Sunday, September 30, 2018

Roaming Through the Junkyard



I've always had a bit of a fascination with my local "Pick and Pull" auto salvage yard.

The beauty of these places is that the inventory is always changing so I always make it a point to check it out at least once every couple of months or so.

I'll just never know what I will find.

Besides the cheap entertainment factor of exploring these old hulks, it's actually a good way to get some fresh air and exercise.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Puttering in the Shop - The Wood Stove Eco Fan Revisited


A few weeks ago I built a very simple wood stove fan using a couple of computer CPU heat sinks, a TEC wafer, a motor from a CD ROM drive and a home made fan.

At that time I was quite satisfied in how the heat sinks and the TEC were able to provide enough power to drive the motor, however I was just not very satisfied in the design of the fan blade.  The fan spun at a good clip, but it just wasn't moving much air. More of a flaw in the design of the fan blades than anything else.

A week later, inspiration hit at my trip to the Surplus store

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Nerd's Paradise





I actually live a fair distance from any large urban center, so when the significant other says that she would like to do a trip into the city for some shopping, it usually isn't too hard to convince me to come along. 

To me a trip into the city usually means one thing...

A stop at the Surplus Store!

I don't usually have anything particular in mind that I need to get when I go, so I treat the visit as an adventure - you just don't know what you will find. 

Often ideas for potential projects usually pop up during the course of one of these trips (as you'll see in a moment) 

Most time I'll take the opportunity to top up on the essentials for my electronic parts bin such as LED's and perforated circuit boards. Some times I fine odd stuff that is really cheap and mght be useful at some point (for example a large scrolling LED sign for 10 bucks) 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Project - Deck Planter


This project started life as a Christmas gift to my parents a few years ago to complement a new deck that they had just installed.

The main idea was to try and build something that was sturdy, quick to assemble and be very attractive at the same time.

Built with pressure treated lumber, this planter still looks great today even after spending a few years out in the elements.

Full details on how to build this planter can be found at this Link

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Miraculously Self Healing LCD Screen




This is a story of triumph, heartbreak, redemption with a bit of stupidity mixed in.

I have an old Raspberry Pi Model A floating around my junk drawer that I wanted to find a good use for. While it isn't the fastest Pi out there anymore, it did have lots of life left in it and I wanted to do something useful with it.

That "something" turned out to be a little Internet of Things (IOT) device that tied into my Pi Aware installation to show a real time map of the aircraft flying around in my area, along with a real time radar view of the local weather. The information is displayed on a small 7 inch LCD screen that I bought off of ebay for around $30.

I will provide full step by step details on how I built this neat little gizmo at a later date, but this story is more about what happened after I just finished building it.

After testing and installing the electronics into the custom case that I built for this project, the final step was to install the back cover of the case. The back was built as a friction fit, so it took a bit of force (not a lot) to fit the back into the case.

Even though I took a lot of care in protecting the screen, when I put the new toy in its place of honor and plugged it in, I had a very ominous black line running down the center of the screen.

I had cracked it! After kicking myself, I immediately went back onto ebay and ordered another screen to replace it.

Since it'll take a good month for the replacement to come, I decided to keep using the bad screen in the meantime.

The screen was kept on 24 hours a day, and I hadn't really paid much attention to it until a couple of days later when I wanted to see if there was any rain headed my way.

That's when I got a shock....

The screen seemed to be repairing itself!