BAMF2010: SolarPump Charging Station

Amidst the noise of a bazillion robots and Tesla coils at the 2010 Bay Area Maker Faire, we located a bubble of usable WiFi, and got a nearby power charge to boot. If nothing else here, we want this:

The SolarPump Charging Station is a self-contained oasis of free power for laptops, cel phones and even electric bikes. This charging station is one of several designs created by Sol Design Labs of sunny Austin, Texas. No bigger than a bus stop (and way cooler looking), it’s like the ultimate case mod, repurposing a vintage Citgo gas pump and recycled metals for more modern needs. Three large Sanyo solar panels provide power for devices and shade for users, while topping off the internal 24V 100AH battery for nighttime use (with LED lighting) or cloudy days. The end result transcends “green” — the SolarPump is simply appealing at a visceral level, managing to be simultaneously fun, attractive and practical. Did we mention wanting one? We totally want one.

Making a rail gun (again!)

[Rp181] is at it again with version 2 of his rail gun project. The original did have some power with 18 400V 3900uf capacitors, but he’s ramped it up to now using 40! Reaching more than double the amount of joules of energy, 12kJ vs. the 5.6kJ! Some other changes include a new injector solenoid setup and revision 3 of his breakwire chronograph. Sadly, he doesn’t mention if this is as green as his first rail gun. Check out a video of just the injector firing and an animation explaining some new updates after the jump.

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How to build your own lathe

diy_lathe

[bongodrummer] wanted to use a lathe to make some gifts for his family. Instead of buying one, he decided to make one and recycle some parts in the process. More info after the break. [Read more...]

Laser spiro made from junk

P6080017

Sometimes we need someone like [FireMyLaser] to show us that you really don’t need things like custom PCB’s, expensive tools, or laser cutters to pull of a hack. His laser spiro subsists mostly of  toothpicks, hotglue, and determination. It is a two motor spiro with a base motor and a motor mounted in a  spinning cage. The cage gets power through brushes much like other projects we’ve covered. See a video of it in action after the break.
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Tapping Tree Power

[bugloaf] tipped us off about this flower power hack. University of Washington researchers, [Babak], [Brian], and [Carlton] have developed very low power circuits to run directly off of trees. This builds upon the work of MIT researchers and Voltree Power. A voltage of up to around 200mV is generated between an electrode in a tree and an electrode in the ground. Identical metals can be used as electrodes as the process is not like that of a lemon or potato battery. The significant development here is the use of a boost converter and exceptionally low power circuits. What kind of applications can you come up with for this source of power? Maybe you could try to combine this power with the power from donuts and hair.

Energy efficient fridge hack

Green_Freezer

We’ve already covered a pipe bomb mini-fridge this week, but inventor [Tom Chalko] provides us with today’s fridge hack. He noticed that chest-style (laying down, see above) freezers were more energy efficient when compared to normal stand up refrigerators at the same size, despite the colder temperatures involved. This is largely due to the fact that these chest-style freezers keep cold air in like water in a bowl, even if the lid is open. He has written a very thorough report on his findings (pdf), as well as a detailed walk through of the manageable task of converting a chest-style freezer into a chest-style fridge. In the end, his fridge only used 103 Wh of electricity on the first day to reach and maintain between 4° and 7° C (39° to 45° F), and he noted that 30% of that was just getting it up to temperature. After that, the fridge only turned on for roughly 90 seconds an hour, making it a very quiet fridge as well.

Econo Monome

[Mike] really liked the thought of the Monome, especially the green aspect of their construction. He felt he could take it a step further. After 40 years of electronics tinkering, he had quite a spare parts box. He constructed his monome clone from stuff he just had laying around.  All of his pieces were either rejected samples from his company or outdated parts destined for the trash bin. Great job [Mike]. If you are planning to build one and don’t have the buttons laying around, you can get a more typical monome look and feel by going with the sparkfun RGB pads, like we did back in March.

[via Makezine]

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