Printed vacuum pump muffler quiets the lab


[Joel] made a brilliant improvement to his shop. If you think about it, most folks would hear a loud vacuum pump and either tolerate it or put in some ear plugs. But [Joel] heard a loud vacuum pump and thought: hey, I can fix that! His solution was to design and print his own muffler.

He did a bit of research on the topic and found that design complexity runs the gamut based on the application. For instance, you don’t want to affect the airflow of a vehicle’s exhaust too much or you will take a horsepower (and efficiency) hit for it. In this case the vacuum pump making all the noise has a relatively low airflow so that is not a concern. What he ended up doing is designing a baffle that will help cushion the vibrations in the airy by piping it through a maze of channels. The end result drops from about 92 dB to 82 dB. That might not seem like much, but decibel measurements aren’t linear so it ends up having a great effect. Hear for yourself in the video after the break.

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Personal cooling using a closed loop water system

That’s not a colostomy bag, it’s the first prototype of [Stephen’s] scratch-built closed loop personal cooling system. He must be living in an uncomfortably hot apartment as this is the second cooling system we’ve seen from him in as many weeks. The previous offering was an evaporative system. This time around he’s pumping chilled water to bring some relief.

The image on the left shows the first iteration of the system which pumped cool water from a large jug through a loop of plastic tubing which he wears around his neck. To refine the design he build the version on the right. As a reservoir he grabbed a water-proof ID container meant to keep your valuables dry in the pool or ocean. Inside there’s a pump which he runs off of a 5V battery supply. It circulates water through the neck strap which is a piece of plastic tubing.

This will work for a time, but as the cold water picks up your body’s heat the effect will be lost. We think he needs to add a Peltier cooler to the reservoir in the next iteration. It might help to refine the loop to increase its ability to transfer heat where it touches your skin.

There’s demo of the most recent version embedded after the break.

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Electric paint brush loads itself with paint

Meet [Jahangir Ahmad]. He’s a 19-year-old from India who recently won third place in a contest put on by the National Innovation Foundation. Here he’s posing with the electric paint brush which he developed after seeing some local painters struggling with brushes and buckets at the top of a ladder.

His system uses a 1 hp motor to pump paint from the bucket directly into the brush. Once it enters the handle a distributor splits the flow into four parts so that it reaches the bristles evenly. The pump of the paint is actuated by a controller which can be worn on the painter’s belt. When you get a little low on paint, just hit the button and you’ll get boost. Since the base of the bristles is meant to hold a small reservoir of paint, this has the potential to be better than dipping in a bucket.

[via Reddit via Home Harmonizing via Damn Geeky]

Aquarium water exchanger built from Keurig parts

We keep seeing commercials for those Keurig coffee makers that use a plastic pod of grounds to brew just one cup of coffee. We’re pretty sure this is a fad, and absolutely sure that the extra packaging created by brewing with this method is a waste. But to each his own. [Danman1453] has two of the devices. One he bought, the other is a warranty replacement. He decided to scrap the malfunctioning unit and see if he could put it to good use. What he ended up with is the aquarium pumping system you see above.

It is conceived as tidier way to swap out the water in the fish tank. He had been using tubing to siphon the water, but found he almost always made a mess. This system uses an air pump to prime the water pump by pressurizing the tank which forces water into the lines. Once the water pump is primed he switches over to that for the rest of the work. He used an old metal tool box as an enclosure, using the cover to mount the push-buttons which route power to various components when pressed. Many of the parts were transplants from the coffee maker, but even if you sourced all of the components new this wouldn’t cost too much to put together.

Making your own lab instruments

[Andrey Mikhalchuk] is trying to gather a base set of lab instruments. Specifically, he’s looking for hardware that will let him quickly filter solids out of a liquid. He first started by adding a cotton disk to a plastic funnel. It does the job, but when left to gravity it’s quite slow. He needed a way to speed up the flow even when the filter is heavily clogged with particulates.

There’s already a solution to this problem. It’s a glass container called a Büchner Flask. These feature a glass tube coming out from the neck. By hooking a vacuum pump up to this tube, reduced pressure inside the flask will pull the liquid through the filter in no time. Rather than purchase the specialty item, [Andrey] altered a rubber stopper to accept both the funnel, and a glass tube. This is a cheaper version because it uses a common conical flask but it works just as well. To create the vacuum, an altered bike pump was used. Check out videos of both hacks after the break. Continue reading “Making your own lab instruments”

Aquarium overflow sensor saves your fish and your floors


If you’ve ever had a water leak in your home, you know the sinking feeling that comes over you as you walk through the door to the sound of running water. [Greg] knows this feeling quite well, having returned home to a sopping wet floor and an overflowing reef aquarium on more than one occasion.

Both of the overflows he experienced were due to a clogged drain in his display, but there was little he could do as far as walling off the drain from potential blockages. With all of the delicate creatures living in the tank, the only possible solution that came to mind was monitoring the aquarium’s water level.

Unfortunately he had no idea how to get this done aside from using probes (which would rust in the salt water) or expensive off the shelf systems. [erich_7719] from the All About Circuits forums helped [Greg] out and designed a circuit for him which would monitor the water level using an IR sensor. The circuit simply shuts off the pump if the water level gets precariously high. As you can see in the video below it works quite well, and as a safety measure, requires a manual restart of the pump once the high water sensor has been tripped.

If you have a need for the same sort of setup, swing by his site for a detailed schematic as well as a bill of materials.

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Fertilizing a planted aquarium using air freshener hardware

Keeping live plants in an aquarium happy can be quite a chore. One of the frequent rituals is adding fertilizer, which is called dosing. [Majstor76] came up with a creative way to automatically dose using an air freshener. He got rid of the canister that holds the scent and re-purposed a hand soap pump to move the nutrient-rich liquid. After the break you can see that there’s no shortage of power to actuate the pump and the powered air freshener base has a delay circuit, allowing for a few different time-release options. As long as the volumetric output is fairly consistent we figure you can dilute your fertilizer to fine-tune the dose.

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