Spring is right around the corner – those spring dances and formals aren’t far behind! Are you looking for the perfect, unique, attention-getting outfit? How about a DIY project?
Want your dress or suit to sparkle and light up the party? Make: Wearable Electronics will help you learn how to incorporate LED lights in your clothes. LilyPad was designed specifically for e-textiles and clothing and we have one in our Tool Library! It has all you need to get started!
Starboards are flexible circuits that can be sewn directly into garments. Creator Meredith Scheff also offers low resistance (2.5 ohms per yard) solderable conductive thread. It is a conductive thread that is also solderable and it strong enough to be used like regular sewing thread. Need to solder? We now have soldering irons in our Tool Library!
Wear Space Face Galaxy Light Up Makeup, inspired by the constellation Cassiopeia, and you could be the star of the evening. This spacey headpiece uses 5 FLORA NeoPixels.Make: Wearable Electronics has an example to help you get started using this versatile module. It is wearable, sewable, easily wired, individually addressable, ultra-bright, multicolored LEDs – what’s not to love?
How about ABC (Anything But Clothes)? Perhaps the ultimate DIY clothing project? Found objects around the house can be combined into a one-of-a-kind outfit! Want some ideas to jump-start your creativity? How about garbage bags, balloons, shower curtains, sheets, cardboard boxes, and candy wrappers? A caution tape dress? Use your LilyPad skills to add warning lights. And, there is always the always-versatile duct tape, too! Check out Season 7 of Mythbusters for information about adhesion….
Whatever bright idea you have about that special outfit for that special dance – we’ve got the resources – information on everything from circuits and batteries to conductive materials and how to make your one-of-a-kind ideas wearable!
Valentine’s Day is already upon us! Have you planned ahead? Do you know what you are going to do? How about creating something that is uniquely yours?
Your Valentine doesn’t have to be a significant other – could be a roommate, parent, child, project partner…. No matter who you choose to be your Valentine – we’ve got the perfect DIY project you can tailor specifically to your special Valentine!
To add to the mood lighting – how about making light dance to music? It is possible! Electronics Projects for Dummies will walk you through making it happen! With complete schematics, parts list, photos, and step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to create a personalized light board which will have the lights dancing to whatever type of music the mood requires! Brilliant LED Projects has complete instructions for a color-changing disco light, too!
Is your Valentine the outdoorsy type? A backpack illuminator or a bike flasher might be exactly what they want! Brilliant LED Projects explains how. The project specifications for the backpack illuminator indicate the display comprises 16 tricolor LEDs configured in a 4×4 matrix. Each LED can be controlled independently, colorful flashing images and simple animations can be created, and the supply voltage is 4.5 volts. Parts list, schematics, clear photos, and step-by-step instructions will help light up your Valentine’s backpack – and maybe their heart!
Brilliant LED Projects will also walk you through creating your own LED bike flasher. It explains how to create a “Front LED Flasher,” and a “Rear Red Flasher.” A Valentine’s gift of a bike flasher tells your special someone you want to help keep them safe!
Is your special someone an animal lover?
If you have an aquarium, how about a Raspberry Pi-powered thermometer which will text your cell phone if the aquarium water overheats or becomes too cool! Make: Raspberry Pi and AVR Projects takes you all the way through the project – color photos, parts lists, step-by-step instructions! Want to experiment with a Raspberry Pi before you tackle your project? We have one in our Tool Library! Come in, check it out, and discover all the amazing things you can do!
Love dolphins, but don’t have room in that aquarium? Electronics for Dummies will teach you how to create a wall display of five dolphins, outlined in LEDs, which light up – one after another – making them appear to dance across the wall!.
Does your Valentine like bling? Make: Wearable Electronics will show you, in detail, how to create wearable tech! Haven’t played with material and circuits before? Don’t worry – we have a Lilypad in our Tool Library! The Lilypad has everything you need to explore adding bling to clothing! It includes the LED lights, conductive fabrics, battery, needles….check it out and get creative! (You can even make the LED flash like a heart beat!)
We haven’t had a lot of ice and snow here in Eastern Iowa,
but winter isn’t over yet!
When we think of those big trucks with the plows, clearing and de-icing our roads, we often call them “sand trucks.” But there is much more than simply sand in those trucks. You know the white stains you get on your shoes and the hem of your pants? Those stains are the result of the salt which is also used for de-icing roads and walkways.
Road salt lowers the freezing point of water, which thaws the ice and allows vehicle tires to reach the pavement for traction. Salt does make winter driving safer, but also leads to corrosion on vehicles – both cars and the road maintenance trucks. The rust and corrosion occurs on the underside of the vehicles making it hard to detect. It is recommended that consumers use car washes – with an under carriage spray – on a regular basis.
A road maintenance truck is made of many different components – not just steel, but many softer metals that can be found in the wiring and other places on the truck. More and more liquid de-icers are being used and they more easily penetrate the nooks and crannies of the truck’s underside, causing more corrosion. There are several methods which are used to minimize the corrosion – coatings, additives, and cleansing techniques. Another option is to do nothing, and accept the lessened equipment lifetime.
The chemicals that are used in the sand and salt mixture are formulated for different temperatures and types of snow.
The effectiveness of a de-icer is measured by the range of temperature in which it provides de-icing in a reasonable length of time. So, after the truck goes by, how long do you need to wait before the roads are safer to travel? Generally that time-frame is about 15-20 minutes.
Different chemicals have differing temperatures at which they are most effective. Calcium Chloride is effective at the lowest temperature, as seen below.
Calcium Chloride (-25o F)
Magnesium Chloride (5o F)
Sodium Acetate (5o F)
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (5oF)
Potassium Chloride (12o F)
Urea (15o F)
Sodium Chloride (20-22o F)
Various Blends (usually 20-22o F)
Here’s an interesting fact: in the United States and Canada, more salt is used on snow and ice than with cooking! Every year, nearly 140 pounds of salt per person are applied to roadways in the US alone. That amounts to over 20 million tons of salt. And that doesn’t include the use of salt on sidewalks, walkways or parking lots!
We sometimes hear the words “snow and ice control.” How is it possible to “control” snow and ice? Interestingly enough, there is a “heat island” effect around major metropolitan areas. The heat that is emitted by those major cities can modify the climate enough that the amount of snowfall is reduced or rain (or freezing rain) falls instead of snow. You’ve heard of covered bridges? They were – and are – built to protect bridges from snow and ice. Ever wonder why bridges are more slippery than the roadways? Both the roadway and the underside of bridges are exposed to the cold, making them more susceptible to ice – those covered bridges protect the top, making the bridges that much safer!
Sand, salt and chemicals are the common ways to de-ice roadways. However, there are some new methods that are gaining traction (see what I did there?). You may have heard that beet juice and brine – cheese brine – are being used to de-ice roadways. A company in Indiana is distributing a sugar beet molasses-based product that is mixed with rock salt. The mixture helps rock salt melt ice below the 15o limit. We know from our pancake and waffle experiences that syrup and molasses are very sticky. That is actually an advantage – that stickiness helps prevent the rock salt from bouncing off roadways as cars drive past.
And, cheese brine? Wisconsin (the “cheese state”) is turning to cheese brine to help with icy roads – it helps keep roads from freezing. Cheese brine is a farm waste product so the Wisconsin DOT often gets the brine for free. The downside is there are environmental concerns about effects on rivers and lakes if significant amounts were to enter the waterways. Another downside is, well, there’s an odor…
Of course roads aren’t the only things that need to be de-iced. A patent for “Method and device for de-icing trains” was granted in 2013. A patent for “deicer composition” created for “melting ice on and defrosting a surface such as a windshield of a car” was granted in 1963. And a patent for “De-icing of aircraft” was granted in 2008.
Want a little help clearing your sidewalks and driveways, check out the Autonomous Snowplow Competition!
In case an autonomous snow plow isn’t in your future, there are now a number of different types of snow shovels, snow blowers, and ecological- and pet-friendly de-icers for your driveways and walkways.
Keep a safe distance from road maintenance vehicles, watch for ice and snow on uncleared roadways and be sure to clear your driveway and walkways – in other words – be safe this winter!
Nixon, Wilfrid A. 2009. Investigation of materials for the reduction and prevention of corrosion on highway maintenance equipment. Iowa City, IA : IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering, University of Iowa. Engineering Library TE233 .N59 2009
Qiu, Lin and Nixon, Wilfrid A. Performance measurement for highway winter maintenance operations. 2009. Iowa City, IA : IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering, University of Iowa. Engineering Library TE220.5 .Q228 2009