Propane Tank-ard

[hpstoutharrow's] new instructable is a neat idea on how to re-use those single use small propane bottles by turning it into an insulated canteen. Once the bottles are emptied through normal use, the safety valve is popped loose and allowed to vent. There are also comments on the article that suggest that the bottle be submerged to ensure all gas is gone, and we think that is wise too.

Once safe to work on, the bottom is cut open and the stem is cut off leaving a empty shell, a soda bottle is shrunk down by boiling water inside of it for a little bit, then is fit inside the propane bottle. The top of the soda bottle is held in place by an O-ring, the safety pressure hole plugged up and the whole thing is filled with spray “expand-o-foam” locking everything in place and adding insulation.

Though using a thermoplastic bottle as its liner does not invite hot beverages to the party, it seems to do the job just fine for cold drinks, and it makes for a interesting conversation piece out on the campground.

Join us after the break for a quick how-to video.

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Hacking a hack: electric hybrid Geo Metro

[Ben Nelson] turned his electric Geo Metro into a plug-in hybrid. But wait, where’d he get an electric Geo Metro? It seems that we’re one hack behind [Ben], who converted the vehicle to all electric back in 2008 using a forklift motor and some batteries. This time around he’s following the Chevrolet Volt’s example by adding a backup generator. Instead of going with a gasoline power he added a tank of propane and the generator from a Recreational Vehicle. This won’t put out enough juice to drive while the generator is running, but you can use it to extend your traveling range by pulling over for a nap while it tops off the batteries.

Flaming guitar hero

[Chris Marion] knew he wanted to play with fire, or more accurately with fireball spewing valves, but he need a good project in which he could use them. Inspiration finally struck and he built this controller that matches fireballs to the fret buttons on a Guitar Hero controller. There’s quite a lot that goes into this but we think that he hit a home run. The basic components are a manifold with electronically actuated valves, another manifold for the pilot lights, and a modified Guitar Hero controller.

To interface the controller he used an Arduino along with [Bill Porter's] PS2 library to read signals from the buttons. But the real labor intensive part of the build came with the manifold. There’s a hardware store’s worth of fittings and flexible copper pipe that go into that assembly. In the end this all came together in just one week.

[Thanks Bill]

76 flaming trombones led the big parade

[Jonathan Crawford] is ready and willing to fire things up with his flaming trombone. A couple of years back his band teacher was going through the storage room triaging instruments. This trombone suffered from a bad case of red rot and would never function well again so [Jonathan] was able to get his hands on it and get to work.

He started by sanding down the instrument and painting it with high-temperature spray paint. Flexible copper tubing intended for an ice maker was used to relocate the propane outlet inside the bell of the instrument. A barbecue igniter, controlled with the player’s left thumb, lights the flame.

The torch that [Jonathan] is using would only allow a small amount of gaseous propane to come out the nozzle. He ended up drilling out the aperture, and using a short piece of vinyl tubing to bridge the gap between the nozzle and the supplementary copper tubing. At full blast this allows liquid propane to escape so be warned.

You can see him demonstrating this indoors in the video after the break. He mentioned to us that the first time he tried this out he set off the smoke detector. You’ve got to be careful when playing with fire, whether it’s a musical instrument, or a wearable flamethrower. So, you know, don’t try this at home. [Read more...]

Recharging AC with propane

As the summer heats up an air conditioning system is a necessity in many climates. [Grayson's] system suffered some damage over the winter that caused it to vent its refrigerant, avoiding an explosive situation. Before he can chill out inside he’ll need to recharge it and he’s chosen to use propane in his cooling system. According to our friend Google this is not his original idea, but has been done many times before. [Grayson] makes the point that although propane is flammable it’s not necessarily any more dangerous in a fire than Chlorodiflouromethane, or R22, which is the nasty little gas that fled his system for its new home in the upper atmosphere.

The video above includes a brief explanation of recharging the system and the tools needed. We’d need to mill this over for quite a while before working up the gumption to give it a try. For now we’ll stick to [Grayson's] more pedestrian hacks like making some servo motors sing or easing our yard work woes.

Colored pyrotechnics

Regular submitter [Jared Bouck] from Inventgeek.com has sent us this cool project. He wanted to make a fireball cannon, but didn’t want to settle for plain old fireballs.Instead of using a common  propane system, he built an alcohol based one so he had a “blank slate” to start with. He then applied some copper chloride to get the desired greens and blues. With all of the fire displays we see, how come we don’t see more colored flames? Check out the overview video after the break.

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