadget will be built here at MAKE Labs. Send us a schematic, tell us what your gadget is made from, and how it works. Your entry can be a schematic, sketches, and/or an explanation by you. Remember that the winning gadget should be inspired by an everyday object that one could realistically build (as much as we wish we could create a pair of scissors that fly us to the moon)!

For the next two weeks, we’ll be offering excerpts from the Alex Rider books, highlighting the fantastic, clever (and entirely fictional) gadgets used by Alex. Up this week is the Cannondale Bike Smokescreen Bike Pump from Eagle Strike.

Cannondale Bad Boy Bike Smokescreen bike pump:This is activated by the blue button. The pump included with the modified Bad Boy does not, in fact, work as a pump; the flat-free tires should mean that punctures and deflation are never a problem. Instead it contains a miniature smoke machine designed to facilitate evasion of pursuers.

The smoke machine heats a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol and forces it into the air under pressure. The smoke is dense and nontoxic. Because it is heated, it tends to rise slowly; this means that the screen should work to mask the bike rider for thirty seconds before the fluid reservoir runs out, and for a further ten seconds until it disperses. Times may differ in windy conditions.

The heating coil wrapped around the fluid tank will heat the contents to the correct temperature in under one second. The batteries powering it contain enough charge for one use and, like the fluid, must be replaced afterward.

You can download the high-res schematic for the bike pump and download a sample chapter from Eagle Strike to see how Alex uses it to get out of trouble.

Disclaimer: Excerpts from Alex Rider: The Gadgets by Anthony Horowitz are fictional and for inspiration only. Readers should not attempt to recreate these gadgets.

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Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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