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In the year 2000, Ben Heckendorn built his first mod.
"Ben: We can rebuild it smaller, better, portable."
Since then, he has continued his work helping those in need with creating new projects. If you have an idea you’d like to see built - why not send it to The Ben Heck Show.
"Ben: Hello and welcome back to The Ben Heck Show. On this episode we are going to be tackling several different projects. Every notice that android phones eat batteries like it’s going out of style, and there never seems to be a charger around when you need one. Well, I sure have - so the first thing we are going to do is work on some kinetics, motion, and wind up chargers for those phones. Then it’s back to pinball wars, while my friends and I work on the new game cabinet. Finally, we will be taking an LCD screen that I have that doesn’t work quite right and rebuilding it into something useful. Let’s get started shall we."
"Ben: Okay, for the charger here is my plan. You can get those little wind up chargers at Harbor Freight where you basically have a handle and you go reer, reer. Then there is an LED flashlight. So these things probably have some sort of simple power generator inside of them and some circuitry to power the DC diodes of the LED’s. My thought is maybe we could make it to the back and forward motions of your legs while you are walking around. It would actually charge up your cell phone which would also be in your pocket. What we will need then is a wind up flashlight, android phone to test on, and then one of those micro USB adapters so the juice can go into it. Pretty simple."
"Ben: Here is a cheapy flashlight wind up from Harbor Freight. Yahoo. The inside, I think the important thing to look at when you are generating power is you have a lot of gearing. So, you have your crank - when you turn this, this gear turns then it multiplies into this gear, it bumps into this gear, and it bumps into this gear and then it goes into the motor. You have quite a bit of gearing in there, one revolution here is quite a few here. Regardless, if we are going to use a motor like this - we are going to have a lot of gearing. We need to copy this out and see what kind of voltage we can get out this. Here, the circuitry is pretty similar. Instead of four diodes, it’s got a rectifier. You put alternating current in here and then DC comes out that side. Whichever way you turn the crank, you get DC."
"Ben: Let’s see what we can get out of this little generator. We have removed the batteries, and hooked up the multi-meter directly to the rectifiers. We are just going to be seeing what voltage we will be getting out of this. Hey, you want some butter? It is not too hard to get 5 volts out of this. This might be a better candidate than the first one we tried. Come on, oh yeah - we can totally jump start a car now. In the last example we saw that it was very easy to get 5-volts, and we could even get up to 13. Of course, that is too much for a USB charged device, which are all 5-volts.
What we have done here is we have attached a Zener diode to the negative pole - the rectifier and then we have a 10 ohm resistor to the positive pole. We are using this to make very simple voltage regulation circuits. This pole here will be ground and this will be positive voltage out. Let’s see what we can get. It is pretty easy to get 5-volts, when I crank faster we can’t get much past 5-volts. So, our little voltage regulator circuit, which is very simple, keeps us safe."
"Ben: Well then, let’s proceed immediately to attempt charging the USB device. Oh look, it’s my H2C-EVO phone, which is really awesome and it also gets not so great battery life. Before we hook it up to this charger we put together, we are going to try the known state. I’ve got this micro-USB plug I got from my car charger I am going to hook up to my power supply and ensure that the pin-out is correct while charging the phone. Power supply is running, it is hooked up to the USB plug, and the phone is charging. We know that it works, so let’s move on. Alright, so I have the phone hooked up to the charger, and I am also monitoring the voltage using this multi-meter. Let’s see what happens. Okay, you can see the lighting bolt kicked on - so the phone is charging."
"Ben: Now that we know the circuit works, we can shrink it down to fit it inside the case. Going over it once again - the DC motor can go in either direction, so it goes through a rectifier which takes the alternating current and makes it direct current. That way, positive and negative will always be the same. This goes through a Zener diode, then a 10 ohm resistor, which makes it a simple voltage regulator. The regulated 5-volt output is then sent to a USB port where you can plug in any device you want."
"Ben: So there is the first part of our concept. We have taken this cheapy Harbor Freight wind up flashlight, attached a USB port on top of it so you can take your standard charge cable or really anything, I guess, plug it in, plug it into your device, and then if you are ever lost on a desert island - you can wind up your phone and charge it so you can call for help and get rescued."
"Ben: We showed how we can use a cheap Harbor Freight wind up flashlight to charge your cell phone. Who wants to sit around doing this, when you’ve got the built-in locomotion of your legs when you are walking around conventions - come on. It’s right there, let’s use it or see if it will work. Let’s see, there has got to be a way to do this. I’ve got my multi-meter, my charger, my very high-tech USB plug. I suppose if I took a piece of wood, taped it to my leg and taped it to this thing, I could simulate what I am trying to do. Yes, this makes sense. Remember, prototypes are prototypes - not done-o-types. It doesn’t matter how bad they look, well sometimes it does. I guess that makes sense. Now, some people see my work and they are like wow, Ben - everything you do is so polished and neat and clean. I am like, yes, that is the stuff you normally see - everything else looks like this. It’s just - whatever works. It doesn’t sound like it is moving very much - very minimal. Let’s try this out here, see what kind of flow we are getting. The voltage is not that great. Going back and forth like this really doesn’t give us enough charge, we really need it to do something like this. Unless of course, we made into some sort of exercise device."
"Ben: Green Technology - rechargeable batteries. With the explosive growth of portable devices in the world today, there is more need than ever for a cheap, efficient way to power them. However, the standard, old, throw away batteries of the past - they work but it’s not very good for the environment. In fact, where have all those batteries gone? Landfills, piles and piles of them - every time you run the batteries dry in your Gameboy - those batteries just end up in a ditch someplace. That is not really the way to go. Element 14 carries a wide variety of batteries in all shapes and sizes for all of your portable project powering needs. Give rechargeable batteries a try. You will actually save money in the long run so you will be saving Green and keeping the earth Green too. It’s a win/win - go for it."
"Ben: We now return to Pinball Wars. For those of you just joining us - team Heckendorn is locked in a life or death struggle with Jeri Ellsworth to build the coolest, custom-made pinball machine of all time. Today, we will be building more cabinets and working on the test-play field to help us quickly design our shots. In the last episode of our show, we started building the physical cabinets themselves for the team Heckendorn machines. We also showed how a micro-controller could be used for the brains of the machine, both to take input and to create sound effects."
"Mike: Now Ben, I know that I am part of your team, but I have no idea what this is."
"Ben: Oh yes, this is the rapid pinball prototyping system - or RPPS for short. What happens is you’ve got a blank plate here that has no holes in it, right. Then we have this polycarbonate thing that goes down over it - what we do is we make little modular pieces of the board, like curves and tracks and bolt through this onto the piece. That way, you can lie it down onto the board and you can move it around and change it without drilling your board full of holes. You can rapidly try new shots with the flipper and the plunger."
"Mike: Yes, that is a good idea."
"Ben: I think it will work out good. It will certainly be the best way to go for a pinball machine. No other person in the world could think of this, besides team Heckendorn."
"Ben: A senior member of team Heckendorn, Mike built a work table for the shop."
"Ben: This is Joe, I am training him at using the CNC so our armies can take over the earth. Start the reactor. Mike has done the very important work of hooking up the radio. Watch and weep. Ha Ha Ha - we cannot be stopped. Okay, that won’t quite work. Yes, Yes, Yes!"
"Ben: I have this dead LCD screen, I might have caused the back lighting not to work while using it for a project. As you can see, it’s pretty big. It probably a 23 or 24 inch. What I think I will do is take it apart, and find a new way to back-light it. The LCD itself actually still works. We very carefully lift out the glass of the frame. You basically don’t want to touch anything you don’t have to. The back-surface you want to keep nice and clean. There is a black plastic frame here that the LCD sits into. We are going to want to retain that, but we have to remove it in order to remove the back, which is metal. Like I said - don’t touch anything you don’t have to.
This thing will remember your fingerprints better than a PSP and an iPhone put together. I think we can use the black frame here to our advantage. We will set the screen into it again, like it originally was. We are going to kind of re-assemble it backwards. Where did that red hair come from? Here is the main piece that distributes the light. It looks like it has been clamped in place. Lovely. I will pry this open with a screwdriver. Come on, there we go. Then, we snap it all back into place, and as you can see it has re-become a solid module. We can draw this into the computer and make a new frame for it."
"Ben: Then we draw it into the computer, we have one shape here that represents the total size of the assembly. Then we measure how far in the screen actually is, or where the pixels are from the edges and then we use that to make these boxes here. Then we can use that to draw the inside opening, which is that square I just drew. Eleven minutes later, it is done. Now the pieces to make our new LCD frame. Alright, well we have got the frame cut out. As you see, it stacks together. We have got an inner lip portion, which holds the screen in place. Then there is an outer area, which holds the majority of it. As you can see, it goes in like this - it fits in there. We are going to attach a little bit of a frame in the back for the electronics so they don’t flop around and destroy themselves.
I should probably consult my own design files, that way I can be sure I am putting this together right. That looks pretty good. That holds this top frame, where your electronics are going to go. We did it like this so we can bolt this out of the way - so we can back-light this. Alright, now to put in the back piece. I can’t believe I did this. All this high-tech machinery and I am going to have to use a saw. There we go. Remember the rule of knife, always cut away from yourself - not toward yourself, for obvious reasons. The wood screws are slightly thicker than the LCD frame, so the chances of us squeezing and crushing the glass is fairly low. Now I am going to mount the electronics here, not much rhyme or reason - just trying to keep it out of the way of the light. If you wanted to make your own projector out of an old LCD, this is pretty much exactly how they do it.
They basically strip down the LCD, but they remove all the diffusing because they want the bareness to come through. You move the electronics out of the way, and then shine a big, bright light on it and you put it through a lens so it projects. What is it called - lumen-labs? Alright, we are ready to test out this amazing contraption. I know what you might be thinking, because I was thinking it too. We are using a treble-lamp here to provide the illumination. Ah yes, there is already a lot more light coming through. We can actually see what is on the screen now. See how it is kind of yellowish? That is because it is an incandescent light. If you try one of those curly Q - CFL’s or compact fluorescent lamp - we might have better luck.
Ah ha, not only have I saved thousands upon thousands of pounds of plastic, but this is going to save tons of energy. After I used the giant CNC machine to route out wood that I could have cut by hand. Okay, well I can play around with it and make it brighter, but as you can see - what was once a useless un-back-lit LCD has now been given new life. It may not look as pretty as it used to, but at least it’s not dead."
"Ben: That is all the time we have for today. In our next episode, we will be working on a portable game system I have been wanting to build for years. The Sega-CDX. We will see you then."
The Ben Heck Show was made possible by our sponsors at element 14. For more information on all my projects and for a list of all the parts I used today, visit element14.com. We will see you next time.