[John] found an old Kenmore electric heater at a junk store one day, and thought it would look great in his bathroom. The only problem with the unit is that it was built back in the 1940s/1950s, so it lacked any sort of modern safeguards that you would expect from an indoor heater. There was no on/off switch, no fuse, no thermostat, and no tip switch – though it did have a nice, flammable cloth-covered power cord.
Since [John] wasn’t too keen on burning his house down in the name of staying warm, he decided to retrofit the old unit’s shell with a new ceramic heater. He found a $20 unit that looked like it would fit, so he disassembled both heaters and got to work. The Kenmore’s innards were scrapped, then he gave the unit a nice fresh coat of high-temp paint. The new heater was cut to fit inside the old unit’s shell, controls and safety features intact.
He says that it works very well, and that it looks great in his bathroom. If you’re considering doing something similar, be sure to check out his writeup – it is very thorough and has plenty of details that will help you along the way.
[Bob] had a couple of bright, 12V halogen spotlights in his hallway that didn’t get much use. Rather than toss them out or leave them sitting idle, he decided to replace the bright bulbs with dimmer LEDs that he could keep lit through the night.
He opened up the spotlights, removing the bulbs and the built in mirrors before fitting them with 350mA LED pucks. The pucks were mounted to a pair of L-shaped aluminum scraps, which serve as both a mounting plate and heatsink. When running, the underdriven LEDs barely heat the aluminum plates, so he is pretty confident that the lights are adequately cooled.
The orange LEDs provide a nice warm glow in his hallway, and he says they are perfect for late night trips to the fridge. They currently stay lit all the time, but [Bob] is considering adding a light sensor to turn them on them automatically, as well as a PIR sensor to increase the brightness as someone passes by.
[Devon] recently repaired a handful of Phillips LCD projectors which he was quite excited to use. The only problem is that he didn’t want to mess with replacing the bulbs after every 2000 hours of use at $100 apiece. He was pretty confident that he could find a better way to drive the projectors, so he disassembled them once more and started looking around for bulb replacements.
He figured that a high-powered LED would do the trick, so he ordered a handful of parts and went about his first retrofit. Using his oscilloscope, he found that the control board pulses the high voltage board when the projector is powered on, and continues to pulse a signal until the machine is turned off. At this point, the HV board powers down the bulb.
He created a small circuit using a PIC that is used to interpret the initial pulse from the control board as well as watch for the steady “heartbeat” pulses that occur while the projector is powered on. This board is used to control the driver board for the high-powered LED he purchased.
His bulb replacement works well as far as color fidelity is concerned, but is not nearly as bright as he hoped for. He has plans to source some far brighter LEDs or automobile HID lighting in the very near future, and we look forward to seeing if he can match the brightness of the original bulbs.
When [Roberto] bought his Mini Cooper, he opted to forgo the factory GPS system as it was over priced and didn’t have the best of reputations. He decided that he still needed GPS in his car, so he committed himself to install a TomTom unit in a way that would not detract from the car’s interior.
He dismantled the driver’s side sun visor, taking measurements of the original plastic housing that contained the mirror and lighting. He then drew up a 3D model of a replacement housing that would allow him to fit both the GPS unit and the speaker in the same amount of space formerly occupied by the mirror.
He gutted his TomTom unit, removing any extraneous parts he could find. A smaller speaker was sourced due to size constraints, then everything was mounted in his new housing once it arrived.
The end result is amazing. The GPS unit looks like it was installed at the factory – there is no sign that this was any sort of aftermarket modification. We are sure people will be quick to say that would be difficult to keep your eyes on the road while looking at the navigation screen, but as [Roberto] points out, you should be following the spoken directions once the car is in motion anyhow.
While digging through a pile of old camera equipment, [Jake] stumbled upon a camera that belonged to his grandfather and was curious to see what sorts of images the old lens would produce. He wasn’t interested in messing around with a film-based camera for his experiments, so he needed to find a way to mount the vintage lens on his newer Canon DSLR.
After considering several options including custom machined adapters and mounting rings built from old Canon lenses, he found a much cheaper solution. He purchased a lens adapter made to mount a particular type of lens to a modern DSLR, and then modified it to fit his lens. It worked perfectly, though he admits the resulting images are not that different than those taken with his regular lens.
Underwhelmed with the images, he decided to mount the lens on a set of bellows he picked up at the local dump. It looks pretty neat, but he has yet to get a chance to take any pictures with his new setup. Hopefully we’ll see some test shots soon.
If anyone has experience with using bellows lenses on a modern DSLR, we’re always up for seeing some sample pictures. In the meantime, check out this other DSLR/bellows hybrid project we featured a short while back.
[Jarrod] has an older Compaq laptop he is still pretty keen on, but he has one niggling problem – the laptop doesn’t have a built-in wireless card. He recently changed security protocols on his home wireless network to WPA and realized that his old Linksys PC card only supports WEP. He decided it was time to find another way to connect wirelessly, so he started searching around for options.
It turns out that his laptop does have the ability to accept a LCD-mounted add-on wireless card, but it costs about $100 and doesn’t support WPA. He figured that the card slipped into some sort of glorified USB port, and after disassembling the laptop, he found that he was right.
He quickly soldered a few wires and a USB adapter to the Bluetooth board that already occupied the card slot, then plugged in a wireless mouse to see what would happen. The mouse’s radio powered on without issue, and much to [Jarrod’s] delight, the port was USB 2.0 compatible.
Now that he knows the port is live, he plans on finding a small USB 802.11 G or N adapter to cram into the slot – with the deluge of miniature USB Wi-Fi adapters on the market, that shouldn’t be too hard.
[Roberto Barrios] picked up a surgical microscope to add to those other fun lab toys you seen in the background. These work very well when soldering small components because they don’t have to be as close to the viewed objects as traditional microscopes. But [Robert] didn’t care for the heat generated by the incandescent bulb so he build his own LED replacement. If you recognize his name it’s because we saw a beautifully crafted in-visor GPS system that he built back in April. This project exhibits the same level of craftsmanship in which he utilized the base of a spare bulb to add an LED, heat sink, and driver board that is adjustable on all three axes.
He also mentioned that he overhauled his site design and it now plays nicely with all browsers.