Hackaday Prize 2023: AutoDuct Smart Air Duct

Modern building techniques are relying more and more on passive elements to improve heating and cooling efficiencies, from placing windows in ways to either absorb sunlight or shade it out to using high R-value insulation to completely sealing the living space to prevent airflow in or out of the structure. One downside of sealing the space in this fashion, though, is the new problem of venting the space to provide fresh air to the occupants. This 3D printed vent system looks to improve things.

Known as the AutoDuct, the shutter and fan combination is designed to help vent apartments with decentralized systems. It can automatically control airflow and also reduces external noise passing through the system using a printed shutter mechanism which is also designed to keep out cold air on windy days.

A control system enables features like scheduling and automatic humidity control. A mobile app is available for more direct control if needed. The system itself can also integrate into various home automation systems like Apple’s HomeKit.

A 100% passive house that’s also as energy-efficient as possible might be an unobtainable ideal, but the closer we can get, the better. Some other projects we’ve seen lately to help climate control systems include this heat pump control system and this automatic HVAC duct booster fan system.

Fan And Vent Holes Prevent Sweaty Gaming Hands

[Happy Dragon] grew tired of wiping moist palms on his pants during intense gaming sessions. To combat the issue he tried adding a fan to an Xbox 360 controller that he had sitting around. He pulled a small PC fan from a Nyko Airflow and glued it over a hole he cut into the battery compartment of the controller. This forces air into the body of the unit, which exits through holes he’s drilled in the wings. He added an external battery pack to power the controller since the original batteries were removed before the fan was glues in place. The fan itself isn’t powered from this external pack, but requires a USB connection that he attaches using the disconnect from a wired Xbox controller.

After some testing, [Happy Dragon] seems… happy… with the results. He tells us that his hands are not sweaty, and that he finds he’s not gripping the controller quite as tightly as he used to so as not to block the vent holes. We can see a couple of issues with this design, like the holes filling up with crud, or the fan blowing dust and dirt into the controller (we’re thinking about the analog sticks). But perhaps a future design could create dedicated ducts inside that keep the electronics isolated from the cooling. Or maybe the exhaust from portable console builds could be used in a similar way?

You’ll notice that there’s no direct link for this hack. [Happy Dragon] didn’t write a post about this, he just sent us a half-dozen images and his description of the project. Check out the rest of the pictures after the break.

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Gas Containment For Laser Cutters

Tired of breathing all the noxious fumes your laser cutter puts out? Yeah… we don’t have a laser cutter either. But [Jeri Ellsworth] does and she needed a way to evacuate off-gases generated during cutting so that they don’t damage the laser cutter, or her lungs. What she came up with is a containment box that attaches to a pump system.

The problem is that you want to keep the gases away from the laser cutter hardware but you still need to be able to shoot the laser at your work material. Her clever solution is to use a silicone wafer like the ones with which she makes integrated circuits. They allow the infrared laser to pass through without being chopped in half. What you see in the image above is a red box with the round wafer in the center. Near the bottom of the image is a clear window so you can see what’s going on with your work piece. But to get the full idea you need to watch the video embedded after the break.

We can’t help but think she’s building this in preparation for some more chemistry hacking.

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