This will be my first Instructable, I stumbled across this website about a week or so ago, and it immediately became an addiction. I was almost overwhelm because I couldn't decide which Instructable I wanted to work on first; I'd saved about fifty or so to my favorites on my first run through!
But when I came across an Instructable for one of these cooler A/C contraptions, I knew.
I live in Macon, Georgia. The Summers here are very hot and humid. My car does not have A/C, it needs a new compressor, and to get everything professionally fixed it would cost me about $1,200. I built this thing for about $12 (because most of the stuff I had just lying around). It isn't quite powerful enough to combat the heat coming through windows during the day, but in the shady carport it was able to keep the car cool. Plus I'm going camping this weekend and this contraption will be great for keeping my fiance and I cool, as well our beer. Not to mention the awesome cup holders
I made the Cool(er) by observing a few different Instructables, learning the basic mechanics, and then starting the creative process.
The creative process didn't happen until a drunken Sunday night a few days ago at a buddy's house (that is how most creative processes start ya know).
That drunken night ended with:
-3 holes in an old cooler (which I found half buried in the crawl space under my house then painted black and white with some spray paint I had lying around)
-2 of which are for circular car vents to cover and direct the air flow (stumbled upon 'em at a flea market, two for $1)
-1 larger hole for a computer fan for suction (about $8 at Radioshack) which I covered with a noodle strainer I cut to fit ($.50 flea market) and powered with a miscellaneous 12V DC power adapter ($1 flea market)
I connected the wires, threw in some frozen stuff (literally stuff, I had some water bottles freezing at home but a drunken drive to retrieve some bottles of ice wasn't happening, frozen peas and meat worked just fine), then plugged it in.
The Cool(er) worked great! Notice how I have the vents facing out. Its so two people can sit with the Cool(er) in between them and enjoy a cool breeze.
My friend and I were really freakin' ecstatic about the beer / cup holders, but we weren't totally satisfied.
We got to talking about little ways to improve on it like adding a on/off switch and making it easy to switch the power source with different adapters or even a 12V battery.
Then, while searching for switch ideas I came across the current week's challenge: Switches :)
Hope y'all enjoy my Cool(er) Instructable!
Step 1: Getting Started
The instructions part of this Instructable will actually start on step two. Building a Cool(er) is pretty straight forward and simple; you create an opening and place a suction fan for hot air in, create at least one opening for cold air out, add a power source and some cold stuff and then BAM! You've got a Cool(er).
I'm not going to give you instructions on how to build one of these cold air contraptions, it'd be kinda arbitrary because their are already so many on this site. I'd rather challenge you to take the base idea and get creative.
Besides, this is not an Instructable about how to build a Cool(er). This is an Instructable that focuses on how to integrate convenience into one of these cold air contraptions by adding a switch and making it easy to switch out the power source.
So step one:
Get creative and create a Cool(er)
Step 2: Pick a Switch
I picked the SPST Push On-Push Off Switch - Model: 275-011 at RadioShack ($2). I had my sights set on a push switch, and RadioShack was the only place that had 'em.
I have goose eggs in the experience department when it comes to electrical work, and there were no instructions or warnings on the package, so I did what anyone in this day and age would do.
I Googled it.
There are about 2 million Google searches a minute, and how do I know this?
I Googled that, too.
After searching around for a while and finding no real good, straight forward answers I decided to just wing it. It seemed to be as simple as connecting the current with pieces of the hot wire. And guess what... It was!
I took the fan and power source outside to test it on an outlet with a safety circuit breaker, then I taped up all exposed wire except for the end that I will be reattaching to the fan once the switch is installed. The wire doesn't necessarily have to be chopped up so much, I did it because it would have been way to difficult trying to attach and wrap once installed. Work smarter not harder, less things get thrown out of the window that way.
Step 3: Pick a Place
I liked how the switch looked on the side of the Cool(er), but to get it there I had to chew through some form fitting insulation. Good thing I was hungry.
Once I had the underline insulation cleared out I was ready to cut out a place for a switch.
That's where my my favorite little hand tool comes in drill a rough cut, then sand it smooth.
Step 4: In With the Switch on With the Securing the Fan
Thread the wires through the hole along with the switch fixture. Then take the supplied nut and washer and thread the wires in the same way, securing the switch to the cooler lid.
Connect the cut wires between the fan and the switch.
Find a way to secure the fan. As you see I did so by simply sliding a few cuts of metal through the insulation.
Unless you like blowing fuses make sure you separate and secure the +/- terminals.
To improve the fit of the lid (and to play with my Dremel again) I cut two tracks into the lid fitting that separate the +/- which will be ran from the power source to the terminals.
Before you connect the power source, flip over the lid and make sure everything is good and stable.
Step 5: Switch on the Power, Switch Out the Power Source
Connect a power source.
-This fan, as do most (...probably all) computer fans, requires a Direct current (DC) power source. So you couldn't just straight wire a cord into a house's AC outlet, you would need a power cord with a 12v DC output (you know, one of those cords with a little box in the middle). Cut the adapter end off the 12v cord, strip part of the wire, and then attach some covered gator clips to the appropriate charge.
The voltage doesn't need to be exactly 12, just close. Notice that the one I picked up at a flea market is a half volt short. But I assure you all that it still works great.
-The current that comes out of the cigarette lighter in a vehicle is already DC. So you can take practically any old car charger (optimally one that you can easily identify the +/-), cut the adapter end off, strip the wire, and then attach some covered gator clips to the appropriate charge.
You now have a switch operated Cool(er) that you can easily switch out the power source for use in a standard AC outlet in a house or DC outlet in a vehicle.
Now its time to fill up your Cool(er) with frozen stuffs. (Gatorade bottles full of water work great, puting something inside to increase the air flow would be wise)
Pick and connect a power source.
Hit the switch....