5 People Who Got Fed Up With Expensive Stuff And Just Built It Themselves

by Luis Prada · January 24, 2018

Sometimes you get fed up with what life has dealt you, so you take matters into your own hands. You’ve probably experienced something like that when you try to recreate a really good sandwich you had years ago at that one place that you may or may not have accidentally burned to the ground. Other, more desperate and industrious people did the same thing on a slightly more impressive scale. To be fair, they probably didn’t get a really good sandwich out of it. But they did get this stuff ...

A Guy In China Built His Own Dialysis Machine

As a college student in 1993, a man named Hu Songwen in Nanjing, China was diagnosed with renal failure -- a.k.a. his kidneys up and died on him. When your kidneys fail, you have to go to the hospital to undergo dialysis treatments, which is when a person is attached to a large machine that filters their blood before putting it right back into their body, clean as a whistle. It’s basically like getting sucked on by a vampire disguised as an ATM.



"Dr. Evanescence, please report to the E.R."

As you could imagine, it cost a lot of money to have an ATM vampire spit shine your blood. Within six years, Hu’s stubborn insistence on staying alive had drained his family’s life savings. Rather than die because his body’s Britta filters were clogged, he bought a book titled "Blood Purification Theory," which explained the finer details of how dialysis works. The book removed the mystery behind the complex machines that kept him alive. When he was done, he was pretty sure he could build one himself.

So he did.

"As long as you have a high school degree, understand the principle of dialysis, follow the operational instructions and keep a close watch during the process, nothing should go wrong," he said.



Yep. Absolutely nothing. Smooooth sailing, baby.

He got his hands on a pump, tubing, saline solutions, and the most important part: the proper filters, each of which he can use up to eight times. Sounds like all of this would be just as expensive as a hospital dialysis treatment, but not at all. Converted into US dollars, each treatment costs about $1.40 (professional treatments can run between $50,000 to $75,000 per year). The most expensive part of his rig was the $700 blood pump, and he only spent that money because he couldn’t figure out how to make one of his own. Where an actual dialysis machine can cost thousands of dollars, Hu spent a fraction to build one in his bathroom. The only downside is that he has to do three treatments a week, just more per week than he had to do in the hospital.

A College Student 3D Printed His Own Braces

Clear braces changed the game. No longer do you need to walk around with train tracks in your mouth or be labeled by other schoolchildren as "Brace Face" in an effort to have your nasty, contorted maw smoothed out into one nice set of straight, pearly teeth. Pop in a clear mouth guard that’s barely perceptible, save for the slight sheen that makes you look like a beauty pageant contestant with a mouthful of Vaseline, and within weeks you’ll be looking like you didn’t suck your thumb until well into your 40s.

Miracle cures like clear braces always have a huge financial downside, though. They can cost up to $8,000. When you’re a broke college student with jacked-up teeth like Amos Dudley, a student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, why spend eight grand when you have a brain filled with engineering know-how and easy access to high-end 3-D printers?



Bite me.

Dudley molded his teeth with a cement-like putty in the same way orthodontists do when they fit patients for braces. He scanned the molds into a computer, then designed a series of clear braces that would incrementally straighten his teeth. Clear braces already removed all the annoyance and pain of traditional metal braces, and now Dudley found a way to remove the hassle of even going to the orthodontist at all.

He printed out 12 clear plastic braces that he wore over 16 weeks. The final result was a mouth full of straightened teeth for a whole $60. If he doesn’t get extra credit for this then the entire American educational system is broken.

A Guy Builds His Own Fighter Plane Squadron To Fight The Nigerian Air Force

Carl Gustaf von Rosen had some experience converting common planes into machines of war. When the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939, he converted a Douglas DC-2 twin-engine airliner, a plane used for commercial flights, into a bomber that he used to successfully fly one operational mission. After World War II, he did a lot of piloting work for various African nations. He was the chief instructor for the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force and served as a pilot working closely with the UN to keep the skies safe during the series of conflicts that arose in the Congo after its liberation from Belgium. The guy’s piloting credentials were about as legit as they can get. One might even say they were 2 legit 2 quit. And as you can tell, he really hates injustice. Those two traits, combined with a lack of resources, would later produce a single act of crazy but incredible craftiness that puts the entirety of the DIY Network’s tips and tricks to shame.



Unless that's a machine gun, you need to settle the hell down.

Nigeria in the late 1960s was in the throes of civil war. The nation’s southernmost quarter had seceded and become its own nation, calling itself Biafra. Disgusted by the Nigerian government’s repeated attempts to thwart efforts to deliver aid to Biafrans, coupled with Nigeria’s general mistreatment of its own former citizens, Carl was compelled to use his craftiness and piloting skills to become a living action movie hero.

The Nigerian Air Force was harassing international relief flights, so Carl collaborated with the French Secret Service to import five MFI-9’s, small single engine planes usually used to train civilian pilots. The things look like they could be ripped apart by a stiff breeze, but that didn’t stop Carl from painting them in camouflage patterns and outfitting them with rocket launchers. He and four of his most trusted pilot friends formed a squadron called “Biafra Babies,” which was also a dark and gritty sequel to the Muppet Babies.



"Ha! Look at that tiny little- HOLY CRAP, RUN!"

Carl and his squadron of slapdash war planes took the Nigerian Air Force by surprise as they attacked airfields around the country. In all, Carl’s act of rogue warfare resulted in the destruction of some MiG-17 fighter jets and three of Nigeria’s six Il-28 bombers. He single-handedly made the skies a little easier to fly for planes delivering foreign aid.

A Woman Builds A House From Scratch, Using YouTube Tutorials

Cara Brookins fled one abusive marriage only to land in another. Her four children ranged from age 2 to 17. When she finally got away from the violent men in her life, she knew her family needed a large home if they wanted to live comfortably. Having only one source of income made her dream nearly impossible … but not totally impossible. That’s all the wiggle room Cara needed.

She stopped to examine the remains of a large, spacious house that had recently been torn apart by a tornado. Its exterior had been mostly ripped away, wood and exposed nails revealing the naked skeletal structure of a house most never see. That’s when she had an epiphany: “I thought, ‘I could put this wall back up if I really tried. Maybe I should just start from scratch.’”

Cara Brookins / CBS News

Cara Brookins / CBS News

Yeah, but can she YouTube her way through Dark Souls?

It should be noted that Cara had no idea how to build a house. She was a computer analyst, which means -- and we’re pretty sure we’re right about this -- laptops would tell her about their psychological issues. She and her kids had no idea how to mix mortar or run gas lines or frame a window. But there were instructional guides for all of that and then some, freely available on YouTube.

Cara used her stable of hard-working and dedicated children to build a home from the ground up with YouTube DIY instructors teaching them how to do it every step of the way. Meanwhile, the rest of us are struggling to figure out why the IKEA desk we put together looks like a video game glitch.

A Man Got Sick of His Slow Internet, So he Built His Own, Faster ISP

In 2009, Australia launched its National Broadband Network, or the NBN, in an effort to bring fiber-optic Internet into every home in the nation. It was a lofty goal that, by all accounts, has been kind of a disaster. Years after the botched rollout, the fancy high speed Internet that Australian citizens were promised is no more than a laggy, buggy, slog that can barely fire off an email without the entire nation’s Internet access coming to a halt.



Above: Australia's Internet.

The NBN’s slow speeds were particularly bothersome for a guy named Luke Baker. He was trying to run a communications business out of his home, and his garbage Internet didn’t let him communicate with anyone. Smoke signals would’ve been a better option. He did a little research into the problem and determined that the Australian government wasn’t going to fix it anytime soon. So he took it upon himself to build his own Internet service provider, because that’s a thing people can just up and do one day on a whim.

He had some buddies who were in the network engineering and routing technology game. Together, they worked out the details of building their own Internet connection from scratch without the influence and resources of a government or corporation. His artisanal, handcrafted Internet clocks in around 200 megabits per second. That’s double what the NBN offers (when it's working). Now Luke and his ragtag team of technical geniuses are getting offers from all over Australia from people begging them to bring their superior internet services to their corner of the Outback.

No, not the steakhouse. Though, honestly, they could use a better Internet connection there, too.

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