[Ben Krasnow] is no stranger to exploring the more arcane corners of hackerdom, and the latest video on his “Applied Science” channel goes into a field few DIYers have touched: homemade glass, including the photochromic variety.
That DIY glassmaking remains a largely untapped vein is not surprising given what [Ben] learned over the last months of experimenting. With searing temperatures bordering on the unobtainable, volatile ingredients that evaporate before they can be incorporated, and a final product so reactive that a platinum crucible is the best vessel for the job, glassmaking is not easy, to say the least. Glassmaking doesn’t scale down from an industrial process very well, it seems. Nonetheless, [Ben] came up with a process that could be replicated using common enough ingredients and a simple electric kiln modded with a PID controller for pinpoint temperature setting. And while Luxottica has nothing to worry about yet, he did manage to get some clearly if subtly photochromic samples, despite the challenges.
Without a doubt, [Ben] crossed over into “mad scientist” territory a while back, and we think it’s great. What other way is there to describe a guy who has an electron microscope, a high-power ruby laser, a CT scanner, and a cookie making robot in his basement? Whatever you call it, we like the results.
Continue reading “The Chemistry and Engineering of DIY Photochromic Glass”
For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Matt] is building a small kiln for melting metals and firing clay. He’s making this kiln out of materials anyone can acquire — dirt and a bit of nichrome wire.
Most kiln builds you’ll find on the Internet use fancy refractory bricks and other materials you may not have in your back yard. [Matt]’s project is entirely DIY, and starts with a large pile of dirt and rocks. Aftter shaking off the sifted dirt, washing the rocks, straining off the gravel, getting rid of the sand, and siphoning off the water, [Matt] has a big bag of wet clay. This clay is mixed with perlite, an insulating, refractory material, molded into bricks, and fired. The result is a brick that looks good enough to be made into a kiln.
[Matt] has already put a lot of work into the calculations required to figure out the heat transfer of this kiln. At best, this kiln is going to take 14 hours to get up to temperature. That’s incredibly slow, but then again, this kiln will be electric, and will only use 1500 Watts. That’s nothing compared to a commercial electric kiln, but it is a build [Matt] designed himself without any outside help, using only parts he can easily acquire. In any event, this is an excellent project for the Hackaday Prize.
Bare feet, bare hands, and bare chest – if it weren’t for the cargo shorts and the brief sound of a plane overhead, we’d swear the video below was footage that slipped through a time warp. No Arduinos, no CNC or 3D anything, but if you doubt that our Stone Age ancestors were hackers, watch what [PrimitiveTechnology] goes through while building a tile-roofed hut with no modern tools.
The first thing we’ll point out is that [PrimitiveTechnology] is not attempting to be (pre-)historically accurate. He borrows technology from different epochs in human history for his build – tiled roofs didn’t show up until about 5,000 years ago, by which time his stone celt axe would have been obsolete. But the point of the primitive technology hobby is to build something without using any modern technology. If you need a fire, you use a fire bow; if you need an axe, shape a rock. And his 102 day build log details every step of the way. It’s fascinating to watch logs, mud, saplings, rocks and clay come together into a surprisingly cozy structure. Especially awesome if a bit anachronistic is the underfloor central heating system, which could turn the hut into a lovely sauna.
Primitive technology looks like a fascinating hobby with a lot to teach us about how we got to now. But if you’re not into grubbing in the mud, you could always 3D print a clay hut. We’re not sure building an enormous delta-bot is any easier, though.
Continue reading “Up Your Tiny House Game with Stone Age Hacks”
Once upon a time, a woodworker met another woodworker who happened to have a tree business. They struck a deal stating that the first woodworker would dry the sawn boards provided by the second and both would share the lumber. That’s exactly what happened to [Tim], which led to his entry in The Hackaday Prize.
[Tim] does a great job explaining his build of the kiln itself, his controls, and the gist of running the thing. The idea is to pull moisture out of the wood at just the right speed. Otherwise, the boards might check on the outside, honeycomb on the inside, or bear residual tension. He’s using a dehumidifier to pump dry air into the kiln and a control system to both monitor the relative humidity in the kiln and to dry the stock down to a moisture content in the 6-8% range.
The kiln is built from slightly blemished pallet rack shelving that [Tim] cut to suit his needs. He skinned it with 1/2″ insulation boards sealed with aluminium tape and plans to add sheet metal to protect the insulation.
[Tim] wanted to control both a fan and the dehumidifier, monitor relative humidity in the kiln, log the data, and send it to the internets. For this, he has employed an Arduino Due, a DHT-22, an RTC, a relay board, an Ethernet shield, and an LCD to show what’s happening. The hardware is all working at this point, and the software is on its way. Check out his entry video below.
This project is an official entry to The Hackaday Prize that sadly didn’t make the quarterfinal selection. It’s still a great project, and worthy of a Hackaday post on its own.
Continue reading “Basement Wood-Drying Kiln”
[Richard]’s wife scored an Evenheat glass-fusing kiln, but the 20-year-old temperature controller was broken. He could have simply ordered a replacement controller, but that kind of problem solving doesn’t get you on Hack a Day. His wife wanted more control over the kiln and he convinced her that building their own was the way to go. Thus, the Meltinator 9000 was born.
[Richard]’s design uses an Arduino Uno and an Adafruit display shield, protoshield, and thermocouple reader board. He built a simple relay driver with a resistor, BJT, and a diode and connected it to pin 13 and its built-in indicator. To [Richard]’s delight, all of this fit in the original enclosure.
[Richard]’s software provides 25 fusing schedules with ten steps apiece. Each step has a target temperature, rate of temperature change, and a hold time which can be increased on the fly. He ran a test program that heated the kiln to 1500°F at a rate of 2550°F/hour. He then cooled it to 500°F at a rate of 1000°F/hour, which took longer than he thought. The good news is that the kiln is well-insulated! [Richard] has the software available on his GitHub.
Don’t have a glass kiln? Prefer to control beer-related temperatures? You could always hack your stove in the name of homebrewing.
A quick primer is in order: when it comes to hobby brewing there’s two main types, extract brewing and all-grain brewing. The former uses a syrup that has been extracted from the grains at a factory while the latter adds the steps to do this yourself. But in both cases the brewing grains have already been malted. This is a careful process of soaking the grains and then kiln drying them. [Richard Oliver] built his own malt kiln controller to add the preliminary step to his home brewing ritual. Now the only thing he’s not doing himself is growing the grains (and perhaps culturing the yeast).
His original design used a food dehydrator for the drying step, but this didn’t work because the temperature wasn’t at the correct level. The new build uses the ceramic heating element from a 300W hot air gun. A blower directs air through the element and into the wooden box that serves as the kiln. An Arduino monitors the heated air to keep it right in the sweet spot. He’s included a graphing GUI for easy monitoring, which is shown in the video after the break.
Continue reading “Malting kiln controller for preparing beer brewing grains”
[EmcySquare] is delving into some hobby-blacksmithing by making his own knives. He needs a furnace to heat the metal, and after trying out a few different forge designs he decided to attempt an electric kiln build. The final project seen above is a box within a box. The outer shell is reclaimed using old computer cases and metal shelving brackets. Inside you’ll find a box made from fire brick, with stone-wool insulation to keep the heat where it’s supposed to be.
He cut the bricks to the right size to build the inner box, then added grooves on the inside edge witch will host the heat coils. This cutting was done with an angle grinder and [EmcySquare] notes that it kicks up an extraordinary amount of brick dust to make sure you’re wearing a respirator and goggles. Once the enclosure was ready he set out to fabricate the heat coils. Twelve meters of Kanthal A1 wire was used, shortened to a neat length by shaping coils around a 1 cm diameter wooden dowel. This prototype works but future improvements plan to add automatic temperature control through a thermocouple and a relay.