Introduction: Roof Coffee Cup

Picture of Roof Coffee Cup

After reading a post on Gizmodo about a researcher who sent a student riding through college campuses dressed as a clown riding on a unicycle, and how he found people who were on cell phones/using electronic devices were 50% less likely to notice anything unusual happening, I got an idea. 

People maintain driving with a cellphone doesn't distract them.  I decided to see if that was true.  I thought and thought about what I could do to prove it.  Then it hit me.  If I put something on my car roof, I could see if people notice.  I decided a coffee cup was the best choice, and after consulting my friends, they said to go with a StarBucks cup w/attached "cup condom".  I did , and the reaction was good enough for me to give the cup its own Twitter feed( twitter.com/RoofCoffeeCup ), where I jot down what people do while driving, then Tweet a recap later.  It's hilarious because I can be driving at 65 miles per hour, and people don't consider how a cup could still be on my roof.  When I take turns in front of them, and the cup doesn't move, they still tell me.  Even at stop lights, when people get out of their cars and try to take it off, some people don't figure out it's not real.

With how hard it is to keep a straight face because I'm laughing so hard, I knew I couldn't keep the fun to myself.  I also wanted to see the RoofCoffeeCup spread out from the small area of New Jersey I drive, and go across the country.  Thus, I'm making my first Instructable.  All I ask is that if you do make a RoofCoffeeCup, please tweet what reactions/where your cup is using the #RoofCoffeeCup hash tag, so we can all share the adventures.

Now some "legal" stuff.  Even though the cup weighs 3oz, the magnets used are hard, and could damage should it fly off, and someone is tailgating you.  Check your local laws before attempting.  The magnets I use are stronger than the ones on those "tear-drop" lights some people put on their roofs, and this cup is lighter than those lights, so if those lights are legal, I don't see why this isn't.  I take no responsibility for anything that happens to you if you try this.  I'm only responsible for when I do it with my own car.  I'm not responsible for any damage to your car through possible scratching or dents if you drop it close to the car.  Don't be a hazard to others on the road.  The reason I went with a coffee cup is it's not that out of the ordinary, and it's not a danger to anyone, like if I attached a laptop or something else heavy.  It also will not cause a panic/calls to police, like doing this with a baby carrier or car seat would, which I DO NOT endorse trying. 

Step 1: Materials Needed:

1 Coffee Cup, paper variety
1 Coffee Cup Lid
1 Coffee Cup Condom/holder/ sleeve
3 Hard Disk Drive magnets
1 piece of scrap plastic to mount magnets to
Lacquer
News and/or packing paper
Glue

Step 2: Prepping the Cup.

Picture of Prepping the Cup.

I did not take photos of the original RoofCoffeeCup, but StarBucks uses special cups around the holidays, so we'll use a new cup for this Instructable.  You must first get a cup.  I usually just check the trash cans outside of StarBucks, then take them home and wash them out.  I check to make sure they don't have any writing on them, are in good shape with no leaks/stains, and usually use the medium size.  Make sure you get the lid as well.  Take them home, and give them a quick rinse and wipe them dry.  You don't want them to get wet on the outside, or else you might get a weak point.  Once dry, you are ready to begin.

Step 3: Making the Mount

Picture of Making the Mount

To mount the magnets, you could just glue them right to the cup.  But most cups have a recessed bottom, so to get the best sticking power, they need to touch the metal.  I accomplish this by mounting the magnets to a piece of plastic, and gluing the plastic to the bottom of the cup.  In order to get the right size, you need to trace around the bottom of the cup on a piece of plastic.  Cut it out, and trim as necessary to make it just barely slide into the bottom of the cup.  The cups taper, so as long as you get it past the bottom, it will have room to move around and adjust.

Step 4: Arranging Your Magnets.

Picture of Arranging Your Magnets.

I use magnets salvaged from hard drives for my cups because they are free to me, and very powerful.  Once removed from the drives and their mounts, you simply need to find a configuration that works for you.  The magnets are powerful, so they will try to fly towards each other, so watch your hands.  If you lay them flat, you can usually find a shape they rest well in.  This cup seemed to work with the magnets going around in a circle.  The original RoofCoffeeCup worked better with one magnet facing the opposite way of the others.  It's the second photo in this step.  Just for a reference, that cup with magnets weighs just under 3oz, but can lift and hold a 10lb dumbbell. 

Step 5: Attaching the Magnets

Picture of Attaching the Magnets

Once you get the right pattern/arrangement, you need to attach the magnets to the plastic.  I use industrial strength hot glue, so when it's on my roof and the wind is flowing by, it doesn't lose any strength because it's cool.  When the magnets are secure, I like to fill all around them to make it almost one piece.  To eliminate any bumps or high points, while the glue is still hot/warm, I take a piece of wax paper, cover the magnets, and stick it to something metal magnet side down.  This flattens the glue, and the wax paper stops it from sticking to the metal.  It also helps you pick it up from one when it's cool.

Once cool, I run a razor over the magnets to make sure there's no glue on them, and cover the whole thing with electrical tape so the magnets aren't directly touching my car, and to reduce scratches .

Step 6: Dry Fit

Picture of Dry Fit

Once your glue is dry/cool on the magnet mount, dry fit it into the cup, and make any cuts/trims to let it just slide in.  I like it to be able to pop out, so that if something happens, the paper will seperate from the magnet mount, and hopefully the magnets stay attached to your car.

If you intend on using the cup holder/condom/anything else, now is a good time to try it on the cup and make any repairs/fixes.  Mine had a open edge, and to prevent it catching wind, I hot glued the seam to make it nice and smooth.  Once your happy, now we are going to make this disposable cup be able to survive a 65mph trip down the highway!

Step 7: Waterproofing and Making It Tough

Picture of Waterproofing and Making It Tough

I use clear spray lacquer on my cups.  This makes them durable, stops water from soaking into the paper and making it soft, adds some rigidity to them, and keeps them clean.  I give the inside of the cup usually only one coat, but make that coat a little heavy on the bottom to fill in the area where the bottom meets the inside cup walls.  After that's dry, I then give it a minumum of three coats of lacquer on the outside and allow it to dry between each coat.  This step is why you don't want writing on the cup.  The lacquer will make it run and look bad.  The lacquer soaks into the paper and because it's clear, it's hardly noticable until very close up, and makes it strong.  I also coat the paper holder, inside and out at least four times, because it's usually recycled paper, and softens quick when it gets wet.  I use an old spray can to help keep it's shape while it dries.  Once it dries, you're almost done.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Because it's a paper cup and the magnets are strong, if you didn't shore up the inside, when you go to remove it, you could crush the cup.  I just use newspaper/packing paper to give it some internal strength, while keeping it light. 

Make sure everything is how you like it, because once the next step is done, there's no going back inside.  Dry fit the lid and make sure the lip is not covered by anything.  Run a bead of glue around the lids groove, and slap it on the cup.  My glue was a little too hot when I did this, and the cups lid melted because of it.  But it's on tight, so nothing I can do.  I usually seal the hole in the lid, so no air/wind can get inside and pop the top off or cause drag to possibly blow it off.

Now you need to prepare a little before you attach the magnet mount.  You want to have some more wax paper handy, and a piece of flat metal.  Squirt glue onto the back of the magnet mount, slide it in the cup end(magnets out, of course), lay down your wax paper on the metal, and put it magnets down on the metal.  The magnets will pull towards the metal, and make sure the magnets sit flush with the end of the cup and also that they are as close as they can be to the metal.  The wax paper will stop any glue sticking, should some escape around the edges.   Once dry/cool, apply some extra where you can, to secure it strong.


The last step is to slide on the cup condom, and glue it into it's place.  Between it and the paper inside, it makes that area the strongest to grab onto and use to detach from your roof. 

Step 9: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Here is a shot of the old RoofCoffeeCup, and its "cousin from up North", now finished.

When removing the cup from a surface, trying to pick it straight up will not work, as you can see the cup can hold onto a lot of weight.  You want to try and tilt it to one side and then, like Velcro, it will peel right off.


Step 10: In Closing

Picture of In Closing

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable.  If you do try this, bearing in mind the warnings from the front page, let me know/see your cups journey by tweeting about it and including "#RoofCoffeeCup" in your tweet so I and others can search for it.  I usually tweet what reactions I have gotten, and sometimes where the cup is.  If anyone asks, tell them what it's all about.  I had some cheap business cards made up that I hand to people who get out of their cars/come up to my window to explain what it is.  I've had more than one person laugh like crazy when I explain it.

Comments

umbrill (author)2016-02-14

A Coca-Cola cup and a happy meal Box / pizza box :-D

Roof Vents (author)2015-12-31

So cheeky....

Bramael2 (author)2015-02-11

I accidentally left a gallon of milk on my jeep and got half a block down the road before it fell off and exploded all over the street...I had lots of looks in that short distance... you could use white spray paint in an empty gallon jug with the same idea in mind add magnets.

ntslaca (author)2014-04-01

I think i had the bests laugh....it was real...I stay in a condo block where the rubbish bins are located next to the condo exit. Most people would just walk there and dispose their garbage...in my case I was lazy...I place my garbage on top of my car, drive to the exit and dispose it...One day I took the garbage ,placed it on top of my car and drove away, forgetting to stop to dispose.....wow!!! can you imagine what happen!! I didn't realize it until i reached my school....THE WHOLE WORLD WAS LOOKING AT ME!!! What an embarrassment !!!!

nemoyoder (author)2014-03-19

once i left a no fall band on the step for a car and i drove for about 1hour and nothing happend it stayed there

DavidKaine (author)2014-03-15

I made one of these years ago, and was amazed by the kind of reactions I got from people. You would think that a flat tire, a headlight out, a midget axe murderer hanging onto the back of your car, etc would garner a lot of attention. You'd be wrong.

A coffee/soda cup on the top of your car will drive other people absolutely bat-crap insane. I had people follow me for miles, honking and waving to get my attention, just to tell me I had a bit of styrofoam on my roof.

Shadow13! (author)2013-06-19

I made one of these with great results. A few of my friends and I came up with a few variations that would work great as well. The first one is for the ladies. Get a cheap thrift store purse, best if it looks expensive, and put the magnets in it. The other would require designing a strong but light weight electromagnet with a push button switch so that as you are driving you can take it down act like you are taking a drink then put it right back on top.

Wazzupdoc (author)2010-08-19

I like the magnets I get from dismantling discarded microwave ovens. There are two big, strong round ones on the magnetron that might just fit inside the cup.

triumphman (author)Wazzupdoc2013-03-05

BE REALLY CAREFUL ! Microwaves have a large capacitor that boosts the voltage up to 10,000 volts and much more depending on the wattage of the unit . A repair technician was instantly killed when he grounded himself to that capacitor. They can be discharged easily. But I don't recommend messing around inside a microwave unless you are a profesionally trained technician. FYI.

Wazzupdoc (author)triumphman2013-05-17

Yep. I collect those too. Discharge with a screwdriver;however, most are dead and I suspect an underlying cause of the demise of the Nuker.

gitemstevedave (author)Wazzupdoc2010-08-19

Well, it's a lot easier for me to get the magnets from hard drives. I can buy old ones from the flea market for ~$1. Plus, if you need to literally destroy a HDD, there is no better way than handling the platters, then scratching them with a awl or something.

But I will keep my eye out for an old microwave for exactly this reason, and see if they are stronger than the HDD magnets.  As it is, even a small HDD magnet can hold up at least 2.5 lbs, as shown in the pictures of a RoofCellPhone.  The picture with the weight is only being supported by one of the magnets.  I didn't go heavier because those magnets were just attached with plain Elmer's Glue.

triumphman (author)2013-03-05




I did this years ago! A guy followed me till I stopped. Then he got out and told me I had a cup of coffee on my roof of my truck. I showed him the magnet inside. He got so angry that we almost got into a punch-out! Guess he had no sense of humor! So beware, this can cause strange reactions in humans.

degan (author)2012-10-21

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrL-23ADfBE

If you think this is cool, I created an entire game out of this. I try to see how many points I can get by people idiotically pointing at the cup on top of my car. Greatly named, Car Cup.

shootr (author)2012-03-29

Rookies...Years ago we had an old gas pump handle with about 8" of ragged hose connected. We drove around with that hanging out of the filler neck all the time.

The best is when we would start yelling at the Circle K clerk and burnout - hoping he/she saw the nozzle hanging from the truck.

cchurch1 (author)2012-01-30

A coffee cup is cool, but do you know what would be EPIC? A BABY CRADLE!!! Some with no sense of humor might not see the comedy in that however.

zack247 (author)2011-12-24

the day i get my car im doing this :D
it could be kind of entertaining to do with say, a cell phone, but perhaps have it "resting" on the edge of the trunk lid :3
id do it with a dummy phone though, you never know if someone would be "courteous" and walk off with your $250 smartphone.

nonetheless, i LOVED reading this. just think of all the things you could up ontop (or maybe even on the side) of your car!

PS: you could do it with a laptop if you took all the internals out and just used the shell ;)

kcls (author)2010-07-01

I live around the NY/NJ area, and saw a car with a coffee cup on top the other day. I reached out to see if it was stuck on there with magnets. It wasn't, and then the guy who's coffee it was walked up behind me and said "What are you doing?". Quite embarrassing! Great 'ible, though!

randomray (author)kcls2011-07-17

Oh man , I would have thanked you , I hate it when I leave a cup on the roof .

gitemstevedave (author)kcls2010-07-01

That's so sad! I always thank people for letting me know and the cup usually says thank you to people who try to save him.

Dude, why couldn't he just thank you????

He's a cup...

RedSnertz (author)2011-02-12

Best way to separate the magnets from the backing:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-separate-the-Magnets-from-an-old-harddisk/

Macworldwizardz (author)2010-09-12

Wouldn't Super Glue work too? You can just superglue the cup on to the car, but you'll need a solvent to remove it. Wouldn't it work? Oh, and by the way, NICE instructable. I am thinking about doing this to my mom and dad's car next April...

neivadan (author)2010-01-21

that cool now i can finelly enjoy coffie up my roof

Yerboogieman (author)neivadan2010-06-29

I'm pretty sure you have to be 13 to sign up for this site. Now go get your mommy or daddy and have them shut off your computer.

ecuadoriana (author)2009-11-19

This is a very funny idea! Somebody mentioned using a woman's purse. I have one up- how about an infant car seat with a doll inside!!!!!!!!! THAT would make people sit up and take notice- or, on the sadder side, maybe not!

Javin007 (author)ecuadoriana2009-12-23

The car seat is a very, very bad idea.  You could actually cause accidents, absolutely FLOOD the 911 system with bogus calls, and potentially be arrested.

seabananers (author)Javin0072010-05-16

and if you go under (get ready for something you've seen on tv) a low bridge it could fly off go through there wind sheild and kill them (ok maybe not the last part)

denotsKO (author)ecuadoriana2009-11-20

Read this book to see just how close we are to life imitating art ;)

http://www.randomhouse.com/doubleday/palahniuk/rant/

darkdark (author)denotsKO2009-11-23

 This was my exact thought

baudeagle (author)2009-11-17

Interesting idea, have you ever been pulled over by the cops with this thing attached?  My thought is that this may be a distraction and be a potential cause for an accident.  Of course all of those people on cell phones are an accident waiting to happen.

Maybe your next project should be a magnetic doughnut.

gitemstevedave (author)baudeagle2009-11-17

Closest I came was when trying to enter the Holland Tunnel in traffic, like 3 cars were honking at me, and a Port Authority Cop walked over to me and asked what the cup was.  I didn't have my inspection up to date, so I took it off and he told me to get my inspection fixed.  Other than that, I have had one State Trooper laugh at me when he saw me pulling into Wawa and I explained what it was, had one cop point at me from the side of the road as I drove by, and one follow me until he turned onto an offramp.  I'm getting my inspection done tomorrow(needed brakes and a muffler), so once that's done, there should be nothing illegal with my car.

I really don't think it's that much of a distraction, it's like those stupid half balls/pucks/fish through the window, truck antlers, or tow-behind television ads.  The cup is intentionally light(under 3oz) and can hold a 10lb barbell up.  I'm gonna test it soon with a leaf blower, so that if it ever DOES come to it, I can show exactly how safe it is.  I wouldn't have been able to do that with RoofCoffeeMaker! ;)

H3xx (author)gitemstevedave2009-11-18

Here in the SSA (Southern States of America) a new and rather disturbing/ disgusting vehicle decoration has become rather popular. People (specifically redneck men) will attach fake testicles to the bottom of their car, underneath their trailer hitch. I'm surprised this isn't illegal, as many people find it very distracting.

I might try your idea with something other than a coffee cup, maybe a happy meal box or something like that.

Gaark (author)H3xx2010-03-23

Ive only seen one set of these testicular monstrosities here in New Zealand, hope I don't see more.  Was gross!

lalunette (author)H3xx2009-11-19

Don't worry, redneck men also exist in Canada as I have seen the fake testicles hanging from lifted trucks here in Central Canada.

turnhandle (author)lalunette2009-11-19

Canada's very wet (currently) left coast has these as well. Have to wonder how this relates to the "Big Vehicle Compensatory" theory.....

Other possibilities for roof top fun - wallet or purse, pizza box, KFC bucket, the options are endless.

H3xx (author)turnhandle2009-11-22

Take a cardboard box, decorate it with icing and let it harden. Then stick the whole cake on top of the car! the people who notice will be like (0_0)

H3xx (author)lalunette2009-11-22

Somehow this doesn't comfort me... strange.

beehard44 (author)gitemstevedave2009-12-12

roof ipod 3G, roof PSP, roof burger, roof Laptop, roof..................

srhadaham (author)baudeagle2009-11-21

Its smaller than the signs that pizza restaurants put on their delivery cars, and lots of those light up so, how is this any more of a distraction then those signs?

baudeagle (author)srhadaham2009-11-21

For me it would be very distracting and sort of disconcerting to see a regular coffee cup on a roof of a car doing 60 mph down the road.  Being a somewhat a distractable person to start with, I would be staring at the stupid cup on top and forget to look for the break lights of the car in front of me.  Knowing my dumb luck, I would try to explain to the officer this scenerio.  He would never believe my story.  Besides, in my state is is illegal to hang stuff from the mirror while driving, so why would this be so different? 

How many of coffee cups have you seen on the roof of a car traveling down the highway?


srhadaham (author)baudeagle2009-11-21

alright, so it was a bad example, but its way different than hanging stuff off of your mirror. If you hang stuff on your mirror it can swing out and hit other cars, it also is just hanging and could flip off, the cup doesn't swing, and apparently is fairly difficult to slide off.
But i suppose your right it would be fairly distracting to the easily entertained ex. all high school and college students

KoenB (author)baudeagle2009-11-19

Here in Holland, if the cops catch you using a cellphone while driving you get a 130 euro fine. Handsfree kits are allowed though.

Nice instructable. Would love to try it, but I have to get a car first ;)

chuckr44 (author)2010-02-16

You can get strong magnets from an old hard drive. Simply open the HD case, poke around with your metal pliers, and you'll find them when the pliers stick to them. There are 2 magnets, at the base of the read/write head.

My magnets are so strong they can open my full-size fridge door, like a door handle.

stephenniall (author)2010-02-15

I think a dalek would look good on my roof

Chrisdalton (author)2010-02-04

I think it would be cool if you put a spring or something on the bottom of the cup (in a way so that it cannot be seen) so that when you turn or stop the cup leans and looks as if it were about to fall over but once the g-forces return to normal it goes back upright

Crayola Crayon (author)2010-01-18

       I just finished mine today, and am very happy with the results. I took it for a test drive around my neighborhood, and  down some big streets, and oh man the looks and gestures I got were HILARIOUS! I had one guy practically running from his parked car waving his hands and pointing while screaming his head off, I was just trying to not crack up :D  

                                                Thank You for the great instruct-able!

Jakeg (author)2010-01-06

HI,
          I have one question, How did you get the hard drive magnets removed from there mounts? Also I wanted to say that it would be funny if you put brown liquid in the cup and let it slosh around, THAT would get some funny looks LOL!

gitemstevedave (author)Jakeg2010-01-06

The way I used was to take a single edge razor blade, the square/rectangular kind, and get the edge under of the magnet on it's backing.  I then just tapped it with a light hammer/screwdriver handle on the top edge, and that will usually pop them off their backing.  Just be careful, it's a razor blade.

Jakeg (author)gitemstevedave2010-01-07

Thanks I'll try this and make the roof coffee cup soon!

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