Fuel cells are like batteries, sort of. Both use chemical reactions to produce electricity. The difference is that when a battery exhausts its reactants, it goes dead. In some cases, you can recharge it, but you typically get less energy back with each recharge. A fuel cell, on the other hand, will make electricity as long as you keep supplying fuel. What kind of fuel? Depends on the cell, but most often it is hydrogen or methanol.
Researchers at the University of Bath, Queen Mary University of London, and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory want to use a different fuel: urine. According to the researchers, that’s one resource we will never deplete. The fuel cell is a type of microbial fuel cell which is nothing new. The breakthrough is that the new cell is relatively inexpensive, using carbon cloth and titanium wire. Titanium isn’t usually something you think of as cheap, until you realize that conventional cells usually use platinum.
Continue reading “They Put the “P” in Power”
Although Dogs and other animals love to mark their territory with urine, this technique has been generally ignored by human beings. Despair no more, fellow homo sapiens, we have now developed the ability to check-in on foursquare through your information stream. This device is descriptively called “Mark your Territory.”
Although this is not currently available to buy in stores (although apparently $10,000 will get you one built), [Instructables] user [blorgggggg] has furnished directions on building your own. The system is powered by an Arduino and an Android phone. The urine tags have both a pointed end for sticking in grass and the like, and a sticky back to be used in a “more urban settings.”
The video after the break gives quite a bit of background trying to justify such a system in terms of communicating in the physical world, animals, et cetera, but it’s doubtful that this excuse will get you out of a public urination charge. You’ve been warned.
Commenter [TheCreator] reminded us of this fantastic video from [Craig Turner] who you may recognize from SBS’s Top Gear Australia Video Competition. You see, [Craig] has been struggling for some time with the problem of neighborhood cats relieving themselves pretty much all over his stuff. Through surveillance he identified (and named) around 9 separate cats sauntering into his yard during the wee hours of the night. The only issue now was to humanely discourage them from entering his yard.
The best solution, in this case, was a simple spray from the garden hose, but who is going to stay up all night to watch for cats? [Craig]’s ’75 Galant happens to have aftermarket door locks. These typically contain a simple powerful 12V actuator that will push or pull when given current. The actuator is strong enough, and has enough travel, to depress your typical garden sprayer handle. The lock actuators even include enough mounting hardware to tack everything together. The only irreversible part of the hack appears to be the hole drilled into the sprayer’s handle.
The job of cat detection is handled with a PIR sensor (sourced from his home security system) and a paper towel tube to narrow the detector’s field of view. Placed at animal height the PIR detector works like a trip line, and flips a relay connected to an array of devices: A bright LED lamp, a DSLR set to take several quick photos of the victim, An HD video camera, and the sprayer solenoid. This whole rig is placed at a convenient choke point and hilarity ensues! A schematic is included in the video but is pretty difficult to interpret, we transcribed it for you. Some details are unclear but essentially a few relays are stapled together to provide either high or low switching signals.
Check out the video, [Craig]’s schematic, and our interpretation of [Craig]’s schematic after the jump!
Continue reading “Automated hose keeps cats from watering you”
[JJ Hendricks] wrote in to tell us about his SNES cartridge urinal. The fully functional urinal is constructed with 40 SNES cartridges and sealed up with polyurethane. The base of the whole operation is actually not a puddle of festering urine, but instead poured polyurethane that ensures proper flow through the drain. You heard right, this urinal actually flushes! As a bit of consolation [Hendricks] plainly states in the directions: “No good games were damaged in the making of this video. All the video games used in this urinal were already broken or worthless sports games”. We have featured some SNES cartridge readers before, so now you have something to do with all the leftover hardware! Gross.
Continue reading “We know “Mario’s Early Years” was a let down, but this takes it a bit too far.”
We thought we were supposed to have fusion-power for our DeLorean by now but it perhaps urine-power is just around the corner instead. [Gerardine Botte] has been working on creating hydrogen from urine, the world’s most abundant waste product. The voltage needed to break apart the urea atoms is less than half that of water, and the way we see it, you’ve had the added benefit of already using the water once before creating the fuel. [Gerardine] also makes the point that urine has phosphorus in it which could be another useful outcome of the process because it is needed as an agricultural fertilizer. Does this mean that you can repay your designated driver by fueling up his vehicle after a night at the bar? It’s probably better than doing the same for the battery of your cell phone.
Hackers produced the first vegetable-oil powered vehicles so we’re throwing down the challenge of producing the first pee-and-go automobile. Good luck and wash your hands when you’re done.
Here’s a quick and dirty kinetic sculpture. It’s a track for a steel marble to roll around in with a magnet on a rotating wheel to pick it up and start it over again. Not every hack has to be a beautiful masterpiece, they just need to be fun. Of course, if this were an incredibly complicated piece it probably wouldn’t have ended up in a links post.
[AlexP] has been involved in the NUI Group and in writing drivers for the PS3 Eye. This time around he’s got eight of them running on one computer at 60fps. Security cameras come to mind but this could be useful in a lot of projects. We’d be interested in seeing what you come up with. [Thanks Kyle]
If you have a problem with folks peeing on your stoop then this is the answer. [Hannes Nehls] put together a urinating-drunkard deterrent by placing a humidity sensor in the (achem…) trouble-spot and a small tube above. When they pee on the sensor, it pees right back on them. Video available if you click through to the link.
If you’re a little shaky when it comes to understanding and working with amplifiers this tutorial is for you. It’ll walk you through the basic concepts, then apply that knowledge in a simple op-amplifier circuit.
It’s always nice to end a links post with something creepy. These faces are made from a cast of the artist’s face. They sing a trio of nonsense and it’s the life-like movements combined with the obviously mechanical backend that tingles our spine. But they’re really just a novelty and not the real thing. [Thanks Browneyedalbino][via Powered by Nerd]