Instructables

Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven

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This Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven is simple and easy to make. We have had it reach temperatures over 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a cloudless 80 degree day. Today is a pretty cloudy low 80s day and the oven still was over 115 degrees.

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Materials

  1. Pringles can or other cylindrical container.
  2. Sharp knife, make sure you can handle a sharp object or ask for help. Kids - ask a responsible adult for help.
  3. Straight edge, we used a cut piece of aluminum laying around but a ruler would be good.
  4. Sharpie marker or other marking pen.
  5. Skewer
  6. Hot Glue
  7. Drill / Drill Bit

Optional

Magnet, Plastic Wrap, Tape

Step 2: Procedure

Empty contents. Fat Cat had no problem eating the chips in our cans to "help" us out.

Using a straight edge draw a rectangle on the side of the can. We used this side because there were lines already.

Use your knife to cut the rectangle out. Save this piece for later.

Using your skewer, poke a hole through the plastic lid.

Take skewer out and put plastic lid on to bottom of can.

Mark can where hole should go on the bottom of the can.

Drill hole with drill in bottom of can.

Put skewer through the lid, the center of can, and the bottom hole.

Step 3: Stand

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Use the rectangle piece we cut out to make a stand. This will help keep the oven from flipping over.

Take the scrap piece and run a bead of hot glue along the center of the piece. Do not put on the shiny side.

Place the scap piece to the can. Try to make sure that when the solar oven is set down that it will be angled at the sun and not straight up or straight forward. We eyeballed it.

If you want to be exact, use a protractor to determine angle. Different parts of the world get different angles of sunlight and an oven angled properly will get more direct sunlight into the oven causing higher temps.

The stand also allows for different angles. Just rotate the can on its side. Experiment with it and you will see.

Step 4: Extras

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We like magnets. So we put a magnet on the bottom of this solar oven. It helps keep it in place and allows for many different angles. We had it hanging on the back of a metal chair out in the yard. Just seemed to be the thing to do lol.

We added plastic wrap to one to keep heat in. We need to experiment to see which oven cooks hotdogs better.

Step 5: Success?

Picture of Success?
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Today was a very humid day and cloudy. When we brought the oven up from the basement, the thermometer read around 70 F after about 10 min it was up over 115 F. Outside temp was 82 F.

I don't know if that was much of a success but I know on a sunny day we had the thermometer reading over 170 F on an 80 F day.

Remember to keep adjusting / moving can as the sun moves.

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brandt e1 month ago

It heats up great! I used magnets for an adjustable base.

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it only got to about 130ºF but I think it can get hotter. I got it so clear by stretching it out with tape

Cats Science Club (author)  brandt e1 month ago

Thanks for making and posting!!

How hot did yours get? How did you get your plastic so clear? That is how it should be. Great idea with the magnet!

Isn't the heat somewhat bad for the magnets? Just wondering.

You'd have to get them a LOT hotter to hit the Curie point of the magnet to ruin it. :)

rwalton42 days ago

How about upsizing it with a round oatmeal box, paint the outside black, inside lined with aluminum foil or cut up one of those dollar store car window sun shields which has the added advantage of an insulated backing. At some point though it might become too efficient and the cardboard could become a fire risk.

scottdave23 days ago

Looks like a fun and fairly easy project.

Klappstuhl1 month ago

Dunno about using plastic parts (lid, foil), but I could probably try to swap the Pringles can for an Aluminium Cylinder and cut a glass window out of a bottle or Mason jar...

Good idea you have there, gets me thinking. I'll see if I get similiar results with my version. Favorited!

Cats Science Club (author)  Klappstuhl1 month ago

So, have you got around to making yours? Looking forward to seeing it!

Haven't yet, but I'll have to use something else for the Aluminium as well, apparently it can cause Alzheimers in contact with food.

stubbsonic29 days ago

One possible mod would be to NOT remove that rectangle but instead shape the flaps into more of a parabolic lens.

The pringles container might have a plastic coating which might not be good to heat up. Another mod would be to line it with shinier foil which would take care of that issue and might increase the reflection more.

For sealing the oven (the clear "oven door") rather than using plastic wrap, one could save the over-wrap from a micro-wave meal. Those plastics are designed for high heat situations.

The bigger the lens, and the more accurately if focuses light, the better the results. So the pringles can won't work as well as a larger can.

I'm not a meat eater, but if I was in a situation where I was trying to cook some dead animal, I'd want enough heat to make it safe to eat.

Hey I know everybody else is making hot dogs but I'm gonna show you guys how to make a BONG out of a Pringles can
nodcah made it!1 month ago

S'mores anyone?

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Kudos for a great Instructable, I can't wait to try this with my 5-year old! And Double-Kudos for causing such a heated debate on snack food health. It was just as enjoyable reading the comments as it was reading your instructions. ;)

Bill WW1 month ago

Very nicely done, I love it.

Who would have guessed that this could become a political issue.

Cats Science Club (author)  Bill WW1 month ago

Thank you!

I know, who would have thought?

One word: GENIUS!!! :P

Thank you!

synthola1 month ago

If you wet the can with charcoal starter and set it on fire as the hotdog is completing its warming stage, you can impart a nice chargrilled texture to this delectable dog. Nothing like searing to keep the juices in.

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omikeo1 month ago

yes excellent job, if you could paint the outside black(something non-toxic I hope) - I think it would help with the heating up.

Cats Science Club (author)  omikeo1 month ago

Painting it black is a great idea. We suggest painting the whole thing black before cutting into it. Thanks for pointing that out.

yw, this is really one of the best things(a simple useful upcycle, (well kinda like my visors-shameless plug(but who wants to squint while their hotdog cooks))) i've seen up here. with slight improvements I think it could be ready for prime time. If you can do an ear of corn let me know. Haven't I heard there's a firewood(for cooking, well heat too but every little bit helps) shortage in some rather hot places - let's donate pringle ovens. I guess you lose a little charm with black paint but we get to eat sooner - always trade offs, gl, mike

Just a thought- if you split two can cozy insulators and wrapped them around the pringles can but not over the opening it would hold in the heat and probably cook even faster. I insulated the side walls of my solar oven design and got a 25% increase in heating speed and temperature.

DTOM_Bear1 month ago

Suggestion: Rather than cutting out the rectangular section, cut
flaps that open like the cargo bay doors on the shuttle. Properly
positioned, that will give you greater light collection area, which
translates to higher heat.

Cats Science Club (author)  DTOM_Bear1 month ago

Thanks for the suggestion. How big do you think the opening should be?

To keep the cooker sturdy, I'd say not to open it up more than about halfway.

But to improve cooking even more (for instance, I live fairly far north, and would need all the sun I could get), you could open it up so that there is a 1 or 2 inch strip left connecting the can ends. Shape the flaps into a parabola with the focus on the hotdog skewer.

This should give you an idea what I mean:
http://www.bussjaeger.org/solar-cooker.jpg

Either way, the idea is to get as much light area as you can cover with the plastic wrap.

Agreed. It would be harder to seal but probably more efficient even unsealed if you could get the parabolic shape right. Alternately, just enlarging the opening to 180 degrees would increase the collecting area substantially. Also, if instead of gluing the scrap piece to the bottom, you cut it in half across the curve and then put a notch in both halves, you could use them as cradles so you can aim the cooker directly at the sun for faster cooking.

sdrenth101 month ago

perfect science activity for me with my son!

Cats Science Club (author)  sdrenth101 month ago

So, have you tried it?

not yet, on our summer bucket list though!
takes me back to science fair days. cooked hot dogs in a solar cooker- used a small aquarium, black paint, etc. This is way cooler on the kid scale!
nissan07121 month ago

nice to see that my idea in Boy Scouts bout 25 years ago is still out there. I made this same thing back in Boy Scouts for a project. haha. nice. I didnt take pics back then though. Too bad i didnt.

Cats Science Club (author)  nissan07121 month ago

Do you still have the can? ;-) That would be pretty cool to see the old cans.

i seriously wish i did. back then i never thought of videoing or taking pics of everything i made or came up with. not like today when 9 out of 10 people are bloggers for food, cars, gardening, etc. hahaha.
i still believe i came up with the donut hamburger first. i created mine in 1984. the official one came out in like 2004. the LUTHER BURGER. cause it was made for luther vandross at a baseball stadium. and BATTLESHOTS. battleship with shot glasses. i made my first game back in HS in wood shop. still got the original ships somewhere.
Harrson1 month ago

I wonder if the temperatures could be improved by replacing the plastic wrap with a Fresnel lens? they're flexible enough that one could be bent to cover the opposing, I'd guess.

not really very helpful, because the idea is that the circular tube concentrates the lens. So a fresnel lens bypasses that. May as well avoid the parabolic dish and just use the lens. Worth considering, though

I see what you mean about the cylindrical shape emulating a lens, in that it acts as a collector. Hmm. Only other thing that occurs to me off hand is to bend the lens outward so it's not part of the cylinder's profile - out might catch and refract light that would otherwise have missed the opening.

Cats Science Club (author)  Harrson1 month ago

What if the Fresnel Lens is mounted to the can at a distance, angling the sun into the can? Would that benefit the heating process?

Basically anything that gets more light into the can would help, I would imagine. That being said, I now wonder if the refractive properties of the Fresnel lens would redirect more incident light into the cylinder - I seem to recall that kind of behavior making the Fresnel lens desirable for use in diy projector builds. So even light that would miss the opening, if caught by the lens, would be focused into the can.

Harrson Harrson1 month ago

'Opening,' that is. Autocorrect is a pain.

nodcah1 month ago

I don't know why, but I really like how the "Materials" and "Optional" titles are centered. Anyways, nice instructable! This will definitely be a project I will do in the near future :-)

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