[Ben Krasnow] has an inimitable knack for choosing the most interesting concepts for his experiments. We’re sure it’s a combination of base knowledge and epic-curiosity. This time around he’s showing off a vintage cigarette lighter whose quirk is not needing to be “struck” to produce a flame. It’s a catalytic lighter that uses platinum to ignite methanol vapors.
The concept shown in the video below is platinum’s catalyst properties with some types of flammable gasses. The image above shows the cap of the lighter which includes a protective cage around a hunk of fine platinum powder known as platinum black. It is suspended by platinum wire and as the hydrogen passes by the reaction causes the platinum black and wire to glow red-hot.
This simple, quick experiment fills in our own knowledge gaps. We were already familiar with the role that catalytic converters play in automobiles; consuming any unburned hydrocarbons before they exit a vehicle’s exhaust system. We also know the these devices are targets for thieves seeking the platinum (and other metals like palladium and rhodium) found inside. Now we know exactly how catalytic converters work and the integral role that platinum plays in the process. All thanks to [Ben's] demonstration of how this lighter works.
Now, if you wear a platinum wedding band and your hand passes a jet of hydrogen are you likely to get burned?
Continue reading “The Platinum Catalyst Use in a Vintage Lighter”
With Independence Day just around the corner, American hackers are likely to find themselves blowing things up in the name of Independence. It’s all great fun but it can also be dangerous. The standard ignition method of “use a lighter and run away really fast” is not exactly safe. Instead of lighting your fireworks the old-fashioned way, why not follow [Facelesstech's] example and build your own infrared controlled remote igniter?
The first step was to decide how to actually ignite the firework fuse. [Facelesstech] had seen others use a car cigarette lighter for this purpose and he decided to follow in their footsteps. He started by removing the cigarette lighter from his own car and pulling it apart. Only one component was needed for this hack. The main heating element is a small disk with a “stem” on the end. If you apply 12V to the stem and attach the outer edge of the disk to ground, the igniter will quickly become hot.
[Facelesstech] originally thought he could just solder some wires to the device. However, the heating element gets so hot that the solder just melts every time it’s turned on. He then got creative and drilled a hole in a small block of wood that fits the heating element. The element is bolted into the wood and the bolt is used as a conductor for the electrical power.
The heating element is powered via a 12V relay. The relay is controlled by an Arduino Nano. The Nano allows two modes of operation. With the first mode, you simply press a button and the Nano will start a five second timer. The idea is to give you enough time to run to a safe distance before the firework is ignited. This isn’t much different from the old-fashioned method, but it does give you a slightly extended fuse. The second mode is where the project really shines. The Nano is also hooked up to an infrared receiver. This allows [Facelesstech] to press a button on an old television infrared remote control to active the igniter. This is a clever solution because it allows you to get to a safe distance without having to run a long wire. It’s also simple and inexpensive. Be sure to watch the video test of the system below. Continue reading “Infrared Controlled Remote Firework Igniter”
Dangers involved with using this laser cigarette lighter to start off your smoking session include shooting your eyes out and giving yourself a mean Harry Potter style forehead scar. This thing boasts a two Watt laser diode which has no problem burning everything that comes in contact with it.
[Masterjoa3000] shows you how it was built in the video after the break. You need to acquire the diode and support hardware which acts as a heat sink. These are press-fit together before wires are attached to the positive and negative leads. The housing is just a bit too wide for the wind shield on the lighter, but that is fixed by cutting a ‘V’ out of the center of that shielding. Next comes a minuscule driver board which is soldered to the diode and to a momentary push switch. The switch takes the place of the flint so that pressing down on the striking wheel activates the laser. The whole thing still fits in the unaltered outer case.
Here’s another take on the same idea with the laser pointing in a different direction.
Continue reading “Laser cigarette lighter makes smoking even more dangerous”
[Thomas] and his friends wanted to ring in the new year by setting off some fireworks. To keep a safe distance and have a little fun they built this network controller launcher (translated).
the image on the left shows the build in its unused and pristine state. But by the end of the celebration it look a bit melted and burnt. Still, for the first revision of the system it ended up working pretty well.
We’ve seen several remote fireworks launchers that burn up resistors to light the fuses. But this system is much more reusable. The image on the right shows the heating elements which light the fuses. Younger readers might have no idea what they’re looking at, but every automobile used to come with at least one of these electric cigarette lighters. Just drive 12V through them and they get burning hot relatively quickly. That’s where the car battery on the base comes into play. It is connected to the lighters using some mechanical relays.
In the food container attached to the side of the launcher you’ll find a Raspberry Pi which provides the web connection for the system. [Thomas] wrote code which uses a webpage with some bomb icons as buttons. Check out the video after the break to see him demonstrate how fast one of these lighters will glow red after pressing a button on his smart phone.
Continue reading “Network-controlled fireworks launcher”
[Jose] added several features to a Makita AM/FM jobsite radio, and did such a good job that you can’t tell they weren’t originally part of the design. The original radio has a compartment for a battery pack used with Makita’s line of rechargeable tools, and offers AM/FM radio, as well as auxiliary audio playback via a pair of speakers. [Jose] augmented those speakers by adding a pair of tweeters as well.
Next on his list of features were a couple of power bus add-ons. In the image on the right you can see the results of adding an automotive cigarette lighter to the side of the unit. Opposite this you’ll find a pair of USB ports that are activated by a lighted toggle switch. The ports are part of a USB car charger that is patched into the battery with a flip of that switch.
Finally, there’s a built-in Bluetooth audio receiver that connects to the auxiliary input. As shown in the image on the left, he can now play tunes from his cellphone without the need for a cord. See him showing off the device in the video after the break.
Continue reading “Makita jobsite radio gets a few extra bells and whistles”