A simpler sous-vide hack

Here are the contronl modules for a sous-vide project over at Nerdkits. [Humberto] and crew continue doing a great job of focusing a project on one goal, then explaining the steps needed to get there. In this case they wanted to build their own sous-vide appliance that was cheap, and didn’t really require the user to deal with mains voltage. We like it because most of the parts can be found at a hardware store and big box store.

He started with a slow cooker, which is pretty standard. Next he needed a way to switch power to the device. Instead of using a solid state relay, he went for a standard dimmer switch. It’s build into a double gang electrical box, and controls an outlet which is occupying the second position in that box. Now current to the slow cooker is limited by the position of the dimmer. The next task was to add a cardboard frame which marries a servo motor to the dimmer’s knob.

With the control scheme in place [Humberto] needed a feedback sensor. He built his own water proof temperature probe by covering an LM34 temperature sensor with shrink tube and sealing the ends. Just one probe in the cooking water isn’t very reliable so he added a second between the slow cooker’s base and ceramic vessel to improve the performace of the PID algorithm. He goes into detail about that in the video after the break.

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Hidden bookshelf switch

So you don’t have any secret passageways in your house, but if you’ve got a bookshelf this secret switch can add some fun to your routine. [Brandon] saw a commercially available version which was out of stock when he went to order so he set out to build his own.

He’s using the switch to operate a lamp. The donor part for the hack is a lamp dimmer which you’ll find at the big box store. This is really just a pass-through wall plug with an extension cord. By cutting the dimmer module off of the extension a push button can be used to connect and disconnect one of the conductors in the line. Make sure you use a push button rated or mains voltage!

To make the push switch work with a book [Brandon] bend a bracket which will slide into the spine of a hardcover. We love his homemade press brake (angle iron, a sturdy hinge, and a chunk of 2×4) used when shaping the bracket. Once everything’s in place nobody will ever know there’s anything special about those books.

Update: IR controlled lighting

[Muris] is back with another infrared controlled lighting hack. When we checked in with him last year he was showing off an IR controlled dimmer module. Now he’s back with this device that is CFL friendly. Because standard CFL bulbs are not dimmer compatible he’s adapted the project away from dimming and toward switching. The new design still uses an infrared remote but now it can turn two devices on and off again or toggle between them. Our favorite part of the build is that the PIC based device can learn the codes of whichever remote you choose, rather than having to rely on one specific type of remote.

Modified RX7 dimmer control


We were a little surprised when we learned the Mazda RX7’s high beams were controlled by ECU, compared to typical cars using just a toggle switch. Ubermodder [Trent Bruce] realized how much of a pain in the rear end this can be if the ECU ever burns out, meaning no brights. By using a D-Flip Flop setup in a toggle configuration, he is able to control his once lost high beams. He also points out that if you plan to do any other electronic modifications to the RX7, you should be sure to pay attention to the unusual ground switching and the other crazy wiring under the hood.

IR controlled light dimmer


This is a pretty useful device. It is an IR controlled light dimmer. It goes in line with the main power and controls how much gets through to your light. You can adjust the brightness with a TV remote control. Finally, we can retire our clapper! These are commercially available, but making your own is just so much more fun. You may have to dig a little on their site for the schematics and programming. There are tons of other projects there as well so have fun.  You can see a video of it in action after the break.

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