Electric vehicles (EVs) are something of a hot topic, and most of the hacks we’ve featured regarding them center on conversions from Internal Combustion to Electric. These are all fine, and we hope to see plenty more of them in the future. There’s another aspect that doesn’t get covered as often: How to charge electric vehicles- especially commercially produced EV’s rather than the DIY kind. This is the kind of project that [fotherby] has taken on: A 7.2 kW EV charger for his Kia.
Faced with spending £900 (about $1100 USD) for a commercial unit installed by a qualified electrician, [fotherby] decided to do some research. The project wasn’t outside his scope, and he gave himself a head start by finding a commercial enclosure and cable that was originally just a showroom unit with no innards.
An Arduino Pro Mini provides the brains for the charger, and the source code and all the needed information to build your own like charger is on GitHub. What’s outstanding about the guide though is the deep dive into how these chargers work, and how straightforward they really are without being simplistic.
Dealing with mains power and the installation of such a serious piece of kit means that there are inherent risks for the DIYer, and [fotherby] addresses these admirably by including a ground fault detection circuit. The result is that if there is a ground fault of any kind, it will shut down the entire circuit at speeds and levels that are below the threshold that can harm humans. [fotherby] backs this up by testing the circuit thoroughly and documenting the results, showing that the charger meets commercial standards. Still, this isn’t a first-time project for the EV enthusiast, so we feel compelled to say “Don’t Try This At Home” even though that’s exactly what’s on display.
In the end, several hundred quid were saved, and the DIY charger does the job just as well as the commercial unit. A great hack indeed! And while these aren’t common, we did cover another Open Source EV charger about a year ago that you might like to check out as well.
At their best, laptops are a compromise design. Manufacturers go to great lengths to make the slimmest, lightest, whatever-est laptops possible, and the engineering that goes into doing so is truly amazing. But then they throw in the charger, which ends up being a huge brick with wire attached to it, and call it a day.
Does it have to be that way? Probably, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to slim down the overall footprint of laptops at least a little. That’s what [Joe Gaz] did when he hacked his laptop to allow for USB-C charging. Tired of the charger anchoring down his HP X360, [Joe] realized that he could harvest the PCB from a USB-C charger adapter dongle and embed it inside his laptop. We’ve seen similar modifications made to Thinkpads in the past, and it’s good to see the process isn’t that far removed with other brands.
After popping open the laptop, which is always an adventure in reverse mechanical engineering, he found that removing the OEM charger jack left just enough room for the USB-C charger. Mounting the board required a 3D printed bracket, while enlarging the original hole in the side of the laptop case took some cringe-inducing work with a file. It looked like it was going to be pretty sloppy at first, but he ended up doing a pretty neat job in the end. The whole modification process is in the video below.
The end result is pretty slick — [Joe] can now carry a much more compact USB wall-wart-style charger, or eschew the charger altogether and rely on public USB charging stations. Either way, it sure beats lugging a brick around. If you’re interested in laptop hacking, or even if you just want to harvest the goodies from a defunct machine, check out this guide to laptop anatomy by our own [Arsenijs Picugins].
When you have a solar-powered web server, where do you go next for a source of power? Instead of lazily mooching off the sun, you can use your muscle with a bike generator. [Ed note: The site is run on an entirely solar-powered server, so if it’s the middle of the night, you might have a better web experience here.]
We’ve covered bicycle generators before, so what’s new? For starters, the accessibility of chargers and batteries has changed significantly. Rather than just charging a phone or putting out a measly 5V, this bike can be integrated into an existing solar PV system and output many voltages. This guide goes over building one with hand tools with great detail.
It starts with a 1950’s vintage exercise bicycle, no hacksaw required. A friction drive connects a generator and makes for an incredibly compact generator/exercise machine. Calculating the correct gear ratio is crucial to getting the 12 volts out at an average pedaling speed. You want your range of voltages to be between 5 and 24 volts. With the help of a control panel provides 5v, 12v, 14.4v, and 220v to power a variety of devices. Boost and buck converters output these voltages (depending on whether the voltage needs to be set for a maximum or a minimum). A potentiometer allows you to dial back the power draw of certain appliances (an electric kettle, for instance), making a workout a tad easier on the human component of the generator.
Another key takeaway from this guide is using a wind charge controller to charge batteries. A solar charge controller will just cut the circuit when the batteries are full. A wind charge controller will increase the load until the motor breaks. Some controllers are also hybrid wind and solar, allowing you to connect a small panel like the one running the webserver this guide is posted on and then charge up the batteries when it has been overcast for a few days in a row.
Have you ever pulled a piece of electronics from the trash that looked like nothing was wrong with it, only to take it home and find out it really is dead? Since you’re reading Hackaday, we already know the answer. Trash picking is an honored hacker tradition, and we all know it’s a gamble every time you pull something from the curb. But when the Samsung Galaxy Tab S that [Everett] pulled from the e-waste bin wouldn’t take a charge, he decided to crack it open and see if it was really beyond repair.
The first step was using a USB power meter to see if the tablet was actually pulling any current when plugged in. With just 10 mA on the line, [Everett] knew the device wasn’t even attempting to charge itself. So his next step was to pull the battery and charge it from a bench supply. This got the tablet to wake up, and as far as he could tell, everything else worked as expected. It seemed like the only issue was a blown charging circuit.
Now at this point, [Everett] could have just gone online and bought a new motherboard for the tablet and called it a day. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, he wired up a simple charging circuit using a TP4056 IC on a scrap of flexible PCB and mounted it to a square of Kapton tape. He then used 34 AWG magnet wire to connect it between the tablet’s USB port and the battery, bypassing the tablet’s electronics entirely.
The fix worked, but there was a slight problem. Since the TP4056 only goes up to 4.2 V and the battery maxes out at 4.35 V, [Everett] says his hacked charger can only bring the tablet up to 92% capacity according to Android. But considering the alternative, we think its more than a worthy trade-off.
In the video game Metro 2033 and its subsequent sequels, players fight their way through a post-apocalyptic version of Russia using improvised weapons and tools cobbled together from the sort of bits and bobs the survivors of a nuclear war might be able to scavenge from the rubble. One of the most useful devices in the game is known as the “Universal Charger”: a hand-operated dynamo that the player must use periodically recharge their electrical devices.
As demonstrated in the video after the break, his charger manages to produce enough energy to light an LED on each squeeze of the trigger. Though if we were packing our gear to go fight mutated beasties in alternate-future Moscow, we might look for something with a bit more kick.
Beyond the 3D printed parts, the charger uses a couple short pieces of 8 mm rod, a NEMA 17 stepper motor, and a one-way bearing that’s usually used for pull starting small gasolene engines.
You just can’t get a decent beard trimmer these days! At least that’s what [Peter Franck] found when his trusty Panasonic finally expired after a couple of decades and a few replacement batteries. The shaver’s PCB contained a mains-powered NiCd charger which had comprehensively released its magic smoke, and the expensive replacement trimmers he bought simply didn’t cut the mustard.
Many people would have given up in despair, but he persevered, and produced a custom replacement board containing a Maxim DS2710 single-sell NiMH charger, and an AA NiMH cell. It fits perfectly into the space vacated by the previous board, and takes its charge through a micro-USB socket on the edge of the PCB.
It’s interesting to note that NiMH-based projects have in recent years become a comparative rarity on these pages compared to ones using Li-ion or Li-poly cells. This is an inevitable progression on cost, size, and power density grounds, but it’s still worth knowing about projects using the older battery chemistry. He remarks that his razor is now future-proofed, but we’d probably have fitted a USB-C conector before making that assertion. Either way, it’s a neat piece of work that has achieved its aim of making an expired razor useful again. We’ve brought you another razor fix in the past, though a much less sophisticated one.
[Mastro Gippo] recently purchased a wall mounted charger for his electric car that looked great and had all the bells and whistles he wanted. There was only one problem: the thing burned up on him. Looking to find out how this seemingly high-end piece of hardware gave up the ghost so easily, he took it apart and tried to figure out where things went wrong. While he’s not looking to sling any mud and actually name the company who produced the charger, he certainly has some choice words for whoever green-lit this particular design.
With the charger open, there’s little doubt that something became very toasty inside. A large swath of the PCB has a black char mark on it, and in some places it looks like the board burned right through. After a close examination, [Mastro] is of the opinion that the board heated up to the point that the solder actually liquified on some connections. This conductive flow then shorted out components below it, and things went from bad to worse.
But where did all the heat come from? [Mastro] was stunned to see that a number of the components inside the charger were only rated for 30 amps, despite the label for the product clearly stating it’s good for up to 32A. With components pushed past their limits, something had to give. He wonders how such a device could have made it through the certification process; an excellent question we’d love to know the answer to.
The worst part is, it looks like the designers might have even known there was an overheating issue. [Mastro] notes that there are heatsinks bolted not to a component as you might assume, but directly to the PCB itself. We’ve seen what happens when designers take a cavalier attitude towards overheating components, and the fact that something like an electric vehicle charger was designed so poorly is quite concerning.