Five Minute Power Window Blinds

As I was wrapping up the stepper motor project last week I opened the window blinds for more light and thought, “hey… it would be cool to just grab a motor and attach it to the window actuator rod in the same way I coupled the stepper motor to the magnet motor. Instant power window blinds!”

So, The camera was already right there and I had the time so I hacked a motor to my window blinds, pretty much as you see it transpiring in the video. I decided to just let images do the talking in this one.

As for the music, I did what I always do, every week with a hack video. I go to where I enter a keyword in the search bar then listen to the selections. This week I typed “motor” and I found the song you’ll hear, “Behave like motor” from Salakapakka Sound System.
So listen now with your eyes and enjoy the video and music.

Keep on hackin…

T – 8

Stepper Motors As Generators

Stepper motors are everywhere! They’re pretty easy to find in old abandoned printers. They come in a variety of configurations and number of poles but they all make great electrical generators! Any electric motor will also output a voltage when it’s freely spinning. Stepper motors are much better at this because they have many times more poles to pass next to each other thus generating electrical pulses.

These pulses are actually AC voltage that can be used to directly drive LEDs. I’ve experimented with different LEDs connected in this way on my bike light stepper generator and none of them have burned out yet. This AC voltage can also be rectified and converted to a DC voltage with the addition of a simple full bridge rectifier explained below.

Below is a full wave rectifier circuit. The stepper motor produces a sine wave whose polarity (positive or negative) changes sign each half cycle. When the direction of the current is from the generator into the bridge at point c, the only available current path through the bridge is cbad, through the resistor from right to left in the diagram. During the next half cycle, the current direction is from the generator into the bridge at point d. Then the only available path is dbac, but again the current direction is from right to left through the resistor. Therefore the current through the resistor always has the same direction.









As shown in the video below, this rectified DC voltage can be very useful as a power source for LED lights or charging small batteries.
This motor had a peak output of 43 volts at .41 mA.

Stepper motors are awesome hackable items and they’re easy to come by. Think of all the ways you can get a motor to spin from salvaged energy. If something is moving, that motion can be converted into motion of the stepper and used to generate electricity. Wind, water, wheels, drive belts, hand cranks, treadmills. Let your imagination invent a way! I encourage you to try building this experiment platform and then seeing how you can salvage electricity from your environment with a stepper motor!


Keep on hackin!

How To Mix A Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

It’s Hack #42 and in honor of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy this week’s hack is a how-to about a drink called the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster!

So what does Hack #42 and Hitchhiker’s Guide have in common? Well it’s the number 42. In the novel, the great computer, Deep Thought was asked the question “what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?”. After 7.5 million years of computing it came up with the answer. “42” Yes, 42.. that’s it.

So, here we are in the here and now (supposedly) mixing up the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster!
Watch the video for some fun, then read on for a behind the scenes explanation of how it was done.

Well that was fun!
This project was really a bit of theater with some custom made props. I made up some labels, printed them out and applied them to the bottles with some spray adhesive.

What was actually in the bottles?
Ol’ Janx Spirit – vinegar
Santraginus V Seawater – water with blue food color
Arcturan Mega-Gin – sugar rock candy with yellow food color
Fallian Marsh Gas – air from an inflated balloon
Qualactin Hypermint Extract – Olive Oil
Algolian Suntiger Teeth – Effervescent vitamin C tablet also known by the brand name “Airborne”
Zamphuor – water with yellow food color

The table top was covered in cheese cloth and under it was a layer of baking soda. When the drinks were spilled at the end of the video the vinegar reacted with the baking soda making it bubble and foam up as if it were an acid eating into the table.

I hope all of you Hitchhikers Guide fans out there enjoyed this video as much as we enjoyed making it…
…and to the late great Douglas Adams I’d like to say, “So long and thanks for all the fish!”

Keep on hackin!

DIY Guitar Fuzz Effect Box

I received a message from a youtube viewer suggesting that I do a “Fuzz Face” guitar effects box as a project.. It seemed like a good idea so after a bit of scouring the interwebs and looking at schematics (there are plenty) I put together a three transistor distortion box that’s not too difficult to put together.

It’s a two stage amp with the first stage boosting the signal and the second stage creating the distortion and clipping. The distortion comes from the two BC547 NPN transistors going into saturation and the clipping is done by the two 1N4148 diodes. Although I didn’t include it in the final build video, a bypass switch can be added as shown in red on the schematic. Use a push on/push off DPDT switch.

The “Fuzz” potentiometer controls the level of the signal from the 2N3904 and as the level is increased, so is the distortion and clipping of the output signal.

Guitar effects boxes are fun to build and experiment with while in the bread board stage. Play around with C2 and C5 values to change the frequency response and gain.

Have fun and…
Keep on hackin!

Parts list:

1 – 100 uF electrolytic
1 – 1 uF ceramic
1 – .01 uF ceramic
2 – 10 uF electrolytic

1 – 100 K
1 – 10K
1 – 220K
1 – 5.6K
1 – 150 ohm
1 – 2.2K
1 – 500K potentiometer, audio taper

2 – 1N4148

1 – 2N3904 NPN
2 – BC547 NPN

1 – Push/Push off DPDT switch
1 – 9 volt battery
1 – 9 volt battery clip
1 – perf board
1 – plastic or metal enclosure
2 – 1/4″ phono jacks, one with a switch that has continuity when a plug is inserted. This will serve as a power switch.