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Owning your own home is one of the very cornerstones of the American Dream. It’s awesome – you save up for an enormous down-payment, sell 30 years of your life away, then pay for taxes and insurance and maintenance on a boringass structure confined to a hunk of land that your neighbor’s dog constantly poops on. It’s the best.
But unless you were born into Batmandom, your house is probably lacking in incredible features. And no, your walk-in pantry doesn’t count. Fortunately, all it takes is a little ingenuity and effort to create a living space a rogue would truly be proud of. We’ll show you how to do precisely that, starting with a ...
Laser Alarm System
The first thing any home needs is a sense of safety. You can’t have undesirables traipsing about your abode all willy-nilly. You need to be alerted to potential thieves and serial killers who have found their way inside, but short of paying for a security service, what are your options?
For just a few bucks, you can rig up your own audible alarm system triggered by lasers. Lasers. You can go all Mission Impossible on would-be criminals and be alerted to their trespassery before they’ve had time to do criminal things. And with a few well-placed mirrors, you can turn the entire room into a movie trope. Unless they’re Aeon Flux, that alarm is getting tripped.
You can even connect it to a more elaborate system. YouTube channel "Make" has the instructions and diagrams, and even for a novice DIYer, it doesn't look that difficult:
You just need a basic circuit board, a laser pointer and some assorted parts. YouTube user, Scott Macaluso, wrote up a full list of those parts, including the part numbers from RadioShack ... though if you don't like RadioShack (maybe they once put a flaming bag of poop on your doorstep or something), you can find these pretty much anywhere:
- Breadboard: 2882885
- Wires: 2103801
- Switch: 2062488
- Photoresistor: 2062590
- Piezo alarm: 210819
- Battery Holder: 2062239
- 555 Timer chip: 2062595
- 8pin Retainer: 2062604
- 100 ohm resistor: 2062339
- 1000 ohm resistor: 2062343
With just a little circuitry know-how, your house could thwart any jerks looking to do bad things. Or at least alert you that it’s happening so you can call 911 and then run away, screaming. Nothing to be ashamed about, there -- rogues that run away live to ... run away again the next time it happens.
But that’s just a first line of defense. You should probably have some security cameras installed, too. You can’t spend 24/7 sitting in front of a monitor in a designated room, though, which is why it would help to have ...
Security Camera Footage Displayed on Your TVs
The problem with security systems is that they require some sort of headquarters. A command post that allows you to view everything that’s happening. Mission Control, or whatever.
To be fair, 6 of those are Twitch streams.
What’s great about modern technology is that it allows us to make incompatible systems communicate with one another. That’s why you can hook up your security cameras to be displayed on all of your televisions. So even if you’re out in the garage watching Roseanne, you can still flip over to Backyard Surveillance (TM) and see what’s what.
Convenient diagrams are available for making this a reality, and include the tools you’ll need to harness the power of The All Seeing Eye for your home. It’s pretty inexpensive, too -- it just requires an RF modulator, BNC to video converter and maybe an RCA splitter. Really it’s just a matter of hooking up some wires properly and installing some wireless transmitters.
From there you simply flip your remote to the appropriate channel. “Holy crap, did you just see that touchdo- wait, was that the laser alarm? Switch it to channel 007.” Boom. Suck it, criminals. To boot, most modern TVs come with "picture in picture" capabilities, so it's likely that you wouldn't have to switch channels at all. Just dock the extra picture in the corner of whatever you're watching, and you're ready to go.
Even with ready access to security footage, it still probably makes sense to have a sort of command central when something goes down. But instead of plopping that down in your living room, a safe space is likely best for it. That’s why it’s important to create your own ...
Oh man, a secret door to a hidden room! Give a small tug on a specific book, and unlock a completely private space known only to you. Still, this is the epitome of roguish home features. It’s the Winchester Mansion or Clue or some Al Capone hideout, is what we’re saying. If you don't want a hidden room in your house, we don't live in the same universe.
Extra points if it leads to a dungeon.
You might think that creating such a setup is an elaborate and expensive endeavor ... and to be fair, it can be. A company called Hidden Door Store can craft a custom hidden hideout for you with precise specifications and high-tech features. And if you have the money to burn for something like a rotating fireplace accessible by a complicated keycode, it’s an excellent option.
But if you have some handyman skills, you can totally manufacture your own. These folks had some spare space in their attic, and after channeling the eternally insatiable spirit of Bob Vila, created their own secret room behind a bookshelf that was the "pull the false book to open" variety. It’s pretty amazing to see the project unfold, and the results are incredible.
Even if you feel like halfassing it, you can totally buy a pre-assembled secret door and install it in a preexisting doorway. Do you have a large, walk-in closet that would be a perfect Security Headquarters? Or maybe you need a room to store your unnecessarily gigantic collection of Benedict Cumberbatch posters. A simple, unassuming mirror can be a perfect hiding spot for a strategically cut doorway.
This is the "Chad's here -- hide!" room.
While you’re waiting out a current break-in (or just hiding out and admiring your sweet, shirtless Cumberbatch collection), it probably makes sense to see what’s going on in your immediate vicinity. Cameras can’t capture every angle of everything. So in your hidden room, you could install ...
The annoyance of every bad guy who has ever found himself in a police interrogation (in the movies, at least), one-way mirrors give folks the ability to see what’s happening in a room without being seen themselves. Of course everyone knows it’s there, but if they didn’t, it could prove quite useful.
“For what?” you’re probably thinking, knowing that you don’t hold nearly enough police interrogations at your home to warrant one of these things. Lots of stuff, actually, depending on how creative or ambitious you want to be. You could monitor what’s going on outside of your newly-created secret room, put a camera behind one as a hidden surveillance option, or even just have a badass TV. Or maybe scare the hell out of people for no good reason, we guess.
All it takes is some inexpensive film on normal glass to create the effect. If you’re going the surveillance route, it’s important that there’s more light in the room to be viewed than the one you’re viewing from, otherwise you can be easily seen.
If you’re going for House of Many Wonders rather than House of James Freaking Bond, you could try making ...
Remember those posthumous performances live on stage by the likes of Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Frank Zappa? As it turns out, the method used to achieve those effects isn’t based on anything all that high-tech. They used a mid-19th century technique known as Pepper’s ghost. The core of the idea is nothing more than some exceptionally clean, carefully angled glass to reflect something from somewhere else. Back in the 1800s, carnivals were using it to perform something called the Girl-to-Gorilla trick, presumably right next to a pants vendor to make a quick buck off the people who had just soiled theirs.
If you’re a fan of BBC’s Sherlock, it’s how the ghost lady appeared in the episode “The Abominable Bride.” Hell, they even used it in an episode of The Magic School Bus.
Modern technology can make this effect even more ass-kicking. Here’s a video showing how to pull it off using a portable video player and a piece of glass. And here’s another using a projector and mist. It’s not technically a hologram, but damn.
“That’s great,” you quip, unimpressed by our objectively awesome ideas, “but I want something practical that I can utilize every day.” Well strap yourself in, because we’re about to show you how you can have your very own ...
Pneumatic Tube System
Wouldn’t it be great to transport a document or a bratwurst to the other side of the house without the effort of actually having to walk it there? And wouldn’t it be even better to be able to invite Rob Lowe over and relive that spectacular moment from Tommy Boy?
Now you can, using a buttload of PVC pipe and a Shop-Vac.
Okay, so it’s a little more complicated than that, depending on where you need it to go and how permanent and/or badass you want it to be. But having your own pneumatic tube system is absolutely doable, thus allowing you to whisk small objects and requests for food all around your home with equal parts whimsy and laziness.
You’ll likely want to keep it simple at first, because running it through walls and around corners will ramp the difficulty of this project up to "unicycling while playing Battletoads" levels. But hey, it might be worth it to send notes to your significant other that read “bring beer,” and the hand-drawn middle finger reply that’s sure to follow.