Hackaday Prize Entry: Dave Thomas’ Desert Dryer

It seemed utter madness — people living in hot desert climates paying to heat air. At least it seemed that way to [David Thomas] before he modified his tumble dryer to take advantage of Arizona’s arid environment.

Hanging the wash out to dry is a time-honored solution, and should be a no-brainer in the desert. But hanging the wash takes a lot of human effort, your laundry comes back stiff, and if there’s a risk of dust storms ruining your laundry, we can see why people run the dryer indoors. But there’s no reason to waste further energy heating up your air-conditioned interior air when hot air is plentiful just a few meters away.

[David]’s modification includes removing the gas heating components of the dryer and adding an in-line filter. He explains it all in a series of videos, which at least for his model, leave no screw unturned. It’s not an expensive modification either, consisting mostly of rigid dryer hose and copious amounts of aluminum duct tape. He mentions the small fire that resulted from failing to remove the gas igniter, so consider yourself warned. The intake filter and box were originally intended for a house air-conditioning system, and required only minimal modifications.

This is a great build, being both cheap and easy to implement as well as being environmentally friendly without requiring a drastic change to [David]’s lifestyle. It makes us wish we had a similar endless supply of hot air.

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Analog to Digital Converter (ADC): A True Understanding

Back in the day where the microprocessor was our standard building block, we tended to concentrate on computation and processing of data and not so much on I/O. Simply put there were a lot of things we had to get working just so we could then read the state of an I/O port or a counter.

Nowadays the microcontroller has taken care of most of the system level needs with the luxury of built in RAM memory and the ability to upload our code. That leaves us able to concentrate on the major role of a microcontroller: to interpret something about the environment, make decisions, and often output the result to energize a motor, LED, or some other twiddly bits.

Often the usefulness of a small microcontroller project depends on being able to interpret external signals in the form of voltage or less often, current. For example the output of a photocell, or a temperature sensor may use an analog voltage to indicate brightness or the temperature. Enter the Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) with the ability to convert an external signal to a processor readable value.

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Nissan Leaf Batteries Upgrade Old Truck Conversion

[Jay]’s Chevy S-10 electric conversion needed new batteries. The conversion was originally done with a bank of lead acids underneath the truck bed. With lithium battery factories so large they can boost an entire state’s economy being built, [Jay] safely assumed that it just wasn’t worth it to spend the money to replace it with a new set of the same.

Just like unwrapping a present, from around a tree.
One brand new battery pack!

You should remember the beginnings of this story from our coverage nearly a year ago. Being the kind of clever you’d expect from someone who did their own EV conversion, he purchased a totaled (yet nearly new) Nissan Leaf with its batteries intact. It took a little extra work, but after parting out the car and salvaging the battery packs for himself he came out ahead of both a new set of replacement lead acids and an equivalent set of lithium cells.

He has just completed the first test drives with the conversion, having built 48 Leaf cells into blocks resembling the volumes the old batteries occupied. He had to add some additional battery management, but right-off-the-bat, the conversion netted him more amps and 650lbs (295kg) less weight for the same power.  Nice!

We linked to all the posts tagged leaf on [Jay]’s blog. There’s a lot going on, and the articles aren’t all linked to each other. It’s a really cool build and there are definitely tricks to learn throughout the whole process. If you have an hour to kill, [Jay] recorded the entire 26-hour process in a 66-minute video that is embedded below. It’s fun to watch him build up and mount the different modules and gives you a deep appreciation for his devotion to the project.

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DSLR infrared camera conversion

ir_conversion

[Jerry] recently got a shiny new DSLR camera and was looking to do something with the old Pentax DSLR it replaced. Having performed a few point and shoot IR conversions in the past, he was pretty confident he could tackle this conversion without too much trouble.

He located the service manual for the camera and got busy taking it apart. He had to desolder the main board to get to the CCD block, where the sensor, IR cut filter, and the shake reduction motors are all located. The IR cut filter was pried off without too much trouble as it is only secured with a clip and an adhesive foam gasket.

Once things were disassembled, the real work began. He had a little trouble cutting the IR filter he purchased, so it took a little bit of elbow grease to get things exactly the way he wanted. Once he got the filter in place, he carefully re-mounted the sensor block to ensure that it was set at the proper height.

Once things were fully reassembled, he tried taking a few test shots, but found that there were some focus issues due to the IR filter being thicker than the original IR cut filter. A few manual tweaks in the camera’s debug menu and he was in business.

Be sure to check out his photo stream to take a look at some of the pictures he snapped with his new IR camera.

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]

DIY Lincoln welder conversion

[Fritz] built this 600 joule capacitive discharge spot welder in a case scavenged from a Lincoln plasma cutter. All of the circuitry was designed by [Fritz] and the schematics are available on his website. He has a few other welding related project also documented on his site that are worth checking out. While this isn’t the first homemade spot welder we have seen, it is definitely the first one with a case mod. If you are not up to the challenge of building one quite as complex as [Fritz]’s example, a microwave can be used as the donor appliance in simpler designs.