Sunday, June 30, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - Making a Microscope Light on a Lathe

A very simple microscope light made from scrap wood and dollar store parts

While I do not consider myself an "old fart", my oldest child is currently in his third year of a microbiology major at university (let's just say that I'm on the "older" end of Gen X then).

While I personally pursued a career in IT, spending time looking at tiny things with a microscope is a bit of a family tradition since my father spent part of his career looking at rather nasty bugs during his time as a veterinarian.

In the early part of his career, my father had acquired a microscope where as a kid, I remember watching him using it and sometimes taking a peek myself at the microscopic world that it revealed.

That microscope has spent many years stored away in the back of a closet, however when my own son wanted to take up the family trade, so to speak, My father figured it was time to pass the torch (or in this case, microscope) on to the next generation.

Microscope light in use

While the old microscope still had lots of life left in it, it was missing one critical piece  - the light for the microscope had gotten lost in the mists of time. 

Since I never really had much use for the microscope myself, I did want to add my part to the passing of the tradition - and with that, a new microscope light came to be.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - Thrift Shop Weather Station Rehab

A Thrift Store find looks forward to a better future

A couple of months ago I posted about a recent trip to my local thrift shop. While I did have some fun looking at the weird and wacky things that were on sale there, I also treated the trip as a bit of a scouting mission for potential project ideas. 

During that visit, I came across a small desktop weather station that contained a clock, a thermometer, and a hygrometer.  

The weather station was a rather cheap looking affair with a price to match (less than $2). Needless to say, it wasn't really much to look at. 

However, when I looked past the cheap plastic, I noticed that the thermometer and the hygrometer were in really good condition. 

They were just crying out to be put into a better home.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - Building a Stevenson Screen for the IOT Weather Station

Stevenson Screen installed

The last time I talked about the IOT weather station, I had just finished putting together a workable way to power the station with solar power.

Now that I have the electronic solution worked out, the final step was to house everything in a weather resistant enclosure that still allowed the station access to the outside air in order to ensure accurate readings.

Basically what I needed to construct was a Stevenson Screen.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Let's Be Careful Out There"

Though nicely healing up, there is a cautionary tale to be told


While this may horribly date me, that was the famous catchphrase of Sgt Phil Esterhaus from Hill Street Blues.

While it was meant to be advice for law enforcement officers that were going on duty, it is also very good advice of those of us that use tools that are powered and very sharp, often at the same time.

I've been using power saws and other such devices since I was a young teenager and I always treated those tools with a great deal of respect.

For many years (decades even) about the only injury that I ever got was the occasional sliver.

But all that good karma with power tools can be for naught if you are only distracted for a second when one of these things are running.

Such was the case for me last fall.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Project - The Backwards Alarm Clock

You really need to look twice to figure out the time


This project originally evolved from another project that I had made several years ago.

Back then I created a clock that hung on the wall in my office at work.  What made this clock unique was that I was able to make the hands move backward by making a very simple change to the clock movement. At that time, the clock caused a few of my co-workers to do a double take.

Fast forward to today, I was recently in need of a new alarm clock. While it would have been pretty easy to pop down to the store and buy a regular run of the mill clock radio, I figured that this would be a great opportunity to try my hand at building another backward clock - but instead of  having it just hang on a wall, it would serve as my new wake up tool.

All the gory details on how I built this clock can be found here