MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: We all love to tinker around, and of course, our experiments can sometimes go wrong. What is the first time a project has exploded on you? What did you learn from it? Non-explosive incendiary events are also fair game.

When I was running a BBS off an old 286, I had a persnickety monitor. It would randomly switch to monochrome, but return to color with a good smack. Once this stopped working, I started keeping a rubber mallet on top of the monitor to do the job. One day I gave it a good whack and heard a funny noise coming from inside. I opened it up and discovered a three inch long electrical arc methodically melting the case and various components. Sometimes a hammer is not the right tool for the job!

Post your responses in the comments section.


In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

View more articles by Michael Colombo