Sunday, August 30, 2015

Toothbrush Organizer

Here is my system for keeping my toothbrush and toothpaste organized.  If each part was separate, it would take up a lot of counter space. My electric toothbrush is normally on the charging dock, which I mounted on the drawer pull. The toothbrush charging base also holds the toothpaste and the tube squeezer. The tube squeezer was meant for adhesives and sealants but works great for toothpaste.  The cord runs in one drawer, through the cabinet, and out through the next drawer. The pipe cleaner pulls the excess cord into the cabinet so it doesn't dangle on the front of the cabinet. 
Mom says this is interesting but the counter needs to be cleaned. I don't think this is related to this project but for some reason Mom wants to mention it anyway.
tooth paste
tooth brush
tube roller


View of the drawer from below with pipe cleaner bracket.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lego EV3 Vehicle

Griffin designed a vehicle with his Lego EV3 set that uses motors, gears, and the touch sensor. It uses components from other sets including most of the gears and wheels. Griffin does not like to build the projects in the book. He always likes to invent his own.


Griffin started by building a car with the programmable brick and a set of wheels. His dad says this part isn't constructed very well, and he agrees but doesn't care. The main car is followed by a trailer with the other large motor and the medium motor. The medium motor spins a set of small gears on the back. The large motor spins a rotating brush which also moves up and down through a gear system. When the touch sensor is activated, the drive motor does 5 rotations backwards, then stops. The medium motor runs 5 rotations, then stops. Then it plays some sounds and charges forward at full speed until it hits an object with the touch sensor again.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Swamp Cooler

I got the concept for the swamp cooler from a video I watched on Youtube.  I wanted a window air conditioner but it uses too much power. The smallest one I found used around 600 watts and 5 amps.  My swamp cooler uses less than 30 Watts. In the video, they used a different type of cooling pad, a different color of bucket, and clear tubing. They also put the water in the bucket first which I think was a stupid idea because the shavings from drilling holes got in the water. 

My swamp cooler is made from a 5 gallon bucket. I used a 2 inch holewsaw and a power drill.  First I tried a 12 volt cordless drill. It worked but not very well. Then I tried a plug-in drill and it worked great. The mess from the wood fibers combined with the plastic shavings looked like frosted shredded wheat :).  It uses an aspen pad which is shredded wood. It looks better in person than it did online. The fan was 4$ . I recommend using a low voltage fan. It isn't designed for damp locations but the risk of shock is low because it is only USB 5 volts. It operates sort of like a computer fan. It appears to be a brushless motor. The tubing was a scrap from my pond project. The part I used for the plug for the easy drain came with the pump for the pond. I added hot glue to make it seal. I used condensate from our air conditioner for the water. Usually most of this water gets sent to my pond through a long garden hose. My bucket only holds a couple gallons of water- I haven't measured exactly.
This project cost less than $40 to build. An air conditioner would have cost at least $120. I could cycle the pump on and off to save power and heat. It does not work as well as an air conditioner. But it works well for the price and energy consumption. To measure the temperature I used a Nubee nub8380 infrared thermometer with laser. The laser thermometer is the easiest way to measure the temperature and it has a back-lit screen. Last night I measured 87.1 input and 79.2 output temperature. Today I measured 91.2 input and 83.1 output. The humidity is 43%.

I made a video about this project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HanHUI48CdY

easy drain


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Interesting Battery Cover

I found this interesting battery tab on a Kodak camera. It takes 2 double AA batteries or a specialized camera battery (CRV3). I think it is cool because it prevents the double AAs

from making contact when installed backward. The tip on the positive end of the battery will sit in the cutout so that it won't make contact.

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. The drill light can mount onto a tripod. 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. It 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. 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. Each time you touch either sensor, it goes to the next brightest setting or if it's already at the brightest setting it just turns off.






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