Posted 16 November 2005 - 04:50 PM
Let me add some insight here. Now, it's true that I'm an electrical engineering major, which means I don't have anywhere near the experience of a Master's Student in Mechanical Engineering, but I have a couple of experiences that I can relate to this.
In the general engineering classes that I was forced to take, we had several group projects. All of which basically entailed taking a box of crap and making something that fits a problem statement (hence the name, the MacGyver Project). So you'd get this box and be like, "This is pretty easy. We don't have to meet do this until the night before." So your group would talk in class, come up with some so-so sketches on the computer and hand them in. What happened the night before the deadline? Meltdown. Nothing worked the way it was intended to in your brainstorming and sketches, and now you'd be in front of your engineering professor (most of whom are Godless creatures) with a pile of crap that didn't work. Want to take a guess on your grade?
Now none of my groups ever suffered this tragedy, because I'm an anal retentive fuck who made us meet every week. However, I did see many groups try to attempt this. Basically what happened was they had a plan that worked terrifically on paper and in the magical world of their minds, but not in practical application. What this means is, unless you understand the math behind what you are trying to do, you need to sit down and try something before you can deem that it works.
I'm sure even boltsniper does a fair amount of manipulating of the parts and the design during the early phases (and maybe even the later ones) of his projects. This is because even when you run the numbers, sometimes things still don't work. It could be a result of you not taking something into account or a faulty part. And when things work, you need to test that they do over and over and over and over again.
The point I've been blabbering on about is this, you don't know until you try. Unless it's a perpetual motion device, we can't give you an answer. Homemades at your age are for espiring engineers, because you need to do a lot of problem solving to get them down. If you want to make something that bad, go out and buy the parts you think you need and try it.
Homemades are a greater financial risk than modding, and unless you are damn good at modding, I wouldn't try homemades if I were you.