Sunday, July 28, 2019

Building an Inexpensive Desk Part 3 - Making the Drawer Cabinet

Next up - the cabinet for the drawers

In my last couple of posts, I went through the construction of the top and body of my desk. 

If I chose, I could have just joined the 2 pieces together at this point and I would have had a nice, simple functional desk.

However, as with anything that is made to order, the recipient for this particular desk had a need to have someplace to store their "stuff" so that it wouldn't be cluttering up the top of their desk, or even worse, sitting in a box beside the desk. 

More specifically, they wanted the desk to have drawers. 

In of itself, building drawers for the desk is a fairly straight forward concept. It's basically a matter of building a bunch of small boxes that would fit into a bigger box. 

The deceiving part in all this is that getting the small boxes to fit properly can take quite a bit of fiddling, but I am getting ahead of myself. 

For this post, the focus will be on the construction of the "big" box, or the cabinet that will eventually house the drawers. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Building an Inexpensive Desk Part 2 - Building the Body

This time around we build the body of the desk

In my last post, I went over the construction for the top of the desk. While we now have a really nice work surface, it's not really much good without something for it to sit on.

So our focus this week will be on creating the body for our desk.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Building an Inexpensive Desk Part 1 - Making the Top

The first piece of the desk to be built is the top

One of the biggest challenges of having a small workshop is that whenever I have a need to create a project that is a bit sizable, things can get a bit.... cramped.

A few years ago I was browsing the DIY section at my local book store when I came across a book written by Danny Proulx called "Simply-Built Furniture".

What struck me the most about the book was that Danny had showcased how to build some really elegant looking furniture with nothing really more than plywood and common sized pine boards.

At that time I was really in a need for a desk that was large enough to hold all of my amateur radio and computer equipment. One of Danny's plans included a large executive desk that also included a hutch.

On the surface, it looked like a pretty ambitious project, however, with the simplicity of his method of construction, I was able to create a really nice looking and very functional piece of furniture.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Project - PiAware Radar Kiosk

Earlier this year, I became aware of a very interesting company called FlightAware which offers flight tracking of both private and commercial aircraft throughout the world. As part of its service,

Flight Aware relies a lot on crowdsourcing of its tracking data from thousands of private radio receiving stations that monitor the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signals of any aircraft that are flying overhead.

These signals provide the GPS location, altitude, speed and direction of the aircraft, which can be easily received by a radio receiver and sent to FlightAware to provide real-time tracking.

The beauty of this arrangement is that this information can be received and sent by a lowly Raspberry Pi and a very inexpensive SDR (Software Defined Radio) dongle. This type of receiving station is more commonly known as a PiAware station.

Having a spare Wi-Fi enabled Raspberry Pi on hand, I was pretty intrigued by this and after ordering a $20 SDR dongle off of eBay, I was up and monitoring the airplanes in my area.

One of the neat features of the PiAware system is that you are able to see a real-time map of what your PiAware station is receiving via a web interface that you can view on a computer that is part of your WiFi network. As an added bonus, the PiAware web interface also gives a live weather radar picture for my area.

That's where there the inspiration for this project started. I also had a rather elderly Raspberry Pi 1 Model B kicking around. While the old girl was a bit slower than its newer siblings, it still had a lot of life left in it. As part of my investigation on what I could do with an old Pi - I stumbled upon some details on how you can use a Raspberry Pi as a web browser kiosk - similar to those that you see in places like airports to display up to date information.

And with that, the SkyAware Radar Kiosk was born.