author3
73Instructables4,457,014Views566CommentsOconomowoc, WI - SE WisconsinJoined December 22nd, 2007
Ordinary guy with no special skills, just trying to change the world one backyard invention at a time. See more at: http://300mpg.org/ On Twitter - @300MPGBen and at Ecoprojecteer.net

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Craftsman Tools Contest
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Furniture Hacks Contest
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Snow Contest
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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Sandblasted Steel Beer Pint7 days ago
    Sandblasted Steel Beer Pint

    I don't recall the thickness. It was marked as a "premium" vinyl. It's nice stuff, rated for use in outdoor signs.

    View Instructable »
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!9 days ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    Hello! Here's a video that goes deeper in depth about the adapter plate.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRRavUNbahk

    Yes, I can change gears. It's slightly slower than with a clutch, but works just fine.I always tended to not shift much in this car. In town, I could just leave it in one gear if I wanted.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!14 days ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    I don't know what half those acronyms are! Converting a little bit older car simplifies things as they were less computer-based.On my car I did see that there is a dedicated air-bag computer which is separate from any engine computer. I made sure to leave the air-bags and air-bag computer untouched, so that the car would still have its original safety features.I would remove any unnecessary computers related to the engine, fuel tank, etc., but make sure to leave anything safety-related, such as anti-lock brake controls.

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  • bennelson's instructable Infinity Gauntlet Cast Cover (Light-up)'s weekly stats: 15 days ago
    • Infinity Gauntlet Cast Cover (Light-up)
      196 views
      1 favorites
      3 comments
  • bennelson commented on kludge77's instructable Wooden Cell Phone Projector!20 days ago
    Wooden Cell Phone Projector!

    Science and surplus stores are great places to get lenses.Otherwise a plain magnifying glass can work well and are widely available.

    View Instructable »
  • Infinity Gauntlet Cast Cover (Light-up)

    All I have to do is snap my fingers. Oh no!(With my thumb in the cast, I can NOT snap my fingers. I'll have to wait another month or so to destroy those pesky Avengers!)

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  • bennelson's entry Passive Solar Garage Door is a winner in the Epilog Challenge 9 contest 8 weeks ago
  • bennelson's entry Passive Solar Garage Door is a finalist in the Epilog Challenge 9 contest 8 weeks ago
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Ammo Can Solar Power Supply2 months ago
    Ammo Can Solar Power Supply

    There's all sorts of different ways to do a project like this, so just do one in a way that meets your needs!In my case, I figured that I'd be charging the battery in fair weather (solar charging doesn't seem to work so well in the rain!) and that I'd be charging devices or running lights while in a tent. On the other hand, the project was also likely to get left outside overnight (but closed up.) So for me, the ammo can by itself was waterproof in a good way, but drilling holes in it could only hurt the water-proofiness!As I said, there's all sorts of variations on these types of projects, so do what works best for what works for YOU!

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  • RADIANT FLOOR HYDRONIC (water) HEATING SYSTEM

    Pex is also significantly less expensive.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Ammo Can Solar Power Supply2 months ago
    Ammo Can Solar Power Supply

    Thanks for the catch on the faulty link. I corrected it.

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  • bennelson commented on tomatoskins's instructable Flip Car Track2 months ago
    Flip Car Track

    Great woodworking project! Well done!

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Ammo Can Solar Power Supply2 months ago
    Ammo Can Solar Power Supply

    On a project like this, we are using rather low charging and discharging currents, so heat really isn't an issue from that.In a hot climate, keep the battery in the shade. You may want to use a light colored container instead of a dark one. Use wiring between the solar panel and the battery such that the solar panel is in the sun and the battery is in the shade.

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  • bennelson's instructable Ammo Can Solar Power Supply's weekly stats: 2 months ago
    • Ammo Can Solar Power Supply
      40,524 views
      290 favorites
      47 comments
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Ammo Can Solar Power Supply2 months ago
    Ammo Can Solar Power Supply

    20A

    Great question! Yes, anything connected to a battery over time can run it down. In this case, if you aren't using the Solar Ammo Can for a while (while NOT having a charging source plugged in..) you should either pull the main positive wire off the battery, or pull the main fuse.I have no idea how much draw the solar charge controller will have. It does have an LCD display, so that at a minimum is using power. I would imagine that it's just in the milliamps range, but it would be good to test.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Ammo Can Solar Power Supply2 months ago
    Ammo Can Solar Power Supply

    Power Poles are also handy connectors. I've used many of the high-current versions for electric vehicle projects. Use whatever connector works best for the equipment you will plug in!

    Everything connects through the solar charge controller. There's a 20 amp fuse between the charge controller and the battery. The loads also connect to the charge controller, NOT directly to the battery.Between the 20A amp fuse and the internal features of the solar charge controller, everything is protected.

    Absolutely! For this project, it used a relatively small battery just to be able to make a portable system.To scale up this project, use a larger battery, more powerful inverter, and larger solar panel.

    All of the 12V DC out is run through the solar charge controller, which is connected to the battery through the main fuse. This also allows the solar charge controller to DISCONNECT a load to prevent it from running the battery too low.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE3 months ago
    Build Your Own ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE

    The VERY FIRST thing you want to do with your project is to make sure you will be able to legally ride it when you are done!Check with your local laws and requirements, and make sure to comply with them. These rules vary quite a bit from state to state and country to country.

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  • bennelson commented on JON-A-TRON's instructable Off Grid Power Supply3 months ago
    Off Grid Power Supply

    Fantastic. Thank you!

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  • bennelson commented on JON-A-TRON's instructable Off Grid Power Supply3 months ago
    Off Grid Power Supply

    Do you have a budget for the project?It's always nice to get a sense of out-of-pocket costs for any design.

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  • bennelson followed joshpit20033 months ago
      • Mini Boat
      • Table Tennis Scoreboard
      • Tug Belt - a Minimalist Belt That Fits in Your Wallet
  • bennelson followed simplerandom3 months ago
      • Drill Powered Go Kart
      • DIY Electric Lego Duplo Train
      • DIY Electric Toy Boat
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage3 months ago
    DIY Solar Garage

    It was hard to track the man hours. Probably the biggest amount of time was the reading, researching, learning, etc.Installing the racking was after work for a few nights. Same with installing the micro-inverters and cabling. There was a few hours of making the junction boxes and installing conduit. Picking up parts always added in time too.The actual solar panel installation was rather quick. it was four of us in just one morning.Had a professional solar company done this, it would have been $15,000-$18,000.

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  • bennelson commented on monickingbird's instructable Concrete Octagonal Driveway Pavers3 months ago
    Concrete Octagonal Driveway Pavers

    Great project! Lots of good info!Now the big question - Was it worth it? It looked like a very laborious project. Would you do the same thing again, or is the extra cost of purchasing pavers worth all the time that went into it?

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  • bennelson's instructable Passive Solar Garage Door's weekly stats: 3 months ago
    • Passive Solar Garage Door
      15,790 views
      103 favorites
      38 comments
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Passive Solar Garage Door3 months ago
    Passive Solar Garage Door

    If you like Fresnel lenses, you might want to check out my "Solar Death Ray".https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrKlF-Iuh6M8d216dCJZgCA

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Passive Solar Garage Door4 months ago
    Passive Solar Garage Door

    A person certainly COULD paint the garage door black, or add black material to it. However, I don't see that as being particularly advantageous. It would be the same number of square feet of gain from sunlight. The concrete does a good job of absorbing the heat.Dark colored interior walls which absorb light can make good solar collectors, but just the light shining on the floor is nice and simple, with no additional parts.An interesting experiment might be to paint PART of the floor black and see if some of the concrete is better at absorbing the heat than other parts.

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  • bennelson entered Passive Solar Garage Door in the Epilog Challenge 9 contest 4 months ago
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!4 months ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    I had to look up what an 1800S was. Cool Car! As I write this (January 2018) there are plenty of great electric cars out there a person can buy used at a good price. One great reason to still convert a car is if it is something not available as an electric, such as an old sports car, a convertible, or at this point, even just a pickup truck. (EV pickups are great, and I'm shocked that we still don't have a mainstream manufacturer of electric trucks!) Take a look at EVAlbum.com for inspiration or try contacting a local chapter of the Electric Auto Association to see if you can find somebody nearby to work with!

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage4 months ago
    DIY Solar Garage

    Hi Allen,Thanks for the kind words. For me, one of the best parts of working on any project is just all that I learn while working on it. I'm glad to be able to pass on any part of what I learn to encourage others to do that same!

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage4 months ago
    DIY Solar Garage

    Tax incentives definitely should be a part of the consideration!That IS one thing that I noticed is that by doing it myself, I got less tax incentives, but overall, my total cost was considerably lower. For example, I really only "lost" the incentive that would have been on the labor from a solar installer. I still got the full incentive for all the cost of all the equipment and other aspects of the project.One of the reasons why I write on Instructables and do presentations on DIY is to let people know what goes into a project. If a person decides that the DIY approach is NOT for them, that's still something worth learning!

    Tax incentives definitely should be a part of the consideration!That IS one thing that I noticed is that I got a less tax incentives, but overall, my total cost was considerably lower too.One of the reasons why I write on Instructables and do presentation on DIY is to let people know what goes into a project. If a person decides that the D.I.Y. approach is NOT for them, that's still something worth learning!

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  • bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage's weekly stats: 4 months ago
    • DIY Solar Garage
      35,945 views
      415 favorites
      35 comments
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage4 months ago
    DIY Solar Garage

    Looks great!Probably the biggest disadvantage of a ground-mount system is the cost of actually building the mounting system, including digging and concrete. However, you can put up a larger system than would fit on a roof!Nice job getting Grandfathered!

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage4 months ago
    DIY Solar Garage

    And of course, always check http://www.dsireusa.org for all incentives and policies in your area!

    Hi EEGeek!Yes, it's true, while not exactly the same as money in your pocket, Wisconsin does have a law which prevents property taxes from increasing based solely on renewable energy added to a property. (My property tax actually DID increase because of the garage re-build, but only because of the new building, not the solar.)I hadn't heard anything recently about a new "connection fee" for grid-tie through WE Energies (The major, investor-owner utility in our area.) Unfortunately, the Public Service Commission hasn't done a great job at protecting consumers in our area. Last I checked, WE Energies has a set monthly meter fee of about $18, which you pay no matter how much energy you use or not. It's a flat "you are connected to the grid" fee. One thing bad about that...

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    Hi EEGeek!Yes, it's true, while not exactly the same as money in your pocket, Wisconsin does have a law which prevents property taxes from increasing based solely on renewable energy added to a property. (My property tax actually DID increase because of the garage re-build, but only because of the new building, not the solar.)I hadn't heard anything recently about a new "connection fee" for grid-tie through WE Energies (The major, investor-owner utility in our area.) Unfortunately, the Public Service Commission hasn't done a great job at protecting consumers in our area. Last I checked, WE Energies has a set monthly meter fee of about $18, which you pay no matter how much energy you use or not. It's a flat "you are connected to the grid" fee. One thing bad about that is that it does NOT encourage people to conserve energy.WE Energies also requires a second meter. They charge a monthly fee for monitoring the meter, but I think it's about $1.70. So at a minimum, you'll be spending about $20 a month as a WE Energies customer if you don't even use a single kWh of electric energy.My power company is Oconomowoc City Utilities, which is a municipally run non-profit and a part of the WPPI Energy electric utility co-op. On my bill. I pay a $6 a month flat user fee and no additional fee for feeding in to the grid.

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  • bennelson entered DIY Solar Garage in the Epilog Challenge 9 contest 4 months ago
  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build a Dutch-Door!4 months ago
    Build a Dutch-Door!

    Looks great!

    Nice and simple approach to the hardware and weatherstripping. Well done!

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  • DIY Open-Source Plug-in Hybrid Pickup Truck

    No. This is one of those projects that sort of fell between my skill-sets, my budget, and what was affordable and appropriate technology.I still love the idea of the project, but at this point, a used Chevy Volt would be about the same price as what it would cost for the batteries, charger, motor controller, etc. for a DIY project.I really believe that a commercially built plug-in hybrid pickup truck has a HUGE market potential.A Ford F-150 Energi would be a fantastic vehicle.In the mean time, electric vehicles have really been taking off. Even my Mitsubishi iMiEV works great pulling a trailer. So it's a very useful vehicle, but range becomes SO limiting when pulling that extra weight. A plug-in hybrid truck would be great for so many people.I even pitched the details of my plug-in hybr...

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    No. This is one of those projects that sort of fell between my skill-sets, my budget, and what was affordable and appropriate technology.I still love the idea of the project, but at this point, a used Chevy Volt would be about the same price as what it would cost for the batteries, charger, motor controller, etc. for a DIY project.I really believe that a commercially built plug-in hybrid pickup truck has a HUGE market potential.A Ford F-150 Energi would be a fantastic vehicle.In the mean time, electric vehicles have really been taking off. Even my Mitsubishi iMiEV works great pulling a trailer. So it's a very useful vehicle, but range becomes SO limiting when pulling that extra weight. A plug-in hybrid truck would be great for so many people.I even pitched the details of my plug-in hybrid truck design at a private event in Vienna, Austria to help design the car of the future. Some of the smartest people in transportation in the world were there, and they all liked my design.I'm sure we'll be seeing plug in pickups pretty soon. In the mean time, I have other projects I'm working on, and not the time and budget for the truck.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!10 months ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    When the car is turned on, the airbag light flashes a certain number of times. It's a "self-test" and indicates that the airbags are working properly. The controls for the air-bags are a separate car computer from all the other car functions. In the Metro, it's mounted near the bottom of the central console. I did NOT modify the airbags, the daytime running lights, or the seatbelts in any way, so as to keep all the original safety equipment in stock and working condition.

    Been there, done that, wrote the Instructable on it. https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Plug-In-Hybrid-Car/ It worked fine, but the main drawbacks were how much cargo space got used up, and the noise from the generator. Generator exhaust was routed through the bottom of the cargo area and through a riding lawn mower muffler!

    I have a friend who built two frames for XR3s. Those are a neat concept and the finished one looks really cool. Building the frame is the hardest part for a hobbyist. My friend had lots of experience with metal, welding, and fabricating, so he built those two frames to sell to other guys who were interested in building XR3s but didn't have the skill and experience for the frame part of it.I still like the idea of doing a diesel/electric plug-in hybrid pickup truck. It would be a similar concept, only using a stock vehicle like a Ford Ranger or Chevy S10.

    My latest project is a solar garage. It provides all the power I need for my entire house and an electric car. Electric Cars and Solar Power go GREAT together! You can see a few photos at: http://300mpg.org/2017/06/26/game-of-drones/

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!10 months ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    Mother Earth News built a Hybrid with a system similar to what you describe. They had plans available for purchase. A friend gave me an old copy of the plans. Pretty neat stuff!http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/electric-car-conversion-zmaz79jazraw

    Right now (July 2017) is a GREAT TIME to buy a used electric car. When I originally built this car, there weren't any available. An electric car conversion still makes a lot of sense for a classic car or an unusual car which you wouldn't otherwise have available as an electric. If you just want nice clean transportation for everyday travel, a used Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, or similar vehicle makes a good choice.

    You also have to remember that a car needs a differential to split the power from the gas engine or electric motor to the two drive wheels. In most front-wheel-drive cars, the transmission and differential are one combined unit. I would typically just drive in 3rd gear (for my single-speed gear reduction) and the two "half-shafts" from the transmission connect the power to the two front wheels.There are pickup truck conversions which use a large electric motor more or less directly on the differential on the rear of the truck. In a pickup, the transmission is separate from the differential, and it is POSSIBLE to skip the transmission entirely, but still best to have gear reduction.

    The motor that I used didn't have an identification plate on it, so I had no way of reading the actual specs on it. It was originally designed for 36 or 48 volts. I ran the motor in the car mostly at 72V, but also experimented with running it at all the way up to 144V DC.On a series-wound DC motor, speed is proportional to voltage, so a higher system voltage will mean a higher top speed.I've gotten a speeding ticket in this car.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build your own Electric Car!1 year ago
    Build your own Electric Car!

    Hello!I just tested them, and the links worked fine on my computer. Maybe it's just some difference between the web browser on my computer vs. yours. I haven't head any comments from anyone else about the links not working. It's even possible that the particular web page in question was down briefly while you were trying to go to it.Thank you for bringing this to my attention. If the links still don't work for you, please just use a Google search to try to bring them up.Thanks,-Ben Nelson

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE1 year ago
    Build Your Own ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE

    It's not really that one or the other - series or parallel - connections are more efficient than each other. In series connections, voltage increases. In parallel connections, current or capacity increases. However, with DC motors, speed is proportional to voltage. Therefore, connecting your batteries in series is the preferred way to go. You get a higher voltage, thus higher top speed from your motor. Also, higher voltage means lower current draw for the same amount of power. Lower current means that you can use thinner cabling, which is less expensive, easier to work with, and saves weight.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Medieval Coloring Book2 years ago
    Medieval Coloring Book

    The designs vary a bit. Some of the earlier ones are pretty simple - good to keep a little kid busy for a few minutes. The designs that are more detailed are great for adults. Those are better when you have some quiet time to yourself, and DO take a while!

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Medieval Coloring Book2 years ago
    Medieval Coloring Book

    Absolutely! Great link.

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  • bennelson commented on bennelson's instructable Princess Castle Bunk-Bed2 years ago
    Princess Castle Bunk-Bed

    I TOTALLY want to see someone make Castle Grayskull!!!

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