[Freeload] sent us his custom MagSafe adapter build for laptops. MagSafe for those unaware is Apples (patented) power adapters that prevent damage to laptops when the cord is accidentally yanked from the socket. While we’ve seen some custom versions before of MagSafes they were usually bulky, ugly, and used a ton of unremovable glue. We really like [Freeload’s] because its quick, good looking, and the best part – completely removable without marks or damage. In short, an easy weekend project that could one day save your laptop.
[Kenneth] built a 5v controlled power outlet inside of a junction box. We’ve seen plenty of projects that can switch 120v outlets using 5v logic for refrigerator controllers, lighting controllers, or grow systems, but they almost always use solid state relays to facilitate the switching. This iteration uses mechanical relays along with the necessary protection circuitry. The project is housed in an extra deep single-gang box and allows for individual switching of the two outlets. You can see this connected to an Arduino switching two lamps after the break.
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[Rosenberger31] did a nice job of adding a USB port to his 2010 Toyota Prius. He removed the access door on the console where the traditional “cigarette lighter” 12 volt port is located. A Dynex 12-volt to USB adapter was piggy-backed onto the power lines and the USB connector was then fit into the blank accessory plate next to it.
There is no data connection here, the port only provides 5v regulated power to devices plugged into it. None the less, it is still a pretty nice looking alternative to having a power adapter hanging out of the dash all the times. If you try this, heed one of the warnings from the comments and make sure you add a switch if you vehicle powers the 12 volt port even when the car is not running.
This makes us wonder: will this void your warranty?
[Colin] has put together an instructable for a solar power generator that uses the thermoelectric effect instead of the photovoltaic (PV) effect. We have seen Peltier devices used in cooling cans, solder paste, backs, and hacked hard drives. This is the first hack we have seen where a Peltier device is used to generate electricity from heat, essentially running the device backwards. The thermoelectric effect is the same principle that is used to generate electricity in radioisotope thermoelectric generators used in deep space probes such as Cassini. What applications can you come up with to use the thermoelectric effect as a power source?
[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.
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.
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.