Open Source DC UPS Keeps The Low-Voltage Gear Going

We all like to keep our network gear running during a power outage — trouble is, your standard consumer-grade uninterruptible power supply (UPS) tends to be overkill for routers and such. Their outlet strips built quickly get crowded with wall-warts, and why bother converting from DC to AC only to convert back again?

This common conundrum is the inspiration for [Walker]’s DC UPS design, which has some interesting features. First off, the design is open source, which of course invites tinkering and repurposing. The UPS is built for a 12 volt supply and load, but that obviously can be changed to suit your needs. The battery bank is a 4S3P design using 18650 cells, and that could be customized as well. There’s an ideal diode controller that prevents DC from back-feeding into the supply when the lights go out, and a really interesting synchronous buck-boost converter in place of the power management chip you’d normally see in a UPS. The converter chip takes a PWM signal from an RP2040; there’s also an ESP32 onboard for web server and UI duties as well as an STM32 to run the BMS. The video below discusses the design and shows a little of the build.

We’ve seen a spate of DC UPS designs lately, some more elaborate than others. This one has quite a few interesting chips that most of us don’t normally deal with, and it’s nice to see how they’re used in a practical design.

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2023 Halloween Hackfest: Converted Proton Pack Lights Up The Night

It’s really quite unfortunate that Hackaday/Supplyframe employees and their families are not allowed to place in the 2023 Halloween Hackfest, because our own [Tom Nardi] has thrown down a costume gauntlet with his kids’ proton pack conversion.

Starting with an inert off-the-shelf toy from 2021, [Tom] set out to make the thing more awesome in every way possible. For one thing, it’s blue, and outside of the short-lived animated series The Real Ghostbusters, who ever heard of a blue proton pack? So one major change was to paint it matte black and age it with the old silver rub ‘n buff technique. And of course, add all the necessary stickers.

[Tom] added plenty of blinkenlights, all running off of an Arduino Nano clone and a pair of 18650s. He got lucky with the whole power cell thing, because an 8 x 5050 RGB LED stick fits there perfectly and looks great behind a PETG diffusing lens. He also drilled out and lit up the cyclotron, because what’s a proton pack without that? There’s even a 7-segment LED voltmeter so Dad can check the power level throughout the night.

Finally, he had to do a bit of engineering to make the thing actually wearable by his daughter. A frame made of square aluminium tubing adds strength, and a new pair of padded straps make it comfortable. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.

What’s a Ghostbusters costume without a PKE meterContinue reading “2023 Halloween Hackfest: Converted Proton Pack Lights Up The Night”

Dial Up A Tune On The Jukephone

What do you do when you find a nice corded phone with giant buttons out in the wild? You could pay $80/month for a landline, use a VOIP or Bluetooth solution instead, or do something a million times cooler and turn it into a jukebox.

Now when the receiver is lifted, [Turi] hears music instead of a dial tone or a voice on the other end. But playback isn’t limited to the handset — there’s a headphone jack around back.

To listen to a track, he can either dial one in directly, or call up a random track using one of the smaller buttons below. A handy directory organizes the tunes by the hundreds, putting children’s tracks between 1-99 and the intriguing category “hits” between 900-999.

The phone’s new guts are commanded by a Raspberry Pi Pico, which is a great choice for handling the key matrix plus the rest of the buttons. As you may have guessed, there’s an DF Player Mini mp3 player that reads the tracks from an SD card. Everything is powered by a rechargeable 18650 battery.

Jukephone is open source, and you’ll find more pictures on [Turi]’s blog post. Be sure to check out the very brief build and demo video after the break.

Continue reading “Dial Up A Tune On The Jukephone”

Lithium-Ion Battery Circuitry Is Simple

By now, we’ve gone through LiIon handling basics and mechanics. When it comes to designing your circuit around a LiIon battery, I believe you could benefit from a cookbook with direct suggestions, too. Here, I’d like to give you a collection of LiIon recipes that worked well for me over the years.

I will be talking about single-series (1sXp) cell configurations, for a simple reason – multiple-series configurations are not something I consider myself as having worked extensively with. The single-series configurations alone will result in a fairly extensive writeup, but for those savvy in LiIon handling, I invite you to share your tips, tricks and observations in the comment section – last time, we had a fair few interesting points brought up!

The Friendly Neighborhood Charger

There’s a whole bunch of ways to charge the cells you’ve just added to your device – a wide variety of charger ICs and other solutions are at your disposal. I’d like to focus on one specific module that I believe it’s important you know more about.

You likely have seen the blue TP4056 boards around – they’re cheap and you’re one Aliexpress order away from owning a bunch, with a dozen boards going for only a few bucks. The TP4056 is a LiIon charger IC able to top up your cells at rate of up to 1 A. Many TP4056 boards have a protection circuit built in, which means that such a board can protect your LiIon cell from the external world, too. This board itself can be treated as a module; for over half a decade now, the PCB footprint has stayed the same, to the point where you can add a TP4056 board footprint onto your own PCBs if you need LiIon charging and protection. I do that a lot – it’s way easier, and even cheaper, than soldering the TP4056 and all its support components. Here’s a KiCad footprint if you’d like to do that too.

Continue reading “Lithium-Ion Battery Circuitry Is Simple”

Lithium-Ion Batteries Are Easy To Find

In the first article, I’ve given you an overview of Lithium-Ion batteries and cells as building blocks for our projects, and described how hackers should treat their Lithium-Ion cells. But what if you don’t have any LiIon cells yet? Where do you get LiIon cells for your project?

Taking laptop batteries apart,  whether the regular 18650 or the modern pouch cell-based ones, remains a good avenue – many hackers take this road and the topic is extensively covered by a number of people. However, a 18650 cell might not fit your project size-wise, and thin batteries haven’t quite flooded the market yet. Let’s see what your options are beyond laptops. Continue reading “Lithium-Ion Batteries Are Easy To Find”

Hackaday Prize 2022: Solar Powered LoRa Weather Station For The Masses

[Debasish Dutta] has designed a few weather stations in the past, and this, the fourth version of the system has had many of the feature requests from past users rolled in. The station is intended to be used with an external weather sensor unit, provided by Sparkfun. This handles wind speed and direction, as well as measuring rainfall. A custom PCB hosts an ESP32-WROOM module and an Ai-Thinker Ra-02 LoRa module for control and connectivity respectively. A PMS5003 sits on the PCB to measure those particulate densities, but most sensors are connected with simple 4-way I2C connectors. Temperature, humidity, and pressure are handled by a BME280 module, UV Index (SI1145), visible light (BH1750) even soil humidity and temperature with a cable-mounted SHT10 module.

All this is powered by a solar panel, which charges a 18650 cell, and keeps the show running during the darker hours. For debugging and deployment, a USB-C power port can also be used to provide charge. A 3D printed Stevenson screen type enclosure allows the air to circulate amongst the PCB-mounted sensor modules, without hopefully too much moisture making it in there to cause mischief.

On the data collection and visualization side, a companion LoRa receiver module is in progress, which is intended to pass along measurements to a variety of services. Think Home Assistant, ESP home, and that kind of thing. Software is still a work in progress, so maybe check back later to see how [Debasish] is getting on with that?

This kind of multi-sensor hosting project is nothing new here, here’s a 2019 Hackaday prize entry along the same lines. Of course, gathering and logging measurement data is only part of the problem, visualization of those measurements is also important. Why not use a mechanical approach, such as a diorama?

Lithium-Ion Batteries Are Your Friends

Need some kind of battery for a project? You can always find a few Lithium-Ion (LiIon) batteries around! They’re in our phones, laptops, and a myriad other battery-powered things of all forms – as hackers, we will find ourselves working with them more and more. Lithium-Ion batteries are unmatched when it comes to energy capacity, ease of charging, and all the shapes and sizes you can get one in.

There’s also misconceptions about these batteries – bad advice floating around, fearmongering videos of devices ablaze, as well as mundane lack of understanding. Today, I’d like to provide a general overview of how to treat your LiIon batteries properly, making sure they serve you well long-term.

What’s A Battery? A Malleable Pile Of Cells

Lithium-Ion batteries are our friends. Now, there can’t be a proper friendship if you two don’t understand each other. Lithium-Ion batteries are tailored for human needs by the factory that produced them. As for us hackers, we’ll want to learn some things.

First thing to learn – a single LiIon “unit” is called a cell. An average laptop contains three or six Li-Ion cells, a phone will have one, a tablet will have from one to three. What we refer to as “battery” is typically one or multiple cells, together with protection circuitry, casing and a separate connector – most of the time all three of these, but not always. The typical voltage is 3.6 V or 3.7 V, with maximum voltage being 4.2 V – these are chemistry-defined, the same for most kinds of cells and almost always written on the cell. Continue reading “Lithium-Ion Batteries Are Your Friends”