Thing Timer

I’ve always wanted a timer for, say, turning off Christmas lights after I’m in bed, or to shut off the battery charger after an hour. Like a big kitchen timer attached to a light switch. So when I found this in a scrap pile it’s use and purpose in life were obvious – unlike many of the other things I have collected. Thing Timer! Not just for eggs anymore.

It’s not just for dryers anymore, either. For normal operation, leave Temperature Selector at “Air Fluff” and set timer knob to the length of time you want your stuff turned on. If you just want to turn stuff on manually, turn the Temperature Selector to “Regular”. Simple. Versatile. Gratuitously almost-retro.

This particular dryer panel is a nice, simple electromechanical three-hour timer with an extra SPDT switch (“Temperature Selector”) thrown in for good measure. Along with the fact that most of the box was already built for me, it is much more flexible and cooler than the 30 minute mechanical microwave timer I’ve also been saving for something like this.

Here’s the wiring end of things. Most of the wires were already there, having been chopped out of the dryer, I’ve just moved them around for my own purposes. I only had to add the ground wire and jumpers to link the two receptacles.

I drew the schematic inside the case so I couldn’t forget it, and can remember how I did it when it breaks in a couple years. Hot side connects to both the timer’s common terminal and the bypass switch (black wires), Neutrals are all connected together, and receptacle hot sides are fed by either by timer contact A or by the switch common. Timer motor is run on contact B. Unfortunately contact A shuts off when there’s still ten minutes on the timer (dryer’s cool-down period), so the outputs shut off ten minutes earlier than you’d expect. I could fix that by running both motor and output on contact B, but then the motor runs if you turn on the bypass switch. I can live with only 2 hours 50 minutes of run time for now.

I chopped/hacked/wrangled the back panel out of a side panel from an old Dell server which conveniently had plastic on the inside to insulate it. Inconveniently, it’s heavy gauge steel that is a pain to cut and bend but I managed to get through it with a combination of tin snips, hacksaw, and only one major wound. Receptacles are mounted directly in the rear panel, as you can see, and the panel is just screwed into the box on the back. And rubber feet. Every project needs rubber feet.

One small step toward total home gadgetification!