Posts tagged diy

Do-it-yourself Wake Up Light – A Dawn Simulator Light Alarm Clock

Do you often wake feeling tired? Does the sound of your alarm clock buzzing drive you crazy? What if there were a better way?

Some people believe that your body reacts better when you wake to light– with a natural dawn simulation — easing your body into the day the way the sun does naturally.

Here’s a fun project you can do in just a few minutes given the right supplies. You can make your own wake-up light with a few simple items you may already own. Of course you could always buy one of these:

But if you’d rather be handy and make your own dawn simulator, here’s what you’ll need:

A digital wall timer is recommended, because most now offer programming customizable for 7 days– this lets you set different on/off patterns for weekdays vs. weekends, etc.

Once you’ve assembled your parts, you’re ready to get going on the path to simulating natural wake up patterns with your wake up light. If you’ve opted for a full spectrum bulb (one that is closer to the sun’s own light frequencies) install the bulb in your lamp).

Important note: If you plan to use a dimmer with this project, you may want to choose an incandecent bulb — newer CFL and LED bulbs are often not compatible with standard dimmer switches.

Next, if you are using a dimmer switch, plug your lamp into the dimmer switch. Then plug into the wall timer. If not using a dimmer switch, plug directly into the wall timer.

Then, plug in the wall timer to your outlet and program your on/off patterns using the provided instructions– each timer is different, but most allow for multiple on/off times per day and per week.  Consider turning the light on before you plan to wake and leaving on for an hour or more to allow your body to adjust before you rise.

If you’ve installed a dimmer switch, test the brightness you’ve selected to ensure it is to your liking. Experiment with different settings until you find the level of light that helps you rise naturally without making you cringe.

There you have it, your very own wake up light – at a fraction of the cost of commercial dawn simulators.

Note, one advantage of the commercial models is the ability to integrate an alarm sound and to grow the light brighter over time — if you find difficulty getting brightness to your liking, consider a commercial model.

 

 

How to install new side-pull caliper brakes on a bike

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Replacing side-pull caliper brakes on a bicycleHere’s a simple project just about anyone can do in an hour or so. So you bike brakes won’t stop? Do the brake pads look worn down and uneven? Are the brackets themselves bent out of place? Rusted through?

You can easily replace side-pull caliper brakes yourself and make your bike safe to ride again. Note: properly functioning brakes are important to safe operation of a bicycle. Never operate a bicycle without properly functioning brakes. If you feel uncomfortable with your own ability to safely repair your own brakes, a neighborhood bike shop can do the repair for you.

If you’re interested in making the repair yourself, read on.

Materials:

    • Depending on what pieces have failed you’ll need new brake pads and possibly a new caliper mechanism
    • This is also a good time to replace your brake cables, that may be fraying, rusting or no longer sliding easily.
    • You can get kits like this one that include all the parts for one low price:

Make sure that you purchase the correct components to fit your bicycle. There are several styles of brakes including disc brakes , side-pull brakes, and V-brakes.  Make sure you purchase the correct size for your type of bike.

Step 1: Remove the old brakes. Start by loosening the bolt that holds the brake cable to the caliper; once removed, you should be able to fully separate the caliper releasing the brake pads from around the bicycle wheel. Next, loosen the bolt that holds the caliper assembly to the frame of the bike and remove the caliper entirely.

Step 2: If you are only replacing brake pads, now is the time to swap your new pads onto the calipers and re-install.

Step 3: If you are are fully replacing your calipers, install the new calipers paying close attention to the fit of the brake pads. You will likely need to adjust the placement of the brake pads to match your bicycle wheel. It’s also a good idea to clean your bike wheel to remove any dirt or grease that might cause problems for proper braking.

Step 4: Once the caliper is reattached, tighten the bolt and thread the brake cable through its place on the caliper. If the cable shows any signs of fraying, it should be replaced.

Step 5: Adjust properly. To properly adjust the brake cable tension, start with the brake lever fully released and the thumb screw adjustment at its lowest setting. Gently hold the brakes close to the wheel and tighten the screw holding the cable to the caliper.

Step 6: Test the brake operations by squeezing the brake lever. The brake should squeeze firmly, but release to allow free movement when  the brakes are not applied. Use the thumb screw adjustment to find the right adjustment. Take time to adjust until the brakes operated properly. If you are unsure, consult a bike shop before operating your bicycle.

Step 7: Repeat the same steps to replace your second brake caliper.

Once you’re satisfied that the repair has been made properly, enjoy your handiwork with a relaxing safe ride.

Replacing side-pull caliper brakes on a bicycle

How to Make an AirPrint Print Server with a Raspberry Pi

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So what exactly can you do with the $35 Raspberry Pi?

Well it turns out you can do lots of things! We’ll have more posts to follow, but the Raspberry Pi mini-computer is a low-power ARM-based microcomputer that can run alot of cool stuff through a linux distribution, including today’s project — an AirPrint Print Server.

So you have an Ipad, an Iphone, etc… and you noticed that ‘share’ option that says print — awesome right? Print right from my phone?

One catch, you don’t have an AirPrint compatibile printer and you like your current printer… no need to go out and buy an AirPrint printer.. Just turn you Raspberry Pi into an AirPrint Print server to relay your print jobs from Apple Ipad or iPhone to your existing printer.

Huge shout-out to Rohan for his original tutorial (http://rohankapoor.com/2012/06/configuring-the-raspberry-pi-as-an-airprint-server/) and tjfontaigne (https://github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate) for the python script that makes it possible for noobs.

Since that tutorial was made, the process of turning your Raspberry Pi into a AirPrint printer go between has become even easier. The latest versions of CUPS has added mDNS support that makes the process more streamlined.

The basic process goes like this:

1) Obtain a Raspberry Pi  and a spare SD Card

2) Download WinImager32 (or your favorite image writer) and the raspbian linux distribution (http://www.raspberrypi.org/)

3) Write the linux image to your SD card and insert into your Pi. Boot and follow configuration menu… recommended to expand storage to fill card and change thee memory split to favor cpu usage ( GPU: 16Mb)

4) Update/upgrade your packages… you can do this by typing ‘sudo apt-get update’ and then ‘sudo apt-get upgrade’  — if you experience failures to any updates simply repeat until all installs are successful

5) Install CUPS (‘sudo apt-get install cups cups-pdf python-cups’); Then add your username to the lpadmin group to give access to manage the CUPS administration (‘sudo usermod -aG lpadmin yourusername’)

6) Next edit the configuration to allow yourself to manage CUPS from computers on your network outside of the Pi. (‘sudo nano /etc/cups/cupsd.conf’ will open it in an editor– Change “Listen localhost:631” –> “Port 631”; Add ‘ServerAlias *’ on the line following ‘DefaultAuthType Basic’; Add ‘Allow @Local’ under the server, admin and config files sections; Save changes.)

7) Add your printer using the CUPS web interface at the ip address of your Pi on port 631 – e.g. http://192.168.1.102:631 – Be sure to enable the option to share the printer you are adding.

8) Now that the Pi is configured to utilize your printer, it’s time to make it accessible as an Airprint server so your iOS devices will be able to print to your printer. Create a new directory /opt/airprint/; change to this directory (‘cd /opt/airprint/’) and download the script– ‘sudo wget -O airprint-generate.py –no-check-certificate https://raw.github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/master/airprint-generate.py’ –then run the script: ‘sudo python airprint-generate.py’ — This should have created a new file with the name of your printer some random characters and ending ‘.service’ – If this file was generated correctly you should be all set.

9) On your iOS device, go to share on any page you want to print and select ‘print’ then select printer, your device should detect an airprint printer on your raspberry pi. Your Raspberry Pi will relay the print job directly form your iPhone as an AirPrint printer.

Enjoy!

 

DIY Audio Cables from Spare Cat5

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Just recently found myself with some spare Cat 5 Cable so I took a look around the net for the best new uses for the old materials… Found a great site that details how to turn your old Cat5 into a high fidelity audio cable. Take your unneeded Cat 5 ethernet cable and make some useful high quality speaker cables. Haven’t tried it yet, but they look awesome- check it out over at http://www.venhaus1.com/diycatfivecables.html

Line-Following Mini Tank with Analog Circuits!

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Today’s project comes from Chris over at pyroelectro.com – They’ve got a ton of awesome projects you can check out, but today’s highlight is a new take on a classic line following robot. a great design and great write-up, you can check out at http://www.pyroelectro.com/projects/mini_tank and make your very own robot, and make it follow lines all over your house! I like the breadboard set up and the analog circuits, so you don’t even need a microcontoller. Amazing stuff! Now if we could get a light solar panel to recharge/replace the lipo battery, it could crawl lines each day for hours all on its own….

How to make a Workbench with the Kreg Jig!

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Kreg Jig Pocket Hole Jig

IF you want a nice workbench, you can make one yourself with just a few boards and some basic tools, inlcuding the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig System. Kreg has put together a great video series and here is episode one of how to make a workbench with the kreg jig. It’s a simple plan you can do in an afternoon or adapt to your own project. The video will give you ideas on how to use your kreg jig to build other tables and furniture.

How to Rewire a Lamp

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Do you have an old lamp sitting around the attic or basement that could be cleaned up and used? Is the problem that the electrics looks crazy old and need replacement? If you have an old lamp you want to rewire, you can easily rewire your lamp at home. Do it yourself and save money while saving the old lamp from the dump!

What you need:

  • A new Standard Lamp Socket
    (assuming the old one is shot/not safe to use)
    Or consider an upgrade with a Dimmer Socket
  • A length of suitable electrical cord – consult your hardware store for proper gauge for your application – for most standard lamps (think 60W or less) and short lengths, most any UL approved cord will do –  for longer runs or higher wattage lamps, you will need a heavier gauge cord to prevent overheating
  • 2-wire electric plug to attach cord to wall outlet

How to rewire a lamp:

  1. Be safe; know what you’re doing. Always consult a professional electrician for any questions. Always unplug any electric appliance before servicing.
  2. After unplugging the lamp, remove any shade and bulb
  3. Remove the socket and old wiring. You may need to cut the old wiring to remove. Discard the old parts
  4. Take your length of new cord and attach the plug. Typically this will involve either stripping the wire and attaching it with screw mounts OR inserting the cord and crimping the cord in some fashion. Consult the directions that came with your new plug for complete instructions
  5. Feed the free end of your new cord up through the base of your lamp and our through where the old socket attached.
  6. Separate the two ends and remove a small length of the insulation from each of the two wires. Twist the wire inside tightly.
  7. Now, take your new socket attach one wire to each of the two terminals of the lamp socket. Usually this is done with screw-down connections. Be sure that the wires attach firmly and are not loose or frayed out. Consult the instructions that came with your new socket for complete directions. You should tie a knot in the cord to keep any tugs from a pulled cord from detaching the connections
  8. Attach the socket to the lamp, usually screws on to base.
  9. Final inspection. Ensure all connections are properly attached and insulated, no gashes have been made to cord in the process and all is tightly attached.
  10. Put a bulb in and try out your new re-wired lamp!
  11. Consider purchasing new lamp shades to give new life to an old lamp

How to Pick a Circular Saw

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Are you looking to purchase a circular saw? Decided that the old handsaw just isnt enough to help build your deck? Here’s how to pick a good circular saw that will do what you need and last a long time. Considerations include:

  • Power — you want enough power for the saw to move easily through even the toughest lumber to avoid dulling and heating the blade
  • Price — you want a tool that will last but you dont want to spend more than you paid for your car
  • Sidewinder or worm-drive — there are differences in torque, but I would recommend picking whichever you prefer the balance on
  • Cordless? — Limited run times and lower toque hinder the cordless models, but if you need to use a circ saw away from power, or infrequently for small jobs, these units can be lightweight and portable alternatives to corded models
  • Adjustment — look for a model with intuitive adjustment controls that allow you easily change settings
  • Know how to use and care for your tool. Be sure to read and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions. To safely use a circular saw and keep it in top condition for years of reliable use, you need to follow the guidelines.

Plunge versus Fixed Base Router

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A tool that you may want to consider as you start to be come a true woodworker is a router. A router can help you add that professional edge to wood to make your boring woodworking projects suddenly look professional. The key to picking a router that will do what you want and satisfy your needs can be tough, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Horse Power. The more powerful the better. You don’t want your router to strain under the load. For a standard use unit, look for 2 HP or more.
  • Plunge vs. Fixed Base. While a plunge router allows you to ‘plunge’ as the name implies into the middle of boards and grind out material, a fixed base router is made to follow edges. Consider how you wish you use your router and the projects you may take on.
  • A good compromise. Some routers like the Skil 1825-RT 2-1/4-Horsepower 2-Inch Router Combo Kit combine both a fixed base and a plunge base, making a versitile alternative for beginners and skille craftsmen alike.

Don’t forget you’ll also need a good router bit set.

Projects you can now accomplish with your new router include:

  • Cutting out sink holes in counters
  • Rounding edges on tables and cabinets, drawer fronts, etc.
  • And much, MUCH more.

How to make a small solar generator

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solar generator

Here’s my set up for a small solar generator.

Another green projects for all you DIY folks. Harness the power of the sun and live off the grid. Okay, so this particular unit won’t let you off the grid, but it can charge all of your rechargeables, cell phones, mp3 players, some CFL lights and much more. All using solar energy.

What you need:

  • 5 watt or greater Solar Panel (I used 2 of these solar panels) But keep in mind any more than 10 watts total would require a solar regulator
  • Fuse and fuse holder (I have used a 5 amp fuse allowing me to use up to 60 watts (5 amps x 12 volts) before it blows, which is consistent with the wiring gauges I used to construct my set up. Please ensure you use a proper fuse for your application and design)
  • Volt meter (optional) (I used one from radioshack which I put in a simple plastic case. This helps to monitor state of charge but isn’t necessary.You can also test with a multimeter.)
  • 18 amp hour 12v sealed lead acid (SLA) battery or similar deep cycle battery
  • 12v cigarette adapter outlet (this lets you plug in all your car adapters directly to your solar generator)
  • Power inverter (optional) (This will allow you to convert your 12v DC battery juice into 120v AC for lamps or other applications)

Construction can be as simple or complex as you want. Basic wiring would have the fuse placed as close as possible to the positive battery terminal. You would then connect the solar panel: solar positive to fuse to battery positive, solar negative to battery negative. And connect your cigarette outlet negative to negative, positive to fuse to battery positive. An optional power inverter can also be connected to battery. Particularly, if you opt to plug into your cigarette adapter, please ensure all wire gauges are appropriate for the power you are drawing. Your specific set up and application will dictate the proper fuse and wire gauges to use. You typically want to the lowest fuse rating that allows you to operate what you want to operate, within the safe range for your wiring.

How to use:

Place the solar panel in a sunny spot ( I have mine propped up against a window) and it charges pretty well., Direct sunlight will recharge the battery more quickly.

If you have attached a cigarette outlet, plug in any car adapters you have to charge cell phones, mp3 players, and much more.

If you have attached a power inverter, flip the switch on your inverter, and plug in as you would a wall socket. (Be aware that some devices are not compatible with non-sinusoidal power inverters – Consult the manual for your specific power inverter for details)

For an added bonus, you can also pick up a Duracell NIMH Mobile Charger and harness free solar power to recharge all your NiMH batteries for your digital camera, remote control, etc.

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