Gadget Freak of the Year 2009 Gadgets

August 11, 2009

7 Min Read
Gadget Freak of the Year 2009 Gadgets

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Case #143: Tesla Turbine Creates Liquid ElectricityIf your electricity fails in a post-apocalyptic world, youcan use water pressure to generate electricity. Travis Lipstein and fellowstudents in a mechatronics class at Colorado State University used a Teslaturbine - based on the work of Nikola Tesla in the early 1900s - to turn waterinto electricity. The water pressure forces a shaft in the turbine to rotate.The rotating shaft is connected to a generator. The water flow around the turbineis controlled by valves. The rotational speed is communicated to the user via aLCD interface on the system's control panel, which lets the user know whensufficient power is being generated by the turbine.Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

Case #136: Here's a Jet Engine That Fits in Your GarageWhile working on a project for a television program,several-times-over Gadget Freak John Tindall started tinkering with a pulsejetengine. Pulsejet engines were used by the Germans during WWII. The technology wasleft behind by turbofan jets. But Tindall found the pulsejet well-suited to garage- and Gadget Freak - tinkering. Apparently there is a wide community ofhobbyists playing with pulsejets at home. Tindall came up with a cyclonic-valveradial design that makes for smoother airflow. He proved the concept withplastic and aluminum valves - but the gadget backfired and blew up. Next step, asteel model...Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

Case #132: A Spiffy Face-Lift for An Old-Time ToyLuis Fernando Espinal Ceballos of Colombia wanted to give his cousin's son the slot track racing set he loved as a child. But the toy seemed unbearably old-fashioned. So Luis jazzed it up with a new electronic control system. He dumped the old battery box and replaced it with a used PC power supply and rewired the entire system for tighter control. He also added a lap counter to the circuit and upgraded the cars from old Lotus models to new Porsche and BMW models.

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Case #138: Monster Power Blender is Sweetly GreenRick Crammond created a turbine blender using the principles of Nikola Tesla. The Tesla blender achieves accelerated performance by combining water and air pressure simultaneously to the turbine nozzle. The blender is fueled by an off-grid, self-contained, solar-powered, re-circulating fluid system. The Tesla blender is green in its power use and made from recycled parts. Crammond incorporated solar, battery, electric, hydraulic, pneumatic, magnetic and mechanical systems into a powerful conglomeration.

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Case #139: The Autonomous BlimpHere's a blimp with its own ideas of flight. Nick Wagner and his fellow classmates at Colorado State University designed their infraLED Zeppelin to maneuver in two modes. The first is remote control mode where a transmitter sends directional commands (forward, back, left and right) to the blimp and the blimp responds accordingly. The second mode lets the blimp chart its own course to a predetermined destination. In the autonomous mode, the blimp flies to an infrared (IR) beacon. IR transmitters on the blimp receive a signal from the beacon, and the transmitter facing the beacon receives the most pulses. The blimp then goes in that direction.

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Case #137: Attention-Grabbing 'Blue Light Special'William Grill wanted to draw attention to a trade show booth. He considered a big neon sign, loud music and a provocative attitude, but instead he created this attention-getting gadget - his "Blue Light Special." Grill made this gadget with a mere $15 in materials. It is built around Microchip Technologies' 16F505 controller. The application uses a single button to set off two rotating arrays of eight LEDs. Using PVC or metal tubing, the beacon can be mounted on almost anything. For packaging, Grill uses a small pickle jar.Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

Case #141: Motorized MountainboardHere's a skateboard that doesn't need a hill (or a push-off from your foot) for propulsion. James Howland and his project buddies, Pat Rimel and Nate Davis, created a motorized mountainboard as a project for their mechanical engineering class at Colorado State University. The gadget has a handheld speed control, and the team was able to get the board up to speed of 13 miles per hour. The speed decreases while traveling up hills but still has enough torque to conquer hills with ease. The mountainboard also has buzzer on the nose that acts as a horn.Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

Case #145: A Barometer That Measures Your HeightHere's a weather instrument - the Dodecahedral Barometer - that can actually determine how tall you are by reading the barometric pressure between your head and your feet. Mark Thoren notes that his gadget was inspired by the release of some new electronic products. The first is a Serta model 270 barometric pressure sensor that recently came on the market. The sensor is inexpensive and accurate to the point of being suitable for weather stations. The other items that make this gadget possible are some new HP displays that make the gadget's readings visually appealing.Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

Case #134: Chris Knew The Secret to a Great MartiniThe whole thing started out as a conversation between my good friend Ken and I. We were talking about the first gas-powered blender I had seen. I was showing him some pictures of it from an ad I had seen on the web. As soon as he saw it he said, "Dude, we could build that." I responded with, "Dude, I've got an old string trimmer engine at home in the shed." And that was all it took. The first version was not nearly what it is today. It started off very simple - an engine and some adapters to get it coupled to the blender jar, and then screwed it to a small piece of Formica I had with some conduit clamps and that was it. The top fuel blender was born.Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

Case #133: Washing Machine Flood AlertThe washing machine at Edward Nauman's house kept overflowing and flooding the floor, so he designed a flood sensor to cut the power to the washing machine if the water in the drain rose within 1.5 inches from the top. The level sensor is mounted in a hole drilled in the drain pipe and the electronics are mounted in a box on the wall next to the power outlet. The box plugs into the wall and the washer plugs into the box. When the water rises to the sensor, a switch in the box cuts the power.Read more and get build instructionsVote for this Gadget Freak

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