I note with interest that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is offering cash prizes to anyone who can 'weaponize' common off-the-shelf items.
On Friday ... DARPA announced that they would award money to people who can turn consumer electronics, household chemicals, 3-D printed parts, cheap drones or other “commercially available technology” into the next improvised weapon.
. . .
The broad agency announcement, or BAA, puts almost no limit on the scope of the technology that engineers can use in their exploration. It’s an unusual BAA, as they go, specifically designed to catch the attention not just of favored defense contractors but also “skilled hobbyists.” So get your mad scientist hat out, but don’t break the law.
“Proposers are free to reconfigure, repurpose, program, reprogram, modify, combine, or recombine commercially available technology in any way within the bounds of local, state, and federal laws and regulations. Use of components, products, and systems from non-military technical specialties (e.g., transportation, construction, maritime, and communications) is of particular interest,” the BAA says.
Also, don’t just mail your toaster bomb in and expect your reward. The program has three phases. First, submit a plan for your prototype and, if DARPA likes it, or rather, finds it terrifying enough, they’ll give you $40,000. A smaller number of participants will be selected to go on to phase two where they will build their device or system with $70,000 more in possible funding. The top candidates here will go on to a final phase for a more in-depth analysis of their invention or system, a big military demo of how your device or system could give the military a very bad day.
There's more at the link.
The tricky thing is for private hobbyists to design something that doesn't fall afoul of US law. For example, it's a serious offense to store explosives in a residential dwelling - but if they're trying to meet DARPA's challenge by making a toaster into an improvised explosive device, some tinkerers won't think about that in the heat of the moment. Also, going online to do research into things like 'bomb-making' is likely to draw their Internet searches to the extremely unfriendly attention of agencies like the FBI, who understandably have absolutely no sense of humor when it comes to that sort of thing. I foresee complications . . .
(On the other hand, the comedic possibilities of turning a toaster into a bomb are endless. "It doesn't go BANG! - it goes BAGEL!")