Sunday, August 2, 2015

Drill Light

I recycled an old 12 volt cordless drill into a light fixture. I used an IKEA Hemma cord and a Touch&Glow dimmer. I repurposed the screwdriver bit holder to hold the end of the cord for storage.  I labeled it with a 65 watt maximum because I forgot the actual maximum wattage the of the lamp holder inside and the Touch &Glow. My favorite bulb to use in this fixture is a 65 watt reflector bulb. I also can use any dimmable light bulb. The Touch&Glow is the "brains" of the operation giving it 3 levels of on-ness. It has 2 sensor areas, one where the drill's trigger used to be (now a wad of aluminum foil) and another is a copper strip on the top. Each time you touch either sensor, the light i or at the brightest setting it just turns off. The copper strip is foil for stained glass. Signals from the top sensing area go through the base of the light bulb on the way to the neutral tab of the bulb holder. The drill light can mount onto a tripod.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Super Charger Two

My first blog about superchargers was in April of 2013. I now own two model 8001 superchargers because I found another one at my grandparents' house. I can now charge eight alkaline batteries, or 4 nickel cadmium and 4 alkaline, or 8 nickel cadmium at once. I read Michael Bluejay's Battery Guide which mentions this brand. I know that recharging alkaline batteries doesn't work very well, even with this charger. But since I have a huge stockpile, over 3 pounds worth, of mostly AA alkaline batteries, I can try getting some use out of them.  The battery charger has an output of approximately 5 volts. I don't know how long it takes to charge a battery, but AAs take longer than AAAs.

The second charger was coming apart and I was curious to see how it worked.  Since the cover was already loose, I opened it up to take a look. I will put it back together when I'm done.

The thick red wires are from the mains input to the small transformer and the blue wires are from the transformer to the pcb. The black and purple wire are to the switch. The yellow, orange, red, and brown go to the positive battery connection. The other black wire is to the negative connections to all the batteries.

To test the batteries after I charge them, I use a Radio Shack 22-080 battery tester. If they drain quickly during the test, I discard them. My city doesn't recycle regular batteries any more, but I will keep searching for a place that will take them.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rotary Tool Art

Griffin is making mini art squares with his rotary tool. He starts with reclaimed wood spacer strips from the hardware store.  He thinks this one is cedar because it is very rough. First, he adds pencil lines. He carves out the design with a rotary tool following the lines. He likes the texture of the wood, and doesn't want to sand all of it away. Instead, he will add a clear coat later. Sometimes he will add paint or stain to the grooves to make the design show up better. Finally, he nails or glues several squares to a larger board to make a collage.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Musical Solar Space Helmet

I made this helmet for listening to music from a broken air snow globe. (Not a water snow globe which would be glass and weigh too much when filled). For safety, it is not airtight at all. I used it because it was already cracked. This helmet is better than headphones because the person wearing it gets the best experience but the people nearby can still hear the music.
It has a new solar power bank that was a gift from my cousins. The power bank has a 4 amp hour battery that will last about 4 hours at maximum output when fully charged. I calculated that the solar panel would take about 16 hours to charge the battery. I used a connector that came with the power bank to connect it to the amp. I took the amp for a vibration speaker apart to make it smaller and because I like the look of just the circuit board. It has  a 20 foot audio extender cable attached to it.
Main circuit board
Charging in the sun

1 amp mini usb input

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Long Exposure Photography

I saw a video about photography tricks and I wanted to try some of them. My favorite camera, a Canon Powershot A570ISAiAf, works for macrophotography and for long exposure but I have not tried these at the same time .....yet. I can also use it to take videos.

I did the long exposure photography in the closet under the stairs because it is one of the only dark rooms in the house. The lampshade broke while my cousins were here but it was not their fault. The blue streaks in the top block of photos are from my new solar powerbank and the red wiggly lights are from the neon bulb on a power strip. The lines are wiggly because the light flickers. The bottom three photos were from a string of color changing lights that came with a gift card.  I use a 1 or 2 second exposure time for these photos. I used the manual setting to adjust the shutter speed. Mom didn't even know this could be done with an ordinary digital camera. I moved my camera during the photos. This is essentially like painting with lights.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

White Model 565

I took Grandma's old sewing machine to see if I could get it to work. It's a White model 565. It was breaking thread a lot, but that was the spool's fault. The thread was getting caught on the anti-unwinding notch on the spool. The rubber o-ring that is acting as a tire for the bobbin winder will be the first thing to get replaced because it is old and dry rotted. This sewing machine is mechanically interesting because it uses plastic cams for doing stitches other than zig-zag or straight. It uses 1.3 amps, making it more powerful than our modern sewing machines. I'm going to make a pillowcase to test out all the cams.
rubber o-ring on bobbin winder 

view of cam compartment with cam

sample of stitch with cam above 
assortment of cams used by this sewing machine to produce fancy stitches

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Drill Mounted Air Pump

I got an air compressor at goodwill. It was a cordless tire inflater. I took it apart because the battery would not charge. I sold the motor and sealed lead acid battery for scrap. Then I removed part of the motor mount and a gear, so I could attach it directly to my drill. My drill already has internal gears. It has a maximum of 150 psi but I have not been brave enough to test the maximum. I have used it up to about 40 psi at the most. I could still use it to inflate tires. The drill makes it a variable speed pump so you can slow down when the tire is about full. I have also used it to refill canned air and for the cloud in a bottle experiment.

TV Headphones

My dad bought a used treadmill that was very noisy and I needed a way to watch tv without turning the volume up ridiculously high. I asked how to connect headphones to the tv and my dad said to connect them directly to the RCA connectors on the AT&T box and that worked perfectly. I used a gold-plated RCA cable to connect from the AT&T box, to the adapter that I made a project enclosure for, and then to the headphones.
Project enclosure box for adapter (with different wires than what I actually used)

gold bar
connectors on the AT&T box.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Touch and Glow

The Touch and Glow is a device that we got from Grandma to turn any lamp into a touch lamp. It works by sensing the difference between the input neutral (which is connected to ground) and the output neutral. It doesn't really work on all lamps because on some the neutral of the bulb is insulated from the main metal of the lamp. I found a way around that by connecting a wire from the neutral of the bulb to some foil tape. I can touch the foil to turn on and off a light. I set up a light like this near my bed and I can touch the tape with my feet to turn on a light.
Touch and Glow (from

My foot-touch setup.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Macro Photography

Crawling webworm I found online.

Macro photography is very close up pictures. I think I'm pretty good at it. Here are some pictures I've taken of plants and animals. My phone doesn't do macro photography very well. I used a Canon Powershot A570. This camera is better than our other two because the flash is reliable. One of them either underflashes or overflashes, and the other one has a pop-up flash that doesn't pop up. Unlike the other two, this camera has no pop-up flash. It has a button for macro photography with a picture of a flower. Except for the zoomed out picture of the sago palm, I used the auto setting.

leaf of grape vine
web worms

silver fish

more web worms
This is a sago palm, using the night snapshot.

Close up of sago palm center