Introduction: USB Powered Burner! This Project Can Burn Through Plastics/ Wood / Paper(fun Project Also Has to Be Very Fine Wood)

DO NOT MAKE THIS USING USB!!!! i found out that it can damage your computer from all the comments. my computer is fine tho. Use a 600ma 5v phone charger. i used this and it works fine and nothing can be damaged if u use a safety plug to stop power surges.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this project will be a usb powered and all you need is a usb wire, metal spring ( i got mine for a pen)/chicken wire(i have not tried chicken wire yet so it may not work.) and 2 croc clips or solder and soldering iron. When i project is complete it will be able to burn and cut plastic and paper and some very fine woods. this project is fun to make but be careful cause it can burn!! but its still pretty cool.


IF you are worried about messing up your computer why not use an old phone charger or adopter.alll u gotta do is get a 5v or more phone charger cut of the top part which goes into the phone and use the red and black wire .(some times the black wires are white in chargers)ALWAYS REMEMBER TO USE A SAFETY ADOPTER WHEN USING MAINS ELECTRIC.
this will keep everything you are using safe and will stop you from destroying anything ELECTRICAL in your house.

Step 1: Parts:

ok for this project you dont need very much.
part list :-
1 USB wire
2 Spring for a pen( not all will work, i think chicken wire also works, most fine metal wires do but not thick)
3 croc clips
4 soldering iron if u do not have croc clips
5 wire strippers and a computer to power the usb.

Step 2: USB Power Wire

First cut off one end of the USB wire leaving the one that connects to you computer. after cutting off one end strip 5inch of the wire cover (from the end u cut off) so that you are left with four wires hanging out. cut off the green and white wire as they are not needed.
pin 1 and 2 in the picture are the power wire (red and black).

Step 3: Step 3

now you have to connect a croc clip to each wire so that you have a + croc clip and a - one. like i have done in the picture. next all you do is connect each clip to one side of the spring(stretch the spring first) and the other croc clip to the other side of the spring and thats it. when you plug the USB into the computer the spring should glow orange then u can melt and burn plastic paper and cut through some very thin fine woods. IF you do not have croc clips you can solder the spring to the red wire and the other end of the spring to the black wire.

Below is a picture of a tic-tac box i cut and only took 4 seconds and some paper i burned.

Thanks for reading.


PyroMaster007 (author)2009-06-15

oaky, so if i did this same thing, but soldered the wires onto a straightened paper clip, would the who paperclip heat up enough to become a wood burner?

chriskarr (author)PyroMaster0072011-05-17

Well, I know it's been a couple years, but, to answer your question, no. Only the area between the contacts would heat up and, if the temperature was hot enough to efficiently burn wood, chances are the solder would melt before you had the chance to do much work. In reality, a good mechanical contact is the best option.

Colonel88 (author)2009-10-16

Well i'm sure as hell that this thing will burn the jeebies out of yo' computer. And it will probably fry your phone charger too. Oh and change the name of the Instructable.

yzzid (author)2008-12-26

Hey, Nice...pretty downright simple..question though...dont we have to install ANY components, like resistors, pr what not? thanks! keep up the great work bro!

led235 (author)2008-12-08

Also, Nichrome Wire( used to electronicaly light fireworks) gets extremly hot. its foung in soldering irons! I think that the spring is still a great idea!

raykholo (author)2008-11-29

i used to do the same thing with lead from a mechanical pencil, but it snapped too easy i was gonna recommend nichrome wire but some one already mentioned it --- so running the current though steel wool also works in a similar way

junits15 (author)2008-10-22

juts take the nickle crome wire out of a toaster and hook the thick wire to the wall it hets much hotter

dean-101 (author)2008-06-20

not this instructable but the link is to one that is about game making.

98farhan94 (author)dean-1012008-09-22

But your posting it on to this instructable?? Atleast have some common sense to post that link to the instructable relevant to yours!

dean-101 (author)2008-02-22

ok a lot of people talking about short circuits... i would agree but you are not boosting the current you are only sending 4.5v up the red wire through the spring which heats up and loses power and sends about 4.2v back down into the usb again which the computer does with MP3'S and all usb divices that do not use the usb as a power source and i have been using my usb as a power source for the past few weeks and has been no problem. if u want to make the project u could put a 2k resistor on the black wire which will make the spring get warmer but send less voltage back to the usb port

Matrixis (author)dean-1012008-02-22

By reading the above comment I really don't think you know quite what you are talking about. You have a very basic knowledge of voltage, resistance, current and power. What you are doing is risky, yes, most computers do detect if it is drawing too much current and will shut the port down, some do not. The ones that do not, you will cause irripairable damage to your motherboard. For example. If we specify voltage is 4.5v and the spring has a resistance of 1 ohm, the current that the spring will try to draw is 4.5 Amps. If the spring is 10 ohm (very unlikely) is will draw 450mA (only just inside the safe current for a USB port) As a spring is just made of steel, it has very little resistance, so more likely to be close to 1 ohm than 10. If someone plugged this into a cheap powered hub, it is likely that the spring would get as much power as it wanted and get extremely hot, possibly burning out the hub or psu attached. DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK Measure the resistance of the spring... less than 10 ohms is very very bad

dfd9 (author)Matrixis2008-04-05

"You have a very basic knowledge of voltage, resistance, current and power." OK, no need to spit it in someone's face.

Matrixis (author)dfd92008-04-05

I feel that people who post Instructable have a good knowledge about what they are doing to reduce the risk to other people that may copy the project. What works on Their computer might destroy someone else's and the person doesn't have enough knowledge to successfully achieve this. I felt it neccesary to point this out to him that his knowledge on the subject is low and putting other peoples computers at risk. I'm sorry if being honest is offensive to you

computerwiz_222 (author)2008-03-16

WRONG!! The voltage regulator IC on the circuit board of your mother board is rated for 500 ma per port. The spring is a piece of wire, it probably has a resistance of around .3 ohms. You are drawing a TON of current through USB. WAY OVER 500 ma. Not to mention that the gauge of wire used in USB cords is around 24 AWG. Eventually, the USB cord itself may become damaged. Trust me, I work in electronics. I repair laptops, desktops, stereo systems and just about anything else. If you don't believe me, look at the USB host chip on your motherboard and find a datasheet on it. Sure, it won't burn it out in 1 second, but over time, you will ruin it. It could go from an expected 200000 hour life to say 20 hours or less.

dean-101 (author)computerwiz_2222008-03-20

ok thanks for the information. i dont use this a lot i only used it for 3 mins to make the instructable cause i was bored.

RetroPlayer (author)2008-03-13

Please, before anyone actually attempts this, put a resistor in series with the wire! USB is meant to only supply 500mA per port, and sometimes THAT isn't even true. If you are in a non-powered hub, then the entire hub can only draw 500mA.

Not all computers, hubs, etc. are current limited. A short circuit essentially means less than 1 ohm resistance. Nichrome wire (or carbon) which is used as the heater element in most devices HAS a resistance. It might look like just a spring, but it is made of a special material. The resistance is what causes the heat. This poster's computer WILL break eventually, I can promise that.

You should *AT LEAST* have a 10 ohm resistance between the positive and ground. That will max you at 500mA. That's about 2.5W which your resistor needs to be able to handle. Most resistors people have are either 1/4 watt or 1/2 watt. Again, this is wire special wire is used: it can handle the wattage without burning up.

In short, this is a very bad idea and the poster is conveying his *personal experience* instead of knowledge. Again, it WILL break his computer soon, if it hasn't already. If you want to play with something like this, get some nichrome wire and make absolutely sure you can measure at least 10 ohms resistance.

Nirjuana (author)2008-03-13

Dean-101, even thought the voltage is as low as 5 volts, this still can be very bad for your computer! Like Matrixis already said, if the resistance of your "cutter" is 1 ohm, you'll get 4,5-5 amps running trough the wire, and shorting that kind off amount isn't wise for anything. USB-ports can handle only 500 milliamp which is a half of a amp and you got 10 times that amount running. So if you don't want to break your computer, put at least 10 ohm resistor! And the whole idea of short-circuiting something that gets its power from computer is just plain stupid since computers are very sensitive. I think no-one should even try anything like this...

dean-101 (author)2008-02-23

IF you are worried about messing up your computer why not use an old phone charger or adopter.alll u gotta do is get a 5v or more phone charger cut of the top part which goes into the phone and use the red and black wire .(some times the black wires are white in chargers)ALWAYS REMEMBER TO USE A SAFETY ADOPTER WHEN USING MAINS ELECTRIC.
this will keep everything you are using safe and will stop you from destroying anything in your house.

tyeo098 (author)2008-02-22

This is how i busted my old dell! i tried to charge my GBASP thru the USB port, I got em mixed up and the computer detected it and said: "Power surge on Usb Hub" It didnt work anymore. I fried the USB 5v PSU chip on my mobo, so a 600$ comp didnt work because a 20c part was fried. It sucked.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-22

Heh, this is really cool and awesome and easy to do.

Pretty cool, but I most likely will not try this out.

ry25920 (author)2008-02-22

This would work fine for for 2 or 4C batteries, right?

dean-101 (author)ry259202008-02-22

i am not sure sorry. but i did get it to work once using a 9v battery but then it died of very quick so i think it would work with batteries but they will run done quite fast so use a resistor or a usb or mains adopter

theRIAA (author)2008-02-22

this won't break your power supply, but it WILL WEAR IT OUT SOONER

Kiteman (author)2008-02-22

So, you're shorting out the USB socket? Is that healthy for the computer?

dean-101 (author)Kiteman2008-02-22

i dont think so because you are only using the power the computer is sending out and the data cables are not connected so i dont think it will harm your computer and mine is fine as i use this wire for most of my projects i make

Kiteman (author)dean-1012008-02-22

OK - I didn't think it would harm the computing bits of your PC, I was just worried that a straight short would blow fuses or otherwise damage your power supply (which could, I suppose, have knock-effects with the rest of the PC).

If you (and Killerjackalope) have been using it safely, then I guess it's fine.

killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-02-22

No i just had a couple of accidents testing projects, sometimes I accidentally short the port and the message comes up, the port is shut down until you remove the item and reset the status of the port from disabled...

killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-02-22

The Os shuts down the socket in the event of a power surge, I was going to make one of these but slightly more powerful, also axpect to see a diy coffee heater/drink cooler coaster soon enough...

Bran (author)killerjackalope2008-02-22

a diy coffee heater/drink cooler coaster...

Peltier device?

killerjackalope (author)Bran2008-02-22

You caught on first, it's the packaging of the device that's important...

PocketSized (author)Kiteman2008-02-22

I would have to agree.
As a rule of thumb I try not to short circuit anything (always seems safer that way).

You are taking the unnecessary gamble that your USB interface has some sort of current limiter.
There are projects concerning how to make wire hot enough to cut things, usually named 'foam cutters' (there is probably a more accurate name).

I've been considering making one, but I would prefer to make one safe in the knowledge that I know exactly what I am doing, other than simply short circuiting electric terminals.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-02-22

Maybe not yours. But it is very possible Just sayin

ironsmiter (author)2008-02-22

I suppose, if you want to risk blowing something important in your PC, go for it! :-) Personally, I'd think hacking a wallwart charger to do this would be faster, and safer. For your computer. Wallwarts - $5, Highend PC - $1500 you do the math :-) having the spring probably helps. "real" hot wire cutters(used for cutting foam for modeleing, etc) ususally use nicrhrome wire or panio wire. Mine uses an old space heater element, unwound while hot.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-02-22

So, you ruin a $1000 computer just to save $5 for a foam cutter that does the same thing?

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