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Homemade Inventions

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Homemade alien robots are most excellent.

William: To power the suit ... sir, the technology doesn’t actually exist. …
Obadiah Stane: Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!

Who says you need a billion-dollar grant to build cool inventions? As every wacky scientist knows, advanced inventions can be, in the words of Robert Zemeckis, "built in somebody's garage". Want your own spaceship? Shrink Ray? Time Machine? The spare parts lying around in your basement should be sufficient.

Of course, Homemade Inventions won't be perfect. Due to being built out of various mechanical parts, they will have a "cobbled together" look. (If this occurs in a film, you can bet the art department had a lot of fun with it.) Sometimes, they'll work in a far more elaborate and convoluted manner than their purpose would seem to require; their power source may be as humble as the family pet in an exercise wheel. Still, they will nearly always work and, when they don't, they'll fail spectacularly. These inventions will probably be created by the Bungling Inventor, The Professor, or the Teen Genius. More than half the time, these inventors will neglect to make sure that they know how to reconstruct their inventions.

And, of course, the inventors won't try to use their unbelievable science-defying constructions to solve the problems of the world and help mankind or exploit them to gain fame and riches.

In certain settings, however, these homemade inventions are weapons. The reasons greatly differ from setting to setting, from proper firearms being a rarity in a post-societal collapse or a Gadgeteer Genius / The Engineer whipping up something to defend themselves from an opponent, dangerous and life-threatening or otherwise. The construction of these weapons, sometimes range from somewhat plausible to outright impossible.

See also: Bamboo Technology, MacGyvering and Homemade Flamethrower. Compare Gadgeteer Genius and Doom It Yourself. Related to and may overlap with Improvised Weapon. For the fantasy equivalent, see Improvised Golems.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Junkman, from Astro City, has this as his theme. After being forced to retire, he decided to show the world the foolishness of throwing things away. He robs a bank with toy soldiers made into miniature robots, an Etch-a-Sketch repurposed as a fluoroscope, and other equally recycled equipment.
  • In the early days of Dilbert, the title character regularly built strange-looking inventions with (occasionally) even stranger purposes, such as a trash compactor that can pack two tons of garbage into the volume of an ordinary brick or talking robot dog.
  • The inventions of Gyro Gearloose in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe comic books. This is especially intriguing in Don Rosa's version of Duckburg which has a distinct timeline where all the adventures take place in the 1960s, but thanks to Gyro Gearloose, all modern technology (and indeed, technology yet to be) can be represented.
    • However, Rosa has made some specifications to what Gyro can't do: he can make a functional time machine, but not an interstellar spaceship. So far he hasn't created a computer with a display, either, although he completely accidentally created a functional AI (Little Helper).
    • He did create an interstellar spaceship, but not every story is Barks-Rosa canon...
      • Well, the talk was about Barks-Rosa canon - most writers apart from Rosa set the stories in pseudo-present day, in any case. If Duck-stories in general are a subject, then Gyro can do anything that the current writer wants from him.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has this, the most notable being Sherman's (short-lived) time-traveling washing machine.
  • Adoption Nightmare has the Fenton Ghost Glue Gun, which fires anti-ghost glue at ghosts, trapping them. Like some of the canonical Fenton inventions, it is reminiscent of an everyday object (i.e. the Fenton Utility Weapon, which is a tube of lipstick that shoots anti-ghost energy).

    Films — Animated 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Maurice's wood-chopping machine is made from various household items, including an old-fashioned wood stove, a teapot, a chair, and of course an axe.
  • In Despicable Me, Gru has to resort to this to build his rocket after he fails to get funding from the Bank of Evil.
  • Meet the Robinsons: The Memory Scanner, while the Time Machine is just a jury-rigged family car.
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • In the very first film, Wallace constructed a working spaceship out of, presumably, equipment you can pick up at the hardware store. It gets crazier from there.
    • In a particularly bizarre inversion (especially given the above fact), Wallace's Techno Trousers were apparently made by NASA.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The jetcar in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. We actually see a mechanic working on it in Buckaroo's garage.
  • The Astronaut Farmer builds a spacecraft on his farm, though he orders parts that aren't on hand, like fuel and a rocket.
  • The Back to the Future trilogy, of course. In addition to the functional DeLorean time machine. In fact in the DVD Commentary, Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis pointed out this Trope's role in history and decided that having Doc build it in his garage was the best way to go. If the government built one it wouldn't work, and if a corporation built one, that would be too scary. Doc Brown's other inventions are also obviously made in his house.
  • The Good Robot Usses from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. Despite being made out of random items from a hardware store, their quality can be justified as they were made by the smartest being in the universe.
  • Brian's Robot Buddy Charles Petrescu in Brian And Charles, built from scrap (including a washing machine for a body).
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Caractacus' works exhibit this, such as his automated breakfast maker.
  • In the films, expect Ernest to have one or more of these lying around. Given what a Lethally Stupid klutz he is, it's a given that these may more likely or not backfire on him.
  • The spaceship from Explorers, which was built from a Tilt-a-Whirl and an Apple IIc.
  • Some of the equipment in Ghostbusters (1984) is supposed to have this feel. The boys certainly didn't have much of an operating budget.
  • Data has many of these in The Goonies, although, most of them are carried in his jacket.
  • In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne invents a Shrink Ray in his attic. It takes massive providence to get it working, but still, shrink ray. Averted in the sequel, though: his achievement has gotten him work at a massive tech conglomerate and he continues to improve the device there.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark builds the first Iron Man suit out of spare weapons parts. It's much cruder than his later versions, but it gets the job done and breaks him out of captivity.
    • Similarly, his Evil Counterpart Ivan Vanko/Whiplash seemingly just slapped an arc reactor together out of stuff in his garage.
    • Technically, Tony Stark made at least the first three versions of the Iron Man armor outside of a real facility. The first version was made from "scraps" in a cave. The second and third were actually built in his garage. It just so happens that his garage contains equipment that most modern factories lack.
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure has Pee-Wee's breakfast machine.
  • In The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker built a functioning humanoid robot with full human-like AI, and what must have been a super-sonic racer, all on a son-of-a-slave's budget before his voice broke. To be fair, his owner was a droid and starship/podracer/what-have-you salesman, so while's pretty damn smart to make these things as a kid, it's not like he made them out of random parts.
  • Primer. A couple of engineers accidentally build a time machine in their garage!
  • Star Trek:
    • Faster-Than-Light Travel is invented this way, according to Star Trek: First Contact. Well, sort of. The main body of the ship is an old missile, which is pretty much beyond the realm of your average homemade invention, but Lily mentions that "it took me six months to scrounge up enough titanium just to build a four-meter cockpit."
    • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan and his followers had to fashion protective gear from what they had when Ceti Alpha VI exploded and their planet turned into a desert with constant lethal dust storms. (The mask Khan wears appear to be off-center, made from some other piece of gear with a view slit punched through it.)
  • Exaggerated and Played for Laughs in Wet Hot American Summer, where the nerdy kids build a device that can somehow both track and adjust the trajectory of a rogue satellite out of mundane household objects including a colander, a stack of doughnuts, and a D20.

  • Isaac Asimov:
  • In Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, the title villainess uses parts from common household appliances to build robotic duplicates of the two elementary school-age protagonists. Not only can the robots expand to four times their original size, they also have Super-Strength, can fly, have rocket-punching arms, and wield hidden starch sprayers.
  • Discussed in How to Be a Superhero as a way for cash-strapped heroes to get by, whether it's with homemade equipment or self-inflicted Cyborging...
  • The Incredible Worlds Of Wally Mc Doogle: Wally McDoogle]uses a time machine made out of a toaster, a vacuum cleaner, and a TV remote. He received this gadget from his future self, who had created it accidentally by trying to fix all three devices at the same time. Granted, he's supposed to be insanely klutzy. Enough so that it's surprising that he, his family, and his friends are even still alive after five minutes.
  • Stephen King:
    • The Tommyknockers: After being exposed to the effect of an alien spacecraft, the people in the small town of Haven build all kinds of futuristic devices made out of household appliances and largely powered by batteries, occasionally supplemented by the odd Forsaken Child.
    • Word Processor Of The Gods: A man inherits a bodged-together word processor with Reality Warper powers, which his nephew constructed from several mismatched brands of computer components, wires from Radio Shack, the motor from an Erector Set and an old model-train transformer.
  • In Victor Koman's Kings Of The High Frontier a group of PhD students build a working spacecraft out of surplus parts in an abandoned warehouse.
  • The YA novel series Mad Scientists Club features a group of inventors, whose inventions get as ridiculous as a remote-controlled flying saucer convincing enough to fool the entire town.
  • How the main characters make their living in Each Little Universe. Some are more 'homemade' than others, such as the Bedsheet-Tablecloth-Whiteboard (really just a laminated sheet), and they've had varying degrees of financial success. Most of the items mentioned in the early story are Played for Laughs, although some of them do reappear much later. Notably, the Enchi-Ladder, a throwaway pun from near the start of the story, comes in handy, while the Octobike - an insistently indefinite contraption first mentioned in the very first line of the novel and never taken seriously - comes back in a big way when it's needed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team lived and breathed this trope. The team, with B.A. in the lead, would put together whatever into an improvised weapon to use against the slimeballs of the week.
  • Our Miss Brooks: It happens a few times on the series:
    • "In Living Statues", Walter Denton creates a paint to buffer up worn and scratched wallpapers and walls. Unfortunately, he adds "Jeffrey's Marine" (aka rubber cement) to the mixture. Hilarity Ensues.
    • "Dying Easter Eggs" has Walter create a 24-hour delayed-action Easter Egg dye. Hilarity Ensues when Stretch Snodgrass accidentally fills the soap dispenser at Mrs. Davis' with the invention.
    • In "Transition Show", Mr. Munsee is shown to have many childish, cobbled-together inventions. One of them is a robot that only sharpens pencils.
  • In the The Big Bang Theory episode "The Luminous Fish Effect", Sheldon's mother reveals that at the age of thirteen Sheldon built a nuclear reactor in a shed. Unfortunately for Sheldon, his efforts to obtain enriched uranium were discovered by the authorities, who put an end to the project.note 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Depending on the incarnation, the Doctor has taken this to an art form, most notably the Third, Fourth, Seventh, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors. Exaggerated with the Ninth/Tenth Doctor's and the Eleventh Doctor's first console rooms.
    • "Daleks in Manhattan" has the Doctor jury-rig a DNA scanner out of items found in the stock room of a New York theatre in 1930, most prominently a small radio.
    • "Blink": When the Doctor and Martha find themselves in 1960s Britain without the TARDIS, the Doctor builds a device to detect other inadvertent time travellers out of what looks like an old-fashioned tape recorder, a telephone handset, a postcard, and other... stuff. It works quite well for what he needs, but not without some unintended side effects:
      "Tracked you down with this. This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at 30 paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I've learned to stay away from hens. It's not pretty when they blow."
  • The Scifi Channel's series Eureka is about a whole town full of genius inventors, all busily cooking up amazing stuff (and amazing trouble) in their garages. One of the main characters even works out of an auto shop.
  • Gilligan's Island, of course. As has often been remarked, the Professor can make a radio out of baling wire and coconuts but can't fix a two-foot hole in a boat.
  • Alton Brown of Good Eats can apparently build a time machine just as well as he can MacGyver useful kitchen devices. He uses it to get blueberries in season.
  • LazyTown: Pixel built all of his inventions by himself.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Billy often built inventions in his garage.
  • Monster Warriors is probably the worst offender. Not only Tabby can make laser weapons out of plastic bottles and a blender in a matter of seconds, but she is always able to find a huge pile of trash everywhere. Mainly because Luke's hobby is to collect it inside his house and car.
  • The robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000. As the theme song from the early seasons explained:
    Now keep in mind Joel can't control
    when the movies begin or end,
    because he used those special parts
    to make his robot friends!
    • Not only are the characters themselves built out of spare stuff lying around in-universe, but show creator Joel Hodgson built the puppet props the same way in his garage in about two days.
  • These were Joe's stock in trade on NewsRadio. The gag with Joe was that he would build absolutely everything himself, even gadgets that could be easily and cheaply obtained from a store.
  • The title character of The Red Green Show devoted an entire segment of each episode (and later multiple segments of each episode) to homemade inventions that could be built with a pile of junk and some duct tape. A choice example is Red's showing the audience how to make their own backhoe using a luxury car, a Thighmaster, a folding ladder, a trash can, some clothesline pulleys, and a lot of duct tape.
  • Quinn Mallory, hero of the show Sliders, built a cross-dimensional portal in his mother's basement.
  • In an episode of Stargate SG-1, an alien takes refuge in Carter's house. While there he managed to grow an emerald the size of a tennis ball using Carter's microwave and then later borrows her toaster for parts to make a stargate. Well, that and several thousand dollars worth of specially-ordered parts that he got over the Internet, but hey...
    • Due to the lack of available DHD on hand, the SGC spent fifteen years and millions of dollars cobbling together their own dialing computer, while a large part of the base contains the necessary equipment to maintain the gate's extensive power requirements. All to replace something that does both and is the size of a small table.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: When Kirk and Spock are stuck in the 1930s without computer equipment because the Enterprise was erased from history, Spock builds a "mnemonic memory circuit" using "stone knives and bearskins". Naturally it works just long enough for them to determine what changed the timeline before exploding spectacularly.
  • Taken: In "Jacob and Jesse", Sally Clarke builds a radio transmitter in her shed in the hope of contacting John so that he will come back for her and Jacob and bring them to his planet.
  • Most of the modifications done to the cars on Top Gear are done in a standard garage by the presenters (with a little help). Top marks have to be awarded when they attempted to create their own space-shuttle Reliant Robin, even if the task of assembling the rocket motors themselves had to be outsourced... to a tiny engineering firm that was only a small step up from A Half-Dozen Guys in a Basement, and thus probably count as a straight example themselves.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The World Next Door", Barney Schlessinger spends all of his free time in his basement building impractical inventions such as a wind-up mechanical orchid and a missile used to kill mice. The mouse missile worked as it should but it left small mouse parts everywhere.
  • On Zoey 101, Mad Scientist Quinn is constantly inventing something new—things she calls "Quinnventions." However, none of them ever turn out the way she wants to. In one instance, she almost blew up the school!

  • These are frequent in Junk Yard, and are needed to progress through the game. You'll make such things as a radar and a submarine before ultimately making a flying jalopy to head into space and fight Crazy Bob.

  • Ivy's superpower in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues allows her to make a host of inventions with whatever she has on hand. For example, she once turned her phone into a specialised magnet that wiped the data from all other mobiles in her vicinity. It wasn't pretty to look at, but it got the job done.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Junkers in Deadlands: HellOnEarth cheat by asking tech spirits to make their cobbled-together inventions work.
  • The Dumpster Diver merit in Genius: The Transgression.
  • The Quick Gadgeteer advantage in GURPS is all about this.
  • The Military Engineer and Improviser classes in Star Wars: Saga Edition allow you to take this trope to ridiculous extremes, which can include cobbling together a fully functional blaster cannon using nothing more than some scrap metal and a few bits of wire you happen to be carrying, in less than six seconds.
  • Homemade inventions are the stock-in-trade of one of the character classes in the Underworld RPG.
  • Gnoblar scrappers in Warhammer tend to build things out of old rubbish and whatever they've scavenged, such as scraplauncher catapults. Ork Mekboyz in Warhammer 40,000 take this to truly extreme levels, cobbling together anything from a chainsword to a building-sized gargant out of scrap metal and interesting shiny things.

    Video Games 
  • That is the way most technology in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura works. Half of the parts used in making technology items can be found in a garbage bin. Some others must be bought, though. And all of the recipes can be assembled in a complete wilderness without access to anything like a workshop.
  • Bioshock: Some of the weapons have this about them. The grenade launcher, for instance, looks like a wooden gunstock with part of a stovepipe, some wires, and a 9-volt battery attached. You can even craft these at U-Invent machines, provided you've picked up enough leftover parts along the way.
  • Well, there's Commander Keen's Bean-With-Bacon Megarocket, which is capable of interstellar travel (at well above lightspeed, obviously). It was made from, among other things, his mom's vacuum cleaner, a Nintendo controller, and his dad's lawnmower.
  • Dark Chronicle: You see a belt, a milk can, and a pipe. Max sees a renewable energy pack for his personal mecha —which is also built out of a barrel (or a refrigerator,) piping, and traffic lights for eyes.
  • EarthBound (1994): Any broken item "fixed" by Jeff.
  • Fallout 3 allows you to collect various "schematics" for weapons, which you can then build from the junk that clutters the environment. The results resemble this trope. Good examples include the shishkebab (basically a lawnmower rotor blade connected to the petrol tank of a motorbike to form a flaming sword), the Rock-It-Launcher, which is built from a vacuum cleaner (amongst other things) and can fire pretty much anything you find lying around, a rifle that shoots railroad spikes, a landmine (made out of a lunchbox, a cherry bomb, a sensor, and a few bottle caps) that's about five times stronger than ordinary landmines and has roughly the same firepower of a mini nuke as well as, of course, the Nuka-Cola Grenade that's made with turpentine, Abraxo cleaner and the radioactive variant of Nuka-Cola in a tin can. When thrown, it explodes in a giant blue fireball, with lingering radioactive damage afterward. There's also the series-wide pipe gun weapons, which are cobbled together out of various scavenged piping, lumber, bolts, and springs.
  • The Haunted Carousel features Miles the Magnificent Memory Machine, a riddle-spouting robot built from an old oven, bicycle parts, and the trumpet of a gramophone.
  • Heart of Darkness, featuring Andy the kid genius. Among his inventions are a cobbled-together interdimensional vessel, a plasma-gun, and a control-helmet made from a colander.
  • In Jagged Alliance 2 you could make a barrel extender out of a tube, glue, and duct tape (never mind it's not rifled and somehow the perfect caliber no matter what weapon you put it on). You could also make a rod-and-spring attachment, and build a fully functional X-Ray scanner out of a Lame Boy, a Fumble Pack, wires, chewing gum, and an X-ray lamp. Worked on AA batteries.
  • The Cram-o-matic in Pokémon Sword and Shield, a device built by Teen Genius Hyde, consists of a rice cooker attached to a fuel tank, an upside-down blue plastic bucket, and a series of duct piping that together vaguely resemble the Pokémon Cramorant. You can feed the Cram-o-matic up to four pieces of random items, and it will synthesize a newer, usually much more powerful item, out of them.
  • One playable character in Resident Evil: Outbreak can assemble a stun rod from a car battery and a metal pipe. Of course, since there's a Zombie Apocalypse going on, improvisation is key.
  • Several of Bosco's Boscotech creations in the Sam and Max games from Telltale Games. They're surprisingly effective (even the tear gas grenade launcher that's just a salad shooter loaded with onions), but all of them are overpriced (like a hundred million dollars for a "truth serum" that consists of a bottle of vodka).
  • In The Sims 3 add-on "Ambitions" the new skill and career choice allows Sims to invent a time machine with nothing a single work table and some scrap metal.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Pyro's flamethrower is a more subtle example of this, with a propane tank being used as ammunition and a gas station pump serving as a hand grip and trigger. The Degreaser takes this even further, incorporating a fire extinguisher as the tank, a stovetop burner as a pilot light, and a car muffler as part of the pipe. It shares its set with the Powerjack, which is a makeshift hammer made from a jack strapped to a car battery.
    • According to the Bazaar Bargain's publicity blurb, the Sniper created it from an old bolt-action rifle, a long piece of metal, some bolts, one half of a binocular and a military-grade laser sight, all bought for just under three dinars.
    • The Beggar's Bazooka is a handmade rocket launcher created by Soldier from random garbage, including pipes, cans, a funnel, and part of a flashlight. Typically for a homemade weapon, it's known to malfunction, with a noticeably off-center trend on its projectiles and a mechanic where it can "overload" with rockets and explode.
  • In Wario: Master of Disguise, Wario invents a device in his back room that lets him warp into his TV so he can appear on a Show Within a Show and become a Phantom Thief.

  • Tedd in El Goonish Shive built a belt that could transform the wearer into a cat-person, tweaked a Wii Fit balance board so it could measure the weight distribution of someone as they transformed and built a series of devices that can transform the wearer under certain conditions out of toy gadget watches.
  • Padma Maharassa of Friendly Hostility uses a variation on this. Despite being a genuine engineering genius who has worked for the government before (for obscene amounts of money), all of his inventions, homemade or not, have a disquieting tendency to, well... eject toast. Why this is so is open to speculation, although it has been suggested that Padma simply really likes toast.
  • This is a staple ability of Sparks (mad scientists) in Girl Genius, especially Agatha.
  • Kat's anti-gravity device in Gunnerkrigg Court, which she somehow made out of a thermos and coat hangers.
  • Building super-tech out of random junk is an important part of Molly's shtick in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
  • In Narbonic, Dave tries to fix a friend's microwave and ends up creating an interdimensional portal that causes his gaming group to be attacked by angels. (Guess what was wrong with the microwave? It was unplugged.) Guess what is wrong with Dave? He's a Mad Physicist this close to awakening.
    • This ability shows up for most mad scientists as they "awaken". Helen Narbon (whose specialty is biology) created life - horrible, tentacled, man-eating lifeforms - from the food in an Italian restaurant's kitchen, plus hand soap (antibacterial, it had triclosan) and paper towels from their women's restroom.
  • Tony in Real Life Comics is known to do this with alarming frequency. And half of them are about 50% bubblegum. And old modems.
  • Mad Scientist Tigerlily Jones of Skin Horse once built a spring-powered wormhole generator out of wire coathangers lying around in Tip's apartment. She also built a six-foot-wide sentient spider-shaped robot out of an old Cadillac.
  • Riff's inventions in Sluggy Freelance sometimes invoke this trope.
  • Gary in TRU-Life Adventures built half a time machine in his apartment as part of a revenge scheme against the toy store.
  • Erwin the sentient AI in User Friendly, especially considering he was programmed in COBOL by a sentient life form born from lint and dust accumulated in a server casing. Some of the various bodies he builds for himself may also count - Lego Mindstorms battlemech, anyone?

    Web Original 
  • The prototype in The First Run was made from Scraps from junkyards, trucks, telecom stations, old fighter jets, all recycled.
  • Strong Bad's alternate universe portal in Homestar Runner is simply a blender with a Game Boy floating in some strange green liquid.
  • Just about all of the devisers and gadgeteers in the Whateley Universe start out like this, since no one knows they have a superpower until they've built a robot out of old junk from their basement, or whatever. The deviser Knick-Knack still builds stuff that looks like this, including a capture bubble that looks like a lava lamp, and a laser hidden in a Harry Potter souvenir wand.

    Western Animation 
  • Huey of The Boondocks created the Black Power Fist, basically a taser built into a glove, at home. Justified in that he did not invent it but found instructions on the Internet, and that it was specifically designed to be built from cheap and readily-available materials. Still impressive given his age and lack of any previously-mentioned mechanical background.
  • Most of the BOYZZ bots of The Bots Master look like they were welded together from spare parts from a junkyard. Justified because Teen Genius protagonist ZZ initially designed them as robot buddies using only his personal resources. But after being refitted for combat, these walking scrapheaps can go toe-to-toe with the industrial-built Mecha-Mooks of the evil RM corporation.
  • Anything built by Gadget Hackwrench on Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers.
  • The 2×4 technology in Codename: Kids Next Door.
  • Even the animated version of Gyro Gearlose in DuckTales (1987) would build all sorts of stuff as cheaply as possible. Possibly justified since his employer was such a cheapskate.
  • The various devices built by the Eds, especially Edd, in Ed, Edd n Eddy.
  • Timmy's Dad on The Fairly Oddparents makes several of these. Most of them blow up. It hurts him when his family tries to use real technology, though not as much as his inventions hurt them.
    • Once, after successfully assembling a personal computer out of a typewriter and a television:
      "Wow, I'm a genius! I'm gonna go make ice cream out of birdseed and gum!"
  • Fred Flintstone occasionally delved into this. They work... just as well as one would expectnote 
  • Jimmy Neutron does this all the time.
  • Kim Possible: Wade does it. The Tweebs do it. Evil!Ron does it.
  • Buckwheat often built these in Hanna-Barbera's version of The Little Rascals.
  • This is usually what Phineas and Ferb are going to do today.
    Candace (every single episode): MOM, Phineas and Ferb are making one of their dumb inventions again!
    • Phineas and Ferb are actually a brilliant subversion because while they make stuff at home, and often use rather unusual components, they are constantly having (usually industrial-grade) supplies delivered and as a result, their inventions tend to be more reliable and less Rube Goldbergian than most examples.
  • Rugrats: Stu Pickles attempts this many times. Almost all of them fail with hilarious results.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a Treehouse of Horror episode, Homer made a time machine out of his toaster. By accident.
    • The season ten episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" note  was all about Homer creating homemade (and really dangerous and/or useless) inventions, such as the makeup gun and the "Everything's OK" alarm.
  • Homemade Inventions are Donatello's brain and butter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons. It grows to particularly ridiculous levels in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), where he is able to build submarines, hovercraft, and drill tanks with homemade materials and the occasional bit of salvaged alien technology.
  • The lesser known Hanna-Barbera series These Are the Days is a Period Piece about the Day family, whose husband/father makes these.
  • Rick and Morty: Rick's space-car is apparently one of these:
    Drunk Rick: "What do you- what do you think of this flying vehicle, Morty? I built it out of stuff I found in the garage."

    Real Life 
  • A powerful case of Truth in Television, as decreasing component costs and increasing education have made many fun, dangerous, and hi-tech options available to many garage scientists.
    • A variety of enthusiasts, extracurricular students, and bored people have put together giant lasers, glove-sized lighters, electromagnetic 'guns', various pranks, and useful tools.
    • One individual teenage Boy Scout managed to strap together a nuclear breeder reactor in his mother's garden shed. It didn't work very well, and he caused a serious hazmat issue and was very lucky to avoid jail time and/or cancer of damn near everything, but it's still an impressive achievement of a sort.
    • Decay not enough? Fission not enough? Why not just go to fusion?
    • While this is irrelevant, two things bear noting: One, Mr. Hahn's reactor design was self-propagating; given enough fuel, it would continue to produce energy, and, actually, would produce more fuel, being a breeder reactor. Two, the fusor mentioned above is definitely not a break-even design; it runs off of household power and is primarily useful as a conversation piece and as a neutron source.
    • Don't forget the concept of BEAM robots.
    • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computers in their garage.
    • The RepRap machine is a "self-replicating rapid-prototyping tool" that was not only built in somebody's garage but can create about half of its own parts so that you can build one in your garage as well.
    • However, no matter how many internet crackpots claim otherwise, you still can't build a jetpack in your garage, as the MythBusters proved.
      • Well, at least not one that works.
    • The work of 'home inventor' Philo T. Farnsworth, making this LITERALLY Truth In Television. (He's credited with inventing the first practical TV system)
    • X-Prize.
    • Chinese Farmer + Books + Scrap Metal - In A Cave = Helicopter.
    • Hewlett-Packard was founded in a garage. The garage is now a Silicon Valley tourist attraction.
    • This is also a common sight in lower-tech settings. Just about any well-used workshop will have at least one example, ranging from a small labor-saving gadget or jig suited to the builder's unique workflow to a scratch-built piece of heavy power equipment. Whatever it is, the reason behind it is generally the same: it was needed for some job, and the builder decided it was cheaper, faster, or just plain more fun to build their own rather than go out and buy it.
  • There are whole subgenres of biopunk dedicated to homemade biotech. Of course, materials and energy costs are still too high for the movement to have gained any real steam as of yet, and then there's all those safety and ethics experimentation laws. If your homemade stove goes off, you might kill yourself. If your homemade bacterium goes off, you might kill millions.
  • 'Chechnyan Firecrackers' is a slang term for homemade firearms... which are legal in most states of the US, by the way (so long as they aren't capable of full-auto). Have fun! In fact, there have been several examples over the years of enterprising people building operational firearms with things commonly found in prison.
  • The entire website Instructables is based around this concept, and features a wide array of various homemade gadgets from online DIY posters, engineering of all kinds, as well as numerous arts and crafts projects. One guy even showed how to make his car run... on trash!
  • Early aviation: the Wright Brothers' airplane; and later, the Silver Dart, the first Canadian flight (also the first flight in the British Empire), the first self-powered aircraft takeoff, and the first aircraft to use ailerons to roll.
    • Canada's first working helicopter was made by the Froebes: three brothers who were western Manitoba farmers and aviation enthusiasts. The only part that they didn't make themselves was the engine, which was taken off one of their (full-sized) kit planes. Prior to the helicopter, they had built several human-powered ornithopter prototypes literally recycling trash from the farm - however, none of those actually work.
    • Many of the design features of the modern hang glider were concocted by individual enthusiasts messing around with sailcloth and kites on their weekends off.
  • Thermal lances made of an air compressor and rather unexpected materials, as in "cuts steel with bacon".
  • Much of the Maker movement revolves around this. Device to mute the tv whenever the Kardashians are mentioned? Yes, please.
  • The autobiography The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind revolved around William Kamkwamba's homemade windmill. This included spectacular failures such as a short setting his home on fire when his roof collapsed. In true Mad Scientist fashion, he built a breaker box rather than fixing his roof.
  • The Wizard of Menlo Park himself, Thomas Edison, was self-educated and set up a chemical lab in a box car of the train he worked in (until he was fired for... um... a fire that resulted from the lab). Many of his early inventions were made in his barn and a barn also served as his first research lab.