You’re in the midst of the hottest summer in recorded history (thanks, Obama), and you can’t remember a time when you weren’t covered in sweat. Your kid has boycotted walking, and you’ve chauffeured them around in a stroller for the past 3 months. But even in their stroller, your little sweat monster can’t escape the humidity. Sure, you could stick an ice pack down your kid’s shirt, but there are some issues (like, for example, frostbite, followed by loss of cooling in about 20 minutes). Or, you could cobble together this surprisingly simple custom stroller solution that will make your kid so comfortable … you’ll be stuck chauffeuring them in their stroller for the foreseeable future.
- 12V DC Brushless mini submersible water pump (commonly used in fish tanks)
- Black Electrical Tape
- Plastic Piping (20 Ft.) – Need to make sure it fits to the output of the submersible water pump. The thinner the better.
- Temperature-triggered switch with temp probe
- Gallon freezer bags
- Super Glue
- Non-toxic reusable hot/cold pack from your local drug store
- Garbage bag ties
- Needle point canvas
- Small Thermos, size to fit in cup holder
- Battery power pack to fit 9 AA batteries (12V DC) with on/off switch
- 9 AA batteries
- Kitchen towel
- 90 Degree tube fitting — to connect tube from pump to pad.
- Wire stripper (optional) — you can use your teeth but if you want to be fancy.
- Solder iron (optional) — I believe in the twist and tape method of making the electrical wire connections.
- Even though there are only 9 AA batteries, it can create a spark if wires are not thoroughly connected and insulated.
- Since there is no way to control the exact temperature of the pad you have to take precautions to be sure that is not too cold on the skin.
- Do not use with infants.
- When installing, you have to be sure the tubing is secured so that a child can not get in between tubing and back of stroller. There should not be enough slack to form a loop.
- Be sure the only thing inside stroller seat area is pad and tubing. The thermos and all electronics should be up in cup holder, away from child.
- Remove batteries when not in use.
- Un-install when not in use and keep out of reach.
Step 1: Create The Cooling Pad
You will need the plastic tubing, garbage ties, gallon freezer bag and needle point canvas.
Take the needle point canvas and trace out the gallon bag so that it will fit in the bag after closing on top and then cut out. Take the 20-foot tubing and make sure that there will be enough left on both ends to attach to the thermostat — more is better as it can easily be cut down. Then, loop the tube back and forth (see picture below), securing with the garbage ties. You can cut the garbage ties in half or thirds. When securing, make sure the part you twist together is in the back so it does not puncture through the front of the pad. Note that the tube enters and exits at the same spot.
STEP 2: Creating Thermos And Pump Setup
You will need the Thermos, the submersible pump, 90-degree tube fitting, and the full length of tube.
The type of Thermos will dictate exactly you how you do this, but the goal is to get 2 holes in the top of the thermos. One will have the water leaving the thermos and the other is for the return. After you have a hole in the top, cut a length of tubing so the pump will sit on the bottom and the 90-degree fitting does not sit too high outside of the cap. Attach the pump of the bottom of the tube wrapping the wire around the tube until it goes through the hole at the top. Secure the wire with the black electrical tape. Put the 90-degree fitting on to the top of the tube to hold into place and put back into thermos.
Step 3: Setting Up Temp Probe In Cooling Pad
You will need the temperature switch, garbage ties, black tape and cooling pad.
Take the temp probe wire and, using the black electrical tape, secure it to the 2 tubes coming from the cooling pad. Tape all 3 together in several places (every couple inches, you do not want to leave any slack). Using another garbage tie to secure the probe right next to one of the tubes. This way, once the water cycle through the tubes it will shut off the pump conserving the batteries.
Step 4: Creating Pad Insert With Non-Toxic Cooling Gel
You will need gallon freezer bag, non-toxic hot/cold pack and Super Glue.
Take out the reusable hot/cold pack and cut off one corner of the pack. Squeeze all gel into gallon freezer bag. Flatten out so there is a thin layer of the gel and then close zip lock. To better secure, Super Glue the entire top so that the bag can’t be opened.
Step 5: Wiring It Up
You will need the Thermos with the pump, temperature switch connected to pad, and battery pack.
This step depends on the directions with the temperature switch. Connect power supply to the switch on the input and then connect the pump to the output, making sure the setup is for cooling not heating. On the temperature switch that’s pictured, there are small switches to set temperature as well as variance to the set temperature (one degree , 5 degrees, etc.), which turn it on.
Step 6: Final Assembly Of Cooling pad
You will need the cooling pad, gallon back with gel and kitchen towel fashioned into a pouch.
Place the gel filled bag on top of the tubing and place both of those in another gallon freezer bag. Then cover both of those with the pouched you fashioned out of a kitchen towel. I used the black tape, but if you wanted to do it right you could sew it (or have someone sew it for you.)
Now you are good to go. Fill the thermos with a mixture of water and ice and install (installation is very dependent on your stroller, but keep the tubes secured and all the electronics away from small hands). How it works is very simple. When the temperature goes above the set temp, it triggers the pump to cycle, pumping cold water through the tube. This brings down the temperature, shutting off the pump.
It should run between one and 2 hours with one charge of ice. With this setup you can refill the thermos with ice on the move as many times as necessary to keep it cold all day long. Also since the pump only cycles on for a few seconds at a time, the batteries will last months.
Disclaimer: Don’t be stupid, if you’re stupid, it is neither Fatherly’s nor Josh Coughlin’s fault.