Well, I finally got off my lazy ass and built the thing.
Working out how to get five strips of nichrome into the thing without them touching proved troublesome, so I just used a single strip and decided to run it on 48V. I decided on 24V later.
What a good idea that was.
For starters, I had forgotten exactly how much this stuff expands when hot. Had I been running five parallel strips on 120V, they would have for sure touched and then blown something up.
Anyway, moar pics. Here's an interesting one.
What!? Less than 0.1W!? Tell me if you can figure out what's wrong with that picture.
My Wattmeter (after I plugged it in the right way
) said that this thing was drawing 6.6A, which gives me about 150W. This seems to be just about right for bending this ABS, so it's a good thing I decided on a much lower wattage.
On 36V it turned bright red and started charring the wood, as you can see in that last pic.
Luckily, I tried that first, so I avoided the disaster 48V might have caused.
Interestingly, the wire under the plastic still gets a dull red on 24V, since the air is somewhat trapped under the plastic. I'm guessing this is the secret to why these work so well without being variable. Awesome for me, since this means that I only had to buy $7 of nichrome to make this thing, and I only used a little over 3 feet of 16.
I might make another, longer one of these since it was so easy to do, and I still have over 12 feet of nichrome strip left. BTW, that stuff makes some really weird noise when you wiggle it and it scrapes against itself. I was standing there for like five minutes just playing with it. Sounds kinda like a baby Metroid, actually.
EDIT: Oh yeah, keyboard gets here tomorrow and the dehydrator in my room is now being used. If my nose doesn't deceive me, it's full of pineapple.