Driving your home appliances with hybrid power

This system of hybridizing your home’s electric appliances is an interesting take on solar energy. It focuses on seamlessly switching appliances from the grid to stored solar energy as frequently as possible. There’s a promo video after the break that explains the setup, but here’s the gist of it.

Follow along on the pictograph above. We start on the left with solar panel. This feeds to a charger that tops off a 12V battery. When that battery is full, the charger feeds to the inverter which converts the 12V DC to 110V AC power. This is fed to a pass-through which is in between the appliance (in this a case a lamp) and the wall outlet. The pass-through will switch between mains power coming from the outlet, and the 110 coming from the inverter. The homeowner won’t know, or care, which power source is being used. But sunny months should result in lower energy bills. The real question is how long it takes to cover the cost of the system in saved electricity.

[Read more...]

Monitoring home electricity usage via a tidy wall display

power-meter-display

[Janne Mäntyharju] wanted to get an idea as to how much electricity he consumed in his new home, mainly to see if using his fireplace for additional heat had any effect on his bill. Luckily his power meter was mounted in the utility room of his house, making it easy to keep tabs on his usage.

His meter features a small LED that blinks a fixed number of times per consumed Kilowatt hour, so he mounted a photoresistor and ATtiny2313 above it to detect the light pulses. [Janne’s] server polls the microcontroller every 5 minutes over an XBee connection, recording the power usage in an SQL database for further analysis. From this database, he generates graphs showing both the temperature in his home as well as the average electricity usage for the specified time period.

[Janne] also wanted to make the data easily accessible, so he constructed a wall-mounted display using a Beagleboard and digital picture frame. The display not only shows his electricity usage, but it toggles between the weather, calendar events, IRC logs, and pictures from his security camera.

We’ve certainly seen this sort of electric meter monitoring before, but it serves as a quick reminder that given the right tools, watching your power usage (among other things) can be as easy as taking a quick glance over at the wall.

PossessedHand controls hand with electrical stimuli

[Emi Tamaki], [Miyaki Takashi] and [Jun Rekimoto] at the University of Tokyo came up with a device called the PossessedHand that electrically stimulates muscles to train someone to play a the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument.

The PossessedHand ‘triggers’ individual fingers with precisely placed electrodes. Sixteen joints in the hand can be controlled independently by placing one electrode on the muscle that controls the joint and a ground electrode on the tendon of that muscle. Users of the PossessedHand reported no pain from the device when 30 Volts were sent though the electrodes.

The paper (PDF warning) goes into detail about the reactions of the users of the PossessedHand. While a few subjects thought the PossessedHand was scary, many enjoyed it – one subject even thought it was possible to fly a helicopter without training. While this isn’t downloading a rotary wing licence into your brain like The Matrix, the PossessedHand did prove to be a useful tool for learning the fingering for the koto. You can see a video of the PossessedHand in action in the New Scientist story.

[via New Scientist]

Electronics lessons for beginners

electronics

Hackaday reader [grenadier] wrote in to share a series of tutorials he is working on, where he discusses the basics of electricity and electronics. The first lesson titled, What is Electricity?” has been wrapped up, and is available for free on his site.

For any of our regular readers, the lesson will seem pretty basic (and likely full of things to nitpick). However, we imagine his lessons would be quite helpful to anyone looking to expand their electronics know-how.

Now don’t get us wrong, we love the series of electronics tutorials that Jeri has been periodically releasing, but we think there’s plenty of room on the Internet for other willing teachers as well. If his first lesson is any indicator, his tutorials will be easy to understand, sprinkled with a little bit of humor, and chock full of fun videos that demonstrate the subject at hand.

Take a quick look his way if you get a chance – you or someone you know might find his tutorials and reference guides insightful.

[Image courtesy of Electronicsandyou]

Million volt guitar rocks the house…for science!

science_brothers_tesla_hero

[Bill Porter] and his friend [Dan Flisek] work together to put on a science-related educational stage show called “Science Brothers”, in which the pair try to convince school children that their field of expertise is the cooler science. While the two are competitive on stage, the main goal of the program is to get kids interested in science, no matter what the specialty.

The pair currently finance the project out of pocket, so they are always looking for ways to make things interesting while also keeping costs in check. With that in mind [Bill] came up with an awesome way to show off the Tesla coil he built a while back. His most recent educational creation is a little something he calls “Tesla Hero”.

Since he already had a solid state Tesla coil hanging around, he dug up a PS2 Guitar Hero controller and got busy getting the two acquainted. The guitar connects to the coil via a fiber optic isolator board, playing one of five notes as he strums along. A series of Arduino-driven LED strips adorn the guitar, flashing various colors while he plays, as you can see in the video below.

It’s quite a cool project, and we’re sure that his audience will be impressed!

Stick around to see a video of  Tesla Hero in action, and if you’re interested in learning more about the Science Brothers, be sure to check them out here.

[Read more...]

Monitor your home’s power usage on the cheap

ir_power_meter

[Paul] was pretty sure that he and his family used a lot of electricity throughout the day. Admittedly, he enjoys his creature comforts, but was wiling to try living a little greener. The problem was, he had no idea how much electricity he was using at a given time.

While some power companies offer devices allowing homeowners to monitor their energy usage, [Paul’s] did not. After a bit of research however, he was ready to build a power monitoring system of his own. He found that his meter emits a small infrared pulse every time a watt-hour of electricity is consumed, so his system counts how many flashes occur to measure usage.

The counting circuit is pretty simple consisting of only an AVR, a resistor, a capacitor, and a phototransistor. The data is fed to a computer where the results are graphed with gnuplot.

It’s quite a useful little hack, and undoubtedly far cheaper than purchasing a whole house power monitor.

High voltage rig wipes CDs clean

hv_cd_destruction

Here at Hackaday, we’re not against showing videos of gratuitous destruction just for the sake of it, though we try not to make it a habit. In this case we just couldn’t help ourselves. However, this video technically constitutes a security hack, as it does involve erasing sensitive information from CDs…

…with awesome!

This may be the coolest CD eraser we’ve seen yet. Positioned between two high-voltage transformers, the spinning CD has its data violently stripped off in just a matter of seconds. To be fair, the data isn’t erased per se, but the metallic substrate on which the data is recorded is flaked off by the aggressive application of electricity.

Having destroyed our fair share of AOL CDs in the microwave over the years, we are now a bit sad over the fact that they were disposed of in such a lackluster fashion – if only we had one of these around!

Since we’re on the topic of mindless destruction, you might as well take a few minutes and check out this thermite-roasted Thanksgiving turkey, this self-destructing hard drive, or perhaps this thermic lance built from spaghetti.

You know, for science.

[Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,388 other followers