A colleague at work saw the ‘West-Frisian Steam Vapor and Temperature Indicator’ and she liked the design so much, she asked me if I could create a similar steampunk device for her. Since I had only one industrial thermometer in a metal cage, I had to create something else and decided to create a small ‘steampunk evening thermometer’ for her as a gift.
Maybe you wonder why I called this an 'Thermometria Vesperanium' or evening thermometer. Well that's not hard to explain:
What do you need for a solar cell and what needs to be avoided if you want to have an accurate temperature reading? Exactly! When the led turns on, the sun has set and an accurate temperature reading is possible.
When this project was finished, I decided to create a duplicate simply because it is another addition to my personal 'mad scientist's instrumentarium' and because I really like this device...
Step 1: Materials Needed
A few left over pieces of 3mm Plywood
2x 2mm thick, 5mm wide wooden coffee stirrers
1x 5x5 stick, approx 400mm
1x 75mm x 25mm perforated copper strip
2x 'cotton candy' sticks 3x3mm
2x brass E14 sockets
2x 3mm thick brass rod
1x 3mm copper rod
1x 2mm brass rod
1x Brass Ring M6
1x Old retractable radio antenna
1x Short piece of 6mm brass tube
1x Short thick brass tube, outer diameter 3mm, inner diameter 2mm (to cut 2 smaller 5mm tubes)
1x Short thick brass tube, outer diameter 4mm, inner diameter 3mm (to cut 1 smaller 5mm tube)
Note: I have some special short tubes, The above 5mm tubes provide an alternative that also works.
1x Terminal Block
3x Brass eyelet (23 mm outer diameter, 12mm inner diameter)
1x Simple solar cell garden lamp
1x Brass nail
1x Glass test tube, 16mm wide, 100mm long
1x Thin glass aquarium thermometer
1x 'Anti-vibration rubber' from an old cd- drive
A few pieces of isolating ‘shrinking tube/wire sleeve’
And tools and protection like :
A sharp hobby knife
Liquid hand soap
A cutting mat
Wood-, 2 components- and Superglue
Brown shoe polish
Soldering iron, solder and solder paste
Dremel tool with ' diamond' cutting disc
Dust Mask, Cutting Gloves and Eye Protection
Step 2: Taking the Solar Cell Lamp Apart
I bought an 85 eurocents solar cell garden lamp at a local store. The lamp didn't look like it would stand one week in the garden, but I tested the solar cell part and that worked fine. After disassembling the solar cell lamp carefully, taking extra care when removing the solar cell part, I noticed that some sort of circuit board battery is used. (Maybe a more expensive solar cell lamp would have been a better buy ;-) )
Then I removed the led from the circuit board and re-attached it with two 70mm electronic wires soldered to the leads and isolated these with small pieces 'shrinking tube'. Then I put this part a side for later use.
*) I forgot to make a picture with the longer wires attached to the led and circuit board, so you only see a picture of the solar cell circuit after having it removed from the garden lamp.
Step 3: Creating the Wooden Box
I already have some experience with creating small wooden boxes, so this step wasn't that difficult. The box size will be: 80 x 80 x 30 mm and the walls are 3mm thick, so I cut the following woodpieces:
2x Woodpiece 1: 80 x 80 x 3 mm
4x Woodpiece 2: 77 x 30 x 3 mm
From two cotton candy sticks, size 3 x 3 x 30 mm, I cut 4 sticks with size 3 x 3 x 30mm and 8 sticks with size 3 x 3 x 74mm.
From each woodpiece I measured the center by drawing two diagonal lines: one from the lower left corner to upper right corner and one from the lower right corner to the upper left corner creating a center point.
From one 'Woodpiece 1' I cut an inner square with size 65 x 65 mm. This 'woodpiece 1' I used as the bottom of the wooden box. Then I took the other 'woodpiece 1' and drilled a hole, a litte bit smaller than the diameter of the E14 socket, in the center *). I smoothened the hole with a piece of sandpaper. This part is used as the ' top cover'.
*) When performing this step, use some sticky tape on the center point to prevent the wood from damaging when drilling. Make sure that the E14 socket fits tight in this hole.
In three "Woodpieces 2" I cut 12mm holes for the Eyelets. When done, Two 'Woodpieces 2', one with and one without a hole were then glued perpendicular together, where one side is 80mm (77mm + 3mm) and the other is 77mm. A stick with size 3 x 3 x 60mm was then glued to the inner corner. I repeated this step with the two remaining 'woodpieces 2'. When dry, these two parts were glued together, making sure each side is 80mm (77mm + 3mm) with a 3 x 3 x 60mm stick was glued to the remaining two inner corners. When dry, the remaining 8 sticks with size 3 x 3 x 74mm were glued on the inside of the wooden box to all outer edges.
The solar cell itself is 30x30mm and I used the coffee stirrers to create a wooden frame for the solar cell.
When ready, I used a tiny amount of woodglue to glue this wooden frame (without the solar cell!) in the center of the back of the wooden box, making sure that the bottom of the rear woodpiece and the frame are aligned.
Then I used a 5mm thick square stick to create an edge at the bottom. For this I cut the stick in 3 smaller 85mm parts and two even smaller parts, in my case 1x 20mm and 1x 26mm (sticks 6mm out on one side!). These two are glued to the back of the box against the outer bottom edges and the wooden solar cell frame. The remaining sticks were then glued to the remaining outer bottom edges. When dry, I sanded everything.
Step 4: The Thermometer Housing
I used a 'diamond cutting disc and a dremel' to grind *) a hole in the glass test tube bottom. This hole is needed because it keeps the thermometer centered. I describe this later.
*) when grinding a hole in the bottom of the test tube, make sure to wear some protective gloves, eye protection and a dust mask because you don't want glass dust in your eyes or lungs or cuts in your hand when the test tube breaks. Also grind at low speed while repeating the following sequence: touch and move away until there is a hole in the center in which you can stick the thermometer.
As far as the two E14 sockets is concerned, if there is still some glass and glue on the inside, you can use an old screwdriver to scrape this all out and in this case also, please use the described protection.
From one of the E14 sockets, you also have to remove the insulator glass. I used a set of 'cutting pliers' to break the glass but leave the brass part intact. By prying with and old screwdriver, i was able to break away all pieces of glass and to clean the socket totally which left an almost undamaged brass ' only' socket.
In this socket I glued an 'anti-vibration rubber' from an old cd- drive to keep the thermometer centered and in place. See the photo to 'get the picture'. When dry, I used a rounded metal file to remove a small part of the brass rim on both E14 sockets. I Started at the point where there is some solder, then I did the same on the oposite side. The purpose of this is that the rods, which are soldered to this brass socket, make better contact with the brass socket and less solder has to be used. The next step was adding some solder to the E14 sockets, just below the points where parts of the rim were removed and at both ends of the brass rods where these rods make contact with the E14 sockets later on. During this process, I used solder and solder paste as minimal as possible to prepare the contact areas before the actual soldering. By doing so, I got a stronger solder connection. A vice helped me aligning the two rods along one of the E14 sockets. Besides that, it holds the E14 socket easier in place while soldering. I also made sure that the rods are aligned with the height of the larger and wider part of the E14 socket. when performing this step, take your time and be patient. This is not the easiest part of this instruction.
Then I took the other E14 socket and used a coffee stirerer to put some silicone kit in the lower half of the socket, filling it for a little less than 2/3. the next thing i did was, dipping the back end of the thermometer in handsoap, carefully pushed it in the silicone kit, rotated it and pulled the thermometer out to create some sort of silicone tube. This wil keep the thermometer in place when inserted later. For the next step, I cleaned the test tube on the inside, put some silicone kit on the inside edge of the E14 socket and inserted the bottom of the test tube with the hole into the E14 socket, aligned it and let it dry. If done properly, no silicone kit can be seen on the glass and the outside of the socket and, very important, the hole in the test tube is free from silicone kit and the thermometer can still be inserted in the silicone 'tube' in the lower part of the E14 socket.
Then I 'test fitted' both E14 sockets, aligned the rods with the height of the second E14 socket, marked the excessive parts, and took it all apart. Using a dremel tool, I cut both excessive parts and repeated the earlier described step: cleaned the test tube on the inside, put some silicone kit on the inside edge of the second E14 socket and inserted the other end of the test tube into the E14 socket, aligned it and let it dry.
I repeated the soldering step:
A vice helped me aligning the two rods along the second E14 socket. I aligned and soldered the rods to the E14 socket making sure these rods are also aligned with the height of the larger and wider part of the E14 socket. To clean up the soldering points, I used a sharp knife to cut and scrape the excessive solder and the dremel tool with a 'brass brush' to clean it up further. A soft tip with polish paste finished this job leaving me with a clean an shiny thermometer housing. As a final step, I added and positioned the thermometer.
I took a 'flat eyelet ring' and on the inner side, I marked eight positions with a marker at 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, 316 degrees. Then I used a nail and carefully punched a small hole in each of these markings and drilled bigger holes using a 2mm HSS drill. For the next step, I placed and aligned this prepared eyelet ring over the bigger hole in the center of the top cover and drilled holes in the top cover, using the holes in the eyelet ring as a reference. Then I removed the eyelet ring, put a drop of super glue in each hole in the wooden topcover, replaced the eyelet ring and put a brass nail throught the holes in the eyelet ring and wooden topcover. When dry, I cut the excessive parts of the nails and used a metal file to flatten the remaining ends.>
As a preparation for the next step, I drilled 4 holes in the top cover:
1x 3mm hole at 3,0cm from the left side, 1 cm from the top
1x 3mm hole at 3,0cm from the right side, 1 cm from the top
1x 6mm hole in the center, just below the 'flat eyelet ring' at 3,5cm from the left side, 1,5cm from the bottom
1 4mm hole at 1,5cm from the left side, 2,0 cm from the bottom
and I glued the M6 Brass ring just below the eyelet. Make sure that no glue is on the wood outside the perimeter of this ring, otherwise you will see a clear spot when adding the shoe polish to the top cover.
The next thing was adding the thermometer housing to this hole. The part where the thermometer is sticking out, when the thermometer is placed, is inserted. Then I used some two components glue to glue the thermometer housing to the topcover and made sure to keep the thermometer housing vertically alligned when when glue was drying. This took Approx. 5 minutes. I Sanded the top cover and already put a thin layer of brown shoe polish on it.
Step 6: Creating a Temperature Indicator
One of the inner brass parts of a terminal block was cut in half using a dremel tool, a diamond cutting disc and a vice. (When cutting, use the protection described earlier!) then, one brass nail was soldered to the side opposite of and aligned with the screw. I removed the screw and soldered a tiny copper piece to the top of the crew. I used a metal file to create a tiny wing nut and placed the screw back. Excessive solder was removed from the other part and the nail painted red and left to dry.
A long copper rod was straightened and bend 90 degrees on one side adding a nice rounded curve this rod was then aligned to and cut to fit with the front of the thermometer, on the right side of the center (see pictures). I checked if the top of this rod, with the curve, reached the top of the brass E14 socket with the drop of solder on top. The temperature indicator was added to this rod.
I took the short thick brass tube, inner diameter 3mm and cut a smaller 5mm tube with the dremel tool and the diamond cutting disc. After making the edges 'straight', I used superglue to glue this short tube in the hole at 2,0 cm from the bottom and 1,5 cm from the right side.
The rod with the temperature indicator was then placed in this tube and the top and soldered it to the E14 brass socket with the drop of solder on it while making sure that the rod is parallel to the test tube and vertically aligned when seen from the front. For the last step I turned the contruction up side down, cut the excessive part of the rod and fixed the rod with a drop of duperglue in the short thick brass tube.
Step 7: Creating a 'Heat Shield'
From a perforated copper plate, I cut a 75mm long and 25mm wide strip which I curved over the lenght using a 9mm diameter copper pipe and a hammer. Then I rounded the top and soldered two short brass 2mm rods to the bottom part creating some sort of heat shield for the thermometer.
I took the short thick brass tube, inner diameter 2mm and cut two smaller 5mm tubes with the dremel tool and the diamond cutting disc. After making the edges 'straight', I used superglue to glue these short tubes in the holes at At the rear of the thermometer. When dry, I inserted the 'heat shield' in these short brass pipes and glued them in position using a few drops of superglue making sure that the ‘heat shield’ is parallel to the test tube and vertically aligned when seen from the sides.
Step 8: Create a Led Holder
To create a led holder, disassembled an old retractable radio antenna and cut 20mm of the antenna tube that fits into the 6mm brass tube. In the middle of this 20mm antenna part i made a slot, using the dremel tool with a diamond cutting disc. On one side of this slot I removed some extra material at a sharp angle. By doing so, this antenna tube could be bend without breaking at an approx. 15 degree angle. An iron file was used to remove the chrome a these slot edges and solderpaste and solder was then used to solder the slot edges together. When done, the iron file was used to remove the excessive solder to make this antenna tube fit in the 6mm brass tube. The next step was to cut 25mm pieces of this 6mm brass tube and to grind a 15 degree angle on one of the ends. Super glue was then used to glue all three pats together, resulting in a brass tube with a 15 degree bend in which a 5mm led can be placed. I used this method because I didnt like a curved tube. It is a bit more work, but it looks better.
If the 5mm Led has a 'rim', remove this rim first with a small iron file, otherwise the led won't fit in the brass tube
Step 9: Adding the Solar Cell to the Box and the Led to the Led Holder
Adding the solar cell:
Drill a 2mm hole in the rear of the box. Desolder the solar cell from the circuit board (remember the position of the leads, you have to solder them back in the same position.) guide the leads through the 2mm hole and use some silicone kit on the back of the solar cell to keep it in place in the wooden frame. Let the silicone kit dry.
When dry, solder the solar cell leads back in their correct positions on the solar cell circuit board.
Adding the led:
Desolder the led leads from the circuit board (remember the position of the leads, you have to solder them back in the same position.) guide the leads through the top of the brass tube and push the led half in. The led should fit a little tight and does not need any glue to stay in its position. Stick this brass tube, leads first, in the 6mm hole and use superglue to keep this tube in position. The led must point towards the thermometerholder.
If needed, you can push the brass tube a little bit further in the hole and use some two components glue to attach it more stable to the top cover. When dry, solder the led leads back in their correct positions on the solar cell circuit board.
placing the circuit board
Test if it all works. If everything is fine, use some silicone kit to 'glue' the circuit board to the bottom edge on the rear of the box. You may need to use some sticky tape to keep the circuit board in place. When dry, remove te sticky tape and proceed to the next and final step.
Step 10: Final Step
Add the thermometer in the thermometer housing and position the thermometer to get a proper reading. Glue the top cover to the box and when dry, use a sanding block to remove excess wood from the top cover to align the top and bottom cover with the side walls. Then use brown shoe polish to give the square box a brown finish and put the three eyelets in place. If you want, you can polish the brass and copper parts. That's it...another weird machine is created.