Friday, July 10, 2015

DIY PID Controller for BBQ Smoker

 A good BBQ smoker requires the ability to maintain a constant temperature almost like an oven. Some of the best smokers are insulated and able to be set at a specific temperature. My smoker is a gas smoker that is not insulated, so it loses temperature and the temperature is very uneven. I plan on building my own smoker in the future, but for now I made a temperature controlled electric heating element that works almost like and oven.

I built this device using a PID controller that I bought online. Since I am using this outside, I had to make it weather proof. The device is fully sealed and safe from rain water damage.

The way it works is by setting a temperature on the device. If the device senses that the temperature probe is below the desired temperature it triggers a relay to power a 110V outlet. I use a electric heating element that I plug into the 110V outlet. The outlet is triggered on and off until the desired temperature can be kept constant. I also installed an audio alarm that sounds when the temperature gets higher than my desired temperature.

Here you can see all of the electronics and required wiring that went into the construction.

DIY Knife Sharpener

After sharpening my knives with low quality sharpeners and having them be somewhat sharp but not sharp enough, I looked to a professional. A professional usually has a polishing wheel or some other type of device that is used to sharpen knives. These devices work extremely well but each time you need your knives sharpened they must be brought to the shop. I wanted to be able to sharpen my own knives, so I looked to the internet and found that there are multiple websites devoted to knife making and knife sharpening. After researching different types of sharpeners that can be bought and different levels of sharpness that can be achieved, I decided to build my own knife sharpener.

I decided to build this sharpener instead of buying one to get the level of sharpness that I wanted to achieve. It can achieve a high level of sharpness with a small amount of skill needed, unlike a wheel which requires skill and practice before proper results can be achieved.

The construction required a lot of metal working, wood working, grinding, drilling, threading, and creative design, but turned out to be a great knife sharpener.

The finished assembly

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Upgrading Chevy HHR Lower Control Arms

Chevy HHR 2LT 2.4L A/T FE3 Suspension

The lower control arms on Chevy HHR's can have some problems.

Mainly they are to do with the rear bushing or ball joint.(other cars have this same problem, check to see if yours is listed on this sheet)

Luckily MOOG makes a problem solver line of products that takes care of poor designs on car suspension. MOOG makes a special replacement bushing that will last and perform 10 times better.

It's called the problem solver vertical control arm bushing k200792.
Check out this cool video explaining it, or read on.

Because the standard bushing that comes from the dealer is made of rubber with spaces between it, it flexes constantly and the rubber will separate itself causing knocking or other driving problems. This new bushing is almost like a ball bearing making it able to have free motion.

passenger side stock control arm
In the video you can see that the arm has three pivot points. The front bushing witch has an easy job of moving up and down, the rear bushing which has to flex and is the problem bushing, and the ball joints.

Because I am using the existing control arm, the bushing will need to be pressed out and the ball joint rivets will need to be removed.

After that is done you can press in the new bushing, and bolt on the new ball joint.

The ball joint will be the MOOG K80567 replacement with bolts for easy replacement in the future and it is grease-able. You must be able to remove the rivets that hold the old ball joint in order to add the bolts for the new ball joint.

The front bushing rarely has to be changed, but you can if it is needed, remember that one has the easy job of moving up and down.

----------------------------Removal process below!----------------------------
Tools needed:
  • sockets: 15 mm, 16 mm, & 13/16"
  • 15 mm box wrench
  • socket extensions
  • rubber mallet
  • 2x floor jack and blocks
Removal Steps:
  1. Loosen the wheel lugs and jack up the side of the vehicle you will be doing first.
  2. Support it securely with blocks under the frame and remove the wheel
  3. Position a second jack under the knuckle to keep the suspension up.
  4. With a 15 mm socket and long extension loosen, but do not remove the two front frame bolts
  5. With a 13/16" socket loosen, but do not remove the rear vertical bushing frame mounting bolt 
  6. With a 16 mm socket and 15 mm wrench, completely remove the nut and bolt that holds the lower ball joint, make sure to tap out or cleanly remove the bolt don't unscrew if its stuck! (you will ruin the threads and get the ball joint pin stuck)
  7. With the ball joint bolt removed, lightly tap the lower control arm with the rubber mallet until the ball joint falls out of the suspension knuckle. (try moving the supporting jack up and down to ease the ball joint out)
  8. Now that the ball joint is removed, remove the previously loosened frame and vertical bushing bolts on the rest of the lower control arm.
  9. With every thing free you can now remove the lower control arm from the vehicle.

--------------------------Upgrade process below!--------------------------
Tools needed:
  • Electric Grinder (if possible)
  • Drill Press (if possible)
  • Hydrolic Press with 2 1/4" OD pipe (if possible)
  • If not...
  • Electric drill
  • Bushing press kit

Upgrading Bushing Steps: 
  1. Place the control arm in the hydrolic press and use the 2 1/4" pipe to press out the old bushing by the aluminum ring. (make sure everything is level and pressing out evenly)
  2. With the old bushing removed, use the same pipe to press in the new upgraded bushing.
  3. If using the bushing kit follow the instructions in the kit.

Upgrading Ball Joint Steps:
  1. With a grinder remove the rivets holding on the old ball joint. (grind the side with the ball joint to not ruin the aluminum control arm)
  2. With the rivets removed place the lower control arm in a drill press and drill out the remaining portion of the rivet, or try pressing them out. (you can use a regular drill, but have to be perfect to not drill into the aluminum control arm)
  3. With the ball joint removed you can install the new ball joint with the included bolts. (Torque to 50 ft/lbs)

----------------------------Installation process below!----------------------------
Tools needed:
  • sockets: 15 mm, 16 mm, & 13/16"
  • 15 mm box wrench
  • socket extensions
  • torque wrench
  • rubber mallet
  • 2x floor jack and blocks
Installation steps:
  1. Reverse the removal process
  2. Once the ball joint is in place, put in the ball joint bolt and nut and tighten to 37 ft/lb, then loosen it 3/4 of a turn and re-tighten to 37 ft/lb and an additional 30 deg.
  3. Tighten the two 15 mm forward frame mounting bolts to 41 ft/lb
  4. Tighten the vertical bushing bolt to 74 ft/lb and an additional 180 deg.

----------------------- Here are the old cracked and separating bushings. -----------------------

-----------------------The new Problem Solver Parts-----------------------

This information is provided to be informative and I do not take any responsibility for anything that you do to your own car.