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I explained what I thought Electronic Upcycling was here What is Electronic Up-Cycling


As I explained previously, I'm into Hot Rods, so some of the projects involved adding some electronics to something to give them added value or usefulness.

If I was a manufacturer these would be features.

Many 'features' were options that were able to be ordered, or in our case only fitted to a more expensive model along with other 'features'.




Vehicle Temperature Light

For the cheaper model vehicles the manufacturer may have had a light on the dashboard that came on when the vehicle reached a certain temperature.

Light On (Small).JPG

Photo Three minions me, myself and I


The principle is simple.

12v is fed to one side of the lamp, and the other side to a temperature switch which closes when the temperature exceeds its value, the circuit is closed and the lamp illuminates.


There are three issues with this design :-

1. The wire might fall off/break.

2. The lamp may fail.

3. The water departs the radiator via a leak and the temperature never reaches the switch value.


In each case the light never comes on and you're none the wiser until it stops and the expensive repair ensues.


So I decided to use an Arduino and an analogue sender unit and connect them between the lamp and the engine.


When the vehicle was started, the Arduino checked it could see the sender unit (ie some resistance), and it would come on solid for a few seconds.

If it detected the temperature was below the normal range, it pulsed as it warmed up.

As it reached a normal temperature, the lamp went off, but If the temperature got to 90C (10 degrees off boiling) it would flash, and if it reached 100 it would come on solid.


Here in NZ our temperatures are never extreme so we can easily run a 83deg C thermostat and if the cooling system is working you should only ever see the 'check light', a pulsing light and then nothing.


In case you're wondering this 60's classic was an export model that was assembled in Canada, so the COLD light was never fitted, but it shared the same dashboard as other GM vehicles assembled in Canada



So that is an Electronically Upcycled Temperature Lamp.




Variable Wipers

These are common on modern cars, but back in the sixties they weren't available (maybe the super luxury ones ??)

Many cars have a version with a couple of settings to change the time between wipe cycles, while the really fancy ones do some sensing of the current and adjust the time.


I copied a hardware based idea that used two pushbuttons.

You pressed the button and it gave one (or two) wipes.

If you pressed it again it would continue wiping at the interval between button presses.


To stop or increase the time between wipes, you pressed the other button and then when you needed another wipe you pressed the first button again and it changed to that interval.

So it was infinately variable, and added a single wipe feature.


So that is an Electronically Upcycled Wiper.




It's fairly hard to Electronically Upcycle a Fridge unless you are into Home Brew.


Imagine fitting a heating pad inside, and controlling both the heating and cooling using electronics.

If times are involved and different temperatures, then the controller will handle that with ease.


You could even wirelessly send the data to your smart phone so you don't need to visit, which allows you to keep an eye out from a distance.


I'm not into brewing but I have been asked to build one ... luckily he hasn't pestered me ... yet.


Electronically Upcycled Fridge ... definately and with a much more useful purpose ....




Toaster Oven

There was a posting here about converting a simple Toaster Oven into a reflow machine.

You can either solder parts onto a circuit board or using smd components you can populate the board then solder them all at once.

It requires a gradual heat for a period and then a sudden rise to a higher temperature followed by a cooling down and then a much slower cooling over a period.


This 'solder profile' as it's called ensures the varous joints don't get stress fractures or pull the components off the pads due to uneven cooling.



Adding wireless to this would ensure you can see how it is following the profile, and send you a message when it's done.


In this case the simple Toaster Over has been Electronically Upcycled into something different.





Electric Steering

We've probably all driven vehicles with no power steering and referred to them as "Arm Strong Steering".

The reality is Power Steering uses hydraulics to 'assist' or reduce the effort required to steer the vehicle.


In my world, when you add larger tyres and heavier motors to a vehicle, it can be a bit hard parking, and with the parks not built for larger sized vehicles, you can imagine the result.

In the old days the tyres were so much skinnier it wasn't as bad, but the handling and grip on the roads was much less than modern radials.


You can add power steering from another model, but a recent trend has seen the adaption of electric assist steering as seen on modern cars.

The steering column, associated electric motor, sensor and controller from a late model vehicle are fitted, and connected to the original steering box.


This combination provides the necessary assistance but without introducing any comprimise to the fuel economy by running a power steering pump all the time.

In some cases there is no room in the engine bay to add the pump, hoses and a larger power steering box.


So combining Electronics with steering could be classed as Electronic Upcycling.





Hall Light

These are fairly simple devices that plug into the mains, and have a light sensor that turns on the lamp when it gets dark.


I always find the low wattage lamps only last so long, with the whole unit is often as cheap as a replacement lamp.

There are LED versions but unless you're prepared to spend a bit, the cheap ones leave a lot to be desired.


Last year I decided to make a more intelligent version that sensed movement and brightened slowly.

Using an Arduino, PIR sensor and a NeoPixel, I created something that glowed red normally and then slowly went white when movement was detected.


Because of where ours is located, the daylight sensing option was left off, but it would be easy to add.


So the humble Hall Lamp suddenly got Electronically Upcycled!.


Another variation could be to integrate the Light as a 'receiver' and use your home security sensors to do the detecting





What next

The idea of this blog is to plant some seeds into your minds, not give you a selection of projects to follow/expand on.


As you can see there are many different opportunities to Electronically Upcycle, and I'm sure others will have ideas based around their own Hobby or area of expertise.