Fail of the Week: How a Cheap USB AC Adapter Might Indirectly Burn Your House Down


This Fail of the Week will remind our readers that every project they make, no matter how small they might be, may have big consequences if something goes wrong. Shown in the picture above is an oven that [Kevin] tweaked to perform reflow soldering. The story is he had just moved into a new place a few weeks ago and needed to make a new batch of boards. As he had cycled this oven many times, he was confident enough to leave the room to answer a few emails. A few minutes later, he had the unfortunate experience of smelling something burning as well as discovering white smoke invading his place.

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Chemical wood burning

Make: Projects has posted an interesting way to burn designs into wood. Instead of doing the traditional method of using a hot iron to hand draw or trace patterns on the wood, they show us how to use a chemical process to make things easier. They are using a solution of Ammonium Chloride, applied with a foam stamp, then heated. When it is heated it breaks down to ammonia gas and hydrochloric acid, burning the surface. The advantage here is that you can easily use a stamp to create patterns whereas doing it by hand might be difficult.  They do point out that improvements could be made, such as adding something to keep it from soaking into the wood and blurring the edges.

Build a cutting laser from an old PC

[Drake Anthony] makes building a cutting laser from a PC look easy, and it seems like it actually is. Almost everything you need can be found in a dead desktop unit. The diode is pulled from a DVD writer (16x or faster), with the power supply unit, and heat sinks from the processor and GPU being used as well. You’ll also need a focusing lens (just a few dollars), some thermal glue, an LM317, a resistor, and a pair of protective goggles matching the laser diode’s wavelength.

He fits the diode into the lens, then glues the assembly into a hole drilled through the processor heat sink. A driver is built using the LM317 variable regulator, resistor, power supply, and the GPU heat sink to keep things cool. Check out the video after the break to see the laser cutting tape, burning plastic, and lighting matches. [Read more...]

1000W induction heater

[Tim Williams] likes to heat things up with this induction heater he built. At peak it can use 1000W and as you can see in the video, that’s more than enough power to heat, burn, and melt a plethora of different objects. The case design uses a center divider to isolate switching noise from the magnetic field with the whole unit housed in aluminum because it won’t heat up from stray magnetic fields. He’s selling plans and kits in case you want one, but we just don’t know what we’d use it for.

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Coffee powered Car-puccino

We can only imagine how amazing this coffee burning car smells at it speeds down the highway at a maximum of 60mph. Don’t jump out of your seat so quick to get your own, while the idea sounds fantastic, the mileage will bring you back to earth rather quick. At 3 miles per kilo of coffee, it can turn that £36 210 mile trip into one between £910 and £1,820 with a stop to re-bean-fill every half hour!

Still, the Car-puccino is an amazing conversion, and we’re getting closer and closer to Back to the Future’s Mr. Fusion

[Thanks Tim]

Backup DVD burning robot

[Aaron Shephard] at just finished a backup DVD burning robot based on an EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX motherboard and scavenged parts. A Perl script interacts with stepper motors, LEDs, and sensors through the parallel port on the motherboard. The robot inserts DVDs for burning, flips them for labeling, and stacks completed discs in a pile. Coasters are rejected to a ‘penalty box’ for easy disposal.

We’ve also covered some other optical disc duplicators in the past.

[thanks maxthereal]

How-to: Thermite hard drive destruction

After the overwhelming response to the Hackit we posted about automated hard drive destruction last fall, we finally decided to test out some thermite hard drive destruction ourselves. This has been done on The Screen Savers but they did not show up close results of the platters. So, aluminum and black iron oxide were procured through eBay, and until it arrived we watched some YouTube videos that showed a lot of fire and no real results. We decided to see what it would take to completely obliterate a drive.

With the amount of personal data stored on your computer, we all understand the importance of destroying the data that is stored on the platters of a hard drive before disposing of it. There are many ways to destroy a hard drive; software, physical disassembly, drills, hammers, magnets/electromagnets, and acid, but none are quite as outrageous and dangerous as thermite. That’s what we’re going to do here today. Follow along for pictures and videos of the results.

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