Fighting Back Against Dodgy Dyson Batteries

If you’ve ever worked with multi-cell rechargeable battery packs, you know that the individual cells will eventually become imbalanced. To keep the pack working optimally, each cell needs to be analyzed and charged individually — which is why RC style battery packs have a dedicated balance connector. So if you know it, and we know it, why doesn’t Dyson know it?

It’s that question which inspired [tinfever] to start work on the FU-Dyson-BMS project. As you might have surmised from the name, [tinfever] believes that Dyson has intentionally engineered their V6 and V7 batteries to fail by not using the cell balancing function of the onboard ISL94208 battery management IC. What’s worse, once the cells get as little as 300 mV out of balance, the controller considers the entire pack to be shot and will no longer allow it to be charged.

These missing resistors deserve justice.

Or at least, that’s what used to happen. With the replacement firmware [tinfever] has developed, the pack’s battery management system (BMS) will ignore imbalanced cells so you can continue to use the pack (albeit at a reduced capacity). Of course the ideal solution would have been to enable cell balancing on the ISL94208, but unfortunately Dyson didn’t include the necessary resistors on the PCB. Though it’s worth noting that earlier versions of the board did have unpopulated spots for them, lending some credence to the idea that their omission was intentional on Dyson’s part.

But not everyone is onboard with the conspiracy theory. Over on the EEVBlog forums, some users pointed out that a poorly implemented cell balancing routine can be more problematic than not having one at all. It’s possible that Dyson had some bad experiences with the technology in earlier packs, and decided to move away from it and try to compensate by using higher-quality cells. That said, at least one person in the thread was able to revive their own “dead” battery pack by installing this unofficial firmware, so whether intentional or not, it seems there’s little debate that usable batteries are indeed being prematurely marked as defective.

Proper cell balancing is key even in DIY projects, so we do have to agree that it seems more than a little unusual that Dyson would intentionally turn off this important feature in their packs. But the jury is still out on whether or not Sir James is trying to pull a fast one on his customers — as Hanlon’s Razor states, “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.

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Dyson Award Goes To Emergency Medical Device For Treating Stab Wounds

[Joseph Bentley] must be one of those people who sees opportunity in problems. He had several friends who were victims of knife attacks, so he developed REACT, a device that would allow police or other first responders to quickly help victims of stab wounds. The project won the Dyson award and you can see the video about it, below.

The device has two parts: a medical-grade silicone sleeve and a handheld actuator. The sleeve actually inserts into the stab wound and the actuator pressurizes the sleeve based on the location of the wound. The actuator has a user interface to allow the operator to select the area of the body affected.

We don’t know much about emergency medicine, but apparently, the current method is to apply pressure externally and this doesn’t do much for internal bleeding. The sleeve solves that and [Bentley] thinks the device can save many lives if brought to market. Of course, getting a medical device actually on the market is a long road fraught with regulatory peril. We hope the Dyson award will help [Bentley] get the product in the hands of people who can use it to good purpose.

We are very interested in replacing damaged body parts, but saving people from losing body parts or life is good, too. Sometimes, just calling for help is worthwhile.

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This 3D Printed “Bladeless” Fan Gets It Done Cheap

Not long after Dyson unveiled their “bladeless” fan, a fairly steady stream of ever cheaper clones have been hitting the market. But this 3D printed version created by [Elite Worm] must surely be one of the most budget-friendly takes on the concept. If you’ve got a 3D printer, we’d wager you’ve already got most of the parts required to build your own.

See, there’s a blade.

To be clear, of course there’s a blade. They aren’t magic, obviously. The fan is just small, and hidden inside the base. Air is pulled from the sides and bottom, and into the ring mounted to the top of the unit. When the air eventually exits the thin slit in the ring, it “sticks” to the sides due to the Coandă effect and produces a low pressure zone in the center. That’s all a fancy way of saying that the air flow you get from one of these gadgets is several times greater than what the little dinky fan would be capable of under normal circumstances. That’s the theory, anyway.

We can’t promise that all the physics are working as they should in this 3D printed version, but in the video after the break it certainly appears to be moving a considerable amount of air. It’s also quite loud, but that’s to be expected given it’s using a brushless hobby motor. To get it spinning, [Elite Worm] is using a Digispark ATtiny85 connected to a standard RC electronic speed control (ESC). The MCU reads a potentiometer mounted to the side of the fan and converts that to a PWM signal required by the ESC.

Beyond the electronics, essentially every piece of this project has been printed on a standard desktop 3D printer. An impressive accomplishment, though we probably would have gone with a commercially available propeller for safety’s sake. On the other hand, the base of the fan should nicely contain the shrapnel created should it explode at several thousand RPM. Probably.

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Wood-Turning A Bladeless Fan

It’s a simple enough premise: to make a Dyson-style bladeless fan out of wood. The execution of the finished fan, done and filmed by [Neil] from Pask Makes on YouTube, is however spectacular. Using nothing but scrap wood from a chopping board business local to him, he’s made the entire body of the fan using some interesting fabrication methods.

To plan the circular design of the body, [Neil] used an online calculator to measure the specific cuts of wood he needed in order to form cylinders out of trapezoidal sections glued together. Once the rough shape is made, he then used a profile template to turn the air channel with precision out of the two main parts of the fan body. Then, he uses SketchUp in order to figure out what shape needs to be cut from the base in order for the top to fit on it. From there, it’s just a matter of drilling out slots for the air intake, which he does so with an ingenious custom jig, and fitting the internals of a standard fan into the new wooden body.

The video, which you should definitely watch after the break if you have a spare half hour, might not be detailed enough to be used as a tutorial, but it certainly outlines his methods and the tools used well enough to impress us. And the finished build is beautiful to look at, too! If you’re looking for more impressive woodworking, we’ve covered this gorgeous recreation of a Commodore 64 case in wood. But if the hand-built nature of that doesn’t satisfy you, here’s a professional-looking custom caliper case made with CNC and laser engraving.

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The Legacy Of One Of Science’s Brightest Stars: Freeman Dyson

Of the many well-known names in science, few have been as reluctant to stick to one particular field as Freeman John Dyson. Born in the UK in 1923, he showed a great interest in mathematics and related fields even as a child. By the time he was 15 he had won a scholarship at Trinity College, in Cambridge, where he studied mathematics. Though the war forced him to work at the Air Force’s Operational Research Section (ORS), afterwards he would return to Trinity to get his BA in mathematics.

His subsequent career saw him teaching at universities in the UK and US, before eventually ending up at Cornell University, where he joined the Institute for Advanced Study at the invitation of its head, J. Robert Oppenheimer. Here he would meet up with such people as Richard Feynman with whom he would work on quantum electrodynamics.

Beyond mathematics and physics, Dyson would also express great interest in space exploration — with Dyson spheres being well-known — and genetics, both in the context of the first formation of life and in genetic manipulation to improve plants to deal with issues today. He also worked on the famous Project Orion, which used nuclear bombs for propulsion.

In this article we’ll take a look at these and other parts of Mr. Dyson’s legacy, as well as the influence of his works today.

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The Dyson Awards Definitely Do Not Suck

Named after British inventor James Dyson of cyclonic vacuum cleaner fame, the Dyson Awards are presented annually to current and recent students of engineering, industrial design, and product design, regardless of age. Students from 27 countries work alone or in groups to describe their inventions, which are then judged for their inventiveness, the production feasibility of their design, and the overall strength of the entry itself.

Much like our own Hackaday Prize, the Dyson Awards encourage and highlight innovation in all areas of science and technology. Some ideas help the suffering individual, and others seek to cure the big problems that affect everyone, like the microplastics choking the oceans. The Hackaday spirit is alive and well in these entries and we spotted at least one Hackaday prize alum — [Amitabh]’s Programmable Air. I had fun browsing through everything on offer, and you will too. This is a pretty good source of design inspiration.

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Dyson Engineers’ Hacks Traverse Robot Obstacle Course


These guys are all engineers who are employed by Dyson. They’re holding remote control creations made from Dyson parts. This time around the object of the challenge was to build a bot based on a the Dyson ball and race it through an obstacle course.

This sort of thing is right up our alley, but unlike the last time Dyson engineers shrugged off the daily grind to hack their own hardware, this doesn’t show off nearly enough of the festivities. Sure the pair of videos embedded after the break make a great trailer for the event, but we would love to have seen 90 seconds devoted to each of the entries. Alas, you do get to see most of the winning unit’s obstacle course run which includes a distance route, navigating through rough terrain, and negotiating a high path where falling off the edge is a real threat.

Maybe the engineers themselves will post details about their own builds like the contestants in Sparkfun’s autonomous vehicle contest do.

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