Another take on using ‘dead’ batteries

Here’s another circuit that can be used to squeeze the remaining potential from supposedly dead batteries. Just like the AASaver, we see this as a useful prototyping tool, providing juice for a breadboard even though it’s not reliable enough for long-term use (the batteries are just about through after all).

First off, the image above shows rechargeables instead of alkalines. We don’t recommend this as the circuit has no cutoff feature and the 0.7V input for the boost converter surely is below the recommended low-voltage limit for those cells. But that aside, we like the diminutive board which solders onto the end of a battery pack. It uses an SC120SKTRT which is a variable boost regulator capable of outputting 1.8-5V depending on resistor choices. You can leave the resistors off and it will default to 3.3V, set the output explicitly, or roll in some potentiometers and use your multimeter to tune the output.

This regulator costs more than the MCP1640 used in the AASaver, but it appears to use less passive components making for a smaller footprint. At a total of $3.50 plus the PCB (which will be a snap to etch at home) this is another great option to top off your next parts order.

[Thanks Uwe]

New extruder 3D prints tasty treats using chocolate

If you’ve never felt at home with a piping bag in your hands this chocolate extruder will come to your rescue. It can replace the plastic extruder head on your 3D printer (RepRap, Makerbot, most 3-axis CNC machines, etc.), letting you turn your digital creations into decadent reality.

The head uses a progressive cavity pump to feed the chocolate from a reservoir through the printing nozzle. It’s important to keep the chocolate warm or it will set up so when [Tomi Salo] designed the print head he included a heat shroud through which warm air can be circulated. He uses a shoe dryer to source the hot hair which is patched into the heat shroud with a length of tubing.

This extruder can be 3D printed but be careful what material you use. [Tomi] mentions that PLA is ‘sort of food-safe’ but ABS is not. We wonder if the design could be altered for milling out of aluminum or stainless? At any rate, if you’re going to give it a try you might find [Tomi's] advice on working with chocolate useful.

[via @clothbot]

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