You may not have heard of automatic air fresheners made by Glade, but I assure you they do exist. The whole principle behind one of these things is that a “normal” spray bottle of air freshener is pushed down at different intervals by some as-of-yet undetermined mechanism. This device has incredible hacking potential for under $10 and, as a bonus, the included air freshener will be a nice gift for your wife/girlfriend/mom/check-out-girl.
Glade seems to have gone through some trouble to not let you hack their device, using “triangle screws” to attach the outer cover on, but they forgot that screw extractors, which are available at Home Depot or online, exist. If the screw is really stuck in something hard – like steel – you’re supposed to drill a pilot hole first and possibly even use a tap handle. This would work, but as these crappy triangle-shaped screws are only in plastic, I simply put the screw extractor into my drill, hit reverse, and they came out easily.
Once you’re in the outer case, everything else uses standard Phillips head screws. To remove the plate with the motor on it, remove the screws pictured to the right circled in blue. The screw on top is hidden by a gear, but the gears are held in place by the now-removed case. They come off and are replaced easily. The screws circled in red support the motor, so leave these alone.
Once you have the screws off, you may be tempted to cut all the wires and remove the plastic housing. That’s fine, but if you’re careful, you can preserve the button used to spray air freshener on command. If you clip the plastic rivets holding it on, you can remove the button and be able to actuate your motor with no soldering. Clip these rivets and remove the plastic holding the switch shown to the right on, then cut or wiggle the wires out and you’re one step closer to some hackable parts.
After this you need to clip the leads going to batteries. These AA batteries are wired in series, so you can replace them with a 3 volt source. On mine, the positive side was the green wire and the negative was white. Usually green is ground, but apparently not in this case. Once I unclipped these wires, I then connected them to a 2 AA battery pack from Radio shack.
You now have all the usable components free and ready to do whatever you had in mind. One thing you will notice is that the gears do not stay on; they slip off since there is no longer a plastic housing. I solved this by putting some 5/32 air line over the ends of the shafts that the large gears sit on. Another solution would be to drill a small hole through a piece of plastic material and press fit or glue it on. Possibly even a piece of the air freshener itself could be used. I’ve put some dimensions for the guts of this device if you’re trying to get an idea of what it will fit into.
You have several options for timing from 9 minutes to 36 minutes, but the other option would be to hook your own controller to the wires leading to the manual start button. A 555 timer would probably work or any sort of microcontroller or PLC. For some projects using this air freshener, check out how it can be used to trigger a camera, or even make a crazy walking robot!
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