Operation DIY: Home Alone

When I first began planning for the project, I thought about using a more specific database to search for DIY projects. The problem was that I really had no idea how complex I wanted the project can get. So to help myself gauge what type of a booby trap I wanted to create, I came across instructables.com, a great resource for finding tutorials on DIY tutorials. I plugged  “coke mentos booby trap” into the site’s search bar and found this simple tutorial video by a freelance DIY fashion, home design, and prank blogger  GiannyL that taught me how a simple coke mentos bomb is made. The tutorial video offered a clear and step-by-step guide to completing the project. I believe GiannyL’s reason for posting this on the internet was to share something fun with the internet community. The video was certainly very credible and hilarious, but for the purpose of this project, I’ve always dreamed of booby traps with a more elaborate design that required some simple physics and mechanics to construct and trigger. Thus I continued my search for a more complex guide on booby trapping a mentos coke.

Materials: Diet Coke, Tennis Shoe, Sofa Pillow, Hemp String, Scissors, Sticky notes, Bookshelf Holder, Thumbtacks, and Paperclips

I tried using Google Search to see what sort of results would come up, using the same keywords I used at instructables.com. However, most of the results that came up were videos/written guides that were similar to the one I saw earlier. So I then tried again by adding “complex” and “physics” to the keywords, and this video showed me how a couple of kids used a series of simple machines to send a mentos into a coke bottle for their school project. Although the video did not offer me any information or how-to techniques on constructing the project per se, I was able to get some inspiration from the video as to what simple machines I could use. That is how I got the idea to use a pulley system to trigger my coke explosion.

The Law of the Lever

On my next step, I started to compile a list of the materials I would need to do the project. Mainly I was concerned about two things: the pulley and coke. So I went on another Google Search and found this article from The Tartan, a student-run newspaper at Carnegie Mellon University, which proved incredibly helpful as a text reference. For instance, the article explained why regular soda does not work as well as diet drinks because of the more “sticky sugar that reduces carbonation” which prevented me from buying regular coke for the project. This also helped me realize that my regular coke wouldn’t work nearly as well as a diet coke, so I had to return to the grocery store and buy the correct beverage. I later tried a search on the types of items that are best for creating a pulley. At this point, I’ve stopped trying to squeeze all my search phrases in one bar and began looking individually at the components of my evolving project . So I did another general search for “how to build a pulley” and found a physics reference site from University of Virginia’s Physics Department and a  physics forum through which I was introduced to the concept of “mechanical advantage” from Wikipedia. From this, I was able to learn that a pulley functions as a lever, where one side of the fulcrum (center of balance) must have the greater weight to send the mentos  on the opposite end into the coke bottle. Moreover, I was able to apply this idea to how my front door can be used as the needed trigger to activate the pulley and drop the stringed mentos into the coke.

Tied a bookshelf holder to provide counterweight which will bring the mentos into the coke bottle

While I constructed my coke mentos pulley booby trap, I was also able to improvise a little as well. However, all the ideas I was able to work out only happened because of the research I did during my planning phase. Overall, the reference-type (more text-based) sources helped complement with the guide-type (often videos in this case) sources and I was able to get a fuller understanding of how the project worked. But overall, I still think the videos were a bit more helpful in guiding me through the customizing and creating this project. Without any of the tutorial aids, I would have had to run to the grocery store several times to get the right materials for the project to work. Consequently, this experience has taught me to learn about my creative tendencies and how gathered information can help me become a more creative and dynamic problem solver.

In the end, I decided not to spill Diet Coke all over my carpet, so I aborted triggering the booby trap. However I did test the pulley and measured the drop position of the mentos which ended up right where a cola explosion would have been triggered. Success!


About jonycfu

Hello! My name is Jon and I am currently a to-be Web Development Immersive student at General Assembly Hong Kong! I graduated with a double major in Business Marketing and Communications. In my spare time, I enjoy building computers, cooking, golfing, reading, and watching TV shows (e.g. Fringe, Breaking Bad, GoT, Sherlock, Parks and Rec, The Office, South Park, Futurama).
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