Physics Guy
Free and Fascinating Ideas, Tried and True, for Do-It-Yourselfers, Teachers, Scientists and Sci-fi Enthusiasts

Ch8ss: Chess with Nature's Curves
Ch8ss: The revolutionary game of chess with Nature's Curves built into it. Click for free App.

Table of Contents

Site Info: Who, Why, and Click here for publications and contact info.

Teachers: might appreciate the Physics of Learning perspective, or seeing how data collection and web page data analysis has been done in large labs over many years.

Scientists: might be interested in a Vortex-Assisted Wing Power System or the visual and interactive apps I've written: Gaussian Data Fitting, Atomic and Molecular Mass Identification, Visual Nuclear Magnetic Resonance simulator for teaching and learning NMR. Download them for free by clicking on the links.

Do-It-Yourselfers: might find some gems on a Geothermal Heat Pump, Grid-Tied Solar Array Tree House, Home-Built Skate Sharpener, Personal Snow Plow Fix, Electric Bike, Solar Canoe with Wheels, Ground Stethoscope, SUV Roof Tent, Baby Backhoe Modifications pages. I only post projects and prototypes that are tried and true and that have served me or someone well over time.

SciFi Books: Like Star Trek, my novels go where "no one has gone before". The mysteries of real science and actual current trends are used to fuel the passions and motivations of villains and superheroes, and thus give readers a real glimpse into our future. Check out 2020, or Alien Science.

Other Ideas: Reinforced MisinformationOld Time Piano,... I'll post news on other ideas as they develop, so bookmark/favorite this site and check back and pay it forward by spreading the word through the worlds of social media.

Auto Grill Cover: Did you know that covering your vehicle's front grill in the winter can save you gas and warm up your car or truck faster. I'm doing some tests on my Ford Explorer to see how effective this is at various outdoor temperatures. I've installed an LED indicator light that lets me know when the electric radiator fan comes on. The grill should not be covered when the fan is on. So far the fan only comes on when the outdoor temperature is above 50 degrees F. On colder days I don't have to wait so long for the SUV to warm up, which is important for short commutes.

( For many of the articles below you can click on the titles and/or pictures for more information. )


EBike: All Electric Bicycle, No Pedals!

No-pedal e-bike

Powerful electric bicycle with 2 electric hub motors gets about 3 miles a penny and is better for the environment than driving a car. Some people might be able to avoid driving a car in congested traffic with a no-pedal ebike. It's an ebike so you won't arrive at work all sweaty like you might on a regular bike.

Geothermal Heat Pump
Geothermal Heat Pump

Here is the story of a ground loop geothermal heat pump I installed at my home which provides both low cost heating and air conditioning. Click the picture to find out why and how I installed this cost-saving environmentally friendly  system.

Grid Tied Solar Tree House

DIY Solar Adjustable Panels

Chart the falling prices of photovoltaics and it becomes obvious that solar panels will help solve our problems with energy and climate change. So I added grid-tied solar panels to my home and now can enjoy watching the electric company's meter spinning backward on sunny days. By installing it myself, I was able to get a payback of about 5 years. With zero maintenance costs, it's now making free money for me.

Ground Stethoscope

Finding Underground Pipes

I actually found this idea on the internet. I modified it and my wife found our septic tank at our camp on Sebec lake with it. Click the picture to read the story about how we finally found the tank with this device after all other methods failed.

Personal Plow Fix

Snow Plow Strap

You can buy personal plows at places like Home Depot. I don't know what I would do without mine. It beats snowblowing my 300 foot driveway and definitely beats paying someone who may or may not show up to plow my driveway. Unfortunately the plow puts a high load on my Ford Escape's front end 2" hitch which can bend the hitch downward. This unusual fix with a strap is surprisingly strong.

Skate Sharpener, Home-Built

DIY Skate Sharpener

I try to play hockey twice a week year round and I like sharp skates. Rather than pay $5 to $10 every few weeks to get the edges I want, I opted to build my own skate sharpener. I've used this $150 setup for about twenty years and saved over $1700!


Solar Powered Canoe with Wheels
Electric Canoe

Click the picture to read the story about our solar-powered canoe with wheels. There is nothing like quietly and effortlessly motoring along the Stillwater River in Orono, Maine and observing (sneaking up on) the  birds and beavers and other wildlife that live there. The portable light-weight wheels are mounted on with straps that go across the bottom of the canoe holding the two wheel assemblies in the right place. The wheels can be left on when in the water and can be used to provide extra stability when plastic bumpers are strapped to the outside of the wheels. The left and right wheel assemblies don't take up much room, so they can be stowed away for long trips involving multiple portages. Although I haven't tried it yet, the wheels are designed to be mounted or taken off when in the water.

SUV Roof Tent

SUV Tent

This is the story about a cool, clean and practical way to go camping. Build a top rack that unfolds into a 7'X7' tent platform with a hole in it for climbing through the sunroof and into a low-cost Coleman 7'X7' tent. There is room for a queen size mattress and other things in the tent. The tent and foam mattress fold up and are easily stored inside the SUV when travelling. The platform folds up and can be used as a top rack for a canoe or kayaks.

Baby Backhoe Modifications

Harbor Freight Backhoe modifications

Here is the story of a baby backhoe I purchased from Harbor Freight. It's an amazing design which I improved by adding front wheels and a bucket thumb. The page also describes how to load and unload the backhoe from a modified boat trailer.



400 NMR donated to University

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Many called about this free $100,000 NMR when it was posted one evening in an NMR newsgroup. I just happened to be first to realize its value and say yes, we definitely want it. Its been an essential University research tool. We throw away so much in our society and spend so much on the latest newest fad. Wouldn't it be better for the environment and our budgets to recycle and spend wisely. For example, people throw away  computers because they have a virus that slows them down. Why not just reformat the hard drive. Even a Windows XP box with Deep Freeze software that restores the PC back to a pristine state after each use, can keep an old computer functioning productively for years if not decades.

General Chemistry Web Page Analysis

Lab Data Analysis

UMaine students can now collect data on advanced scientific instrumentation and analyze their data on their smart phones, tablets's or laptops. This is part of the innovative ICN project initiated and coordinated by Prof. Mitchell Bruce, Prof. Francois Amar and Robert Kirk.

Physics of Learning

Physics of Learning

Do Students Obey the Laws of Physics?

As teachers and learners, we use terms applied to our physical world to help us explain and discuss our teaching and learning experiences. For example: "Students should pass in their work on time. Teachers develop optimum learning paths. I ran out of energy studying last night. We had a heated discussion. I’m going to force myself to learn this." Can we learn more about teaching and learning by carrying this analogy further? An interesting exercise is to utilize the rich resource of terms and mathematical relationships in physics. Extending the analogy this way may help science teachers define pedagogical parameters and more fully understand the relationships between those parameters.

Ring Diffraction Spectrometers

UV-Vis Spectrometer

Introduction to Ring Spectrometers. How to make a spectrometer that measures light intensity versus wavelength. It utilizes a ring diffraction grating made from a CD or DVD and a webcam. The picture shows a circular rainbow spectrum produced by a common CD with light from a fluorescent lamp. You can see the mercury lines  and the broader spectrum from the phosphors of the lamp. I thought this was so cool, I patented it.



IGF: Interactive Gaussian Fitting Program

Guassian Curve Fitting

Spectroscopic data often produces overlapping peaks where each fits the mathematical formula: I= Io e -k ((X-Xo)/w)2 where Io is the intensity of the peak, Xo is the position of the peak, and w is the width of the peak. There are numerical analysis programs for determining the peaks and their properties, but I prefer to see what is happening as I am analysing the data. This visual and interactive approach is what the above program does. Check out the Help file for more info. This Windows program will take text two column, intensity and wavelength, CSV files and find the peaks using a best guess, iterative approach. Click to download. 

MIST: Mass Identification Smart Tool

Mass Identification

Input a chemical mass from a mass spectrometer into this Mass Identification Smart Tool and it will search for all possible chemical combinations that add up to that mass. For example, enter 120 as shown above and the program will output the compounds shown on the right in the picture. This Windows program utilizes chemical fonts, ChemSerif.TTF and ChemsanSerif.TTF, that must be installed in your Windows Font folder. You will probably have to restart Windows to properly install them. To save processing time, the isotope library can be shortened and altered so that only the relevant elements are searched. Click to download a zipped folder that contains all the needed files and run the setup program.

QED: Quantum Electrodynamic Tool

Feynman Diffraction Pattern Simulator

"QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter" by Richard Feynman is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. Most physicist take quantum mechanics and are told to not try to understand why our quantum world is the way it is, just do the math. Feyman admits Quantum Electrodynamics is strange right in the title, but he goes on to give an amazingly simple description of QED, and the way our world works, in terms of processing all possible paths to determine how something might happen. Well computers are good at doing repetitive things like analyzing all possible paths. That is what my QED program does. Where will a photon go after it hits four narrow parallel mirrors? The image show the statistical probability of where that photon might end up. It's a diffraction pattern, something similar to what you might see when you squint your eyes while looking at a distant bright point light source. You can change the mirrors and positions and distances in the program. Oddly enough, heavier particles like electrons, protons and atoms also produce similar patterns. The program is visual and both interactive. Click to download this Windows program.

Visual NMR

NMR Simulator

VisualNMR.exe is an NMR simulation program I wrote to teach basic Nuclear Magnetic Resonance concepts. NMR is the most important instrument chemists have for identifying organic chemicals. Most universities and large companies that deal with organic chemistry have at least one NMR. MRIs used in hospitals are a type of NMR. Bad results and poor decisions can happen when an instrument user doesn't understand how an instrument works. The instrument becomes a mysterious black box that magically produces data. This is a form of Garbage In, Garbage Out. So I wrote this program so that users can see what is happening when they do NMR, and the general effect NMR parameters have on their data.  I also added some interactive visual game options to the programming that make learning NMR fun. Click on the image aboved to download the lates version of this Windows program, VisualVnmrJ.exe written for a Varian NMR. Click Help in the program for more info. Contact me for a Bruker version or more info. Click here to download a zipped folder with a tutorial program with images for VnmrJ.


Vortex-assisted figure-eight wing power system

Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 4, 013111 (2012);

Due to the rising demand for low-cost clean energy, the development of efficient wind and water energy-generating systems is one of the major goals of this century. A novel approach for extracting energy efficiently from wind and water currents utilizes a tail-weighted wing following a figure-eight trajectory. Our prototype consists of a vertical ribbon-type wing suspended at its endpoints by swivel bearings. Energy is extracted from the longitudinal pumping motion that occurs at the endpoints of this flexing wing. Since the forces in these wings are in tension like a suspension bridge, the design can potentially be scaled up to much larger sizes than current systems and sweep across enormous areas of moving fluid with a relatively small amount of material. High-speed photography is used to map out the trajectory of a prototype wing and to monitor water flow around the wing. These observations along with data from an interactive computer simulation program are used to study the vortices and hydrodynamic forces that propel the wing along the figure-eight trajectory. Our prototype is low-cost, simple to fabricate and extracts a high amount, 30%, of the total energy in the water that flows through it.


The authors thank the faculty, staff, and students at the University of Maine who supported this research and the Maine Technology Institute for funding this research with two Seed Grants.

Alien Science

Alternate Universe

Is there an anti-universe all around us? This is not just something out of one of my sci-fi books.  Click the picture to download Chapter 19, an excerpt from one of my sci-fi books. It lists things that modern science can't explain and describes how an anti-universe where time travels backward might be the answer. A paper published recently in a reputable journal describes the same thing in the language of advanced physics. Is it Alien Science? What do you think?


Other Things

Old-Time Piano Music

old-time piano

Old time piano music from another era. My Dad could play piano "by ear". Whistle a tune and he could play it. The joy he received by playing for others taught me the benefits of paying it forward, that giving something to others somehow eventually comes back to benefit all of us. Click the picture to see a selection of songs. I think "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is my favorite.



Our nation has a serious misinformation problem:

Our Brave New World has misinformation reinforcement mechanisms that reinforce the convictions of the misinformed. In the old days we would rely on the credibility of major newspapers and a few major news channels like CBS News, NBC News and ABC News. These news outlets had their reputations to protect. Errors in news reporting was news in itself that resulted in damage to their reputations and loss of market share. Modern technology brought with it cable news and then internet news. These formats don't compete for large market shares. They only need to appeal to a limited market of believers. This amplified the output of propaganda news, unchecked "news"  that was not based on reality as much as reinforcing the beliefs of its viewers.  Slick, colorful, emotional and sexy "news" became more important than real news. These news outlets could convey any message they wanted, and usually served the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the worthy goals of a democratic people. More people became enslaved as they worked harder for less, yet they continued to vote against their own best interests under the influence of unchecked propaganda news.

The word "News" implies a meaningful contract between the news service and the viewer. The viewer assumes the information presented is verifiable and presented without bias. As such, news shows should not have free speech rights. Shows that offer opinion labeled as news should be held liable for the damages they cause. For example Fox News should be held liable for the misinformation they have spread about Covid-19 and voting machines. News shows that are really opinion shows should present a warning label at the start of their shows, much like the warning label on a package of cigarettes. The warning should include a record of when and how often the commentator has been proved wrong. If a commentator reported that Covid was a hoax and their reporting resulted in many deaths, every subsequent report of theirs should include a suitable warning. Warning: This commentator has made false comments about Covid that have resulted in multiple deaths.

Protecting America’s democracy requires that we get our news from reputable sources. Learn about which news sources have the best records on truth in reporting from:


Scifi Books

2020     A Science Fiction Novel by Pol Bard

Pol Bard

Jazz was a brilliant and beautiful graduate student on a sure path to becoming a highly-paid astrophysicist. So why did she allow herself to become distracted by a mysterious and struggling student named Joe Abre? Why did she think he held the keys to the universe? Click the picture to get a free preview from Pol Bard is my pen name.

Click here for hints for those trying to
find the places described in the book.

Site Info

David LabrecqueSome years ago with degrees and skills in engineering and physics in hand, I began a long series of diverse projects. I've been called a Renaissance Man, someone with interests and skills in a wide variety of areas.

I also aspire to the idea of "paying it forward", that is giving something to someone with the idea that they will give something to someone else. Eventually we all win.

So here I am paying it forward by presenting information on tried and true ideas that I or others have used successfully.

This website reports the latest news about various projects and prototypes. Some have been completed and some are still evolving and their story is ongoing. The diverse list of topics above should have something fascinating for everyone. Click on the project titles or pictures on this website to get more info on each project.

Click here for publications and contact info.