Sunday, April 28, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - Converting a Computer Fan to a USB Desk Fan

Keeping me cool while giving a cool light show

Among the various bits and pieces that I have floating around in my box of electronic junk, I have accumulated a number of fans from defunct desktop computers.

These fans always very quiet, efficient and they can move a lot of air within a small footprint.

Because of those qualities, I have found that these old computer fans can continue to live on a small desk fan and can be made to run off of one of my computer's USB ports.

Over the years I have made quite a few of these fans.

The other day I was digging through the junk box when I came across a computer fan that was made from clear plastic and had some LED's installed around the outside of the fan shroud. Hooking up the fan to a power source showed that the fan did still work, though the LED's were definitely no longer functioning.

The fan also included a small metal grill that added a bit of a decorative touch - the perfect raw ingredients for a new desk fan.

The first thing I did was to cut off the connector at the end of the fan.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Turning Bowl Blanks

Turning wood bowls can be a really relaxing pastime - but you need to be prepared first

I have always admired the craftsmanship that went into turned wooden bowls so I was always a bit keen to try my hand at making one.

A little while ago I found a small wood lathe that was on sale for a ridiculously cheap price at my local hardware store.So I took advantage of the opportunity and immediately grabbed it.

When I got the lathe home and set it up, I first thought it prudent to at least look at some how to videos on line to figure out to do wood turning. Once I watched a few videos, I determined that I got the gist of it and got right to it.

I immediately put a small block of wood on the lathe, fired up it up and armed with a chisel, took a stab at making my first bowl.

It didn't go very well.

While I could make a real nice wooden cylinder on the lathe, I ran into some trouble in trying to make the "bowl" part of the bowl. When the chisel got caught by the spinning hunk of wood and was flung across the shop where it embedded itself into the far wall, it was time to call it quits.

I figured at that precise moment that perhaps I should do a bit more than watch videos before I tried that again.

Fast forward a couple of months I attended a day long wood turning workshop at one of my local woodworking stores where I was able to get some hands on training on how to properly turn a wood bowl. A really nice bonus was that I also able to come home with a really nice bowl that I made myself.

For anyone who wants to learn how to do any sort of wood turning, I really do encourage that you find a course like this in your area.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - The Internet of Stuff

A couple of small couple of small electronic parts and the world will know how could my home is

As a bit of a departure from my normal posts, I'm going to be getting more into software than softwood, but there will be a woodworking tie in at some point in the future. We just need to lay down some groundwork first.

In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz going on about having what used to be very mundane everyday household items become "smart" by being able to be connected to the internet and communicate with you or with other smart devices.

This concept - more commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (or IOT) - has unleashed an avalanche of smart thermostats, front door locks and refrigerators - all with the ability to let you know whether you need milk or that you've left the back door open and now the cat has escaped and is terrorizing the neighborhood.

Being someone who has made a career in the Information Technology field, I was starting to feel a wee bit out of the loop about these things - not a good place to be for any self-respecting IT guy.

I could have just simply read up on IOT devices, but why waste a perfectly good excuse for a bit of puttering in the shop...

As I mentioned in my previous post, you can literally build anything with a little electronic "LEGO". A quick search of the internet showed me many examples of people building their own IOT devices in such a way.

One common thing that I found with these projects was that a lot of them used a small Arduino compatible device based on the ESP8266 board.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Project - Junkyard Compass and Thermometer

Junkyard compass and thermometer

This project was born from a need to address a couple of features that I wanted to have in my truck.

The first feature was to have an electronic compass to serve as a companion to my 2 meter amateur radio rig. As a severe storm spotter, knowing what the direction is of the weather that I'm observing is essential for when I need to radio in my reports.

The second feature is more along the lines of creature comforts. Many vehicles these days have an outside temperature read out feature, however you very rarely find one that will display what the temperature is inside the vehicle. I always wanted to know what the actual temperature is in the car when I'm driving (and it's a great help in solving those age old debates that you sometimes have with your passengers on whether it's "too hot" or "too cold" )

For more details on how you can build one of your own, just click on this Link