Emergency Power Based on Cordless Drill Batteries

[Don Eduardo] took matters into his own hands after experiencing a days-long power outage at his house. And like most of us have done at least one, he managed to burn his fingers on a regulator in the process. That’s because he prototyped a way to use power tool batteries as an emergency source — basing his circuit on a 7812 linear regulator which got piping hot in no time flat.

His next autodidactic undertaking carried him into the realm of switch-mode buck converters (learn a bit about these if unfamiliar). The device steps down the ~18V output to 12V regulated for devices meant for automotive or marine. We really like see the different solutions he came up with for interfacing with the batteries which have a U-shaped prong with contacts on opposite sides.

The final iteration, which is pictured above, builds a house of cards on top of the buck converter. After regulating down to 12V he feeds the output into a “cigarette-lighter” style inverter to boost back to 110V AC. The hardware is housed inside of a scrapped charger for the batteries, with the appropriate 3-prong socket hanging out the back. We think it’s a nice touch to include LED feedback for the battery level.

We would like to hear your thoughts on this technique. Is there a better way that’s as easy and adaptive (you don’t have to alter the devices you’re powering) as this one?

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Drill-based Kinect camera

[Brett Graham] and [David Cox] are taking the Kinect out into the world thanks to this handheld hack they call the Drill of Depth. Apparently, the Kinect wants 12V at 1A which is quite easy to provide with a rechargeable power tool like this Ryobi drill. The setup features a 4.3″ touchscreen display, connected to the Gumstix Overo Air that is running Linux. They claim that there’s a “legitimate scientific reason” for building the device but they’re not sharing it yet.

So what would you use this for? We wonder if it would be possible to roll a GPS into the mix, then use post processing from the captured data to recreate the environment in a virtual setting? Imagine if a weekend spent walking around campus and processing the results let you model your University and make it an add-on level for your favorite game. Or perhaps this could be paired with a regular camera to generate high-quality 3D skinning data for Google Earth. That’s what we came up with, what do you think?