Know How...

Oct 17th 2013

Know How... 65

Power Your Gadgets with Fire & Locating Your Electronics

Deep space exploration, power your gadgets with fire, locate your lost or stolen devices, and more.
Records live every Thursday at 2:00pm Eastern / 11:00am Pacific / 19:00 UTC.
Guests: Iyaz Akhtar
Deep space exploration, power your gadgets with fire, locate your lost or stolen devices, and more.

Making News

It's the END of Deep Space Exploration as we Know It!

NASA has warned that we're running out of Plutonium 238, a critical component of deep-space missions. The problem is that P238 is mainly produced as a by-product of the creation of nuclear weapons. We only have 10lbs of P238 remaining, and it's already been allocated. Without more P238, deep space missions, missions to the Mars or the moon, and any mission requiring alternative power sources will be impossible.

1.21 Jigawatts!

P238 is used in "RTGs" (RadioIsotope Thermo-Electric Generators). A puck-sized piece of Plutonium heats itself to 1,200 when helium cores are shot from the material as it decays. That "puck" is surrounded by a "Thermopile" which can convert that heat directly into electrical energy. These thermopiles are not dissimilar from very simple devices called "thermocouples" which take advantage of the "Seebeck Effect" - When two bonded pieces of dissimilar metal are heated, they expand at different rates, creating a measurable electrical current. Though one thermocouple can generate millivolts, an ARRAY of thermocouple create a "Thermopile" which can generate usable electrical current from a sufficient heat source.

Making your own Thermocouple

  • Two dissimilar pieces of wire. (Copper/Steel/Silver)
  • A Heat Source
  • A Multimeter
Twist the ends of two pieces of wire made of dissimilar metals. You want the twists to be TIGHT. If you can, solder them together for greater efficiency. Hook the opposite end of each wire to your multimeter. Apply heat to the coupled end ad you should start seeing a voltage reading on your multimeter. You can combine thermocouples in series to increase voltage, and in parallel to increase Amperage.

Finding your lost stuff

Apple Devices

One of the easier solutions to find your iDevice or Mac is iCloud. For an iDevice, you can use Find my iPhone. If you're using a Mac, go into your System Preferences and then go into iCloud. You can opt in to "Find My Mac." Both of these services let you find your device on a map. There are also security features that let you lock your device from

Android Devices

Google's built a tool called Android Device Manager. On your Android device, go to the Google Settings app and turn on the options for "Remotely locate this device" and while your'e at it, also check the "Allow remote lock and factory reset" option. With these two options selected, you'll be able to find your Android device online at

Cross-platform solution

If you to use one option for all of your devices, check out Prey. It's open source, so if you're concerned about what Prey is sending, you're able to check the code if you'd like. Prey works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. You'll be able to report a device as stolen at Prey's web service. You can then tell Prey what data you want collected from your lost device such as geographic information and even taking a picture using the webcam to see who has taken your device.

After You Buy

From time to time, Iyaz and Fr. Robert bring a piece of gear onto the show and give it the "Know How" treatment. They start with their initial impressions of the gadget, gizmo or techogear, but then they actually USE the product in the REAL WORLD, bringing the product back in 3-6 months to let you know how it held up to the rigors of uberGeek usage. They end result is a review that isn't just a regurgitation of specs and features, but an honest-to-Iyaz experience of gear IRL.

Acer T27HL 27" Multitouch Monitor

Windows 8 is designed for touch. So why in the world are touchless desktops and laptops sold with Windows 8? In this "After You Buy" we take a first look at a 27" touch screen monitor from Acer that might be just the thing for your uberGeek command center.
  • 1920 x 1080, LED Backlit Vertical Panel
  • USB 3.0: 1 Upstream, 3 x Downstream
  • 10-point Multitouch
  • VESA Mount Compatible
  • ~$530 w/3-yr Warranty

Hardware solutions

If you want to find devices that don't have network connections built-in, you can try something like StickNFind. It is about the size of a quarter and has a battery life of about a year. You place the device on whatever you want and then you track it via an iOS or Android app. We also showed off an upcoming product called Trakdot Luggage. It costs about $60 and uses cell tower triangulation to find location. If you want to use GPS to find a thing (like a car), Padre showed off SecurusGPS.
  • Securus - eZoom Personal GPS Locator
  • $80 + $13-$20/month

Connect with us!

Don't forget to check out our large library of projects on this site. If you want to search for a topic, try this custom search engine. - Google+ Community at - Tweet at us using the hashtag #twitkh - Email us at