Wireless light bulbs with a Slayer exciter

slayer rocksWhile playing chiptunes, creating lightning, and illuminating fluorescent tubes with a homebrew Tesla coil is awesome, they’re not exactly the safest electrical devices around, and certainly aren’t easy or cheap to build. There’s another option open if you’d like to play with strong electromagnetic fields; it’s called the Slayer exciter and is simple enough to light a few fluorescent bulbs wirelessly off a pair of 9 Volt batteries.

The circuit for the Slayer exciter is extremely simple – just a single power transistor, a few diodes, and a couple of resistors. The real power for this build comes from the custom-wound transformer made from more than 100 feet of magnet wire. After plugging the driver circuit into the transformer’s primary winding and connecting a metal ball (in this case a wooden ball covered in aluminum foil), it’s possible to light up a four Watt fluorescent tube with a pair of 9 Volts.

You can check out a video of the Slayer exciter after the break.

[Read more...]

Roomba becomes data center robot


Running a data center takes a lot of work, and even making sure the ambient temperature for hundreds of boxes is in the proper range is an arduous task. When faced with the prospect of installing hundreds of temperature sensors in an EMC data center, [Vivek] had a better idea: put just a few sensors on a robot and drive around the racks. With the right software, it’s a breeze to automate the process and build a near real-time temperature monitoring solution for a huge data center.

The data center robot is based on a iRobot Create, basically a Roomba without a vacuum. Attached to the robot is a netbook, Arduino, and a PVC mast housing three temperature sensors and a USB webcam.

Using the floor of the data center for navigation, the robot canvasses the racks sending temperature data back to a server via WiFi. From there, the temperatures can be graphed to make sure the racks aren’t too hot or too cold.

You can check out a video of the robot in action after the break.

[Read more...]

A table saw to cut solar panels


Steampunker extraordinaire [Jake von Slatt] loves the idea of solar-powered garden lights soaking up the sun’s rays during the day and powering a LED in the evening. Commercially available solar lanterns, as [Jake], you, me, and everyone else on the planet have discovered, are universally terrible and either don’t have solar panels large enough to charge a battery, or only last a year or so. [Jake]‘s solution was to make his own solar lanterns and in the process he came up with a great way of cutting his own solar panels.

[Jake] turned to ebay to source 100 3″ x 6″ solar panels for about $30. These are broken panels, factory rejects, but still are able to produce the 0.5 Volts they should. Since these are rather large panels for a solar lantern, [Jake] needed a way to cut these panels into manageable sizes.

To cut the panels, [Jake] made a box to fit a Dremel with a right angle attachment and a port for a vacuum cleaner. There’s a sled for the panels with markings at 40, 80, 75, and 150 mm so the panels can be quickly cut to size with a diamond cutting wheel.

After the boards are cut, [Jake] checks them out with a multimeter to be sure they’re producing the half volt they should. After that, it’s a simple matter of soldering them together and adding them to his solar lanterns.

DIY forklift for the home shop


[Robert] does a fair bit of metal casting, and of course that means carrying around hundreds of pounds of sand, scrap, and other materials. He came up with a great solution to the inevitable back pain: a small, workshop-sized forklift able to carry around a half ton pallet.

In the actual build thread for this forklift, [Robert] goes over the design. The lift is designed to fit inside a 30″ x 7′ door frame, but is more than capable of hoisting hundreds of pounds over the operator’s head. It’s driven by two electric wheelchair motors with power provided by two car batteries. There’s also a clever bit of engineering that went into tipping the forks: instead of a hinge on the mast, [Robert] used a linear actuator on the rear wheels to put the forks at an angle.

It’s a great build, and since [Robert] does metal casting, there’s a whole bunch of custom metalwork that really adds to the build. After the break you can see a video of [Robert]‘s forklift transferring a pallet weighed down with 5 gallon buckets from one really high shelf to another. The job doesn’t take long and doesn’t require any lifting, so we’ve got to hand it to [Robert] for this build.

[Read more...]