Gas sensor suite built with Gadgeteer modules

gadgeteer-gas-sensor-suite

[Blake] just finished a gas sensor suite built from Gadgeteer parts. The three sensors are the cylindrical towers along the left hand side of the assembly. The one at the top (with the orange ring) is an alcohol sensor. The middle one senses ammonia and the lower sensor measures air quality. Also rolled into the mix are temperature and humidity sensors.

You can collect a lot of data with this type of setup. To keep it organized [Blake] used the ThingSpeak interface. Using the NIC in the upper right he uploads the measurements for real-time graphing. The setup is explained in detail in the video after the break, including a test with some cleaning ammonia.

We haven’t tried out the Gadgeteer system for ourselves yet. But you’ve got to admit that the ribbon cable connector system the family of parts uses really helps to keep a rather complicated setup like this one nice and tidy.

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LED ice cubes prevent alcohol induced blackouts

cube

On November 23rd last year, [Dhairya] attended a little shindig at MIT. Three drinks into the night, he blacked out and woke up in the hospital the next day. It was an alcohol-induced blackout, and like all parties at MIT, there’s an ingenious solution to [Dhairya]’s problem.

[Dhairya] came up with an alcohol-aware ice cube made of a coin cell battery, an ATtiny microcontroller, and an IR transceiver are molded into an edible gelatin ice cube. The microcontroller counts the number of sips per drink, and after one glass of adult beverage changes the color of the flashing LED from green to yellow. After two drinks the LED changes from yellow to red, signaling [Dhairya] to slow down.

If [Dhairya] feels the night is too young and keeps on drinking, the IR transmitter signals to his cell phone to send a text to a friend telling them to go take [Dhairya] home.

Less than three weeks after waking up in the hospital, [Dhairya] tested out his glowing ice cubes at another party. Everything performed wonderfully, even if he admits his creation is a little crude. A neat piece of work, and we can’t wait to see an update to this project.

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Red-bullet: cooking stove from cans, fueled by gas additive

A couple of beverage containers and a little bit of fuel additive bring together this aluminum can stove project. When lit it shoots flames out each of those holes around the top to heat the vessel resting upon it. [Peter Geiger] calls it the Red-Bullet because one of the stove pieces started as a Red Bull can and the other piece was a Coors (aka silver bullet).

This is basically an alcohol stove. We remember seeing a very well designed version of the penny stove several years back. This is different as it uses a side burner so the stove itself functions as the kettle stand. [Peter] started by cutting the Red Bull can just a bit taller than the final height. He then inserted the top portion of one of those aluminum beer cans that are shaped like glass bottles. The neck was lopped off and inverted. It is joined with the other can base using JB weld and by rolling the aluminum in on itself. After that has dried the holes are added and it’s filled with HEET from a yellow bottle. This gasoline additive is meant to sequester water and keep your gas line from freezing. The yellow bottle is mainly alcohol, the red is methanol so make sure you use the right one!

An actively cooled cloud chamber

This cloud chamber is designed to keep the environment friendly for observing ionizing radiation. The group over at the LVL1 Hackerspace put it together and posted everything you need to know to try it out for yourself.

A cloud chamber uses a layer of alcohol vapor as a visual indicator of ionizing particles. As the name suggests, this vapor looks much like a cloud and the particles rip though it like tiny bullets. You can’t see the particles, but the turbulence they cause in the vapor is quite visible. Check out the .GIF example linked at the very bottom of their writeup.

The chamber itself uses a Peltier cooler and a CPU heat sink. The mounting and insulation system is brilliant and we think it’s the most reliable way we’ve seen of putting one of these together. Just remember that you need a radioactive source inside the chamber or you’ll be waiting a long time to see any particles. They’re using a test source here, but we saw a cloud chamber at our own local Hackerspace that used thoriated tungsten welding rods which are slightly radioactive.

[Thanks JAC_101]

DIY flux comes straight from the tree

[Tom] needed more solder flux and instead of buying it he thought he’d try making his own. The thing is, he didn’t have any rosin on hand. But knowing its source let him acquire it for free. He took a sample of tree sap and turned it into his own solder flux.

We’ve seen a few different DIY flux recipes this year. The most recent guide suggests sourcing rosin from the hardware store because of the quality, or if that fails you’ll find some at the music store. [Tom] was lucky enough to find a large dollop leaking from a pine tree in his neighborhood. He let it sit overnight in a container along with some isopropyl alcohol. In the morning the sap had fully dissolved, so he ran it through a coffee filter to get rid of any debris. He keeps it in a small jar, applying it to his projects using cotton swabs. You can see his short soldering demo after the break.

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Hot enough for ya? Super-cold cocktail-pops will help

The staff of Instructables know how to cut loose and cool off in this already-too-hot summer. They’re making their own popsicles out of cocktails. If only everyone were lucky enough to have employers who endorse these kinds of projects at work.

So the problem here is the the freezing point of liquor. Your margarita, daiquiri, strawberry with champagne, white russian and other favorites just aren’t ever going to solidify in a run-of-the-mill freezer because zero degrees Fahrenheit just won’t cut it. So the big guns were brought to bear. The cocktail-pops were lined up in a container and dowsed with liquid nitrogen.

The substance boils off at around -321 F, more than cold enough to quickly freeze these alcoholic goodies. But use caution. After they’ve been frozen you need to throw them in the freezer to warm them up. The first guinea pigs burned their tongues when trying to lick the pops too soon.

Don’t want to buy your liquid nitrogen? Why not just make your own?

What the flux: buy it or brew it yourself

Flux generally makes our lives easier. It’s the best bet when trying to prevent solder bridges with fine-pitch components like you see here. But it is also indispensable when it comes to desoldering components from a board (we’re talking just one component without disturbing all of the others). But have you ever looked at what it costs to pick up a syringe of liquid flux from an online retailer? In addition to the cost of the product itself there’s usually a hazardous material handling fee that is rolled into the shipping cost. So we were happy that [Christopher] sent in a link to the DIY flux page over at Dangerous Prototypes.

The concept is simple enough. Mix some rosin with some solvent. Turns out these items are really easy to source. The solvent can be acetone (which you may have on hand for removing toner transfer from freshly etched PCBs) or plain old rubbing alcohol. And an easy source for rosin is your local music store. They sell it to use on bow hair for String players. Grind it up, throw it in a bottle and you’re good to go. Now does anyone know where we can source needle-tipped bottles locally?

For those that still just want to buy flux we highly recommend watching part one and part two of [Ian’s] flux review series.