If your not completely comfortable with working around electricity, DO NOT make one of these. Under no circumstances should you operate one of these without building a case of some sort. I would recommend a metal project box. That way you can ground it which makes the thing a whole lot safer to use. Without a metal enclosure of some sort you could get a nasty shock. Trust me those aren't fun at all. Avoid those at all costs. Below is a picture of the one I use to control my coffee pot. As you can see it's encased in an old aluminum project box I had. I know it's not pretty but then the best things in life often aren't.
In a side note: be sure to read through the whole project before you start working. You can always go back later for reference.
Step 1: Parts for This Project...
The tools you'll need are as follows:
1. A Soldering iron and solder
2. Wire cutter/stripper
3. Various screw drivers (depending on what they put it together with. It varies between makes and models.
4. A Dremel or some other means of cutting metal and plastic.
5. A drill or you could just use a drill bit in the Dremel
6. Safety glasses (You won't be able to do this if you can't see because something got in your eye. It happens, just trust me and use a pair.)
7. A multimeter (preferably digital because their more accurate.)
8. A power cord (the heavier, the better.)
9. Some outlets and boxes (I used panel mount outlets that I got from Home Depot)
10. A hot glue gun (This is optional depending on how you plan to build it)
11. Electrical tape
Step 2: OK, Lets Get Started...
Once we get it open it's time to tear out the guts. It's a simple process of removing more screws and maybe some nuts and bolts. Here it's a good idea to pay close attention to how things were connected. That will help a lot in the next step.
Next let's separate the timer from the rest of the machine and get rid of unwanted pieces of hardware. In the one I used there was a large loop surrounding the microwave's door frame. I had to cut that away because I didn't want it to be that huge when I was done. Situations with this will vary from model and make. I decided to use the piece that the keypad was mounted in. You can make a custom mount for it if you want to. I find it's easier to use the vacuum formed piece that the factory built for us. It's not as pretty as it could be. It does save a load of time with assembly and it's way easier than making your own.
Step 3: Now That We Have It Apart...
The other one is for the internal light that lets you see the food as it's cooking. This is important only if your planning on using it for high wattage devices. You'll want a cord for it that will handle what your using it for. What I've found to work best for this is the cord that was on the device to begin with. It's rated for about the maximum that the device should handle. We can also save the cord strain relief for use in our project.
Step 4: Getting Ready...
The reason we have the outlet boxes is for the secure mounting of the outlets. If you decide to use panel mounts like I did you'll probably want to hot glue them from behind. This is just to make sure they don't pull out when you go to unplug things from them. It's just some added insurance.You'll see that I used a bridge buss to connect everything in this one. I got that out of an old CB home station that was discarded. I'm not using this for heating or anything heavy duty so this is substantial enough for my needs. You may want to use a screw terminal or just solder wires directly to the PCB. I did it this way to save wear and tare on the board if I should want to reconfigure it later.
Step 5: Now We're Ready to Start Building.
That said PLEASE, DO NOT use this around water or liquids of any kind. That means you don't use it for the bathroom heater GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet or not. It's not safe to use this around sinks or bathtubs so don't do it. If you use this in a wet environment and get hurt, remember I warned you about that. So people PLEASE be careful.
Now that the safety stuff is out of the way let's get on with it shall we? Regardless as to what your using for your materials, your going to have to make holes in it for the outlets. We can do this one of several ways. The first way which is what I did, is to use our Dremel and a cut-off wheel. It makes pretty quick work of metal or the type of board that I used for the front panel. They also work pretty well on plastics. The only concern there is that the plastic tends to melt with the friction which can send chunks flying towards your eyes and face. This would be a really good time to don those safety glasses. Trips to the hospital should be social visits, not necessary emergencies.
What ever material you use make sure you don't over work your Dremel. You want to put just enough pressure to keep it cutting but not enough that you might break the disk. If you do break one chock it up to a learning experience and be glad it scratched the safety glasses instead of your eye. You could also use a router for this. Another good set of tools would be a drill and a jigsaw. If you use standard household outlets you could even use a hole saw. Whatever your method be sure to mark and cut very carefully. Remember, you can always take more material off. If you cut to much it's gonna look sloppy. That's not to mention that things won't fit quite right. This is why I suggested standard outlets. They can be mounted in wall boxes which makes them a lot safer than most other types of power outlet.
As a matter of fact you could use the inlet from an old computer power supply to give your project power. It would make it more portable because the cord could then come off. I have no idea why it would need to be that portable as I've never had to take mine anywhere or had a reason to. It's just a thought I had one day while I was moving into a new house and tripping on the cord. See? Safety. Not the best idea if you plan to use it to limit the on-time of a heater or large halogen sun lamp (good timer for a home made tanning station.) Just be careful not to overload the cord or relays. Why yes, this is the reason for the master kill switch. Thank you for asking.
Step 6: OK, Now Let's Get Connecting...
The green wire or in some cords, the one in the middle, is the ground. This is the path for major spikes of electricity to jump towards in the event of a lightning strike. It's better the ground wire takes the jolt than you. If you used a metal case I want to congratulate you. That is the safest enclosure for this project. In a metal case you can drill a hole in the side and use one of the machine screws and a nut salvaged from the microwave to attach a ground to the case. For that you can take the piece of wire that was attached in the microwave's ground and reuse it here. For those of you using wood as your enclosure type you'll need to attach a piece of wire to the green screws on your outlets and wire nut them together with the ground of the cord. This isn't necessary with a metal enclosure because the frame of the outlet where the wire would normally be attached is touching the metal of the case. Therefor if you ground the case the outlets are grounded too.
The last wire is the hot wire. This is the one that goes to the board and from the output of the board (after the relay) to each of the outlets' brass screw. This connects them with the proper polarity so we won't get shocked if we touch the outside of a lamp socket. That's why most lamp cords have polarized plugs on them. The fat side of the plug is the neutral. That way if you go to turn on the lamp in the dark barefoot on a concrete floor, you don't get a nasty surprise. This is why I get after people for filing or cutting those off. They do it so they can plug them into regular nonpolarized outlets. That is a phenomenally bad idea. Remember the cement floor? That's a ground too. You can get a serious jolt if things aren't hooked up properly. That's why the world has electricians. So people who are clueless don't die.
We'll attach the cord in the next step so don't do that just yet.
Step 7: Time to Get It All Together...
With everything attached to the cover, let's take a minute to make sure our connections are all correct. I shouldn't have to tell you what will happen if we get it all put together only to find that it sorts out or doesn't work at all. It's better to catch any problems now while it's still somewhat apart. That way we can fix them and avoid having to tear into it later.
Once your sure that it's all correct we're ready to put the cord into the box. The reason we held off till now is simple. We can drill a much smaller hole because we don't have to fit anything but the cord it's self through it. OK, remember that cord strain relief we salvaged from the microwave? That's how big the hole has to be. If all you have is your trusty Dremel you can drill a few small holes and remove the extra material with a grinding wheel. Dremel makes several sizes, shapes, and compounds. I chose the green aluminum oxide stones because they last the longest and work on glass too.
For those of you lucky enough to get a screwed on strain relief like the one on the back of this nuker. Instillation becomes much easier. Just use the hole it left in the microwave case as a template to cut your own in your box. These are the best for wooden boxes as they don't require a compressed fit.
Now let's attach the lid to the box and see if it works. You should place the lid on top and drill pilot holes with it in place like we did for the control panel. In this situation I would suggest taking the lid off and drilling the holes a little bigger so the screws don't bind in them. that is unless you bought a project box for this at which point it already has screws and pre-fitted holes already in place.
This one already had a hole that was unfortunately to big so I made the best of it and taped the strain relief onto the cord. Notice I screwed in a tie down to keep the cord from pulling out. It is agreeably by far not the best way to do it. Just remember this is my prototype. It's also the project I choose for my first Instructable because it is by far one of the most useful things I've built so far.
Step 8: Let's Get Cooking...
If it has "delayed cook" or some similar feature you can use it as an alarm clock that can turn on lamps or even a stereo. It can be used to limit the amount of time your kids get to watch TV or play their favorite video game. You could use it to turn lights on when your about to get home.It could be used to time and electric blanket to warm your bed before you get into it and not have the fire risk of just leaving it on all nite.
It could be used as a sleep timer if you fall asleep relatively fast and providing the beeping doesn't wake you back up. Of course you could always take the piezo element out so it won't do that. That would be the little round thing with the hole in the middle. Their usually black and about a half an inch in diameter. You can either heat the solder and pull it out or use the Dremel to cut a channel through the trace leading up to it. If you cut the trace you could solder in a switch to turn it on and off at will.
You can buy cheep coffee pots and make them into a programmable one. You could even control the temperature of the coffee if you set it to one of the lower power settings. Ever notice the buzzing noise that happens periodically when you have something defrosting in there? It doesn't regulate the amount of power to the emitter. It just turns it on and off. That being the case it can easily regulate the power to your coffee pot in the same way.
Any way you choose to use it, I can assure you that it will delight you. It is after all something you built that's pretty, well....useful. Just be sure to be careful. Use common sense when deciding when and where to use this project. Last but not least, enjoy...