C-clamp current monitoring

[Hydronic] did some tests to make his own current sensor using a c-clamp wrapped with wire. He tried several different cores including an aluminum carabiner, the C-clamp, and what he calls a u-lock (removable chain link). There is some success here that could be improved with cleaner winding and by adjusting readings based on the length of wire used in the wrapping.

This did make us perk up a bit right off the bat. Reader [Mure], who tipped us off about this, suggested that this could be used to make your own Kill-a-Watt without including it in the circuit. We made the jump to house monitoring. We’d love to have a data tracker for our home circuits to curb wasteful energy use. Perhaps we’ll try to make our own sensors and produce a diy Cent-a-Meter.

Tweet-a-Watt wins Greener Gadgets design competition


The team behind the the Tweet-a-Watt/Wattcher just won first prize at the Greener Gadgets design competition. The device is a hacked Kill A Watt that transmits power consumption using an XBee. After checking out DVICE’s preview of the competitors yesterday, we’re happy to see a prototype win instead of just a concept sketch.

Wattcher, twittering Kill A Watt plans posted


You probably saw [Phillip Torrone] and [Limor Fried]‘s twittering Kill A Watt earlier this week. It was an entry in the Core77/Greener Gadgets Design Competition. We saw a little bit about how it was assembled, but now they’ve posted a full guide to assembling the hardware. Each Kill A Watt gets an XBee radio that transmits back to a receiver that logs the power usage. The difficult part when putting this design together was the XBee required 50mA when transmitting. This is well above the Kill A Watt’s internal power supply. They remedied this by adding a 10,000uF supercap to act as a rechargeable battery. The daily twittering is just a side-effect of the project. The Kill A Watts transmit every 2 seconds, so you’ll get a very accurate report of your power usage. This is a great project for renters who can’t permanently modify their power infrastructure. Each Kill A Watt can support quite a few appliances since they’re rated for 15A, ~1800W.

25C3: Solar-powering your gear


The 25th Chaos Communication Congress is underway in Berlin. One of the first talks we dropped in on was [script]‘s Solar-powering your Geek Gear. While there are quite a few portable solar products on the market, we haven’t seen much in the way of real world experience until now.

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Kill A Watt teardown


Come on, folks. If we keep tearing apart everything that’s handed to us, we’ll never get nice things. SparkFun got their mitts on two Kill A Watts and proceeded to plug them into everything and then dismantled them to see how they work. The Kill A Watt keeps track of how much power is used over time. The largest load they found was their soda machine using 500W (should probably add a motion sensor to that). They plugged a meter on either side of a UPS and found out that it uses 5W just to charge. On the inside of the meter, there isn’t anything too substantial. One unlabeled IC runs the whole show.