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Potentiometer/Variable resistor with AC advice

I'm a computer store tech who knows how to solder some(but DC stuff only) and who also enjoys cooking, so my ? is: What's the best choice of pot. for use with US household current to actually control the cooking temp of my hotplate? End result is to eliminate the annoying "heat spikes" you get due to lack of a pot. in the design, IE literally everything sold these days turns on at full current/temp until it reaches X temp, basically it's just temporally defined by how far you turn the knob, and your pancakes wind up crispy black around the edges and gooey in the middle  instead of golden brown and amazing all over. I want it to turn on at X current until X temp (like electric frypans/burners did if you're old enough to remember.) All I need to do ( I think) is add a pot/VR into my burner's element  "line" the right way, it already shuts off at X temp just fine. Incidentally, that's the "click" you hear when any home electric cooking device (sold in North America, at least) hits temp or turns on, the temp. control switch thingee connecting. It's NOT a VR/pot, just a pair of electrodes JUST barely touching strapped very tightly to some ceramic discs. It uses thermal expansion of the discs/electrodes to make things just a tiny bit bigger and separate the tiny little electrode spoons  But all that boring geekspeek affects in this configuration as basically just temporal heating, IE no reduction of the amount of heat in my frypan, just the cooking time. Science says if I reduce the amount of electrons flowing thru it just slightly as well,  it'll be colder but still hot and still shut off when it's hot enough. A pot/VR wired in the right way will do exactly that, won't it? After some research I'm thinking something like a 30-50K "B"-taper pot. wired with 2 of 3 traces (, I'm looking for a "broad" response range while turning with a tight  "pinch" effect at low end for amazing banana-brown-sugar-pinch-of-nutmeg pancakes with coffee on the tiny balcony/fire escape in the morning but I have no idea how the numbers work for AC currents. Does 120vAC mean a different pot or a diff config/approach altogether? Or should I be looking into AC variable resistors, instead? I know an awful lot about "base" science, enough to get me this far, right, but AC throws me for a loop a lot, and there's a gap in my knowledge/experience, between the basic stuff and how it applies to stuff like my application, I don't get a lot of the numbers/formulas and how to use them.  A VR would the ideal tool here, but they are hard to get in the right form with the electrical qualities I need, whereas pots are usually "turning switches", right?

Topic by MattH68    |  last reply


I have been collecting materials to build a greenhouse/potting shed. I have alor of hanging baskets , ferns, moss rose, spider plants and tons of planters full of annuals that I have bought for 2 years in a row and I now see that it is not cost effective to keep buying them new year after year....(also bad on my back) I'm not getting any younger here..............I need a place to pot flowers and to keep these from freezing this winter. I have a sliding glass door and 5 windows, so far.  3 are one size and the other two are another. I envision something with the sliding glass door on one end, the 3 windows on one side and the other two on the end opposite the sliding glass door. I think I should use the rippled fiblerglass stuff for the top. How hard is this going to be to frame and could someone give me an extimate of what it might cost me to get it it done. Should I use cinderblock or wood framing and will they live in wouthern Illinois without me heating the shed?

Question by kjballard22    |  last reply

Arduino Mega WaiveShield 48 Button sampler (Advice ?)

This will be my first project, and original reason I found Arduino in the first place! I was searching for an affordable portable music machine. What has developed in my mind has become progressively bigger, but  I digress. I currently have 2 Mega 2560's, Wave Shield, and an assortment of switches, pots, and buttons robbed from "trash ?". In the mail as I type is a Beat707, QuadRam, R.C. MIDI Shield, Mux 2 Shield, 3x 555 Timers, and a  PT2399 delay. My plan of action was to beef up one mega with the quadram, waive shield, MIDI shield, and Mux 2. If this is possible, it would make a 48 Button sampler with SD card slot, MIDI in and out, and just maby 8-10 bit recording capabilities? Mean wile take the timers and delay and create a funky sounding distortion box that can be positioned anywhere in the circuit. The second Mega is dedicated to the Beat707. Question being, what do you think? I have tons of hardware experience, and soldering hours under my belt, but programming is a new one for me. Im not sure how to judge if the Mega will stand up to the challenge of the first combination, but my biggest requirement going into this, was I wanted something portable, that ran off batteries, but was not just a toy. I started calling it the pocket studio, although I doubt it will fit in a normal pocket.    

Topic by GunzoZabuza    |  last reply

need outdoor motion sensor switch with by pass feature for pot lights?

I'm looking for a reliable outdoor dome motion sensor switch with bypass feature for pot lights.  best if I can bypass with flipping the indoor switch and reset by power off for a while, will settle for wireless bypass by a smart phone or last resort: a wireless remote from inside. look forward to your advice with appreciation and thanks the motion switch should be for 110V ac 200W. prefer 250 w or above

Question by gg89    |  last reply

Volume limiter circuit?

I need help designing a circuit (off of another circuit) that will limit the output voltage to X. I need X to be adjustable from between 0-700 mV. However, I need it so as the input voltage goes up, the output voltage will stay at what it was set to. Without clipping. Any advice? Thanks!

Question by heyzuphowsitgoin    |  last reply

I once saw instructions for how to turn an old seive into a hanging planter: Does anyone have any advice about this?

The instrunctions included a fiber liner of some sort (to hold the soil, I presume). I think the creator had also used an old wire hanger as the hook for the pot. The pot itself was an old metal seive or strainer.

Question    |  last reply

Official Rules, Scoochmaroo Challenge: One Pot Meals

OFFICIAL RULES PLEASE REVIEW THESE OFFICIAL RULES BEFORE ENTERING THE CONTEST. ENTRANTS WHO ARE MINORS: YOU MUST OBTAIN THE CONSENT OF YOUR PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN BEFORE ENTERING THE CONTEST. ENTRY TO THE CONTEST IS FREE AND NO PAYMENT OR PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PAYMENT OR PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. PLEASE SEE THE INSTRUCTABLES TERMS OF SERVICE AND PRIVACY POLICY SECTION A - SPECIFIC TERMS FOR THIS CONTEST Sponsor. The Instructables Scoochmaroo Challenge: One Pot Meals (the "Contest") is a skill-based contest sponsored by Instructables, Inc., a Delaware corporation ("Sponsor"), in connection with the website (the "Sponsor Site"). The Contest is co-sponsored by the company or companies listed here, if any (each, a "Co-Sponsor"): none. The Contest is governed by these Official Rules (these "Rules"). Overview. The object of the contest is to create a recipe that only involves using one pot to cook in. Eligibility. 1.THE CONTEST IS OPEN ONLY TO NATURAL PERSONS WHO, AT THE TIME OF ENTRY, ARE REGISTERED MEMBERS OF THE SPONSOR SITE, WHO ARE AT LEAST THIRTEEN (13) YEARS OLD, AND ARE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES (INCLUDING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BUT EXCLUDING PUERTO RICO),  CANADA (EXCLUDING THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, CANADA), UNITED KINGDOM, OR AUSTRALIA. 1.If you are a minor, meaning that you are under the age of majority in your jurisdiction (currently 18 or 19 in most U.S. states and provinces of Canada and Australia, and, for the UK, 16 in Scotland and 18 in most other parts of the United Kingdom), you must obtain permission from your parent or legal guardian, and your parent or legal guardian must consent to these Rules as if he or she were an entrant, before you submit an entry.  Sponsor reserves the right to require minors to submit proof of parental/guardian permission and consent to these Rules at any time, without which they may be immediately disqualified from the Contest. Certain individuals are excluded from eligibility to enter or win, as described in Section B below.  No purchase is necessary to enter the Contest. Deadline. The Contest begins at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time (PT)/8AM GMT on February 27, 2012 (the "Start Date"). Entries for the Contest must be received by Sponsor by 11:59 p.m. PT on March 4, 2012 /7:59am GMT on March 5, 2012 (the "Deadline"). How to Enter. All entries must comply with the entry requirements identified in these Rules (including in this Section and in Section B below), as well as with any specific formatting or content requirements identified in Section A.2 above or on the "How to Enter" page for the Contest on the Sponsor Site. It is each entrant's responsibility to ensure compliance with those requirements. To enter a new project in the Contest, follow these steps: First document your project in the step-by-step or photo,Instructables format. When your project is ready to be published to the Sponsor Site, visit the Sponsor Site and follow the instructions for publishing your project to the Sponsor Site.  You must be a registered user of the Sponsor Site in order to publish a project to the Sponsor Site. If you are not already a registered user of the Sponsor Site, you will be prompted to create an account on the Sponsor Site during the publication process. Please note: in some jurisdictions, the publication of your project on the Sponsor Site could materially affect rights (e.g., adversely affect patent rights), you may own in the project.  You should make your own inquiries and seek your own advice on this issue. When you have published your project to the Sponsor Site, if you have reviewed the entry requirements for the Contest, believe your project qualifies for entry, and want to enter it in the Contest, leave a comment on the Contest page, and include a link to your published Instructable. 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Topic by scoochmaroo  

How to make a plastic (potting) box (int. L.W.H): 11mm x 22mm x 10mm? Need at last 100 pcs - "pro looking"...TIA?

I need at last 100 - 500 plastic boxes for micro electronic devices. The dimensions are: (int. L.W.H): 11mm x 22mm x 10mm? Need at last 100 pcs - "pro looking". After placing the electronics inside, I intend to cover it with epoxy glue. Any idea how can I do it by myself or even buy them on a reasonable price? TIA for any advice. Dolly

Question by dolly_p20    |  last reply

How to wire a simple cooling fans circuit for a laptop stand, need an Expert help. Answered

Hello everyone ! I am planning to build an extreme cooling laptop stand and I am encountering a problem during my tests phase. What I want to do is to wire together: - 2 x 92mm computer fans (12V - 0,6 Amp) - 1 "B1K" potentiometer (or 2, one for each fan) - 1 "O/I" switch (or 2, one for each fan) - 1 12V power adapter (12V - 50-60Hz - 1000mAmp) When I try to link 1 "B1K" pot with the 2 fans mounted in parallel, first the pot is almost useless (only 5% of its full course is useful) and second, it starts to heat and smoke... What should I do ? Use 2 pots ? Or put in some resistances ? I am new with electronic and get lost with current / voltage / resistance... I thought this circuit would be pretty simple, but when I saw the smoke, I was frightened. Any help / advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

Question by Openyourmind    |  last reply

URGENT! Question about in-line audio control between amp and speakers? Answered

I have a unique project that I am almost finished with, but need to make one last adjustment to. I am running a 3.7W Class D Audio Amplifier. The amp has two outputs. I need one to run as designed (controlled by my iphone before the signal gets to the amp which will be set to almost max volume). I need to then control the other output channel to reduce the volume. Any suggestions? It seems like I might be able to just get an inline control out of an old set of earphones, but I am not entirely sure. I always assumed (and pardon my ignorance if this was a foolish assumption) that the buttons in my iphone earbuds actually signal the phone to change the volume, and isn't really "in-line". So, I don't think those would work. Would an old set from Goodwill work for this? I have seen posts where others are asking similar questions and the answer seems to be a 1K Ohm Pot (which are apparently really tough to find). Since I have a 3.7W amp, perhaps a 10K Ohm Pot will work (people have said this doesn't work well for their headphones).  To summarize: 1) Will adjusting one output channel on a two-channel amp work? (or will the increased resistance simply close off the channel and pump all the signal to the other channel?) 2) If this will work, can I use a 10K Pot? 3) If not, will an old-school in-line volume control from some headphones work? Sorry for all the info...trying to be thorough! Thanks a ton for any advice!

Question by WhiteTyrone    |  last reply

Does anyone know to make concrete or like material head planter for outdoor plants?

Hello Wonderful, and Creative people, I need your help in achieving the same or similar look to these terracotta/concrete planter, with an aged moss green patina, $85-$125 at HGTV Marketplace Ouch!!! I would like to use these for small outdoor plants! and achieve the same awesome look for less? I would appreciate any suggestions before embarking in uncharted waters. I was thinking of using those Styrofoam heads and cutting a hold big enough to accommodate a flower pot. What should I use to prep for water/weather proofing...paper Mache, shellac, paint and glue moss??? Please advice this novice. Thank -U-much! Lilmama

Question by lilmamacita    |  last reply

Help with DC motor control circuit

I am looking for some advice in regards to a DC motor control circuit i am trying to build out of some electronic parts I have lying around. See attached control circuit diagram.  The idea is that a timer will trigger the relay to either run the motor in reverse at full voltage or it will run forward stopping and starting as per the wave form from the 555 timer. So on for about 2 seconds and off for about 2 seconds. This waveform can be changed using R1 and R2 which are trim pots.  The circuit works as expected until I hook the motor up. When the motor is meant to be following the waveform from the 555 it will actually stop and start very erratically. Any help on the reason for this would be great.  Also this is one of my first electronics projects and any feedback on my design would be appreciated. 

Topic by jmullo  

How to make small scale hempcrete?

I was watching this video about hempcrete. It is supposed to be just made of lime, shredded hemp stalk (which you can replace with straw if not available) and water. There is also briefly mentioned a lime heating process, but nothing more detailed than that. I'm not into making a house with this, but I would be interested in making things like plant pots, small tables and stools, and various artwork with it. I need more info though. Like... Is there a specific kind, or prepared lime I need to use? What is this heating process you need to do to it? What parts lime to hemp/straw is recommended? How long is the curing process? It seems like you could make some neat things out of this, but I haven't found anyone doing so. Are there any experts that could offer advice about this kind of thing? Thanks.

Topic by horsebones    |  last reply

Water-proofing can this be done, please?

Hi, Thanks for stopping by! I would like to do a large (2m2) outdoor papier-mache project. Essentially it's a large plant holder display and so would need to hold about 25lbs in weight and be able for me to water the pot plants it will hold. These are my concerns, and I would seriously appreciate some advice if you can: - How do I waterproof the whole thing? I was hoping to use strong wallpaper paste and then seal it with about 3 coats of oil-based paint like eggshell. The other worry I have is where I cut holes into the papier-mache there will then be an unsealed exposed edge where water could get in a separate the layers: I don't feel that paint would be sufficient for such thin areas/egdes...what would you do? Again, thanks for reading me, please help if you can. Kevin

Topic by kevinhannan    |  last reply

DADCANDO: Kaptin Scarlet's book is out!

I just had the chance to read the new Dadcando book from Kaptin Scarlet, aka father-of-four Chris Barnardo who runs   The book is absolutely excellent, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen his carefully-crafted Instructables.  All of the projects are creative, inexpensive, well-documented, accessible, and most importantly, they look like fun.  The  I was quite taken by the Waves and Wheels section (that little submarine will be making an appearance in my daughter's bath soon!) and even the science and Advanced projects are quite doable for even a novice DIY dad. But Barnardo shines when he turns his glue gun and paints to the fantastic.  Written in the voice of his Kaptin Scarlet persona, the Great Adventures chapter describes how to make a wizard's wand, a feather quill and magical ink pot, and dragon-hunters goggles.  The projects simply ooze creativity, and look good enough to support hours of imaginary play. The book is peppered with wise advice for the single or divorced, non-custodial parent who wants to stay engaged in his children's lives without succumbing to the usual pitfalls of consumerist overindulgence or disconnection.  The tips are universally applicable without seeming preachy, and provide lots of encouragement to get away from the computer and do something with your kids.  In short, Dadcando is brilliant.  It's the perfect Father's Day gift, or general-purpose inspirational gift for anyone you know with kids.  I really can't recommend this book highly enough, and will be sending copies to friends and family as soon as it's available in the states! Dadcando at (available now) Dadcando at (available July 5)

Topic by canida    |  last reply

Powering Video Game Consoles with Single Power Supply?

I'm in the planning stages for a office/video game room. I own a lot of game consoles — around 20. I want to hook them up to two televisions — one HD plasma and one SD CRT (older ones will probably go to the CRT). I'm starting from an unfinished basement, so I have a lot of freedom for the design. One thing I really want to avoid is a rat's nest of cables — 20 consoles can result in a big mess. I'd also like to avoid having wall warts draw power when I'm not using their respective console. With that in mind, plus a desire to introduce a little automation, I'm planning to use an arduino (probably a mega 2560) along with a bunch of relays and a power supply of some sort to do this. For consoles with internal power supplies, I'll run AC through some relays. But for the DC ones, is there anything I should be worried about? I plan to use voltage regulators (possibly variable along with some digital pots) to set the correct voltage for each console. Should I put fuses in line? Diodes? I should mention that I don't plan to ever have more than one console on at a time. That said, I do plan to use a desktop PSU or something like similar that can provide plenty of amps. I don't yet know as much as I'd like to know about DC and what constitutes a good source of power, and I just want to make sure I don't fry any of my consoles through some rookie mistake. I'd appreciate any advice, suggestions, etc. Thanks!

Question by fwonkas    |  last reply

Instructables Podcast 002: A Lot of Pressure, and a Sharp Tug

Welcome to our second episode! Would you like some advice on a project your working on? Perhaps you'd like a few ideas from a new source? You can comment here or email us at In this episode we discuss some of the projects we're working on, take care of some more housekeeping, and do a bit of brainstorming! Enjoy the episode and enjoy the resources! You can listen to or download the episode below, listen over at or check it out at our homepage: download Resources: From our Builds: -Learning Electronics: littleBits, Snap Circuits and LogicBlocks. -How to build a food dehydrator 3D Modeling: -Jake's instructable on building his action figure -Find 3D models: 123D, Thingiverse, Blender -Create 3D models: 123D, SketchUp Books and such: -Awesome Prop Building Forum -David J. Gingery: Build your own Metal Working Shop from Scratch -O'Reilly and Make -Kenn Amdahl: There Are No Electrons: Electronics For Earthlings Other: -Chainsaw bike Sharp Tugs: -Hammer on a revolver: From How Stuff Works, scroll down to "How Revolves Work" and click on the flash animation -Bass drum pedal -Rubber band gun -Mini Crossbow (thank you again How Stuff Works) Steam Power: -Steampunk Motorcycle -Very basic guide to steam engines -Tesla Turbine -Tea Pot Steam Engine (click on "How Steam Engines Work" for pdf) -Pop Pop Boat (also, I know what I'm getting Jake for his next birthday) If you'd like us to discuss one of your questions, please email us at or comment below.

Topic by StumpChunkman    |  last reply

Squishy Silicone (shore hardness 30-10) with 4 ingredients

I owe my findings to the maker of "Oomoo" and community of hobbyists; thank you everybody! I needed squishy silicone, and the random knowledge I found here helped me with the puzzle pieces. The pink rectangle that you see in the pictures has the consistency of a gummy bear (shore hardness ~10). Grab: GE Silicone 1 caulk (or equivalent) Caulk Gun Odorless Mineral Spirits Baby Oil (Mineral oil) Acrylic Paint Sandwich zip baggies (medium large will help you) Cutting tool Mold negative (I use play doh because I only need basic shapes) Try to avoid glass... Don't use glass. A way to measure Tablespoons ADVISORY- your silicone (should) smell of vinegar and your mineral spirits will be potent of fumes.. and flammable. Use ventilation and protect your eyes. Your only saving grace is the baby oil scent. Okay. Grab the (new) silicone caulk and cut the whole pointy tip off of the tube, making a flush cylinder. Load that bad boy in the gun. Open a plastic baggie, and fill it with: 2 tbsp Mineral Spirits 1 tbsp Baby Oil (Mineral oil) Then shoot one full shot of silicone directly into the oily puddle of liquid. Close the baggie, leaving a little air. Find a way to mix it. I lay the bag on a smooth table and repeatedly iron the baggie with my pinky. You have 20+ minutes pot time, so be thorough. You should now have a clear 'spit' like liquid that runs, similar the two liquids you just mixed. Open the bag. Add: 1 drop acrylic/oil paint Close it, and repeat the mixing until your color is even throughout the liquid. Turn your baggie sideways and cut a small triangle from one of the bottom corners. Carefully tilt the bag like an icing baster and pour the silicone into your mold negative. This method is clean and offers control. You can squeeze ALL of your mix into the pour, as well as combat air bubbles. Don't touch it for 3 hours. Better yet, leave it for three days. It takes this long for the shrinkage to happen. You can avoid shrinkage if you use xylene instead of mineral spirits, but it is not available to me. The color will become opaque in this time as well. You now have very squishy silicone. I have tried many other pours and I can't manage to get the cured squishy consistency without mixing a liquid to start. A goop is preferable to me because I can use it a caulk, still, allowing me to 'draw' silicone positives. To achieve a shore hardness of ~30 Repeat the steps above, but now use: 1 tbsp Mineral Spirits 1 tbsp Baby Oil (mineral spirits) This will have an initially 'goopier' mix, and you will have similar pot/cure time, but no shrinkage. It will be oily until you repeatedly dry it. The picture of four silicone squares illustrates my last advice. Each mix has only one drop of the same pink acrylic paint. You may want to experiment with how much color you want. Far Left: the gummy bear mix 2:1 softest Inner Left: the hardness 30 mix 1:1 Inner Right: FAILURE did not cure (1/2 tbsp baby oil, 1tbsp mineral spirits) Far Right: FAILURE did not cure (2 tbsp baby oil, 1 tbsp mineral spirits) toughest The two squares on the right could have been made with just silicone, mineral spirits and NO baby oil. Maybe, add ~3 drops of glycerin and I could have had the same hardness AND a thurough cure, but I want the squishy. Hopefully this helps.

Topic by VRPlanesWalker    |  last reply

Building Audio System, Have Questions About ICs? Answered

So as the title states I want to design an audio system, I purchased an old shortwave radio someone gutted, but the case is in great shape and looks really cool, would make a killer looking amp.  So a little background, I want to make a stereo amp I can hook up several inputs to and my speakers; likely a turntable, iPod, radio, and whatever else I feel like.  The radio came with a nice little 5 position rotary switch for that.  The main problem I am facing is what ICs I want to use, and what order.  I have not dealt much with audio and at first I thought of buying a radio and just putting the guts into this unit, but I thought this would be a good project to dive into audio work.  You can't learn if you don't push your bounds a bit, am I right? The first IC question is about chips like the PT2322.  There are several I have looked at that use a microcontroller for control, and I am not against using an Arduino Micro in this unit, but I am unsure of how the acknowledgment bit works.  The data input seems to just be a shift register, data gets clocked in, then latched.  Data is fed in in 8 bit strings, but then it mentions an acknowledgement bit as a 9th bit.  Is this bit for the latch, or is there a 9th bit fed in before everything is latched?  Should it be hi or lo?  As well I was looking at the commands, several commands have 7 of their 8 bits written as a *, does this mean that those bits can be set hi or lo?  I am sure these aren't difficult questions and I glossed over something important in one of the many data sheets, and that I do not use these chips with any regularity, if ever, doesn't help either!  But I like that these ICs all seem to have a 3 band tone control and volume control built into them. If I were not to use an IC controlled by a microcontroller, I am looking at using a BA3812 for the tone controls, 5 band is a little more then I need, I really only wanted 3, not 2 but not more then 3.  Bass, treble and mid range.  But I could not find a 3 band IC without microcontroller inputs required for operation, and it was not for the lack of trying.  I can handle 5 bands though, however I am wondering, should I go preamp to equalizer to the main amp, or where would I wire in the BA3812?  This seems like a stupid question to me, I feel like an audiophile is going to come along and say, "You never put the equalizer after the preamp, it always goes here or there!" or something along those lines.  As well, regardless of where its going to get wired in, since I am doing stereo not mono, I assume I will need 2 BA3812's, but the datasheet supplies a circuit for 3 Chips as well.  Which would be suggested, 2 or 3?  I am wanting to control both left and right tone controls together, so using 5 pots instead of 10, and would also like to be able to have a balance control.  I didn't see anything about balance control in the BA3812 datasheet, would there be a good way of accomplishing that with these ICs or the use of a couple op amps maybe?  I didn't really look into balance, I should have before asking questions. For the preamp the LM1036 seemed like a good choice.  I was reading into preamps, and they seem more important for the turntable then anything else.  The way the grooves on a record are cut they boost the high frequencies so they don't fade awayat lower volumes or something like that.  Because of that a preamp that boosts bass and cuts treble is useful and improves sound quality when using turntables.  Should I use a preamp only for the turntable input or for all inputs?  If I adjust the equalizer for records is a preamp necessary or should I use the preamp and set it with trim pots to boost bass and cut treble a little, or should it be fully adjustable as well? As far as what to use for the final amplification I am at a bit of a loss.  A home theater system I have is 1500W and is adequately loud, but the system I have for my turntable right now think is only 250W I believe and it seems louder.  Never really understood wattages for "loudness"  or output on sound system.  I saw an IC (can't remember number, its a TDA though) dual 50W amplifier.  Not sure if 50W for each channel would be enough.  Advice would be helpful. As a side note, if I do go the route of a microcontroller, I found this NJW1186 with stereo input and 5.1 surround output which I thought would be cool. I really appreciate any help. Thank you

Question by KlockWork    |  last reply

12v solar panel/battery setup project- NOT lead/acid

Hi, I have a project that I'm trying to design/build and could use some help/advice with some of the electrical theory. I feel like this should be really simple but I'm having a lot of issues. I have done a lot of googling but can't seem to find applicable answers so I started my own thread. Any help will be greatly appreciated! If I can solve this, I will be happy to write up a detailed instructable so that others can use this information as well.  The short version: Trying to build a lightweight solar panel>battery pack>UHF radio charging setup. Nominal voltage is all 12v. I'm having difficulty regulating amperage between the units. The long version: My friend is in charge of a campsite which needs to have a 2-way radio on at all times. They need to be able to charge these radios on-premise because they are out there for a little over a week at a time. A solar panel seems ideal for this application. The whole charging setup needs to be lightweight since it is a >10 mile hike into the campsite. Ideally, I would like to use an array of NiMH AA batteries because they are small, relatively cheap, and can be replaced easily if there is an issue. I am also under the impression that they handle repetitive charge/discharge cycles well. I am not married to that though so if there is a compelling reason to use lipo or something else, I am open to that. The radio: is a Motorola Radius CP200. The wall charger that comes with it outputs 14v at 1.5 amps. The battery in the radio (according to the sticker on it) is 7.4v 16.21Wh lithium ion. Setup 1 that I've been trying: I have a 12v solar panel charging a pack of AA NiMH batteries. I started with an 8-pack holder but moved up to a 10-pack to increase voltage and total mAH a little. I've been using little voltage regulators in between the solar panel and the batteries as well as between the batteries and the radio. These function as diodes and help me get the correct charging voltage. My problem is that I can't regulate the amperage. The battery pack will pull as much as it can from the solar panel, and the radio will pull as much as it can from the battery pack. What ends up happening is when I first plug the radio into the battery pack, it works fine. But after a couple minutes, the amperage skyrockets to like 3 or 4 or more amps. The voltage regulator hits some sort of thermal protection limit and the whole thing shuts down. I tried throwing this amperage regulator in there as well to keep it below 1.5 amps, naively thinking that it would just affect the amperage and not the voltage. But what happens is when it's in constant amps mode, it just cuts the voltage to compensate and keeps the total power the same. Setup 2 that I've been trying: I thought maybe since I was having issues with the 'smarts' of these batteries charging and discharging, I would switch over to USB battery packs since they have a lot of built-in protection circuitry. I got this solar charger, an older version of this battery pack, and used the same voltage regulators to step up the voltage from 5v to 14v to charge the radio. I get the same issue of high-amperage discharging of the battery pack. I tried using this step-up converter between the battery pack and the radio but it doesn't seem to work or maybe I'm not using it correctly (I can't seem to get the adjustment pots to actually do anything...). It seems like I'm thinking about current wrong or something. Any suggestions or insight into what's wrong with my approaches would be super helpful. If anyone has any suggestions for radically changing my approach, I'm open to those as well. Thanks for reading!

Topic by Cking0987    |  last reply