There was a time when a mains inverter was a heavy, expensive, and not particularly powerful item, but thanks to switch-mode technology we are now spoiled for choice. Most inverters still work with 12 V or 24 V supplies though, so when [Chris Jones] was looking for one to run from 36 V batteries, he found a limited supply. Sadly the Greenworks model he ended up with was affordable, but locked to a particular battery by means of a serial line between battery and inverter. Buy the special battery? No, he did what any hacker would do, and modified the inverter to do without it.
Tracing the serial link led to a mystery chip, probably a microcontroller but without available data. It in turn had a line to an 8051 derivative that seemed to be the brains of the operation. Acting on a hunch he pulled down the line with a resistor, and as if by magic, a working inverter appeared.
As you might expect, here at Hackaday we abhor such tricks by manufacturers, and thus any moves to circumvent them are to be applauded. It would be extremely interesting were anyone to have the Greenworks battery to subject to some reverse engineering of the profile.
When it comes to cordless power tools, color is an important brand selection criterion. There’s Milwaukee red, for the rich people, the black and yellow of DeWalt, and Makita has a sort of teal thing going on. But when you see that painful shade of fluorescent green, you know you’ve got one of the wide range of bargain tools and accessories that only Ryobi can offer.
Like many of us, Redditor [Grunthos503] had a few junked Ryobi tools lying about, and managed to cobble together this battery-powered inverter for light-duty applications. The build started with a broken Ryobi charger, whose main feature was a fairly large case once relieved of its defunct guts, plus an existing socket for 18-volt battery packs. Added to that was a small Ryobi inverter, which normally plugs into the Ryobi battery pack and converts the 18 VDC to 120 VAC. Sadly, though, the inverter fan is loud, and the battery socket is sketchy. But with a little case modding and a liberal amount of hot glue, the inverter found a new home inside the charger case, with a new, quieter fan and even an XT60 connector for non-brand batteries.
It’s a simple hack, but one that [Grunthos503] may really need someday, as it’s intended to run a CPAP machine in case of a power outage — hence the need for a fan that’s quiet enough to sleep with. And it’s a pretty good hack — we honestly had to look twice to see what was done here. Maybe it was just the green plastic dazzling us. Although maybe we’re too hard on Ryobi — after all, they are pretty hackable.
Thanks to [Risu no Kairu] for the tip on this one.
Perhaps one day in the future when our portable electronics are powered by inexhaustible dilithium crystals, we’ll look back fondly on the 2020s when we carried around power banks to revive our flagging tech. Oh how we laughed as we reached for those handy plastic bricks only to find them drained already of juice, we’ll say. [Handy Geng] won’t be joining us though, because he’s made the ultimate power bank, a 27,000 AH leviathan that uses an electric car battery for storage and supplies mains power through a brace of sockets on its end.
The vehicle battery is mounted on a wheeled trolley along with what appears to be either the in-car charging unit or a mains inverter. The whole thing is styled to look like a huge version of a pocket power bank, with a curved sheet metal shell and white hardboard end panels. The demonstration pushes the comedy further, as after charging a huge pile of phones he replenishes an electric scooter before settling sown by a chilly-looking river for a spot of fishing — along with his washing machine, TV, and electric hotpot for a spot of cooking. We appreciate the joke, and as we know him of old we’re looking forward to more.
There comes a time in every hardware hacker’s career during which they first realize they need a negative voltage rail in their project. There also comes a time, usually ~10ms after realizing this, when they reach for the Art of Electronics to try and figure out how the heck to actually introduce subzero voltages into their design. As it turns out, there are a ton of ways to get the job done, from expensive power supplies to fancy regulators you can design, but if you’re lazy (like I am) you might just want a simple, nearly drop-in solution.
[Filip Piorski] has got you covered there. In a recent video, he demonstrates how to turn a “China Special” $1 buck converter from Ebay into a boost-buck converter, capable of acting as a negative voltage supply. He realized that by swapping around the inputs and outputs of the regulator you can essentially invert the potential produced. There are a few caveats, of course, including high start-up current and limited max. voltages, but he manages to circumvent some of them with a little clever rewiring and a bit of bodge work.
Of course, if you have strict power supply requirements you probably want to shell out the cash for a professionally-built one, or design one yourself that meets your exact needs. For the majority of us, a quick and easy solution like this will get the job done and allow us to focus on other aspects of the design without having to spend too much time worrying about the power supply. Of course, if power electronics design is your thing, we’ve got you covered there, too.
Meet [Daniel Öster]. [Daniel] is a self-professed petrolhead. In other words, he’s a hot rodder who can’t leave well enough alone. Just because he’s driving a 2012 Nissan Leaf doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for a bit more kick. Having already upgraded the battery, [Daniel] turned his attention to upgrading the 80KW inverter. Not only was [Daniel] successful, but the work has been documented and the Open Source code made available on GitHub. Part of [Daniel]’s mission is to open up otherwise closed ecosystems and make EV hacking and repair approachable by mere mortals.
To get an extra 50hp, [Daniel] could have just swapped in the 110KW drivetrain from a 2018 or newer Leaf, but a less expensive route of swapping in only the 110KW inverter was chosen. By changing out just the inverter, the modification becomes more affordable for others to do. [Daniel] expertly documents how the new 110KW inverter has to be matched to the existing motor by setting a resolver correction value in the inverter.
Cutting into the wiring harness of a vehicle that one is still making payments on is an exercise reserved for only the most dedicated modders, but a change in connectors between 2012 and 2018 made it necessary. The only tools needed were wire cutters, a soldering iron, heat shrink, and perhaps some liquid courage.
Although the hack was successful, no performance gains were had initially, because the CAN bus signal going to the inverter never told it to provide more than the original 80KW. A CAN bus Man In The Middle attack was done by adding a CAN bridge device that listens to traffic on the CAN bus and bends it to [Daniel]’s will. By multiplying the KW signal by 1.3, the 80KW signal becomes 110KW, and full Ludicrous Speed is achieved! Excellent gains in 0-100kph times are seen, but [Daniel] isn’t done. His next hack will be to put in a 160KW inverter for even more go-pedal madness.
Once upon a time, the consensus was that renewable energy was too expensive and in too sparse supply to be a viable power source to run our proud, electrified societies on. Since then, prices of solar panels have tanked, becoming more efficient along the way, and homeowners have been installing them on their rooftops in droves.
Where once it was thought we’d never have enough solar energy, in some cities, it’s becoming all too much. In South Australia, where solar output can be huge on a sunny day, electricity authorities are facing problems with grid stability, and are taking measures to limit solar output to the grid.
Isn’t More Usually Better?
The problem faced by South Australian utilities is one of how to properly control an electrical grid with many thousands of distributed power sources. Typically, in conventional modern power grids, voltage and frequency is controlled within set limits by carefully matching the supply from major power plants with the demand from users. Fast-response plants can be brought online to meet shortfalls, and switched off when demand drops, and everything hums along nicely.
[Robert Murray-Smith] doesn’t like the price of inverters to convert DC to AC. That led him to build a dynamotor, or what is sometimes called a motor-generator set. These devices are just DC motors driving a generator. Of course, motors can also be used as generators and [Robert] had a stack of brushless motors in the form of PC fans. A two-fan dynamotor was born.
The brushless motors are attractive because, traditionally, the brushes are what usually fail on a dynamotor. The fan that will act as a generator needs some surgery, but it is simple. He scraped off all the control electronics and connected wires to the coils to form a three-phase generator. There’s no need for the fan blades in that configuration, either. If you were using ordinary motors and a generator, getting shafts concentric would be an important task. With the fans, it is simple to just line up the mounting holes and you get perfect alignment for free.
How does it work? [Robert] has a second video showing the output on a scope. You can see both videos below. The dynamotor makes a good-looking sine wave, probably much better than most reasonable-priced solid state inverters. He didn’t mention how much current he could successfully draw, but it probably isn’t much. You’d also need a transformer to replace a commercial inverter that would put out line voltage, so that would be some more loos in the system. On the other hand, if you wanted AC at a lower voltage, you might just replace all the transformers, if you were building a piece of gear yourself.