Fiery Portal to Aperture Science

It’s midnight on a quiet Saturday evening. You have a potpourri of random household items: a metal whisk, a few feet of steel cable, a bag of steel wool and a 9V battery.

So of course you gotta be asking yourself, “What would MacGyver do?!”

Materials for the main rig

He’d make a spinning steel wool cage, is what he’d do. Using a couple cable sleeves, simply fasten the whisk to one end of the cable and a swivelling eyebolt clasp to the other. Make sure the sleeves are secure because it’ll be spinning pretty fast and you don’t want the fiery whisk flying off into, say, anything flammable.

Macguyver’d steel wool cage

Once you’ve MacGyver’d the steel wool cage, all you need to do is:

  1. Setup the camera on a tripod with a long exposure (say, 10-30 seconds)
  2. Load up the whisk with steel wool
  3. Use a 9V battery to short out the wool and light it on fire
  4. Trigger the photo with a remote or timer
  5. Start spinning!

Portal to Aperture Science…
GLaDOS knows what I’m talking about. 🙂

But please keep in mind a couple safety tips:

  • Don’t wear highly flammable clothing. For example, maybe avoid wearing anything paper-based or recently soaked in gasoline.
  • Don’t stand near anything highly flammable. For example, avoid standing next to the guy wearing anything paper-based or recently soaked in gasoline.
  • Wear safety glasses. If you don’t feel macho wearing safety glasses, that’s fine. But you might have to hear how cool your photo turned out second hand if your eye sockets have been burnt out by a rogue whisk. Just saying…
  • Maybe have a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Use a protective filter on your lens (maybe just a UV). The last thing you want to do is leave burn marks on your actual lens if a spark happens to fly into the camera.

Lurking in the Soccer Fields Under Cover of Night

Because this was my first attempt, I was more trying to avoid catching on fire than making a proper orb. That’ll be my next experiment. However, for the 15 minutes I spent lurking in the moonlit soccer fields and in my garage, I was pretty pleased with the results!

But I have grand plans for my next attempts. 🙂

More 3-dimensional dispersion of sparks


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