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Adventures from the Technology Underground: Catapults, Pulsejets, Rail Guns, Flamethrowers, Tesla Coils, Air Cannons, and the Garage Warriors Who Love Them First Edition Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400050826
ISBN-10: 1400050820
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

What is the technology underground? According to engineer and technology consultant Gurstelle, it's a community of like-minded amateurs--inventors, mostly, although some of them might more accurately be characterized as daredevils. Men and women who have devoted their lives to the things that conventional science has dismissed as unworkable, impractical, or just plain pointless. Flying cars, for example, or newfangled catapults, air guns, and flamethrowers. Or fighting robots and, of course, LDRS (large and dangerous rocket ships). The author explores not only the people who devise these wondrous new inventions but also the technological wizardry behind them: every chapter features illustrations and technical explanations of the devices discussed within. The writing is a bit scattershot, alternating frequently between clunky ("it is reasonable to outline, at the outset of a conceptualization or a project, the rules of conformance") and the outright funny: after describing an early flying-car design, the author deadpans, "It never got off the ground." But the book's target audience won't be bothered by the prose. They will be looking for adventure, excitement, and really wild stuff. They won't be disappointed. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

William Gurstelle is the author of Backyard Ballistics, Building Bots, and The Art of the Catapult. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400050820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050826
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,370,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Palmer on March 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book, but it's written in such a simplistic and unfocused way as to leave me very disappointed. The author barely scratches the surface of the many technologies/projects/events he covers, and I always felt cheated after finishing each chapter... thinking "That's IT?!"

Underground tech IS a very cool subject to write about, but the lack of information about the inner motivations and passions of these "garage warriors" leaves a glaring hole in the text. If you have a short attention span and hate to read long books, this book is easily absorbed in a few hours. This is NOT a deep exposition on underground tech; it is a quick overview for newbies. Considering that the audience for this subject would be (I assume) more literate that the national average, it's a shame that the writing seems to be limited to what a sixth-grader could easily digest.

I notice now that the price has now dropped to 10 bucks. At that price, it's more in line with the quantity/quantity of content provided, and could now be considered an "okay" value... just don't set your expectations too high. I know this was a fairly harsh review, but I really was disappointed that the amateurish quality of the writing didn't live up to the slick cover design. Don't judge a book by it's cover!
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Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for this book to come out, and it's cool to finally see it. Gurstelle wrote my favorite -- the authoritative book of cool and potentially perilous home projects, Backyard Ballistics.

"Adventures . . . ." describes projects and devices that are an order of magnitude more sophisticated (and probably more dangerous). No one is better at teasing out the details of these amazing and exotic home-built contraptions. There are the requisite tesla coils and air canons, but also stuff I'd never heard of before -- like coin shrinking machines, sky cars, and pulse jets (not to be confused with plain ol' turbine jets).

Damn, the book made me realize that the world is just so full of specialists in so many odd areas. Gurstelle has covered the terrain longer than anybody. It's full of imagination, and made me start thinking bigger about my own home projects and new areas I could explore.
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Format: Hardcover
As a many time attendee of the burning man festival ([...]) I have seen many of the devices described in this book in person. Awe inspiring.

This book goes even further than just describing the technology, the author takes you on a journey to first explain the people behind the technology (Doctor MegaVolt, who has entertained people for many years at burning man, in a wire protective suit, hooked up to an enormous tesla coil, is one of my favourite vignettes in this book). Then he explains the technology itself. How it works, what it does, how the makers built it.

This is an excellent introduction of some of the coolest, weirdest technology employed to the most interesting ends. The World Championship Pumpkin Chuck event had me laughing out loud. The effort the contestants expend to launch a pumpkins is incredible. Gurstelle uses this event to explore the technology behind Centrifugal Catapults, Air Cannons (and I mean CANNONS, these bad boys hurl 10lb pumpkins down barrels longer than most navy warship cannons) and Medieval Trebuchets. All used in the Pumpkin Chuck.

The author explores many other cool events, technologies and ties them all together by focusing in on the people (and their stories) behind these cool applications of very interesting technologies. This book is chock full of things that shook, throw, spark, spew and otherwise make lots of Strange noises.

Fun to read, and you will learn a lot of fascinating science. Too bad this was available when I was in high-school science class!
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Format: Hardcover
If you liked the first two books, this one is even better. The book takes you through North America to all the coolest underground meetings, whether it be rockets, flamethrowers,tesala coils, or even sending pumkins to their doom. It has tons of illustrations and it gives great details on where these places are, if you ever want to go check it out for yourself. This is a must need book for backyard ballistic followers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed all of William Gurstelle's books so far and ordered "Adventures from the Technology Underground" as soon as it popped up on my radar. In the last week I've read the book a couple of times and give it a hearty recommendation.

In a society that is frequently more and more out of touch with an enterprising spirit of scientific exploration this book makes it clear that all is not lost yet. (Who would have guessed that the Virginia Military Institute may be the foremost seat of siege warfare in the modern world?) It's best to sum this up as a celebration of ingenuity, curiosity and the limitless imagination of the human mind.

I agree that some of the topics in the book aren't for the youngest of the curious and scientific but the book certainly isn't aimed at a younger audience. This is more of an introduction to topics that may or may not have crossed the path of the casual reader, not the hardcore enthusiast. With handy links and references the truly curious will easily be able to follow up on what the book offers. The mildly entertained will simply "wow" their friends at the next neighborhood block picnic or office water cooler round up.

A great book by any practical measure.
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