Sometimes, it's not always possible to get to a well air-conditioned location during the day. Especially in the summer, a lot of places both inside and outside can reach uncomfortably high temperatures. We wanted to create a device that we could carry around that would work a portable air conditioner. We could also probably use it to cool down a water bottle or drink in our backpack, too.
What it does
Ice Cubed is a box that has a single cold side that can cool down instantly once a target temperature has been set.
How we built it
The idea came from looking at peltier plates: they are small plates called thermoelectric generators that create a heat differential on opposite sides of it when supplied with a current. Using thermal paste and a heatsink, we draw away heat from the "hot" side of the plate, allowing the "cool" side to continuously operate. The "cool" side also contains a thermometer sensor which is used to determine the current temperature of the plate. A small computer fan is used to direct air through the heatsink and out of the device. The entire thing is controlled by an Arduino controller, with a small battery pack used for the peltier plate's power source.
Challenges we ran into
- Swift was pretty unfamiliar to everyone on the team
- Wire management/presentation on the actual device
- Accidentally drawing power while "off"
- Connecting to the internet on the microcontroller
- Upgrading firmware on the wifi shield on the Arduino
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- We have a working device! And it is fairly compact and stable.
- We made a cool logo for the application.
- We managed to find a room
What we learned
The team was a mix of both veterans and newbies, so everybody had something new to learn. We learned the importance of time management and preparation (bringing hardware parts and prior research on languages). At least some form of proper documentation while prototyping would also help sync the team over the course of the hackathon.
What's next for Ice Cubed
Ice Cubed is not yet at peak efficiency. We can still experiment with different voltage levels to determine the optimal draw from the batteries for longevity and adequate temperature control. The board is also not contained in a project box, which would be the immediate next step if we had a box. The peltier plate is also somewhat small, so we would replace it with a larger unit and a heatsink that does not extend very far. If we also had a 3D printer, we could print a custom shell and parts for the device, too.