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Gadget Freak

Gadget Freak Case #210: Digital Timer for Night Swimmers

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armorris
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Platinum
Re: Dedicated innovator and swimmer
armorris   4/3/2012 1:01:14 PM
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Great project. I think a piece of red plastic over the display would enhance its visibility during daylight. I had the same problem with an LED digital clock I built many years ago. The red plastic sheet over the display improved it a lot.

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Waterproof and reusable?
3drob   4/3/2012 8:04:56 AM
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Alternatively, a cheap level switch hooked to a logic input. 

Lay it on it's side to turn it off.  Set it upright to turn it on.  

A quick flip (so the level switch toggles off then back on before the unit can turn itself off) could reset the timer.  A slower flip does something else.

Want to get fancy?  Two level switches.  Set it upright for a timer.  Set it upside down and it's a clock (software would have to rearrange the segments).

Awesome gadget.  Definately worthy of mass market.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Waterproof and reusable?
Mydesign   4/3/2012 5:09:11 AM
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1 saves
Dconner, is this clock is visible through water. If you are able to incorporate some count- down mechanism, then I think the device becomes awesome.

dconner
User Rank
Iron
Re: Waterproof and reusable?
dconner   4/2/2012 11:27:26 PM
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I have thought about replacing the mode switch with a Hall effect switch and avoiding one seal. i haven't used magnetic reed switches, but looking at some data I think they might work for the power switch. It would be an improvement if I can eliminate both switch seals completely. I'm going to look into making that change.

Adding the rechargeable batteries and inductive charger would probably add more cost and complexity than this project would merit. It also means separating the timer from the rest of my swim gear to charge it and then remembering to put it back before going to the pool.

 

dconner
User Rank
Iron
Re: Waterproof and reusable?
dconner   4/2/2012 4:57:33 PM
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The timer uses four o-rings to seal out the water. Two of the o-rings are visible on the white plastic end caps. The other two o-rings seal the rotary shafts that actuate the two switches. To open the case for battery replacement you need to twist and pull the cap off. The o-ring seal is pretty tight so this can be difficult. An improvement would be to add a better gripping surface on the end caps. Currently I put the plastic end cap in a vice and twist the clear polycarbonate body. As you can probably imagine, i've had the cap off many times during development. It doesn't compromise the seal.

bdcst
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Waterproof and reusable?
bdcst   4/2/2012 4:56:42 PM
One hundred hours on 4 AA batteries.  Not bad for an active LED display.  This could be turned into a manufactured product with a couple of minor changes so the case's integrity would never have to be breached.

1) Replace the through shaft switches with magnetic proximity detection, either Hall effect devices or reed switches with magnetic actuator buttons or a magnet on a lanyard on the outside of the case.

2) Replace the alkaline primary cell batteries with rechargeable cells, charging circuit and induction coil.

Place the unit in a magentically coupled charging station between uses.

One gotya with secondary cells is to be sure there is a safety vent mechanism in the waterproof case to prevent pressure buildup should the batteries outgas.

salmanisheikh
User Rank
Iron
Re: Waterproof and reusable?
salmanisheikh   4/2/2012 3:31:15 PM
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The website at the end of the video shows how he made it waterproof.

http://dougsdiy.com/

Excerpt from that page:

To use this timer I needed two switches accessible from the outside. I also needed to see the LED display yet protect it from water. That led me to a design where the entire system is housed in a waterproof case made from a polycarbonate tube with acetal (a type of plastic) end caps. The two end caps are sealed with the polycarbonate tube by using two O-rings (the black rings in the photos). Only the switches need to penetrate the end caps.

Jennifer Campbell
User Rank
Gold
Waterproof and reusable?
Jennifer Campbell   4/2/2012 9:02:49 AM
While many of Design News' Gadget Freak projects are cool and useful to the person creating them, this is one that really could be mass produced and put on the market. Doug, how did you seal the case to make it waterproof? Also, once the batteries run out, is there a way to replace them without compromising the waterproof nature of the clock?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Dedicated innovator and swimmer
Rob Spiegel   4/2/2012 7:58:27 AM
I was taken with the nightswimming, too, Beth. It's quite impressive. What a way to start the day. It's also inspiring to see he created a gadget to support his commitment to health.

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Dedicated innovator and swimmer
Beth Stackpole   4/2/2012 7:28:58 AM
Forget about Doug's innovative work creating a digital timer leveraging LED displays. How about the fact that Doug and crew are up swimming in an outdoor pool well before the light of day. I'm shivering and cold just thinking about it. So frankly, I have to applaud that effort, Doug, and I admit, your gadget is pretty nifty!

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