Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

July 24th, 2018

A Bright Idea

I saw this a while ago on one of the woodworking sites and decided that I needed to build one. It is light box with an old fashioned Edison bulb. It is a fairly simple project requiring just one piece of wood, a light socket, a dimmer and a bulb.

I made my light box out of a single piece of red oak. I purchased a 1″ thick board to have a thicker base and then planed the side pieces down to 3/4″. The dimensions are 8 3/4″ wide x 9″ tall x 5 1/2″ deep.

After cutting the base piece down to size, I marked the center of the board and drilled a 1″ hole approximately 3/4″ into the 1″ base. I drilled a 9/32″ hole through the side for the cord to go through. The socket was located on the base in order to pre-drill the mounting holes. I used 1″ screws in the porcelain socket that only protruded 1/4″ into the base so as not to interfere with the wire channel.

Here I slipped the 9/32″ drill bit into the hole for the wire in order to mark the side piece and continue the hole through the side. The box was then glued together using biscuits at the top.

The finished piece with socket and dimmer installed. I used an inline dimmer with a woven cloth covered cord. It can be purchased here: http://a.co/cZ6Hwu2. The socket can be found here: http://r.ebay.com/giCcTj.

The finish is gun stock wood stain and one coat of spray polyurethane.

December 16th, 2017

Kids Workbench

I made this kids workbench as a Christmas present for me niece. I found the plans for it here: fixthisbuildthat.com/diy-kids-workbench-plans/

The bench is 24″ high at the work surface, 17 1/2″ deep and 41 3/4″ tall. It is made out of select pine 1×4 and 2×2 boards with an MDF top, shelf and pegboard. The joinery is all done with pocket screws. The finish is tung oil.

November 1st, 2017

Halloween Zombie Apocalypse

Here is my yard haunt for 2017. I have done a miscellaneous display for the past couple of years but this year I finally came up with a theme. The house was turned into a zombie containment lab with the zombies trying to get out.

My display was somewhat abstract with lighting and sound creating most of the effects. I started putting out props several days leading up to Halloween to tell the story that the house was being transformed/taken over by the zombie containment activities.

The elements:
1. Lighting – Green flood lights in all the windows and 4 DMX controlled LED PARs slowly alternating from yellow to green with the occasional strobe. Leading up to Halloween the green lights in the windows faded on and off slowly to indicate something was building up.

2. Driveway – Lighted signs warning of zombies inside along with a motion activated scoreboard buzzer combined with blinking stage light with radiation symbol gobo.

3. Sidewalk – Motion activated store bought hanging zombie prop and atmosfearfx zombie apocalypse dvd projected in the front window. Also a homemade control panel that appeared to be ripped off the wall was made to flicker via a florescent starter.

4. Front door – An industrial control panel made from plywood and electrical parts (indicator lights, meters, knobs, etc.). When the door bell was rang the store bought electrical box prop mounted on the side of the control panel was triggered along with a strobe light inside the front door.

5. Miscellaneous – Mr. Cool fog machine, a few random severed limbs, ‘caution’ tape, a 50 gallon blue drum, and some other random warning signs.

January 24th, 2017

IKEA Cabinet Modification

IKEA can be intimidating. The store is humongous and the options are seemingly endless. It takes some study to narrow down the options to find what you need. In my case I needed a laundry cabinet above the washing machine. This cabinet will store the detergent and other laundry supplies. While the big box home centers have stocked a plethora of options for oak and white thermofoil/melamine kitchen cabinets, there was a big problem. In test fittings at the store, it became obvious that none of the currently available laundry detergent dispenser jugs will actually fit in a standard 12″ deep upper cabinet.

I thought about custom building a cabinet but it seemed like there should be something commercially available for this purpose. Meet the SEKTION cabinet line from IKEA.

The SEKTION line of cabinets turned out to be exactly what I needed. To start with, SEKTION upper cabinets are all 15″ deep instead of the standard 12″. I my case, I needed a single door upper cabinet. Within this one variation of cabinet, there are 17 different height and width (12″, 15″, 18″, 21″ & 24″) options available. There are also many different choices in door styles available. I ended up choosing a 18″ W x 30″ H cabinet with the very basic white ”Häggeby” door.

After obtaining a pick ticket and paying at the store, I went to the pickup area and got a nice tidy bundle of packages brought out to me on a cart. Since the cabinets are modular, the individual components are picked that make up the finished unit that is desired.

The only issue now is assembling and mounting the cabinet. It turns out there is a small problem that must be overcome. The cabinet system is designed to be mounted on a hanging rail system. To make the installation easier, a metal hanging rail is screwed to the wall studs and the cabinets are hung from it. The only downside to this system is that it holds the cabinets out from the wall slightly. In my case, I decided not to use the hanging rail system for just one cabinet. This required some modifications to the cabinet box as seen below.

To avoid using the hanging rail system, nailer strips needed to be added to the top and bottom of the cabinet box. I used 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ melamine strips to accomplish this. I cut biscuit slots in the strips so the #20 biscuits would align with the groove in the cabinet that was intended to accept the back panel. I then applied a melamine edge banding to the two strips before cutting new grooves in the top to accept the back panel. The biscuits and then glue were then applied to secure the nailer strip to the top and bottom panels of the cabinet.

After the glue dried, the cabinet was assembled per the IKEA instructions (cam locks, cam screws and dowels) after cutting the back panel down to the size needed (26 1/8″) to fit between the newly installed nailing strips.

 

Below is the completed cabinet with the door installed after screwing it directly to the wall studs through the newly installed nailing strips. It holds all of my laundry supplies quite comfortably.

November 20th, 2016

DIY LED Christmas tree

Here are two of my DIY Electronic Christmas trees. The first one was made two years ago for an office Christmas decorating contest. I decided to update it this year with a little more modern technology.

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First tree:
This is a fiber optic tree with a halogen light and color wheel in the base. I decided on a technology theme using electronic parts that I had on hand by making my own blinking light strands out of red and green LEDs soldered onto cut up ribbon cables. The LEDs are driven by a 555 + 4017 + 2803 IC combo circuit assembled on a breadboard. For those who are not sure what that means… The 555 is a general purpose timer IC that supplies the clock pulses. The speed is adjustable by the potentiometer knob. The 4017 IC acts as a sequencer/chaser. It has ten output pins that switch on in sequence per each clock pulse. The next chip is a ULN2803 that acts as a amplifier for the output of the 4017 to drive multiple LEDs. In this case, I am using 7 channels of outputs with two LEDs on each strand. Here is a schematic if you want to make this circuit: http://www.electroschematics.com/6170/led-chaser/

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The ornaments on this tree are old ICs that were spray painted white and red. I am happy to report that I did win the decorating contest with this effort. I was going for an ‘electronic steampunk’ theme, which I think this captured. Charles even said that it looked ‘old school’, high praise indeed!

Updated Tree:

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This year, I updated the original tree with a Bluetooth LED controller instead of the discreet ICs of the original version. I decided since now that it is 2016 and all of the box stores sell LED light strands and power strips with embedded Bluetooth controllers and their own ‘app for that’, my entry should reflect that technology. I thought about using a Raspberry PI and writing some PWM code in python to blink and dim the LEDs (and send tweets too!), but I decided that was a bit overkill.

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I settled instead on a standalone Bluetooth LED controller (BL 370) that I bought for $25 on A-Maze-On. The device is made to control RGB LED strips, but I thought it would do fine driving 6 each red, green, and blue LEDs for my Christmas tree (Note that there is a 470 ohm resistor inline with each LED; I re-wired them after taking the pictures). The device has its own app called ‘Magic Light BLE’ for Android and IOS. The app works pretty well with lots of options to blink the lights. The only downside is that it seems like a fairly dodgy app since now on Android it requires location permission to start. So I borrowed my Mom’s old iPhone to load the app instead. While sitting next to the tree, the phone actually complements this years theme of ‘App for that Christmas tree’. Any suggestions on what to use for ornaments?  Maybe of bunch of cut off USB connectors if I can find a ready supply?
Videos:

October 26th, 2015

Fence Picket Plant Stand

My mom needed a plant stand to fit into a corner of her back porch. She searched for a long time to find a piece of furniture to fit in the space without success. Having recently torn down a dilapidated fence, I had a pile of old fence pickets that needed to be re-purposed or get thrown away. I decided to try and build a plant stand that would be custom sized to fit the space.

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I started by finding eight pickets that were the straightest and had the fewest cracks to use as the corner pieces. I took off some of the finish with a random orbital sander since it would hard to do once the corners were assembled. I then cut some biscuit slots and glued two pickets together to form a corner piece.

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I used clamps and 3D squares to hold the pieces together while the glue dried.

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I then assembled the table by screwing the four corner pieces together with 1×2 stretchers at the top and bottom. The five pickets pickets along the back were secured by screwing through the stretchers into the picket with four screws each.

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My mom painted the whole assembly along with the slats for the shelves. The slats were made from extra fence pickets that were cut down to size. The painted slats were then secured to the top and bottom shelves with 18 gauge brad nails.

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The completed plant stand:

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March 31st, 2014

Guitar Amp

I got a guitar a while back, but no amp to go with it. So I decided to make my own practice amp mostly using electronics parts that I had lying around. The amp cabinet is based on a vintage Fender Champ (5F1) practice amp that was introduced in the 1950’s. For my version, the cabinet is constructed from a single select pine board and joined together with finger joints. The speaker panel is 1/2″ plywood and holds a single 6″ speaker. The back panel cover pieces are 1/2″ birch plywood with edge banding on the tops. The cabinet is finished with Minwax golden pecan stain and two coats of tung oil.

The amplifier section is my implementation of the Noisy Cricket Mark II schematic from Beavis Audio. The Noisy Cricket amp is designed around an LM386 1-watt audio amplifier chip that is intended for clock radios, boom boxes, etc. The amp circuit is constructed on a small project board with only a few resistors & capacitors as support components. The three knobs control volume, gain, and tone. The switches control power and grit (distortion). The amp is powered from a 9v battery.

Here is a video demonstrating the Noisy Cricket amp:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whZsV6QZ9rM

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Click this link for the picture of the plans that I found and used for this project.

Edit: It looks like the Beavis Audio site has gone away. I have put the plans for the amp circuit here.
 

 

 

March 20th, 2011

LED Shed Lights

I put in a plastic storage shed last summer and have been trying to customize it to my tastes. One thing that I thought would be cool was to add some lighting. I eventually came up with the idea of using LEDs and a SLA battery to power them. But how to make them look nice? That would soon come to me…

In early January, the orange depot was clearing out all of their Christmas stocking stuffer gift crap. I ran across their LED flashlights that were marked down to $1 each and I knew I had found my light source. I bought 8 Aluminum LED flashlights [6 LEDs in each flashlight – batteries included!]. I also got a 12v 2.3AH SLA battery and a 12v solar car battery maintainer (meant to sit on the dash and plug into the cig lighter to keep a car battery charged when it sits for long periods).

I started by cutting 2 strips of 5/8″ MDF and then drilling 4x 1″ holes equally spaced into each of them. I also made a shallow 1/4″ dado cut centered along the length of the back of the strip.

I then cut all the flashlights right behind the LED assembly and began wiring them to the board. I experimented with 7805 5v regulators to lower the 12v battery down to 4.5v for the flashlight head. I used 2 regulators (4 lights per regulator). They got really hot even with a heat-sink, so I figured that this heat was wasting lots of battery power.

In the end, I settled on using 2x16ohm (32 ohm total) 5 watt resistors running two light heads in series. So each of the 4 pairs of light heads has its own resistors lowering the battery voltage down to the proper level. I used a small relay controlled by a regular house light switch to turn the lights on and off (to try and avoid some line loss of power between the switch and the battery).

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To install the light bars in the shed, I used hanger bolts (wood thread on one side, machine thread on the other) to bolt the light bars to the metal rafters in the shed. The rafters are ‘U’ shaped, so they made a nice place to tuck the battery away in. The solar panel is held up to the shed sky-light with some safety wire. A length of phone wire connects the relay module to the light switch that is installed in a shallow plastic work box screwed to the shed wall. As you can see, the lights provide more than adequate illumination for finding things in the shed at night.

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Thanks to the folks at the orange depot for ordering too many flashlights at Christmas. Without their $1 flashlights, this project may have never materialized!