Rocket Stove Efficiently Heats Water

Rocket stoves are an interesting, if often overlooked, method for cooking or for generating heat. Designed to use biomass that might otherwise be wasted, such as wood, twigs, or other agricultural byproducts, they are remarkably efficient and perform relatively complete combustion due to their design, meaning that there are fewer air quality issues caused when using these stoves than other methods. When integrated with a little bit of plumbing, they can also be used to provide a large amount of hot water to something like an off-grid home as well.

[Little Aussie Rockets] starts off the build by fabricating the feed point for the fuel out of steel, and attaching it to a chimney section. This is the fundamental part of a rocket stove, which sucks air in past the fuel, burns it, and exhausts it up the chimney. A few sections of pipe are welded into the chimney section to heat the water as it passes through, and then an enclosure is made for the stove to provide insulation and improve its efficiency. The rocket stove was able to effortlessly heat 80 liters of water to 70°C in a little over an hour using a few scraps of wood.

The metalworking skills of [Little Aussie Rockets] are also on full display here, which makes the video well worth watching on its own. Rocket stoves themselves can be remarkably simple for how well they work, and can even be built in miniature to take on camping trips as a lightweight alternative to needing to carry gas canisters, since they can use small twigs for fuel very easily. We’ve also seen much larger, more complex versions designed for cooking huge amounts of food.

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Home Heating With Bitcoin Miners Is Now A Real Thing

If you were reading this post a month ago, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was an April Fools post. But we assure you, this is no joke. A company called HeatBit has recently opened preorders for their second generation of Bitcoin miner that doubles as a space heater.

The logic goes something like this: if you’re going to be using an electric space heater anyway, which essentially generates heat by wasting a bunch of energy with a resistive element, why not replace that element with a Bitcoin miner instead? Or at least, some of the element. The specs listed for the HeatBit Mini note that the miner itself only consumes 300 watts, which is only responsible for a fraction of the device’s total heat output. Most of the thermal work is actually done by a traditional 1000 watt heater built inside the 46 cm (18 inch) tall cylindrical device.

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Tube Amplifier Uses Low Voltage, Sips Battery

Much like vinyl records, tube amplifiers are still prized for their perceived sound qualities, even though both technologies have been largely replaced otherwise. The major drawback to designing around vacuum tubes, if you can find them at all, is often driving them with the large voltages they often require to heat them to the proper temperatures. There are a small handful of old tubes that need an impressively low voltage to work, though, and [J.G.] has put a few of them to work in this battery-powered audio tube amplifier.

The key to the build is the Russian-made 2SH27L battery tubes which are originally designed in Germany for high-frequency applications but can be made to work for audio amplification in a pinch. The power amplifier section also makes use of 2P29L tubes, which have similar characteristics as far as power draw is concerned. Normally, vacuum tubes rely on a resistive heater to eject electrons from a conductive surface, which can involve large amounts of power, but both of these types of tubes are designed to achieve this effect with only 2.2 volts provided to the heaters.

[J.G.] is powering this amplifier with a battery outputting 5V via a USB connection, and driving a fairly standard set of speakers borrowed from a computer. While there aren’t any audio files for us to hear, it certainly looks impressive. And, as it is getting harder and harder to find vacuum tubes nowadays, if you’re determined to build your own amplifier anyway take a look at this one which uses vacuum tubes built from scratch.

MOSFET Heater Is Its Own Thermostat

While we might all be quick to grab a microcontroller and an appropriate sensor to solve some problem, gather data about a system, or control another piece of technology, there are some downsides with this method. Software has a lot of failure modes, and relying on it without any backups or redundancy can lead to problems. Often, a much more reliable way to solve a simple problem is with hardware. This heating circuit, for example, uses a MOSFET as a heating element and as its own temperature control.

The function of the circuit relies on a parasitic diode formed within the transistor itself, inherent in its construction. This diode is found in most power MOSFETs and conducts from the source to the drain. The key is that it conducts at a rate proportional to its temperature, so if the circuit is fed with AC, during the negative half of the voltage cycle this diode can be probed and used as a thermostat. In this build, it is controlled by a set of resistors attached to a voltage regulator, which turn the heater on if it hasn’t reached its threshold temperature yet.

In theory, these resistors could be replaced with potentiometers to allow for adjustable heat for certain applications, with plastic cutting and welding, temperature control for small biological systems, or heating other circuits as target applications for this type of analog circuitry. For more analog circuit design inspiration, though, you’ll want to take a look at some classic pieces of electronics literature.

New Possibilities From Fading Lighting Technology

Like the incandescent bulb before it, the compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb is rapidly fading into obscurity as there are fewer and fewer reasons to use them over their LED successors. But there are plenty of things to do with some of the more interesting circuitry that made these relatively efficient light bulbs work, and [mircemk] is here to show us some of them.

Fluorescent bulbs require a high voltage to work properly, and while this was easy enough for large ceiling installations, it was a while until this hardware could be placed inside a bulb-sized package. When removed, the high voltage driver from the CFL is used in this case to drive a small inductive heating coil circuit, which can then be used to rapidly heat metals and other objects. After some testing, [mircemk] found that the electronics on the CFL circuit board were able to easily handle the electrical load of its new task.

When old technology fades away, there are often a lot of interesting use cases just waiting to be found. [mircemk] reports that he was able to find these light bulbs at an extremely low price due to low demand caused by LEDs, so anyone needing a high voltage driver board for something like a small Tesla coil might want to look at a CFL first.

Filament Dry Box Design Goes Way Over The Top

There’s a fine line between simple feature creep and going over the top when it comes to project design. It’s hard to say exactly where that line is, but we’re pretty sure that this filament dry box has at least stepped over it, and might even have erased it entirely.

Sure, we all know the value of storing 3D printer filament under controlled conditions, to prevent the hygroscopic plastics from picking up atmospheric moisture. But [Sasa Karanovic] must really, REALLY hate the printing artifacts that result. Starting with a commercially available dry box that already had a built-in heating element, [Sasa] took it to the next level by replacing the controller and display with an ESP32. He added a fan to improve air circulation inside the enclosure and prevent stratification, as well as temperature and humidity sensors. Not satisfied with simply switching the heating element on and off at specific setpoints, he also implemented a PID loop to maintain a constant temperature. And of course, there’s a web UI and an API available for third-party control and monitoring.

The video below details [Sasa]’s design thoughts and goes into some detail on construction and performance. And while we may kid that this design is over-the-top, what really comes through is that this is a showcase for design ideas not only for one application, but for hardware projects in general. There are certainly simpler heated dry box designs, and zero-cost solutions as well, but sometimes going overboard has its own value too.

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Jet burner and close-up

$7 Tent Heater Provides Comfort On A Budget

At Hackaday’s Minnesota office, we appreciate central heat and hot coffee because the outdoor temperature is sub-zero in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Not everyone here has such amenities, and families living in tents could use heater help. If you live somewhere inhospitably cold and have the resources (time being the most crucial), please consider building and donating alcohol jet burners.

Alcohol burners like these are great for tents because if they tip over, they self-extinguish. You can fill them with 70% rubbing alcohol and they’ll heat a small space, and if running on denatured alcohol, they can be used to cook with. They won’t do you much good outdoors unless you have significant wind protection, as the tiny jet is likely to blow out. The first time you light one, you must heat the coil with a lighter or another heater to vaporize incoming fuel, then it can sustain itself by wicking fluid up from the reservoir jar. Relighting after a tip or accidental gust only takes a spark since the copper is already hot.

If you came for a hack, note how they fill the small tubes with salt funneled through a condiment cap before bending them. Sure, there are springy pipe bending tools, but who doesn’t already have salt and tape? Keeping humans warm is crucial, but heating metal takes a different approach.

Thank you for the tip, [cyberlass]