Sunday, March 28, 2021

Finishing Up the Whirligig


All painted up and ready for summer

Last week I developed and built a prototype of a whirligig that I derived from plans that I had found in an 80-year-old copy of Popular Mechanics, 

I wasn't quite sure how it would all turn out, so I built a very basic prototype that was really more functional than decorative. 

I was really please with how the prototype looked and worked in the wind, but the true test was to see how it would last over an extended period of time. 

The bare wood version of my prototype definitely was not conducive for surviving very long in the elements. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Different Take on an Old Whirligig


A prototype Whirligig

I've always been a bit fascinated by the weather. If you take a look at some of my past posts on this site, you will find the odd little project that either entails tracking the weather conditions or using something weather-related (usually solar-powered) to drive some sort of device that I've dreamed up. 

As a kid, my grandmother had a few whirligigs in her backyard that performed some sort of activity whenever the wind blew.  More of them performed some sort of crude animatronic action, like making a lumberjack saw a log or a donkey kicking a bucket over,  I was fascinated by the concept that some invisible force was making all this happen. 

In subsequent years, I did some experimenting by hooking up a fan blade to a stepper motor and a LED and watching the wind create the power to light up the LED, but I couldn't really something really tangible to apply it to. 

I hadn't really thought too much of it for a while until I recently found a plan for a pretty simple-looking duck whirligig in an issue of Popular Mechanics that was published back in 1940. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Building the Bargain Boat Horn

It's pretty loud!

With the snow starting to recede in my part of the planet, the mind starts having visions of warmer weather activities. In my particular case, I love to spend a weekend afternoon out in my boat with a pole in my hand, trying to determine if there was anything hungry for worms in the water beneath me. 

When out in the boat, it is vitally important (in fact it's the law in my country) to have certain safety equipment on your boat at all times. Besides the usual life jackets, flashlights, and tow ropes, you are supposed to have some sort of sound signaling device. In the little safety kit that I bought for my boat, that came in the form of a small whistle that you are supposed to blow into to signal for help. 

Personally, I found the whistle a bit lacking in the sound volume department, but to be quite frank, installing an air horn on a small 14-foot boat with an outboard motor seems a bit ridiculous. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Cup Holder Mount for a Car Voltmeter

A custom cabinet for the car voltmeter

Last week I tried out a project from an old issue of Popular Mechanics where you could make a voltmeter for your car. 

Wiring up the voltmeter was actually a pretty easy project to tackle and I was able to get it up and running with a couple of hours of soldering.

As s temporary measure, I put the meter in an old plastic food container while I was out driving around. 

While functional, it certainly wasn't very attractive to look at. 

As I may have mentioned before, I recently got a 3D printer and I have been spending a bit of time getting acquainted with it by printing out a few "canned" 3D models that I had found online. While I did enjoy printing out some of the things that I had found, I really wanted to make my own custom parts, which is the main reason why I wanted the printer in the first place.