Re:load Pro, an Open Source Active Load

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Open source test equipment has to be one of the best gifts open source hardware has given back to the community. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of  [Nick's] Re:Load Pro over on Kickstarter. Unlike resistors or similar dummy loads, an active load will always draw the set amount of current regardless of voltage. Active loads are often used to test power supplies and batteries. Is that 2500 mAh LiPo battery overstating it’s capacity? Can the power supply you just designed handle 2.5A at 12V? Both of these are jobs where active loads would come in handy.

The Re:Load Pro is actually the third version of the Re:Load. [Nick] designed the original Re:Load after becoming frustrated at the lack of a cheap active load for testing a power supply. Plenty of people showed interest in the Re:Load, but they wanted more features. That’s where the Re:Load Pro comes in. More than a straight analog design, the Pro has a Cypress PSOC 4 Arm Cortex M0 processor running the system.

[Nick] and his company, Arachnid Labs, are no strangers to us here at Hackaday. When we last covered [Nick], he was asking the USB Implementers Forum about a low cost Vendor ID option for open source hardware projects. Fittingly, the Re:Load Pro is an open source project. The schematics and source code are available on Github.

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Air-Tensioned Bandsaw Simplifies Woodworking Life

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If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning a band-saw you’ll know exactly how much fun it is to try to replace the blade, or properly tension it even. [Richard T] got tired of it and decided to upgrade his band saw with a bit of pneumatic power.

To remove the band saw blade or tension it you have to turn an adjustment knob on the top of the band saw — it’s kind of awkward and really annoying. [Richard] has taken the lead screw out and replaced it with a pneumatic cylinder. He’s added a little control panel with a main valve, and pressure regulator. To remove the band saw blade, he bleeds the system with the valve, and to tension it, he turns up the regulator! It’s simple and super effective.

This is especially convenient for tensioning because you can watch the blade during the “Flutter Test” while gently turning up the regulator.

If you look in the right places you could probably build a system like this for less than $50. For a complete explanation stick around to hear it from [Richard] himself!

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The Ultimate Workstation That Folds Up

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Looking for an easy way to keep on making stuff even though you’re living in a tiny dorm room? [Matt Silver] was tired of not having a dedicated work-space, so he spent some serious time designing this modular, re-configurable and collapsible portable workstation ready for almost anything.

He started out by sketching ideas, playing around with 3D models in SketchUp, and eventually building a few prototypes using trial and error — and what he’s come up with is pretty darn impressive. It folds down to just under a foot by three feet squared and has casters to roll it around. Once unfolded, you stabilize it by placing your chair on one of the walls that folds down, and the desk itself is also re-configurable for different work surfaces. He’s included a power bar, an LED work-light, and it even has storage racks for tools on the side.

It’s a very thorough Instructable, and definitely worth a look through — especially to see how it magically unfolds! And if you’re wondering about how much it would cost to build, you’re probably looking at around $200 depending on what you already have on hand. What we really like is how it’s almost entirely made out of a single 4′x8′ panel of plywood — it’s like this guy works for IKEA or something!

Turn Your Drill Press into a Bobbin/Spindle Sander

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Drill presses are a staple tool of the typical garage — they aren’t too expensive and are indispensably useful — but have you ever thought of turning it into a spindle sander?

You can buy drum sander kits fairly cheap, but the problem is they’re really difficult to use and really messy too — you’ll have sawdust everywhere in no time. What [Carl's] done here is created a wood box for his drill press with different size holes for each drum sander bit. By attaching a vacuum cleaner to the box, you can clean up your mess while you’re still doing the work.

Just a note — drill presses aren’t designed to take radial loads like a mill is. If you’re planning on doing some really heavy sanding, adding a bolt through the entire drum sander bit and then coupling it with a fixed bearing inside of your box might be a good idea.

It’s a pretty simple hack, but could save you an additional power tool, and space on your work bench! Have a drill but no drill press? No problem.

 

3D Printed Cyclone Dust Separator

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[Nicholas] has been reading Hackaday for a few months now, and after seeing several people’s dust extractor setups, he decided to make his own 3D printed version. And he’s sharing the files with everyone!

He has a small Lobo mill which produces a lot of dust and to clean up he’s been using a small “Shark” brand vacuum cleaner. It’s a powerful little thing, but has little to no capacity which makes it rather frustrating to use. This makes it a perfect candidate for a cyclone upgrade! If you’re not familiar with cyclonic separator it’s a way of removing dust from air using vortex separation — between rotational forces and gravity, this keeps the dust out of your vacuum cleaner and means you never need to change another filter!

Using Autodesk inventor he designed this 4-stage cyclone separator. It’s made for a 1.75″ OD vacuum hose (the Shark standard) but could be easily modified for different vacuums. We’ve seen lots of cyclone separators before, but this 3D printed one certainly makes it easier to fabricate to exacting standards!

Recovering Nichrome Wire from Unexpected Sources

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Don’t you hate it when you’re in a pinch and all your favorite surplus or electronic stores are closed? You’ve gotta finish this project, but how? He’s a nice real hack for you guys.  How to recover nichrome wire from a ceramic heater!

Necessity spawned this idea, as [Armilar] needed to make 45 cuts in two pieces of foam in order to ship some long circuit boards. Not wanting to make the 90 cuts individually, he improvised this nichrome slicing jig. Not having a spool of nichrome handy, he decided to use a less conventional method. He pulled out a sledgehammer and smashed open a ceramic wirewound resistor.

According to him, nice big ceramic resistors like this 10W one have about a meter of nichrome wire inside!  After breaking the ceramic, it’s quite easy to remove. He made up a jig using nylon spacers and rivets, and then wrapped his wire back and forth across the whole length. It worked perfectly — though he was using 240VDC @ about 1.2A…

If you don’t need such a complex setup, there’s always the bare bones wire foam cutters we’ve featured many times before.

Turning An Analog Scope Into A Logic Analyzer

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When [Marco] was planning on a storage oscilloscope build, he realized having a small device to display eight digital signals on an analog scope would be extremely useful. This just happens to be the exact description of a simple logic analyzer and managed to turn his idea into a neat little project (German, Google translation).

The theory of operation for this surprisingly simple, and something that could be completed in a few hours with a reasonably well stocked hackerspace or parts drawer in a few hours. A clock generator and binary counter are fed into the lower three bits of a simple R2R DAC, while the 8 inputs are fed into an 8-input multiplexer and sent to the last bit of the DAC. With nothing connected to the logic analyzer inputs, the output to the scope would just be an 8-step ramp that would appear as eight horizontal lines on the screen. With something connected to the logic analyzer input, an extremely primitive but still very useful logic analyzer appears on the screen.

While it’s not the greatest analyzer, it is something that can be cobbled together in an hour or two, and the capabilities are more than sufficient to debug a few simple circuits or figure out some timings in a project.