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Random Rushing - Various Outdoors 2

Various Outdoors 2 

So the wife had me busy outside last weekend since it was such nice weather. I built 2 flower boxes in the corners of our property for some hibiscus bushes than my dad gave us. Apparently I am into various geometric shapes, currently I have a pentagon, a rectangle and an attached square (to the rectangle). I built a triangle and a I guess what we are calling the boomerang. It could be referred to as a irregular hexagon, whatever. These were made with standard landscaping timbers.

We also created our garden based on the idea of square foot gardening. Basically it is for creating gardens in a small space, uses less water, allows easy access to all the plants and is easy to create. We built four 4'x4'x12" squares using a kit from framitall. You can buy the anchor joints and supply your own wood or just build your own without the joints. I liked the composite plastic timbers because you never have to worry about them rotting (so they should last forever), don't leach like pressure treated and they use recycled plastic (slightly higher priced than cedar but cheaper than the plastic timbers at Lowes). I also built a center dual layered 3'x3', 2'x2' for strawberries out of cedar. The plan is to create a path inside the giant square and build a small arbor at the front entrance. I think it will look real nice and we get fresh vegetables. Yum

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Mold & Cast 

I recently found the need to mold and cast something, I needed a gear for this drive mechanism that had broken, I had 3 but needed a 4th.
Anyways I had seen plaster of Paris molding and know it to be slightly annoying due to originals and parts sticking in the plaster. I have seen some easy to make vacuum systems that use a household oven (wife probably not happy with that option). I ran across this website while looking and found the silicone rubber for the mold and urethane for the cast.
Now I have never done anything like this before and was more interested in the process than the actual product, I mean this could be useful at work for parts I need for instruments they don't make anymore. It actually turned out to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I will go over the proces below:

1. Make a frame to hold the part preferably not much bigger than the item ( I used MDF).
2. Hot glue every edge that will touch the mold (So it does not leak)
3. I hot glued the gear to the base but it is not necessary
4. Stir the silicone Rubber a lot, Shake the catalyst
5. Add the rubber and the catalyst together and stir until it turns a beige color.
6. Pour the liquid mixture into the box.
7. Wait overnight
8. Break open frame and take out original (This is the great part you just push and pull the rubber/part until it slides out.)
9. Alright this is the trickier part I used to the Alumilite Regular which has a 90 sec hold time. Shake the "B" container (This is a blend of polyols)
10. If you are using a dye add it to the "A" side (Isocyanate)
11. Add equal parts of A and B to a secondary container and stir quickly for 15secs
12. Pour the liquid into the mold
13. Wait 5 mins.

A little Chemistry...
Now the mold/liquid is going to get hot as this is an exothermic reaction. The first time I did this I it was in the back of my mind that this was a polymer reaction and I remembered doing a polymer reaction in PChem back in college (God, I hated PChem). What I remembered about that lab was the near instantaneously of the reaction, had this been at the front of my mind I might not have ended up with this..
A urethane linkage is produced by reacting a isocyanate group with a alcohol group. So to get a polyurethane you need a polyisocynate (usually diphenylmethane diisocyanate) and a polyalchol (usually polyproplyene glycol) (Plus some catalyst [an amine like triethylenediamine], maybe some chain extenders, cross linkers etc. depending on the type of polymer you are looking for) Basic reaction looks like this

The original part looked like this.

I don't have any picture of the frame but this is the mold it produced.
The end result looks like this.

Pretty damn cool.

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Arcade Machine 

So I started a new project a couple of weeks ago, parts are starting to come in and I currently have all the hardware
I decided to build an Arcade Machine. If you have ever looked at PC Arcade games before you know there are emulators out there that allow you to play older arcade games. The software is called MAME and there are a couple of different versions out there MAME ,MAME32 and others to play nintendos, playstations etc. I think I also am going to run a front-end called GameEx which seems very nice.
Anyways I was going to build my own controller setup and I priced it out 6 buttons apiece, 2 joysticks, 1/2 player buttons and a card that converts to usb. What I ended up with instead was this which actually cost the same I was going to spend and comes with the trackball for games like missile command.
I was also going to build the cabinet myself but I have a guy here at work that is a woodworking whiz and he is going to build it (own his own dime since the machine is going to stay at work).
I got a 22" flat screen CRT monitor from another guy at work who did not want it anymore. It weighs almost 70lbs since itís an older style but resolution upto 2048. Slightly injured but functional.
I have so many leftover computer parts that I had enough to build a decent machine for the project P43.0, 512Mb, 40GB, 128mb Graphics Card, On board Sound.
I am currently working out software, hardware, controller issues and I will update when I have a cabinet.
I am hoping the end result will be similar to this. (thats only a 17in monitor)

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Pictures update 

So my picture frame / wireless laptop thing is working great but I decided that I did not want the screen up all the time because of burn in issues. I ended up with a wireless USB trackball that I can hit a button on and take power saving off on the laptop whenever I want. I was looking for the smallest wireless system I could find and I think I found it. The unit is barely 1.5" square by 1" deep. The depth comes from the receiver which is meant to be worn on your wrist while the trackball is supposed to be attached to your finger and your thumb rolls the ball. Quite possibly the dorkest looking think I have ever seen. I reconfigured it to be more compact.
It works perfect for this application, if you are thinking of using it as a normal use trackball I would skip it though, the trackball is very jerky and imprecise.

On another note I have restarted the CNC rebuild and I am in the middle of procuring 100lb slab of aluminum to use as the new base.

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Yeah, Yeah I know it was been a while but I am back.

My latest project is fairly simple. I created a webpage on our intranet at work to check the status of all our instruments. They are updated in real-time so you can look at the page and if the instrument needs attention it turns yellow, if it has an unexpected error it turns red and it shows you whatís running and when it started and other interesting things.

Anyways I usually pull it up on my desktop but I lose it frequently because I run dual monitors and have open apps everywhere. I decided I needed a dedicated screen in my office for it so I went to trusty eBay looking for a cheap laptop. I found one for $50+$15S&H, PII 266Mhz, 128mb, 6Gb HD, 13.1" screen. Because this thing is older than dirt I did not want to bother with a windows install and went looking for a Linux kernel that would run on this system. What I ended up with was Puppy Linux, which I have to say is awesome. It will run completely in memory in 64Mb Ram only takes up 100mb disk space and has apps to open work/excel/music/video/internet built in plus you can install lots of other stuff to it if you want. If you have any desire to remake an old pc this OS is excellent.

Once I got the laptop up and running, including install a wireless PCMCIA card I disassembled it and got rid of all the extra parts to save weight and room. I went to Michaels and bought a shadow frame box and a picture mat (had to be cut some to fit the screen) and mounted everything inside. This is what the end result looks like.

So now I have a 13" digital picture frame with wireless internet access for 75(comp)+15(frame+mat)=$90. Sweet.
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Various House 2 

I was looking over this blog and saw that I was definitely behind on house projects being updated to the blog. So lets see what I/Wife has been doing lately.

First off is the retaining wall which is complete and planted. It took 5 yards of dirt and 3 yards of mulch, one load at a time in my little truck but the result is very nice.

We redid one of the bathrooms with this slate tile floor and another bathroom with this hand scraped bamboo.

The latest thing I built for Erin was a garden cart that she could roll around and do her planting on. This is it folded up and this is it unfolded. I really like the giant wheels, I got them at harbor freight really cheap. The rest of the lumber was from a workbench in the garage that I took down and rebuilt using a door from work.

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Alright, so I have not done any projects recently but I have excuses, lots of them.
First off it has been way too hot to do anything productive, we had two weeks where the temps were 102-106. There is no air conditioning in my garage nor in my work's shop area. The pool was even up to 95 for a while.
Then for most of the month of August I was on vacation visiting various parents and parents in law. I tried windsurfing while down at my parents. It was not quite as hard as I thought it would be but I was seriously sore the next day.
Also I bought one of these while visiting the in-laws, but one of the cheaper ones that I could not find a picture of, so that should be interesting. I was originally looking at one of
these but they were $17,000. Way too much.

It has cooled down considerably here and looks like the start of project building season. Hopefully I will have progress to report on various items soon.

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Various House Projects 

I have found it hard to really get to any projects lately. I think my main problem is this sitting in my back yard. It just seems hard to get up the energy to remove myself from the pool. Oh well.

Projects around the house though are pushed through by my overeager wife so I have made some progress on those fronts. For your perusing pleasure continue on.

First off is the flowerbox/pentagon flower bed built from left over wood beams when we bought the house. This was a simple project that got rid of random junk lying around and provided places to plant things.

Second was the flowerbox/lattice assembly. This obscured the neighbors view into our pool and again provided places to plant things.

Third was a retaining wall behind the pool. This was needed because the stones in the back were constantly being pushed into the yard by dogs and weather. Its not quite finished yet but is on going. This also provides planting space (see a pattern here)\

Fourth was some shelving for the garage. Nothing fancy just shelves.

Fifth was a desk built into a small nook. I got to use my new router and router table on this project. It turned out surprising well for my first time with the router.

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Blend a little 

Well Canoe Trip 2k7 went well although I was a little disappointed with the gas powered blender. I think I tried to make it do too much. I should have left off the propeller device and stuck to the main goal of heavy drinking. I had routed out the wood to hold the propeller support stationary; little did I know that this affected the height that the blender coupling engaged. So OTB (on the boat) modifications required the blender to sit lower to engage the coupling, this required shaving the block with my knife which destroyed the routed section which helped stabilize the blender during startup. It ended up taking 3 people to run the blender, but it finally worked. I believe Stef has pics, If you are reading this email them to me and I will put them up. Thanks!
Also props (haha props) to Bean for his automatic margarita dispenser which kept everyone well lit.

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Catastrophic failure of propulsion device happened today during water stress testing. (Blending device still intact)

I had stepped up the size of the prop because I thought last years device needed a larger propeller. When the prop was inserted into the water the small 1" piece of drive shaft not covered by the drive shaft support bent at 60 degree angle. Straightening and shortening the drive shaft worked (although a slight bit wobbly) but the load under water was too much to keep the engine going even at full throttle. I calculated and the max prop size I could have is theoretically 3" with a max speed of 6.2 Knots using my 1hp weedeater engine spinning at 8000RPM with a perfectly pitched prop.

Since I am cheap and limited on time I think I will try to cut down the 6" 2 bladed prop that I have to something like a 3".

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It's Alive. If not a little ghetto looking.

After a few iterations of the drive shaft, I got it working without tearing itself apart and flinging parts everywhere. Actually it eats ice like crazy now.

I found that the featherlite weedeater does not contain any type of clutch (although some other brands do). I also found that no clutch is necessary when using it as a blender. I was afraid it would be difficult to pull start if there was ice around the blade but the blade characteristics shoot the ice up with very little torque so no need for the drill clutch. Sweet.

If you note the high tech bungee cord holding apparatus you may wonder why I choose this holding method instead of something more permanent. Well I also made this attachment. The bungee cord was the easiest method I found for attaching both.

First attempt at using it in my pool caused the prop to fall off. I have since revised and left theaded the attachment point.

Total cost: ~$10 plus blender top.

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Occasionally I get bored at work. I happened to have this 3Ē neodymium donut magnet (it was supposed to be used to manually open a solenoid valve on our water system if the electric mechanism ever went dead. It works but is completely unneeded). It has been used in various stupid tricks and was most recently my paperclip holder. Well I turned it into a great game called Lilliputian Darts.
It's surprisingly fun, I won the tournament today but I do get to practice more than most. Here are the instructions we have come up with also.
Oh yeah I got the magnet at http://www.allelectronics.com which has awesome deals on random crap.
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So big canoe trip going on at the end of the month and I usually like to take some random thing along that I have built. Last year I made a small electric power outboard from PVC. It worked but not well, I think I needed a larger propeller.
Anyways an idea was brought up this year for a gas powered blender. Been done before and can be bought commercially but much more interesting to do it myself. First thought was to use the gas lawn mower engine I had earmarked for the generator but the design would be the same. The unit would have to fairly large since the shaft is downward facing and I would have to use a pulley system. I figure 24x12x18, I don't think the canoe rental people would be welcoming with such a large contraption.
Turning to trusty ebay (Paul suggestion) I found this and got it for 5 dollars. Sweet.
I disassembled my blender at home, took the entire think apart trying to get off the drive coupling from the motor before I realized that it was just a left handed screw. Twisted right off, no tools needed.
This unit should be small enough to fit in a dry bag I have and can be sneaked on the boat easily.
I am fairly concerned about operation though. I don't have any type of clutch system so the coupler will always be turning. Do I have to shut off the engine to attach the pitcher and then try to start with the ice in it or can I attach the pitcher to the already spinning coupler. Does the weedeater have a built in clutch? Maybe I need to figure out a clutch, I am thinking a clutch from a drill.

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Fridge/Oven/Peltiers that bean said would not work 

So I finally got the components for making my peltier fridge. Both items I got off of ebay extremely cheap, the heat sinks are from Pentium3 coolers and the peltiers are from who knows what. There is a picture of the items here.
Now I also have a picture of the Liconic robotic oven in question which I also got off of ebay real cheap about a year and half ago. The oven does work nicely, I wrote a program to control all robotic functions and graph temp stability and sensor positions which works nicely as well.
On a side note, I love Ebay.
Now the idea is to sandwich a peltier between 2 heat sinked fans (with some thermal paste), one to blow the cool air in the fridge the other to cool off the peltier so it can continue to make coldness. I have enough to make 15 of these little guys and they can be powered off of 8Vs although they require 3 amps. That may make it tough to find a transformer. oh well I have a adjustable power supply for testing anyways (Got it off of ebay also).

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CNC Update1 

Well I made some progress on my CNC machine the other day. I got the spindle mounted to the Z axis. It actually a die grinder. , spins at 30000rpm has some crazy power. I was cutting though some steel with a 3 in circular blade on it and it was just eating it up. I have a more limited Z axis than I did before so I will have to see how that works out but I don't want to run until I have the water cooling because it will burn up bits. I am probably going to have to make a speed control for it also...

I also procured this. Its a vacuum clamp that uses compressed air to operate. It has a ventura valve in it and will hold any non porous material. Its surprisingly strong and gets good reviews best of all it fairly cheap. Check it out.
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I have a 4hp gasoline lawn mower engine (runs good) that I need a project for. Suggestions?
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Fridge problems 

Just a quick post. Note to self, forget about taking apart normal fridge for use.

Apparently the makers of fridges do do want you to tear them apart. I opened the bottom no problem, Compressor is now only attached by the copper line that goes to the coils. Now I can't cut the line because I will release the coolant and then the thing is worthless. So I open the door and rip out the insides, no problem there other than the fact that the fridge smells like dead fish. Then the copper line disappears into the middle of the fridge between the freezer/fridge section. So I rip out the middle divider which is apparently structural support (whoops) and is also filled with mold. So now I got the Saws-all out rip most of the top half off. The line then disappears into the back of the fridge. For crying out loud is there a more convoluted way to run this fucking pipe.
Anyways I gave up. The coils where encased in some kind of foam insulation crap that looked like more work than it was worth. Goodbye Fridgy. Sorry I forgot pictures, not used to blogging eveything yet.

New idea. I bought 15 used pentium 3 heatsinks and fans ($0.99) and I am going to attach them to peltier coolers. I figure 10 of these should freeze a beer in my oven/cooler in a hour if I don't regulate them. Sweet, plus I can power them without an outlet if needed.

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Flame tube 

okay so number 2 was the custom 8 ball but I don't have any pictures for that yet. So the Flame tube music player is basically a real life frequency graph. I am not really doing anything different with this one just using it for nice visuals.
Basically you take a pipe drill some holes spaced evenly apart, cap one end. Attach a flexible rubber membrane to other side of the tube then attach a speaker the diameter of the tube to the membrane. Then you fill the tube with propane (or other gas) and light. When the music plays the flames vary in height based on the frequency of the music. This is based on an old school physics experiment to show standing waves. It is also known as the Ruben flame tube, named after H. Ruben, who published the demonstration experiment in Annalen der Physik in 1905.
I plan on building a fish tank like cabinet with wheels and a glass top. The cabinet below will house 2 speakers 1 receiver (it blew the right amp last year) and the propane. The glass enclosure at the top will house the tube (no top).
I figured music outside in the afternoon would have some nice visual effect while swimming in the pool. Also would give off some nice heat to warm up to if need be.
The wife is afraid of fiery explosions but the likelihood is low plus the pool is right there to put it out if need be.

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Okay some of you may have seen a picture of my old version. It worked, I cut some wood, some aluminum, and acrylic but it lacked stability. The cutouts at the front caused the frame to flex under high stress and/or speed causing my cuts to be out of line.
I just happened to have laying around a giant box made from bosch extruded aluminum (it was borrowed from previous employer when I left). The box was originally going to be a giant terrarium coffee table but the wifey was not happy about the idea and it did seem like a lot of work. Anyways it looked like a good replacement frame. Well it ended up about one inch to short in the X direction so I ended up with a compromised hybrid.
It is unbelievably stable now. I have yet to attach the spindle motor yet because I am changing from the dremel to a cutoff saw thing which will increase my cutting power exponentially.
Another drawback to cutting was excessive heat so this version has a pump to squirt liquid at the bit when cutting.
Also new will be limit switches which I had before but never hooked up, this should allow a stable home position and allow repeated work as opposed to one offs.

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Alright, I started this blog for a running tally/list of my build projects. It seems that I am always working on one thing on the other. My list seems to be ever growing since I donít like to finish things. Currently on the list are:

1. CNC Machine (rebuild)
2. Custom Magic Eight Ball (this is actually work related)
3. Flame tube music player (built on the sly because wifey afraid of explosions, I told her the pool is right there to put the thing out)
4. Beer fridge thrower (multiple people asked for this and I have a cool automated oven already that I can convert to a fridge plus a working fridge I am throwing out)
5. Various house projects, (Shelves garage, flower pentagon, retaining wall)

Most of these things are in various states of completion
There are others but nothing that comes to mind right now. Yet me know if there are others I should add.

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