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Cooking With Your USB Ports

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the sorry-your-dinner-crashed dept.

Idle 188

tekgoblin writes "Wow, I would never have thought to try and cook food with the power that a standard USB port provides, but someone did. A standard port provides 5V of power, give or take a little. I am not even sure what it takes to heat a small hotplate, but I am sure it is more than 5V. It looks like the guy tied together around 30 USB cables powered by his PC to power this small hotplate. But believe it or not, it seems to have cooked the meat perfectly."

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188 comments

Volt is not a measurement of power (5, Informative)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924038)

Watt is. The important is how much current he can get from supplied voltage. In any case why not just use the fucking stove.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924046)

I hear a lightbulb works just fine too.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924052)

"provides around 5V of power"

I always knew Slashdot is full of uneducated freetards...

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924064)

Maybe he's hungry at work a lot, and they only have a fridge in the breakroom?

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924334)

Does he have an electrical outlet at his desk? I hear they make cooking devices that use those.

There's nothing wrong with a pointless but look-what-I-did hardware hack. So there's no need to rationalize it.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924088)

According to Wikipedia, 500mA per USB2.0 port.
15A * 5V = 75W

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924740)

Not much to work with there--even the old Easy Bake Ovens used a 100 W bulb, although it probably wasn't that efficient.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Informative)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924742)

If it uses the recent battery charging spec, each port can allow 1.5A if there is little to no data traffic (and 1.8A if the data connectors at the female port is shorted with up to 200 ohm resistance).

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924092)

Each powered USB hub supplies a maximum of 0.5 A. Using two or four USB cables against the same hub won't increase that.
The voltage in USB is a constant +5V.

So from each powered hub, you can get 0.5 A * 5 V = 2.5 W. Eight of those gives you 20 W, which should be enough to crisp bacon if you make the frying area small enough.

But hooking up multiple USB cables to each hub serves little purpose (well, you lower the overall resistance a tiny bit, and I guess HiFi freaks would say that it makes the bacon more open and airy).

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924122)

isnt the current limited to 100mA per port if the device doesnt identify itself?

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Interesting)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924148)

per USB spec yes, but there are plenty of hubs/ports which supply the full 500mA regardless

honestly though, this hack is pointless, you might as well get a cheap ass 350w computer PSU, hook up the 12v to a hotplate and hotwire the thing, much easier

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

kbielefe (606566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924210)

You're right. That's much less pointless than just plugging the hotplate into the outlet the PSU is plugged into.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924536)

What about a Peltier [wikipedia.org] "cooler"?

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33925060)

    Why go through the conversion losses at all? Just plug a hotplate into the wall.

  Every conversion has losses. That's why the power supply has heat sinks inside, and usually a fan. It's also why wall warts get warm.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (0, Troll)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924214)

Technically, yes, but there are plugs out there that say "hi, I'm a USB 2.0 device that needs high power". Commonly found on USB lava lamps and other desk toys, and presumably available from China for not much more than a regular USB plug.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

pem (1013437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924296)

It's not the "plug" that says that; it's the device.

The device is allowed to draw up to 100 mA, then must negotiate for more.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924320)

You could, of course, build such a USB "device" into the cable, if you're just interested in getting higher 5VDC current out. A small MCU in the cable does the negotiation for you, and a few ms later, instant current...

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924662)

None of those "plugs" actually say that, and none of them actually meet the USB spec. They just happen to work... most of the time.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924644)

With the recent interest in using USB as a universal charger port, there is also a added spec for 2.0 and later that allows upto 1.5A if there is little to no traffic on the port in question.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (2, Interesting)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924690)

Err, no. If the hub is powered, it should be capable of delivering .5A to each port.

If not, then the dual plug cables we see for some external drives would be useless.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924106)

Watt is. The important is how much current he can get from supplied voltage. In any case why not just use the fucking stove.

HA! Bitter much?

I'm sure he was not looking for the simplest way to cook, but just for something new and fun. Looks like he got both. I say mad props to him.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924128)

USB supplies 100mA 5V, and after negotiation from the USB device and host, and if the host has available power, it can send up to 500mA (in some hosts, like Gigabyte 3x boards this is over 1A). This depends on the controller and drivers - some controllers just send 500mA if available, while others are more zealous and will cut the power if it's over 100mA.

Assuming it's all standard, this guy is getting 30 ports x 100mA => 3A. 3A x 5V = 15W. or if the host is supplying 500mA per port, 75W. I'd like to know then what would be the temperature rise on that hot plate. Any EEs or physicists here that can make this calculation?

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924258)

Roughly: (Assuming no losses in power-heat conversion)

x W = m * c * (DeltaT/time)
(DeltaT/time) = x / (m * c)

For a 100g copper plate

(DeltaT/time) = 75 / (0.386 * 100) ~= 1.94 K/s.

Of course, now you must subtract how much heat the copper plate loses for it's environment due to convection and radiation to find it's final temperature.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (5, Insightful)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924228)

...In any case why not just use the fucking stove.

Because some people enjoy the challenge of creating something fun, new, original and, yes, pointless.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924712)

But this isn't pointless-cool, this is pointless-stupid. It would be cool if, say, he'd run power from, say, the PSU's 12v rail - you could actually hook that up, and maybe do a neat little case mod to expose the plug to the outside world. 30 USB ports, though? Where are you going to get 30 USB ports from? And plugging them all in has got to be a pain in the ass.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#33925054)

whats the challenge of plugging a heater element into a power supply?

also its not new (this article originally aired in 2006), its not original (you can get cup heaters and even a toaster commercially well before this, heck there is even a sandwich press), and fun in my book is not a blown mother board and food poisoning at the same time

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924312)

Judging from the picture, apparently because he's Japanese, and he can.

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

Mirey (1324435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924568)

I really can't remember. I tried looking for watt it is, I just couldn't find its name! It really is shocking some of the stuff people have time for in their spare times. Still, some people find less resistance to learning if they go for a hands on approach. Well, theres enough puns faraday.

Re:why not just use the fucking stove (1)

bsharma (577257) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924654)

That is what I feel every time someone talks about climbing Everest. Why not develop a high altitude Everest class helicopter. Then someone can even setup a penthouse on Everest and arrange tourists to visit ( like the Russians are doing with that "Most Expensive Motel" AKA International Space Station)

Re:Volt is not a measurement of power (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924984)

"In any case why not just use the fucking stove."

The fucking stove is for fucking, not cooking. Eww.

Volts are not a measure of power (2, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924060)

Volts measure electromotive force, not power. Watts measure power. I would think nerds would know this.

Re:Volts are not a measure of power (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924102)

I wonder how many parsecs it takes to cook a whole turkey with this.

USB ports supply a maximum of 1/2 Amp, 500 mA (0, Troll)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924144)

Power = Volts * Amps

I am surprised that this story would be posted by a Slashdot editor, because I am surprised that the Slashdot editor would not have some sense that there is more to be understood.

USB ports supply a maximum of 1/2 Amp, 500 milliamps. The current is limited by internal circuitry. If you short the port, the internal circuitry turns off the power.

Can 2.5 Watts make something hot? Yes, if there is good insulation and little thermal loss.

Re:USB ports supply a maximum of 1/2 Amp, 500 mA (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924700)

If you short the port, the internal circuitry turns off the power.

Unless you're using a powered no-name chinese hub (or many brand name ones that are just rebranded chinese hubs). In that case, the chance of the hub having current limiting capability is virtually 0. Results vary from the adapter handling it, through it crapping out, physically melting or catching on fire, to it shorting out to mains and taking your motherboard with it.

Be very afraid of powered chinese hubs. I've yet to find one that even has the required diode to avoid sending power back from the adapter into the host PC. Unpowered ones are mostly OK, as then any short will just propagate to the host and it will shut off the power.

Re:Volts are not a measure of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924218)

I hate to nitpick, but voltage measures the electrical potential difference between two points. EMF is what can produce that difference. EMF has the units of volts because of this. EMF and electrical potential are not the same thing.

Best Slashdot story evar! (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924068)

Where's my USB toaster?!?!

Re:Best Slashdot story evar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924394)

Coming right up, when someone figures out how much capacitance will be needed to store enough power to toast a slice of bread.

WTF? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924074)

This is the ALL TIME stupidest use for a computer i have ever seen and the most useless Slashdot article as well

Re:WTF? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924198)

This is the ALL TIME stupidest use for a computer i have ever seen and the most useless Slashdot article as well

Definitely some kind of record.

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924414)

You must be new here.

Re:WTF? (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924968)

Indeed! Especially as this is a dupe. I remember seeing this on Slashdot a couple of years ago. It seemed a stupid idea then, and guess what, it seems to be a stupid idea now.

I don't feel like this has much hack value really. Stringing $number of USB ports in parallel isn't particularly hard, it's not a particularly elegant solution (which is one of the things I put down as being key to calling something a "hack"), and it doesn't solve a problem in an smart way. I don't know if it was fun to do (because that is subjective) but it doesn't seem particularly interesting to me.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33925008)

It seemed a stupid idea then, and guess what, it seems to be a stupid idea now.

It's far from stupid. Some LAN parties don't allow kitchen equipment, and what if I really want some homebrew coffee at the moment? You think I'm going to walk over to the kettle? If I didn't get up for the toilet, what chance does the kettle have?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924558)

This article deserves to be in a new section all by itself. Completely Retarded!

5 volts of power? (0, Redundant)

Sam H (3979) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924082)

I heard USB power was actually OVER 9000!!!

Re:5 volts of power? (1)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924154)

What? 9000! That's Impossible!!!

Re:5 volts of power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924268)

It is not impossible if you have a 6 core CPU powering it, but you also need 3 channel DDR RAM. What you have to do is use one of those channels (which takes away 2 CPUs) to power the USB 2.0 ports (or preferablly 3.0). There is software to do it on Linux (look it up). With 2.8 GHz processors you will need to overclock it or use another DDR channel because it typically only gets up to 7500 or so.

No shit, I've seen it up to 1100 with an overclocked rig! My jaw was on the floor! I tried not to drool because I was worried that I'd be electrocuted.

Re:5 volts of power? (1)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924778)

Whoosh!

Re:5 volts of power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924920)

Whoosh!

Yes, that was the sound that was made when the liquid cooling unit burst when they tried to get to 12,000. The fools. 12,000 is impossible.

Power is in volts? (1)

bart416 (900487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924142)

Actually USB ports can provide up to 500mA. So yeah assuming that was the case, 2.5W / usb port. So the guy built himself a 75W heating plate.

Re:Power is in volts? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924194)

Actually USB ports can provide up to 500mA. So yeah assuming that was the case, 2.5W / usb port. So the guy built himself a 75W heating plate.

It would have been easier to tap off one the power supply lines. But then, I suppose, he wouldn't have ended up on Slashdot.

Re:Power is in volts? (1)

mikehoskins (177074) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924202)

Without even looking into this, I can guarantee that the 75W hotplate is -
    a.) cheaper
    b.) safer to your computer
    c.) more efficient from plug to heat

In the words of Dr Ian Malcom (4, Funny)

netsavior (627338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924170)

"your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

well done OP, a superb fail (5, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924204)

not only has the gizmodo article disappeared at time of post, but there is no link to the original blog post (http://xe.bz/aho/24/) which is date-stamped for 2006. This is 4 years old!

Personally, I use graphics cards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924244)

Boil water in minutes. Fries everything.

Finally! (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924260)

They've finally found a practical use for USB! Was this USB 2.0, 3.0, or what? Has anyone investigated to see if Firewire will cook the meat faster?

Re:Finally! (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924366)

Firewire would have worked, but there's the risk of charring, and it tends to set off the building's sprinkler system.

Overly elaborate setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924292)

Without actually digging them out, I'm fairly sure that even my ancient, non-software-controlled AT power supplies could put out a respectable amount of current on the +5V rail. Why bother hooking up half a dozen USB cards and dozens of cables when you could just pull it straight from one or two molex connectors?

For that matter, why not just use the hotplate unmodified?

Re:Overly elaborate setup (3, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924404)

Many people desperately want to do the "hard hacks" that would earn them geek cred. They want to be the guy who builds a 5,000rpm pneumatic Lego engine or who converts a Roomba into an automatic dog-walker. The problem is that most of them are stupid and uncreative, so you end up with "hacks" like cooking bacon with power from USB ports.

Re:Overly elaborate setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924928)

So say we all!

why? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924306)

one word to describe this story from me: why?

Re:why? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924370)

two words: why not?

Re:why? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924430)

why not? Because it is really stupid? Because preparing food this way is stupid? Because it's stupid in a number of ways? Because there is nothing interesting in it?

I'd be more amused by seeing some sort of a smart stove device, maybe solar powered or some way that actually is useful, this was useless and stupid.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924572)

"Useless and stupid" doesn't stop you from posting in the article about it. Unfortunately.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33925058)

Because that's not the way to do it. If you simply put several USB ports in parallel so that you can draw more amps, then you're making several mistakes: The first is that you're probably counting each port as 500mA. USB only allows a device to draw 500mA after the device has registered, asked for that much power and was granted permission to switch to a high power profile. The other reason why this isn't allowed is that there are usually several ports connected to an (unpowered) hub. In that case each port is limited to 100mA by the spec. The second big mistake is the way the power is combined: The current through parallel wires depends on the resistance of the wire. Only if the resistance is the same is the current evenly distributed. Without series resistors, the resistances of the cables and connections can differ by a small absolute value but still by a huge percentage. This causes a huge difference in the power that is drawn from the individual ports.

The only reason why this works at all is that most USB hosts generously ignore the limits and supply whatever the device draws, negotiation and absolute limits be damned. But in that case, what's the difference compared to plugging the hotplate into the ATX PSU directly? A modern (read: massively over-powered) ATX PSU can provide enough current for spot welding. It'll cook dinner without problem.

Re:why? (1)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924508)

Good question. Here is the answer. People in any sort of hacking culture (hardware in this case) do things like this for fun. It's a completely ludicrous idea to take 30 USB ports and try to cook dinner with it -- but it would be amusing to do, and he might learn something in the process. It may not have practical value for other people -- that isn't the point.

Refer to Stallman's article on hacking:

"I went to lunch with some GNU fans, and was sitting down to eat some tteokpaekki (*), when a waitress set down six chopsticks right in front of me. It occurred to me that perhaps these were meant for three people, but it was more amusing to imagine that I was supposed to use all six. I did not know any way to do that, so I realized that if I could come up with a way, it would be a hack. I started thinking. After a few seconds I had an idea..."

You get some idea of the thought process behind this. Although the subject of these two hacks are very different, I'm sure something similar was going through the mind of the USB cook.

"...It is hard to write a simple definition of something as varied as hacking, but I think what these activities have in common is playfulness, cleverness, and exploration. Thus, hacking means exploring the limits of what is possible, in a spirit of playful cleverness. Activities that display playful cleverness have "hack value"."

http://stallman.org/articles/on-hacking.html [stallman.org]

HTH

Re:why? (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924532)

omg, relax with your explanations. Regardless of any 'hack value', this is retarded. There is nothing at all amusing, interesting or new or inventive about combining a bunch of wires that carry electricity together to get more wattage. There is nothing interesting about it, thus the question.

There is plenty that can be done that is much more interesting, this is not it.

Re:why? (1)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924774)

I took your first post to be sincere. You are now simultaneously asking 'why' and complaining that someone has given you an explanation. That is certainly inventive.

Re:why? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924944)

Yeah, but it would've been a lot cooler to make a USB controlled hotplate. Then you could combine that with a temperature probe and maybe write some MATLAB scripts to cook a perfect burger every time.

You're not going to ever get cookingly useful power from a USB port: either there's a plug nearby, in which case you don't need a fantastic array of USB ports, or there's no power nearby, in which case you're talking about using a laptop, or array of laptops, and using up their precious battery capacities for resistive heating.

Re:why? (1)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33925086)

Yeah, but it would've been a lot cooler to make a USB controlled hotplate.

I agree -- maybe this will inspire someone to do it. That would be neat. (Probably been done somewhere, but it's the sharing of ideas that is important.) Taking that and adding some scripting to cook/flip a burger at the right time would be very neat to see!

You're not going to ever get cookingly useful power from a USB port

Yep. But 'utility' wasn't the reason this was done. Ditto for Stallman trying to eat with six chopsticks.

haha, "techgoblin" submitter. (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924326)

Was too busy texting his buddies when his highschool teacher was explaining Ohm's law, etc.

"This device can perform faster ... (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924342)

if you buy a new motherboard. Because you fried it with your cooking stunt. [OK] [Cancel]''

Has anyone... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924372)

Has anyone considered that like many utube videos, this is faked? He either has 150Vdc at 500ma max, or 5Vdx at 15 amps max. it seems unlikely that a hotplate would be designed to run from either 5V or 150V.

Besides, it would make more sense to jus use a standard 120Vac or 240Vac hotplate, as he would have to have standard mains power to run a desktop PC. C'mon don't be so gullable!

Ladies and gentlemen... (1)

choongiri (840652) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924384)

For the comfort and safety of all passengers, if you are unsure as to whether or not a specific device or periferal is approved for use during the flight, please check with your flight attendant before using it.

"5V of power" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924452)

Someone failed their basic physics class.

Yesterdays news (1)

Tordre (1447083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924498)

I know this is idle and one should not care what is posted here but isn't this particular example a couple years old, i do believe when it was new it was posted to real slash dot, then again i am just going from the picture, because the link is broken...

oh wait a bit of digging got me there and yes the page is date 2006,

also why is idle not on the new comment system, i hate having to reload just to view a single comment.

Unimpressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924510)

If you aren't doing this with the power over the phone lines, whats the point.

5V of power (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33924516)

Volts are not a measurement of power, I am amazed at the number of people who don't understand this.

What kind of a world do we live in... (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924542)

So we have an article on Slashdot about someone used 30 USB ports to cook some bacon?

Wow. Have we stooped to a new low?

What does this article tell me? I'll tell you what it tells me; USB is woefully underpowered. I won't stop campaigning until it takes only one USB port to do the same. If I want to have a bacon sandwich from my laptop without moving from the comfort of my easy chair, then it would take an electrocution from the flying spaghetti monster to stop me.

Works for telco landlines, too (2, Funny)

e9th (652576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33924734)

For those who still have landline phones, Mike Sandman, purveyor of genuinely indispensable old-school telephony gear, has some telco line powered goodies. [sandman.com]

Don't even try to order any of them, though.

I knew slashdot was slow.... (2, Informative)

ninjackn (1424235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33925006)

but I didn't expect a story from over 4 years ago. For those of you who can read japanese the original blog post is here [xe.bz].

Why not use the CPU/GPU as heat source for cooking (1)

RandySC (9804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33925078)

My graphics card is at 68C and goes up to 73-74C when it gets used by the games. It would be better to use the existing heat output from a computer to cook than to bother with USB. Maybe someone should build a custom case that looks like a hibachi grill on the top.

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