Vol. 16: MakeShift: Bomb in the Parking Garage

The creator of MacGyver challenges you to avoid being blown up by a subterranean bomb.

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Tick, Tick, Tick ...

The Scenario

You've worked late into the night as a computer engineer in the high-rise headquarters of an international bank, and you're finally heading with your briefcase to your car in the subterranean parking garage. Your car is the only one left on this dimly lit level, parked along a cement wall right near the elevator. But, as you pull out your keys and are about to hit the unlock button, you hear a loud beep behind you.

Startled, you turn to see an object against the wall just a few feet away with a pulsing red light on it -- and in the poor light, you can immediately make out an illuminated timer which is now ticking off the seconds from a 3-minute window!

There is a jumble of multicolored wires, and an array of three motion detectors set to cover a 180º field off the wall, all of which are wired into a small black box sitting on a large brick-shaped object that's slightly smaller than a shoebox. Also atop the brick and on its ends, you see three horizontal glass tubes that appear to contain mercury with wires at both ends, as well as a metallic-looking cylinder with several long wires jammed into the side of the brick-like mass. There's little doubt left in your mind now that this is a bomb! -- and your arrival here must've set off the timer.

The Challenge

Though you know how mercury switches work, you're uncertain of the purpose of the motion detectors, or of the black box -- could it contain a hidden transponder? If you try to move out of range or call for help with your cellphone, might your attempt to flee or the cellphone signal set the device off? Hell, even pushing the unlock button on your key ring now could send the wrong kind of signal, no? But panic is not an option, as it seems you have less than three minutes to decide your best course of action. So what are you going to do?!

What You Have

Your briefcase and pockets contain what a computer engineer might normally have, within reason -- if that includes a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool, so be it. Beyond that, your brain is the best tool you've got. So think fast, and ... good luck.

Send a detailed description of your MakeShift solution with sketches and/or photos to by March 6, 2009. If duplicate solutions are submitted, the winner will be determined by the quality of the explanation and presentation. The most plausible and most creative solutions will each win a MAKE T-shirt and a MAKE Pocket Ref. Think positive and include your shirt size and contact information with your solution. Good luck! For readers' solutions to previous MakeShift challenges, visit makezine.com/makeshift.

And the next MakeShift challenge could be yours! That's right, we're throwing open the doors and offering you the chance to create your own MakeShift to challenge the world. Just submit an original scenario in the familiar format - the challenge, what you have, etc. - with some ideas of how you think it should be solved. The winning scenario will not only be published right here but will also earn you a $50 gift certificate for the Maker Shed. The deadline is March 6, 2009, so get out there and start looking for trouble!


Additional content for this article, available only online.

MakeShift 16: Analysis, Commentary, and Winners

by Lee D. Zlotoff; April 15, 2009 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 16: Dave's Most Plausible Winning Entry

Dave's entry was awarded the MakeShift Master Plausible award for his solution to MakeShift 16.
by Lee D. Zlotoff; April 15, 2009 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 16: Jeffrey Swan's Most Creative Winning Entry

Jeffrey Swan's entry was awarded the MakeShift Master Creative award for his solution to MakeShift 16.
by Lee D. Zlotoff; April 15, 2009 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 16: Don Nelson's Honorable Mention Entry

Don Nelson's entry was awarded an Honorable Mention award for his solution to MakeShift 16.
by Lee D. Zlotoff; April 15, 2009 | Technorati | del.icio.us

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