House of Hacks

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quick Tip: 2-part epoxy mixing tray


Description

Presenting an quick, disposable way to mix two-part epoxy.

Transcript

Hi Makers, Builders and Hackers. Harley here with a quick tip.

Whenever I'm working on a project that I need some 2-part epoxy on, it seems like I'm always scrounging in the trash for something to mix it up in. Last time I needed this I realized… I had some scrap left over from a previous project, and I realized that the bottom of cans are the perfect thing to mix 2-part epoxy in. They're real easy to… you just take a knife or some scissors and you can just run around the bottom. You're going to be throwing away… planning on throwing this away anyway so it's not like you're using something you'd otherwise be needing. It just seems like the perfect solution for mixing epoxy in. They cut off easily like that. I'm going to bring home a bunch of cans from work and have a nice little mixing tray so I can have them on hand whenever I need to mix up some epoxy.

That's it for tonight. Until next time, go make something. It doesn't have to be perfect, just have fun.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How to rebuild a lamp


Description

A quick overview showing how to replace the switch in a shop lamp.

Transcript

Hi Makers, Builders and Hackers. Harley here.

I've got this nifty little shop lamp that I picked up a number of years ago. I think I got it when I got either my band saw or my drill press. And it's really handy. I think I got it a Woodcraft for like $20 or something like that. And it's got a magnetic base so you can stick it on the metal table of the tool or on the side of the tool itself. And it's got multiple points of articulation so you can move the light where ever you want it. Extend it out or crimp it in. It's got a couple points where it pivots on the base and on the lamp itself so you can move the lamp where ever you really want it. It's just a really handy little lamp and inexpensive. Last time I went to use it however the switch just would not switch. It was completely frozen up for some reason. So I'm going to take it apart and see if I can see what's going on with it and see if I can fix it.

In taking everything apart, I can not see from visual inspection what's going on. It's just... It doesn't really come apart any further than this. There's a couple rivets in here and if I really wanted to get ambitious I could drill it out, but then I'd never be able to put it back together. I did notice in taking it apart that there's some plastic melted looking bits right here where it looks like it got really hot and melted the plastic a little bit. I'm guessing... As I was taking it apart I noticed I have a 100 watt bulb in here and I also noticed that the... inside here it says "use 60 watt type... or smaller bulbs." I think I may have just overheated it and melted the thing. So, the moral of the story here is... use... don't put a larger bulb in here than it was designed for.

I did go to Home Depot, or Lowe's I guess it was, and picked up another switch. I'm going to take it apart and see if it will work. It's the same type of switch. It looks on the surface like it's a good match. In fact, as I look at it now, it looks like an exact match. So, I'll take it apart and see if it fits in the fitting and hopefully it'll be working here in a minute.

Yay! It works. It was an absolutely perfect fit. This piece I got at Home Depot looks like it was exactly the same part and it fit without any problems whatsoever. And so, I'm glad. Got my little lamp back and I can start doing some band sawing now. Awesome.

Until next time, keep on hacking. It doesn't have to be perfect, just have fun.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tool Review: AWS Blade Digital Scale


Description

Review of an inexpensive digital scale: the AWS Blade 1KG.

Transcript

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-It-Yourselfers. Harley here. I've got a project coming up in a couple months that requires measuring things in grams. I'm born and bred here in the United States and grams don't mean a whole lot to me. So, to kind of put that in perspective, a nickel, a US nickel, is five grams and a penny is two and a half grams. A 1000 grams, a kilogram, is about 2.2 pounds. So, I needed to measure things that are very light. All I had available to me was a kitchen scale that measured up to 10 or 12 pounds or a bathroom scale, neither of which would work well measuring down into these low ranges. So, I went out to Amazon and did some searching around and based on reviews, I picked up this little scale. It's made by AWS and it's a Blade one kilogram digital pocket scale. A tenth of a gram accuracy. Backlit display. Includes two AAA batteries. So, we'll open the box, do some initial tests and see what it looks like.

After finishing up the unboxing, I kind of cleared off the table and got rid of everything, so we really have a vinyl case, a little hard plastic protection case that the thing fits in, and the scale itself. It's 2.7 inches square and designed, I think actually it's designed for a food scale. It's small enough to carry with you so if you're on a diet you can measure the quantity of food you're taking in.

To open it up, you just push and it pops open and now we have a little display here with three buttons. We have an on/off button, mode button and a tare button. On/off does exactly what it says. Mode allows you to switch between grams, ounces, troy ounces and pennyweight. I've heard of troy ounces, I think it's used in jewelry making. I've never heard of pennyweight; I'm not sure what that does or what that's used for. And then tare allows us to put something on here and zero out the scale to be able to weigh just the contents of what's in there.

So let's turn this on. Speaking of power, you noticed in the unboxing the batteries were shipped put in backwards with a little plastic tab in there. So during the unboxing process, I put the batteries in properly and pulled the tab out. They put that in there for shipping so it doesn't drain the batteries.

When we turn it on, it comes up in the default mode of grams with a zero zero. I've got some pennies here. According to the US Mint web site, pennies are supposed to be 2.5 grams. We'll take a look and see what we end up with here. This one is, this one is 3.1 grams which is a little heavy. I'm not sure what's going on there. This one shows 2.4. And this one says 2.5. And this one says another 2.5. Hmm. This one shows 2.6. 2.5. 2.6. This one also says 3.1. Wonder if they changed the weights sometime, over time. This one says 2.6. This one says three also. I'm guessing these are older pennies based on their color. That's a '76. This one's an '81. This one says, ooh, '59, wow. That's an old penny. So apparently older pennies weigh more than newer pennies do. These are all much newer based on their color. And, looking at the years, yeah, these are all within the last decade or so. Here's one from earlier in the '90s. But, yeah, these are all '90s and 2000s. So apparently somewhere in the late '80s sounds like they changed the weight. So four pennies should be 10 grams if things are calculating right. And right at 10.1. So this looks like it's weighing pretty well.

And just for grins and giggles, I've got some nickels here. Nickels are supposed to be five grams and five and ten and 14.9 and 19.9. So, yeah, they seem to be adding up. It looks like it's working pretty well for these ranges of weights.

I've got a one and a quarter pound weight. I did some conversion, I think this is supposed to be 567 grams. We'll see if that fits on there and what it weighs out to. It shows 587 grams, but you know, it's just a weight. Twenty grams is I'm sure well with in tolerances for just an iron weight for working out with. And that one shows exactly the same. I'm guessing these are more inaccurate than the scale itself from what I've seen so far with pennies and such. So I'm going to call this kind of good. The mode you just cycle through to get the different weighting systems.

And let's give tare a try. So, if we put something on here we're going to use as a container, that comes out to be 141 grams, we hit tare and it resets to zero so now we can weigh just the contents. Let's use some of our older pennies. So that should be like 9.3, right on the nose. There we go. 9.4. So it looks like those are 3.1 grams originally from the older pennies. Looks like everything works well.

I did find after the unboxing, inside the box stuffed in there, there was a user's manual which I didn't see in the initial unboxing. I did go online and find it. It's also available there at the manufacturer's website. This scale can be calibrated which is kind of nice if it gets out of calibration. I don't have a calibration weight though; you need a 500 gram weight to be able to calibrate it. But, you just hold down the mode button and it goes into calibration mode and automatically does its thing and it's done. So that's it. I don't remember what I paid; it was in the $22, $23 range I think on Amazon. Maybe $18 or something like that.

It looks like for my purposes it's going to work really well. It's nice, small, lightweight, looks like it's reasonably accurate.

I recorded that video a couple weeks ago and since then I've had an opportunity to use it. There were two features that I discovered that were not documented in the manual.

First of all it has an auto-off feature. When you let it sit for somewhere, I'm not sure what the exact timeout value is, it's somewhere less than a minute, probably 30 seconds to 45 seconds, without having any changes in the weight, it would automatically turn itself off.

The second feature that it had is that when you did turn it on, anything that you had on the plate, it would calibrate that to be zero. It's kind of like the tare feature button that I mentioned earlier that automatically happens when you turn the device on.

These features individually seem like decent features to have. I can't complain about either one of them. However, when they're combined in the particular workflow that I was experiencing, they caused some problems. And I didn't find any way to be able to turn them off, which would have been nice.

The workflow I was doing was I'd weigh something out, I'd go do something, I'd come back to it and want to add to what I'd already weighed out. And the problem of course was in that time period that I was away from it and come back, it'd turn itself off. Then when I turned it back on, of course what was on there got zeroed out. So I had to do the math in terms of what was on there and what I was adding, I had to do all that in my head. It would have been nice, because I was looking for a total weight, it would have been nice if I could have turned one of those features off, and then it would have worked exactly, perfectly, for my workflow.

Other than that one caveat, it worked really well. The accuracy seem to be decent. I didn't have anything that was obviously wrong with it. Everything worked out in the end as if the weights were correct. So, I can't say they were wrong. And it worked correctly every time, other than the one caveat. So overall I thought it was a good little scale, particularly for the price.

So that's it for this review. Until next time, go make something. It doesn't have to be perfect, just have fun.