Hackaday reader [David] was looking for a cheap and easy way to spot weld copper tabs together. As he notes in his writeup, the properties of copper which are most enticing, such as high thermal capacity, make welding it all that more difficult. His home-brew method of spot welding is admittedly quick and dirty, but it does get the job done quite well.
He started off with an array of four 2.5V @ 2600 Farad ultra capacitors, which provide the high current required to do copper spot welding properly. They are wired in series and connected to his electrodes using heavy gauge wire. The graphite-tipped electrodes were an interesting DIY job themselves, cleverly constructed using copper tubing and a graphite block. The most simple/dangerous/clever part of the whole rig is his trigger mechanism, which consists of a pair of copper blocks that he bangs together manually to complete the circuit.
[David] is well aware that the setup is just a touch rough, but according to him it makes great welds, and it’s only a proof of concept at this point. He has a hefty list of improvements to make for the final version, including a different switching method among a few other safety precautions.
Here’s a DIY vaporizer build. It uses a 30 watt Radio Shack soldering iron as a heat source that is regulated with a common dimmer switch. This is done by removing the soldering tip and replacing it with threaded rod attached to a brass pipe fitting assembly. This is housed inside of a Mason jar with a copper pipe for air intake and another for output. Not surprisingly the creator tipped us off anonymously, saying that this a “smoking accessory”. A bit of searching and we came across this Wikipedia article about a Volcano Vaporizer which sheds light on what one is used for.
We don’t condone using illicit substances. But even more so, we’re skeptical about breathing through this thing because of the warning that [Anon] included about noxious vapors put off by the epoxy putty when it heats up. Still, it’s an interesting build so we though we’d share.
[Jeri Ellsworth] continues her experiments with electroluminescence, this time she’s making EL ink. The ink she’s looking for is Zinc Sulfate in a solution. The process she chose is to re-dope some glow powder so that it can be excited by the field around an AC current. In her video (embedded after the break) she talks about the chemical properties she’s after by detailing a cubic lattice of zinc and sulfur atoms with an added copper atom (adding that atom is a process called doping).
The quick and dirty synopsis of the experiment starts by washing the glow powder with dish soap to acquire zinc sulfide crystals. Then she combined copper sulfate and zinc shavings from the inside of a modern penny to yield copper metal and zinc sulfate suspended in solution. That was mixed with the zinc sulfide from the glow powder washing and doped with a little more copper sulfate. The excess liquid is poured off, the test tube is capped with glass frit, and the whole thing hits the kiln to start the reaction. The result glows when excited by alternating current, but could have been improved by adding chlorine atoms into the mix.
We’re excited every time we see one of [Jeri’s] new chemistry hacks. We’d love to see more so if you’ve come across interesting chemistry experiments during your Internet travels, please let us know about them. Just make sure you have some idea of what you’re doing when working with chemicals… safety first.
Continue reading “More EL chemistry: Luminescent ink”
Forget hacking an easy button, grab a couple of those outdated CD-Rs and build your own switch for that next project. This was developed with handicapped accessibility in mind; assembled easily with common products and it’s fairly robust. In fact, our junk box has everything you need except the adhesive backed copper foil. Combine two old CD’s, covered in copper on facing sides, separated by two strips of Velcro to separate the conductors. When pressure is applied, one CD flexes to make contact with the other and complete the circuit. So easy, yet we never thought of it. We’ll add it to our list of homebrew input devices.
Pulsar Professional FX has a neat tip on their site for getting a really even toner transfer when making your own PCBs. First, the PCB is cut to size, and the paper is tacked to the board. Then, the PCB is placed paper up onto a dowel and rolled back and forth with the iron. Since the board bends slightly over the dowel the toner sticks evenly to the copper. After that, just remove the paper as usual and etch with your preferred method.
Etching a printed circuit board generally takes a bit of time and uses a lot of etchant. [TechShopJim] posted a method that uses a sponge to reduce the amount of etchant used while speeding up the entire process. First, a resist is applied using either a sharpie or the toner transfer method. Using gloves to handle everything, he soaked a sponge in ferric chloride and continually wiped a copper-clad board until all the exposed copper was removed. This technique moves the etchant around more, keeping “fresh” etchant closer to the copper. If you can’t procure ferric chloride, you can also use our method that uses 2 household chemicals: hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid.
[ladyada] has republished an interesting snippet from the synthDIY mailing list. [David Dixon] discusses the actual chemistry behind ferric chloride based home circuit board etching. He concludes that ferric chloride is essentially a ‘one-shot’ oxidant. It can’t be regenerated and can be difficult to dispose of properly. The use of acidified copper chloride is a much better path and becomes more effective with each use, as long as you keep it aerated and top up the acidity from time to time. This etchant solution is actually the result of initially using hydrogen peroxide as an oxidant along with muriatic acid. You can see us using this solution in our etching how-to and while creating the board for our RGB lock. For more information on using hydrogen peroxide, check out [Adam Seychell]’s guide and this Instructable.
Aside: [ladyada] has added the receiver code to the Wattcher project page.