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Chinese DIY Inventions

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One visible sign of China's recent economic growth is the rise in prominence of inventors and entrepreneurs. For years now, Chinese farmers, engineers, and businessmen have taken on ambitious do-it-yourself projects, constructing homemade submarines, helicopters, robots, safety equipment, weapons and much more. Some of the inventions are built out of passion, some with an eye toward profit, (some certainly safer than others), and a few have already led to sales for the inventors. Gathered here are recent photos of this DIY movement across China. [39 photos]

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Zhang Wuyi sits in his newly made multi-seater submarine at his new workshop near an artificial pool in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on November 14, 2012. Zhang, a local farmer who is interested in scientific inventions, has independently made seven miniature submarines with several fellow engineers, one of which was sold to a businessman in Dalian at a price of 100,000 yuan ($15,855) in 2011. The submarines, mainly designed for harvesting aquatic products, such as sea cucumber, have a diving depth of 20-30 meters (66-98 feet), and can travel for 10 hours, local media reported. (Reuters/Stringer)
Zhang Wuyi sits in his newly made multi-seater submarine at his new workshop near an artificial pool in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on November 14, 2012. Zhang, a local farmer who is interested in scientific inventions, has independently made seven miniature submarines with several fellow engineers, one of which was sold to a businessman in Dalian at a price of 100,000 yuan ($15,855) in 2011. The submarines, mainly designed for harvesting aquatic products, such as sea cucumber, have a diving depth of 20-30 meters (66-98 feet), and can travel for 10 hours, local media reported. (Reuters/Stringer)
An ethnic Uighur man Abulajon drives his self-made giant motorcycle during a test in Manas county, Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, on April 27, 2013. Abulajon, a 30-year-old Uighur sewage treatment plant worker, spent a year making his 660 pound motorcycle measuring 4.3 meters (14 feet) in length and 2.4 meters (7.8 feet) tall, although it makes it impossible for him to drive it on the street. It cost him about 8,000 yuan ($1,300) to buy all the parts from salvage stations and the converted engine can power the motorcycle with a speed of 40 km per hour (24.8 miles per hour), local media reported. (Reuters/China Daily) #
70-year-old inventor Zhou Miaorong tries out an evacuation slide he built himself in a building in Shanghai, on March 21, 2013. Zhou took over two years to design and build the mechanical slide which uses no electricity to implement in a domino effect, while also triggering a sprinkler system to fight a fire. Zhou built it after a serious fire in Shanghai in 2010 led to loss of life because of the lack of escape routes, as well as another 2010 incident when the 37th floor of his building caught fire -- two incidents which made him think about the need for a high-rise fire escape device. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images) #
Zhang Xuelin checks on his self-made aircraft at his home before its test flight in Jinan, Shandong province, on November 28, 2012. Zhang, a farmer who dropped out of primary school in his early years, spent around 2,000 yuan ($321) to build the plane around a motorcycle, using wood and plastic boards. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Zhang Xuelin sits inside his self-made aircraft during its test flight in Jinan, on November 29, 2012. The plane, which took 11 months to build, failed in its test flight. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Noah's Ark of China, a six-ton (5,443 kg) ball container built by Chinese inventor Yang Zongfu, undergoes a rolling test in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, on August 6, 2012. According to local media, Yang spent two years and 1.5 million RMB ($235,585 USD) to build this four-meter diameter vessel, which is capable of housing a three-person family with sufficient food for them to live in for 10 months. The vessel was designed to protect people inside from external heat, water and external impact. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Yang Zongfu celebrates on his the Noah's Ark of China after he succeeded a series of tests in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, on August 6, 2012. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A welder, wearing a homemade protective mask, works in Yishui County, Shandong province, on June 10, 2006. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Zhang Wuyi looks up as he squats under a suction pipe of his new submarine that captures sea cucumbers at his workshop in Wuhan, Hubei province, on March 25, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A worker climbs up from Zhang Wuyi's newly designed unmanned submarine that captures sea cucumbers, during a test operation at an artificial pool near a shipyard in Wuhan, on March 26, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Women wearing nylon masks walk toward the shore during a visit to a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province, on July 6, 2012. The mask, which was invented by a Chinese woman about seven years ago, is used to block the sun's rays. The mask is now under mass production and is on sale at local swimwear stores. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
Chinese farmer Wu Yulu sits next to his robot "Lao Wu" at his home on the outskirts of Beijing, on September 3, 2003. Wu, who only managed to finish primary education, started to build robots for fun more than a decade ago. (Reuters/Guang Niu) #
Wu Yulu directs his robot "Lao Wu" to install an electric bulb as his son watches at his home on the outskirts of Beijing, on September 3, 2003. (Reuters/Guang Niu) #
Farmer Wu Yulu drives his rickshaw pulled by a his self-made walking robot near his home near Beijing, on January 8, 2009. (Reuters/Reinhard Krause) #
A walking robot invented by farmer Wu Yulu, at Wu's home near Beijing, on April 14, 2010. Hobby inventor Wu, who started to build robots in 1986, has invented 47 robots that can perform different functions like jumping, painting, drinking, pulling carts, massaging and helping with cooking. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) #
83-year-old Zhang Yongqing shows off his invention, a combination of a wheelchair and foldable bicycle, outside a park in Beijing on March 19, 2010. Zhang said he invented the multifunctional bicycle so that care-givers can take better care of wheelchair-bound elderly people. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) #
Chinese farmer Yang Youde pushes his homemade cannon near his farmland on the outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei province, on June 6, 2010. Yang's cannon, made out of a wheelbarrow, pipes and rockets, is used to defend his fields against property developers who wants his land. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Chinese farmer Yang Youde fires his homemade cannon near his farmland on the outskirts of Wuhan, on June 6, 2010. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Tao Xiangli stands beside his homemade submarine in a courtyard in Beijing, on July 10, 2008. The amateur inventor says his submarine is made from old oil barrels but fully functional with a periscope, depth control tanks, electric motors and two propellers. (Reuters/Reinhard Krause) #
Amateur inventor Tao Xiangli prepares to operate his homemade submarine in a lake on the outskirts of Beijing, on September 3, 2009. Tao, 34, made a fully functional submarine from old oil barrels and tools which he bought at a second-hand market. He took 2 years to invent and test the submarine which costs 30,000 yuan ($4,385). (Reuters/Christina Hu) #
Artist Matt Hope, wearing a helmet, pushes his air filtration bike out of his studio on a hazy day in Beijing, on March 26, 2013. Using an IKEA perforated garbage can, moped helmet, fighter-pilot breathing mask, wheel-powered generator and home air filtration system, Beijing-based artist Matt Hope built a "breathing bicycle" as a way of protecting himself from air pollution. While pedalling, electricity is generated for the power to activate the system to filter out haze and provide the rider with clean air, local media reported. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) #
A spherical pod, named "Noah's Ark", designed by Chinese inventor Liu Qiyuan floats on a river during a test in Xianghe, Hebei province, on December 12, 2012. Liu, who has spent 1.8 million yuan ($288,000) on building six "Noah's Ark"s in 8 months with the help of his former furniture factory's workers, is working on his seventh pod. The 17 cubic-meter volume vessels were built to serve as lifeboats in the event of earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) #
A worker welds steel bars as he constructs a spherical pod, named "Noah's Ark", designed by Chinese inventor Liu Qiyuan in Xianghe, Hebei province, on December 12, 2012. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) #
Farmer Liu Qiyuan secures a hatch inside one of seven survival pods in a yard at his home in the village of Qiantun, Hebei province, on December 11, 2012. Inspired by the apocalyptic Hollywood movie '2012' and the 2004 Asian tsunami, Liu hopes that his creations consisting of a fiberglass shell around a steel frame will be adopted by government departments and international organizations for use in the event of tsunamis and earthquakes. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
Workers try to adjust the position of a spherical pod named, designed by Chinese inventor Liu Qiyuan, in Xianghe, on December 12, 2012. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) #
Farmer Shu Mansheng prepares to take off with his homemade ultralight aircraft in Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 10, 2010. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Shu Mansheng takes off in his aircraft, in Wuhan, on May 10, 2010. The 4.5-meter-long (15ft) ultralight, powered by two motor engines, took Shu eight months to build and cost him 5,000 yuan (733 USD), local media reported. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Shu Mansheng's ultralight aircraft crashes after taking off in Wuhan, on May 10, 2010. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Lei Zhiqian rides a modified bicycle across the Hanjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, on June 16, 2010. The bicycle, equipped with eight empty water containers at the bottom, was modified by Lei's instructor Li Weiguo, who hopes to put his invention into the market. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Visitors take photos of an egg-shaped mobile house near its owner Dai Haifei's office building in Beijing, on December 3, 2010. Dai, who is from central China's Hunan province and cannot afford Beijing's high rental prices, has been living in the house which costs about 6427 yuan ($965). The house is made of bamboo strips, steel bars, heat prevention and waterproof materials, sacks filled with fermented wood chips and grass seeds, as well as one solar-cell panel, local media reported. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) #
Gao Hanjie installs rotor blades on his homemade helicopter in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on June 9, 2010. The graphic designer and helicopter enthusiast, with help from his friends, has spent more than a month building the 6-meter-long and 350kg helicopter. Gao claims he will eventually fly the contraption as a personal project. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
Sun Jifa raises his prosthetic forearms as he poses for a picture in Yong Ji county, Jilin province, on September 25, 2012. Chinese farmer Sun, who lost his forearms in a dynamite fishing accident 32 years ago, could not afford to buy prosthetics. He spent two years guiding his two nephews to build him prostheses from scrap metal, plastic and rubber. Over the years, Sun and his nephews have built about 300 prosthetic limbs for people in need, charging 3000 RMB ($476) each. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
Sun Jifa uses a spoon with his homemade prosthetic arms at home in Yong Ji county, on September 25, 2012. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
Li Jingchun, a 58-year-old farmer, sprays paint onto his self-made aircraft on top of his house in Xiahe village located in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on February 28, 2012. The 5m long, 1.5m wide plane, mostly made of recycled iron plates, cost the aircraft enthusiast and his family two years and more than 40,000 yuan ($6,349), according to local media. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
A worker polishes the surface of an unfinished miniature submarine at a workshop of Zhang Wuyi, a local farmer who is interested in scientific inventions, in Qingling village, on the outskirts of Wuhan, on August 29, 2011. "I hope to sell my submarine as a civil product with the price of about 100,000 yuan ($15,670) after safety tests", Zhang said. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
Wu Zhongyuan, 22, a local farmer, turns the wooden rotor blades of his self-made helicopter in preparation for its maiden flight, in Jiuxian county, Henan province, on August 1, 2009. The aircraft, powered by a 150cc engine, took Wu two months to build and cost more than 10,000 yuan ($1,460), China Daily reported. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Wu Zhongyuan, 22, a local farmer, sits in his self-made helicopter, in Jiuxian county, on August 1, 2009. The local government halted Wu's plan to fly the helicopter out of safety concerns. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Amateur inventor Chen Shungui, 54, drives his homemade solar-powered electric car, which he built in 2008 and can reach a speed of up to 45kph, on a street in Jingjiang, Jiangsu province, on October 30, 2010. Chen took 13 months and 130,000 yuan ($19,485) to build the car and recently completed a second solar-powered electric car. The characters on the car read "solar car". (Reuters/Stringer) #
Zhang Wuyi, a local farmer interested in scientific inventions, operates his self-made miniature submarine "Shuguang Hao" during a safety test at Moshui Lake in Wuhan, Hubei province. China, on August 29, 2011. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #

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