Printed vacuum pump muffler quiets the lab

printed-vacuum-pump-muffler

[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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[Lou’s] haircut really sucks

Ah yes, at some point a brilliant inventor combined the electric trimmer with a vacuum cleaner and the art of cutting hair was never the same again. [Lou] is showing us how to give a haircut that really sucks up the waste. And he did it using rubbish he had lying around.

Most people will recognize this as a DIY version of the Flowbee. Not surprisingly, you can still buy one of those if you want, but [Lou] is looking for a vacuum cutter for trimming his dog’s hair so he’s not about to shell out cash for it. He already has the trimmer, and just needed a way to attach the vacuum hose to it. In the image above you can see the grey crevice attachment for his vacuum. He taped it onto the trimmers, then cut a plastic soda bottle to use as a hood near the business end of the trimmer. It’s all wrapped in packing tape to hold everything in place and seal around the joints. You can see it in action in the clip after the break.

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Ping pong ball barrage

What should you do with your down time between sophomore and junior year at MIT? You better build something awesome. [Christian Reed] didn’t disappoint with his newest creation. He calls it the Ping Pong Mauler and we think that’s an appropriate name. It doesn’t just lunch a ball, it belches forth a relentless barrage.

He certainly has no shortage of ammo. A few garbage bags full of the white orbs number at least 3000 strong, and the plastic drum he’s using as a hopper has room for them all. Jamming is an issue and in the image above you can see him working the agitator with his right hand to prevent a clog. The system is mobile, but the shop vacuum used to propel the balls needs AC power. This means there is a tether that keeps it from roaming too far from home. [Christian] included an air tank in the design but apparently the pressurized air doesn’t do much to help with launch speed. That’s good because pressurized ball guns can be scary.

Check out the video after the break to see the ping pongs fly. We bet they’ll be mowing over some strays out in the yard for at least the rest of this summer.

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A look inside what makes cruise control work

[Todd Harrison] took a look inside the business end of the cruise control system from his 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We were a bit surprised at how the system operates. The parts seen in the image above make up the throttle control, using a trio of solenoids to vary the level of vacuum inside the device.

We categorized this as a repair hack, but [Todd] is just rubbernecking and doesn’t have any real plan to fix the system. It’s been on the fritz for ten years and this piece may not even be the culprit. But we’re still satisfied because he gives us a look at the system which uses the amber-colored stoppers on the three solenoids to plug three different sizes of weep holes. The unit is a vacuum enclosure where a throttle wire connects to a rubber diaphragm and adjust engine speed as the diaphragm moves. The vehicle’s computer actuates the three solenoids, allowing leakage to vary the level of vacuum, thereby keeping the throttle at just the right level. Neat!

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Hacking together two shop vacuums

Unfortunately the result of hacking together two shop vacuums isn’t a double-power monstrosity. This is actually the story of combining broken and substandard parts into one usable machine. The guys at the Shackspace originally bought a cheap shop vacuum whose motor gave up the ghost way too quickly. The replacement had only a tiny container for rubbish. So they did what any group of hackerspace members would and combined the two.

Since they wanted to use the voluminous enclosure from the broken vacuum the first order of business was to remove the dead motor assembly. Quick work was made of this by melting away the plastic using an old soldering iron. The motor assembly from the small machine was then mounted in place with screws, and sealed with caulk. It was now working, thanks to salvaged hoses and attachments from other long-lost vacuums.

But a boring hack this might have been if they stopped there. The team added a wall outlet to the top, and adorned the beast with RGB LEDs which are powered from a wall wart (hence the added wall outlet). It can double as a mood light when not in use.

[Thanks Momo]

Printable solar cells that can be folded up when not in use

Here’s a photovoltaic cell that can be printed onto paper. The manufacturing technique is almost as simple as using an inkjet printer. The secret is in the ink itself. It takes five layers deposited on the paper in a vacuum chamber. But that’s a heck of a lot easier than current solar cell fabrication practices. In fact, is sounds like the printing process is very similar to how potato chip bags are made. This is significant, because it could mean a fast track to mass production for the technology.

It isn’t just the easy printing process that excites us. Check out the video after the break where a test cell is placed on top of a light source while being monitored by a multimeter. It’s been folded like a fan and you can see a researcher sinch up the cell into a small form for storage. It’s a little counter-intuitive; for instance, you wouldn’t want to make a window shade out of it because it would have to be down during the day to get power. Be we think there’s got to be some great use for these foldable properties. Continue reading “Printable solar cells that can be folded up when not in use”

Robot vacuum makes cleaning into a game

This is not a Roomba hack, but a ground-up vacuum cleaner robot build. It’s the result of a class project from six students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. There’s a slew of information available in their paper, but fair warning that it’s an 8.6 MB PDF file that we couldn’t get Google to translate. We were able to skim the PDF and cut and paste to translate the interesting bits we found.

Unlike a Roomba, which just uses a little sweeper to pick up debris, this robot actually includes a vacuum. The image above shows that the cylindrical body is wrapped in an LED matrix, with an ultrasonic sensor on the front for obstacle avoidance. The robot uses a CAN bus to control the various modules inside. We don’t think there’s any autonomous function, but that’s made up for by the remote control. It communicates via a ZigBee module, and includes a d-pad, touch screen, and accelerometer.We’re a little bit hazy on how the games are played, but there are at least two interactive version: one called ball, and another modeled after the classic game of missile command.

You can check out the source code for the project in their repository, or join us after the break for two demo videos.

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