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If you've ever been in a blackout or perhaps out in the country somewhere with unpredictable electricity service, the term "generator" has probably been in your mind more than once.

Problem: any generator that will be powering more than a few lightbulbs probably costs an arm and a leg. In fact, some cost more than a few whole human bodies. Okay, enough with the goofy analogies: let's move on.

If you find yourself at a local junkyard any time soon (or a few garage sales), you might want to line up a Briggs & Stratton shaft motor, an automotive alternator, a used car battery and a few other items (included are various pieces of wood, probably from remnant sources if you can).

The good news is that the entire contents list needed to make a generator on the cheap will allow 12-volt DC power as well as a limited amount of AC power (using an inverter, it appears) for those times when you need a good dose of electricity but don't have the normal means available to you. This could easily be done as a weekend project, so have at it.


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