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Many of you sitting in sweltering second-floor apartments are doing whatever you can to keep cool. Several years ago, while sitting in my inferno-like dorm room, I came across a site claiming to show you how to build your own air conditioner! As I didn’t have a car to get materials, I put the idea in the back of my heat-addled brain until now.

The finished product should look something like this. For those of you who are visual learners, here’s a photo journal and a video. The system works on the principle of heat exchange. Basically, as cold water flows through the copper tubing, the air around it is cooled. The fan then blows this cool air around the room.

There’s far more technical, sciency stuff going on here, but my heat-wracked head wasn’t able to handle it. All you need to know is that it makes the room cooler than it was. However, don’t expect it to pump out cool air like your store-bought AC system. You won’t be able to turn it on high and send out a 55 MPH gust of the north wind--the heat exchange system isn’t as powerful, because it doesn’t use artificial coolants or a large motor.

In my (nonexpert) opinion, I recommend spending some coin on an aquarium pump. It makes the whole system more efficient, because water is cycled back into the tank instead of drained outside. You won’t have to refill your cooler as often.

In any case, have some fun with this. Sure, you can probably find a used air conditioner for under $100, but half the fun is making something yourself. Remember, water and electricity don't mix, check out these safety tips for using electricity near water.

-- Cody

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