Weekend Project — Timed Outlet

I have a cordless drill with rechargeable batteries.  The batteries charge completely in about 20 minutes.  They are not supposed to stay on the charger for longer than that.  However, unless I am standing right there after the charging time, I forget to take the batteries off of the charger.

To fix this problem, I made a timed duplex power outlet out of a countdown timer and a duplex outlet.  I plug the timed outlet into a 120v outlet.  Then, plug the battery charger into the duplex outlet attached to the timer.  Finally, I set the timer to 20 minutes and walk away.  (There are more details about the parts and assembly on the Instructable.)

One problem I had is that the faceplate that came with the timer was too wide.  It covered the timer and a bit of the duplex outlet.  I found a Thing on Thingiverse that uses the Customizer to custom build faceplates that cover from one to five outlets with any configuration.  I used it to make a custom faceplate for two outlets with a single hole for the timer on the left-hand side and holes for a duplex outlet on the right-hand side.  I printed it on the Makerbot 3D printer using black PLA filament.  I used 100% infill to make it solid and durable.

 One problem I had with the print was that the raft stuck to the surface in some spots and would not come off.  So, there are a few rough looking spots.  Another problem is that the hole for the timer knob was a bit too small.  I had to drill it out slightly bigger.

 After attaching the new faceplate, I used my label maker to print the numbers for the dial.

That’s it.  No more ruined batteries due to overcharging.  And, it’s portable!

timerOutlet

 

Home Environmental Sensor Array (Phase 1) Finished

After six months of working on this on-and-off, I installed my home environmental sensor array (HESA) in my basement. Basically, it looks for water in the basement. If it detects water, it shuts off power to my water softener (assuming that the softener is or will, dump more water into the basement), and sends me an email.  The HESA has a Raspberry Pi to detect water and control the PowerSwitch Tail relay.  It also connects to the internet via my home network.

HESA

This is phase one of my HESA project. The device I built in this phase will only detect water. Future phases will add the capability to detect more things and be more interactive.

This is basically, my first real Maker project.  I learned or practiced many Maker skills like soldering, basic electronics, and CNC routing. I made my own PCB (that I did not end up using). I did some basic metal work with a jig saw. I learned how to use several software tools for CAD and design. I learned to program in Python. And I had a lot of fun doing it.

Several Makers at the Milwaukee Makerspace helped me with this project. There is no way I could have built this without them. Thanks to anyone who took time to help me move this project forward.

Wiki project page

Blog

Raspberry Pi Project Ended

I’ve really struggled with the Raspberry Pi Project. As I posted earlier, the Raspberry Pi kept killing the file system on the SD card. Pete traded me for a different Pi, which behaved much better, making the card last at least long enough to get the operating system and other software installed. Yet the Raspberry Pi continued to corrupt the file system if left running for longer periods. The latest time it totally killed the SD card; I couldn’t even reformat it on my computer.

If I include the Pi in the traveling mascot, I’m convinced it will not survive the inevitable rough treatment. The only other use I can think of for a Raspberry Pi in a travelling mascot is as a home base server for the mascot, publishing the travelogues. Yet it’s too unstable for even that task.

I still like the idea of a traveling mascot that can track it’s own travels, but I’m convinced that building it around a Raspberry Pi is not the proper foundation. I really like the little GPS unit that came in this kit, and will try to build a scaled down version of the traveling mascot with a USB interface to hook up with any computer for collecting data.

Thanks again Adafruit Industries, we really appreciate the kit, and we’ll continue to work with the parts on other projects. Like vultures, some other members have already picked off some pieces of the kit for their projects.

Lighting Control Upgrade!

IMAG3517In an effort to make the lighting control system more user-friendly, the original board-mounted switches have been replaced with a laser-cut zone map! Instead of looking up which zone number corresponds to a particular bank of lights, each location is now identified by a green LED pushbutton.  You can read more about the lighting control system and how it’s been evolving on our wiki: http://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/projects/mmlc