"Green" Power

September 16, 2011 at 9:49 AMJeremy

What do you get when you combine a solar panel (thanks Woot!), a lawn mower battery, and some old 12V lights and fans from computers?

You get the funkiest-looking shed on the block.  But hey, at least I can see at night.

Okay, so the bubble tube lights next to the battery are completely superfluous.  I was testing battery load... or something.

Anyway, this is the Mark 1 build.  Next I'm going to have something in a slightly more natural light color.

Posted in: House | Technology

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September 3, 2008 at 6:37 PMJeremy

It occurred to me as I was going through some old pictures that I never got to post my coolest hack so far, as I didn't have a blog back then.  As a serious MacGyver fan, I love being able to solve problems using some ingenuity and what I have on hand.  No, it's not making a blowtorch out of a bicycle frame or stopping a chemical leak with a chocolate bar, but I thought it was pretty neat.

The back story: April 2006.  I'm having to fly to Toronto for two weeks of software training.  We're about halfway to the airport when I realize that I'd left my cell phone plugged into the charger back at our apartment.  D'oh.  There's not enough time to turn around and go back for it, but I know I'm going to need a phone.  Marci has her phone, so we can just switch numbers for a little while and everything will be fine.  But Marci only has her car charger, and I'm not going to have a car (thanks to my cheapskate boss who wouldn't rent me one Tongue out).  After some quick thinking, I grab the car charger anyway, already formulating a plan.

A car charger, but no car!

When I get settled into my hotel room, I started to work.  See, I'd brought with me a spare Netgear wireless router, because the room had wired high-speed Internet, but I wanted wireless so I could roam around the room.  While I was packing it, I had to be careful to match up the right power adapter, since I also have a Netgear 8-port switch that operates on a different voltage.  When I packed the router, I had to make sure to also pack the 12V power adapter.  What also runs on 12V?  Car cigarette outlets.  Now all I needed was some hookup wire so I didn't have to ruin either adapter. No problem, because as overprepared as I am, I packed two CAT5 network cables, which are relatively cheap.  

Wall wart from router

Spare network cable

Notice the sexy lounge pants

Just needed this much wire

Adapter connection

Car charger connection

Just had to pull a couple of wires from the cable, get everything connected, and voila!  A car charger, hold the car.

The finished setup

Charging... see, it works!

Hack Successful

Posted in: Technology | Travel



May 7, 2008 at 10:01 PMJeremy

You know, there was a time when Mom and Dad would gripe and complain about me taking things apart -- wristwatches, clock radios, my GameBoy.  Well, who does Mom turn to when her computer starts repeatedly blue screening?  And what's the first thing I do, since I know she probably hasn't backed up her files in... ever?

Hard Drive removed from laptop.

Hard Drive attached to my (sweet) rig to copy files.

A fairly routine deal (nothing as complicated as this), but I do attribute at least some of my technical prowess to those days of dismantling things, even if I never got some of them back together.  These days, though, I tend to download a service manual before I start and only resort to potentially destructive force when I've exhausted all other options (there's a crock pot in our garage that was deceptively constructed, but some solder and heatshrink and it's good as new).

Anyway, the data all copied fine, so there should be no worries there.  Tonight or tomorrow I'll have to put the drive back in the computer and see what's wrong with it.  It could be hardware failure (the drive did take an unusually log time to spin up) or data corruption due to a virus.  Or Gremlins.  They get into everything.

Posted in: Technology