Whole House Battery Backup Used For Lower Power Bills

[Photonicinduction] has an impressive battery backup installation that powers his whole house. Unlike a standalone emergency generator which would require you to hook up all of the device you want to run, this setup sits in between the power meter and the breaker box, ready to step in when needed.

But get this, he’s not just using it as a backup system. It kicks in during the day to run everything including two freezers, a refrigerator, his lights, television, and computers. That’s because the price per kilowatt-hour is quite a bit higher during the day than at night. So after 10:30pm the system patches his house back into the grid and charges the batteries for use the next day.

What you see here is just a portion of his system. The control board is not pictured but is very impressive, including a network of relays which are used as a fail-safe system so that there are no conflicts between mains and the battery system. Check out his 15-minute walk through of the system after the break. Continue reading “Whole House Battery Backup Used For Lower Power Bills”

Spaduino Heats Up A Used Hot-tub

[Ryan] and the roomies decided that a hot tub was just what they needed to spice up the place. They hit Craig’s List and found one for the right price. After acquisition and setup they were pleased to find that the jets and pump worked great. But you’re not going to want to stick as much as your big toe into this ice-cold cryogenics experiment. Some poking around in the control system exposed the dead relays which are responsible for switching the heater. Instead of swapping the parts, [Ryan] began building a control system that will replace the twenty-year-old original.

The heating element still works, but it’s rated at 5.5 kW and here’s no way to automatically switch it on and off. [Ryan] found a 60 Amp solid state relay which can handle the load, and plays nicely with his Arduino. Initial tests got the tub up and running again. Obviously you want the tub to maintain temperature and so a thermistor was added to take readings from the heater core. There’s also a potentiometer to adjust the temperature, and an LCD screen to show the current settings. But [Ryan] hopes to add more features over time, like incorporating jet control, and adding wireless communications via an Xbee module.

Chicken Light Keeps Up Egg Production

It turns out that as the days get shorter, chickens lay fewer eggs. But you can trick them into keep up production using artificial light. [Jpitz31] decided to build his own timed coop light to bridge the gap until the days of plentiful sunlight return.

He already had an LED camping light to use, but needed to find a way to power it and to switch it on and off on a schedule. He chose an ATmega328 for the latter, as he had a bunch of extras sitting around. As for power, there isn’t AC available where the coop is, so he opted for a 12V lead-acid battery with hopes of adding solar charging features in the future.

Switching is handled by a relay, with accurate time kept by a DS1307 real-time clock (it’s the red PCB seen above). Everything fits nicely on the board, and we have a couple of feature suggestions for future improvements. The linear regulators will eat up some extra power so moving to a switching regulator will help save juice. Also, it would be very easy to add a light sensor so that the light will only be on when the ambient light drops to a preset level. This way he won’t need to mess with the schedule as the length of the days change.

Toilet Buddy Helps Cover Up Bathroom Noises

toilet-buddy

When it comes to bathroom etiquette, [Nick] and the crew at Gadget Gangster are nothing less than proper gentlemen. Inspired by a Japanese toilet that automatically plays a “courtesy flush” noise in an effort to conserve water while masking sounds, they created the Toilet Buddy.

While the Toilet Buddy does nothing to cover up any aromas, it does provide some sound cover for those louder times. Not only that, it also helps serve as a reminder for other bathroom courtesies as well. When mounted on the tank lid, the Toilet Buddy alerts the last occupant to put the seat down and shut off the lights before leaving the bathroom. Built with a Parallax Propeller board, it uses IR and ambient light sensors to determine the position of the toilet seat and the status of the bathroom lights, playing an audio notifier when necessary. Now if it only sprayed air freshener automatically!

[Nick] points out that the Toilet Buddy is not limited to bathroom duty, and can be used in a variety of projects where light/motion sensing is required. Be sure to check out his writeup for some usage suggestions if you’re thinking of building one.

In the meantime, continue reading to see a video of the Toilet Buddy in action.

Continue reading “Toilet Buddy Helps Cover Up Bathroom Noises”

Making An RF Controlled Light Switch Work With IR

ir-rf-light-switch

[Gary] had an RF triggered light switch kicking around, and wanted to find a way to control his lights using a home theater remote. The switch, which he bought from RadioShack years ago, came with a simple remote that uses two buttons to toggle the lights on and off. While you might think that switching from RF to IR control would be a step backwards, [Gary] really just wanted to consolidate remotes more than anything else.

He designed a circuit board specifically for interacting with the remote half of his RF controller. It sports a PIC16F628A micro controller, which is tasked with processing IR commands from his home theater remote and triggering the lights when requested.

The code he developed for the project is relatively simple, but very useful all the same. When his board is powered on, it stores the first IR code it receives, then retains it as long as it stays powered on. This lets [Gary] use any button on his remote to turn the lights on and off, without any IR codes permanently defined in software.

As you can see in the video below, the modified switch works just as intended, saving [Gary] from having to walk all the way to the light switch when it’s time to fire up a movie.

Continue reading “Making An RF Controlled Light Switch Work With IR”

Kitchen Hacks: The Margarita Machine

If [Paul Degenkolb] really decided to make this on a whim one day (like he says he did) we think he should quit his job and go into a full-blown state of whimsy for the rest of his life. The Margarita Machine makes five gallons of slushy intoxicants in a quick and relatively quiet process that will have a backyard full of guests lining up not just to imbibe, but to see what the heck you’ve come up with this time around.

It’s easy enough to see that the vessel is an Igloo cooler, but where do you get a motor and blade assembly strong enough to turn ice cubes into slush? Just hit the home center and pick out the Garbage Disposer model of your choice. With the ball-valve serving spigot closed, the disposer sucks down the liquid and ice, shooting the pulverized mixture through some PVC pipe back to the top of the cooler. This circulation helps to mix things up, but at times [Paul] uses a glass as a plunger to wrangle rogue ice cubes.

Sorry folks, doesn’t look like there’s any video of this in action.

[Thanks Brad]

Ikea Wine Rack Originally Sold As A Mattress Holder

[Jeremy Walworth] has been dumpster diving again. He noticed that his neighbor had a bucked of nice-looking wood out at the curb for garbage collection. He inquired about it and learned that it was an Ikea bed that had broken, and that the original hardware was still there in a separate bag. He dragged it to his lair and built this wine rack out of the parts.

The reused rails and hardware provide five shelves for the bottles. [Jeremy] wanted each vessel to stay in place if the shelf wasn’t full, so he grabbed a piece of mill work from the home store and cut dividers which were glued in place. Now he’s able to show off up to sixty bottles for just a couple of bucks in material expense.

It seems like Ikea is able to sell furniture for less than the cost of the materials sourced locally. We think this is a fantastic way to find parts for your own hacks, as the components that break can often be cut down to undamaged pieces. We also make sure to check the As-Is section on each visit for the ‘leftovers’ that are usually sold for pennies. Who know’s maybe you’ll find the parts you need to build a camera mount for documenting projects.