Heat your house with propane (but not in the way you’re thinking)

geothermal-heat-pump-charged-with-propane

[Ralph Doncaster] has a geothermal heat pump which is responsible for providing heat for his home. He’s been looking into some hacks that would make it more efficient and decided that the freon (R-22) needed to be tweaked. Some would say the stuff is bad for the environment, so he decided to go a different route. He replaced the Freon with propane, using this rig to make the fuel-grade propane more like cooling-grade propane called r-290.

He purchased the gauge set which is used whenever a technician services an A/C system (but you can also see it in this other A/C propane hack). That’s important because it’s responsible for making sure the old coolant is recaptured (his hose failure nixed this part of the plan) and the new coolant goes where it should at the correct pressure. But before dumping in propane from the local hardware store he needs to dry it out. Fuel-grade propane can have moisture in it, which can be bad for the cooling system. He bought a drier device, the grey bulb seen above, and soldered it on one end to a propane torch fitting and to a valve connection on the other. Now he could remove moisture as he pressurized the system.

Everything is working again, and the cooling side of the system gets much colder. He plans to do more testing as time goes by.

Making a Propane Tank Hank Drum

all-hank-drum-notes-laid-out

A [Hank Drum], as explained here, is a steel drum-type instrument made out of a propane tank. The name comes from the [Hang] or [Hang Drum] which is significantly more expensive than that $40 or so an empty propane tank costs. Of course, you’ll have to do some work to get it to play beautiful music, which can be seen in a time-lapse construction video after the break.

The details of how this instrument was made can be found here, including how to lay everything out and cut out eight relatively neat “tongues” for producing different tones. I used a Dremel tool, but this can also be done using saber saw for a curved top. This method is explained here with a template, but the results may not be as neat.

If you want to try this yourself, make sure to use an empty, unused propane tank. This is extremely important. For another entirely different homemade instrument, why not check out the [Whamola] that we made a year or so ago? [Read more...]

Oil truck transforms into giant mobile grill

Oil-truck-transforms-into-mobile-grill

When the truck rolls up, everything seems normal enough. It’s a generic oil tanker. But when the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” begins to play and the side of the tank starts to open, you suddenly realize things are not what they seem. This is no mere tanker truck, it’s a massive meat cooking monster dubbed the “X Grill”.

[Ken Foster], owner and creator of this $40K+ beast, worked with welder [Gary Webb] to custom design and fabricate every component of the vehicle, from hinges to hydraulic systems. They claim not a single part came from a box. The cooking area, complete with speakers and spotlights, has storage cabinets, stainless steel prep counters, a four burner stove, and a 42 inch grill. If that’s not enough, there are three more grills you can set up beside the truck and hook into the system. All the appliances are run off a 65 gallon propane tank that’s mounted to the side of the truck.

Although the “X Grill” is available to rent for private parties, [Ken] says they spend most of their time at community and charitable events. He donates his equipment and cooking services, and the host group supplies the food and gets to keep any profit.

Good work guys!

[via Neatorama]

FireHero: Raspberry Pi Controlled Pyrotechnics

Fire Hero 3

To put on a live pyrotechnic show at a music festival, [Chris] built the FireHero 3. The result is remotely controlled flames shooting up to 100 feet in the air.

The system is controlled by a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. A server runs on the Pi and allows a remote computer to control the system. The Pi sends commands over serial to the Arduino, which switches solid state relays that actuate the valves.

There’s also some built in safety features: the system won’t boot unless you have the right key and RFID tag, and there are pressure transducers and temperature sensors to ensure the system is operating safely. A CO2 actuated valve can quickly stop fuel flow in an emergency.

Vaporized propane creates the fireballs. The vapor is created by heating the supply tank in a hot water bath. An accumulation tank stores the vapor and custom built manifolds distribute it to the various flame cannons. At each cannon, a silicon nitride hot surface igniter (HSI) is used to ignite the flames once the valve is opened.

After the break, watch a video the the FireHero making some flames.

[Read more...]

Almost building an engine from hardware store parts

engine

You can build a surprising amount of stuff from parts you can pick up at a hardware store. Sometimes, though, getting a project built from sections of pipe is very, very difficult. That’s the case with [Lou]‘s hardware store engine: despite an inordinate amount of cleverness, he just can’t seem to get an engine made from pipe fitting to work and is now asking for some ideas from other ingenious makers.

The engine uses regular oxygen and propane tanks you can pick up at Home Depot with torch heads soldered onto half inch pipe. The fuel and oxygen are mixed in a T fitting until a grill igniter sets the gas mixture ablaze pushing a cylinder down the length of a copper pipe. The cylinder is attached to an aluminum flywheel that also controls the opening and closing of the oxygen and propane valves as well as switching the grill igniter on and off.

Right now, [Lou] can get the engine running, but only for one stroke of the cylinder. He’s having a bit of a problem turning this into a working motor. If you’ve got any idea on how to make [Lou]‘s engine work, drop a line in the comments. We’ll throw our two cents in and say he needs a valve on the exhaust, but other suggestions are always welcome.

Single-column Rubens’ tube

Here’s a fiery project which [Patrick] calls his Pyro Jam Can. It’s the simplest Rubens’ Tube build that we can think of. For the uninformed, a Rubens’ tube uses flammable gas to reveal wave forms passing through the supply vessel. In the past we’ve seen projects with multiple columns, which very clearly show a standing wave. But this version lacks the resolution for that, so the wave is seen as a modulated flame height.

You can see the propane feed tube coming into the can from the right. This keeps the gas flowing steadily, but a diaphram on the bottom of the can made of a latex balloon allows for modulations in flame height by pushing the gas through the aperture a bit faster than it is flowing. A speaker in the base bounces sound waves off of the diaphragm for the effect seen in the video clip after the break.

We wonder if the can will ever heat up enough to melt the balloon on the other end?

[Read more...]

Burning Man 2011: Christopher Schardt’s Garden of Rockets

This is one piece I regret to have missed this year at Burning Man, however I certainly heard tales from any one who stumbled across it. [Christopher Shardt]‘s Garden of Rockets consists of three kinetic fire art pieces with spinning propane rockets that you can control!

[Christopher] decided to incorporate his Burning Man 2010 project, 4pyre², which is a 12 foot pipe with opposing propane fueled rockets on each end. Onlookers can control the amount of propane fed to the rockets and twist the pipe they are attached to causing the whole thing to spin around like an out of control fire hose. Accompanying 4pyre² is  PyreGoRound, and  Pyroticulation which are two variants on 4pyre²’s concept of spinning rocket bars. [Christopher] was lucky enough to have his project materials funded by Burning Man, but added three thousand dollars (!) in propane to the mix out of pocket.

Check out a video of the project after the jump, and [Christopher]‘s site for details and schematics.

[Read more...]

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