House of Hacks

Monday, December 11, 2017

Antique tools | Unpacking hand, power and Craftsman vintage tool haul


Harley unpacks a haul of antique hand, power and Craftsman brand tools. Vintage tools tend to be well made and still serviceable. In this episode, Harley shows a collection of vintage tools his Grandfather owned that he picked up from a recent trip to his Dad’s. Also included is a library of machining textbooks from a self-study machinist course and various other workshop related books and magazines.

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, subscribe.

There's a playlist containing videos talking about the House of Hacks' values.

And here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to Antique tools | Unpacking hand, power and Craftsman vintage tool haul

Norden Bombsight image used under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at
Incidental music: “Sweeter Vermouth" by Kevin MacLeod at


Interested in antique tools? Today at the House of Hacks, that's check-out what I have loaded in the Jeep.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

Over Thanksgiving holiday, my wife and I took a road trip to California to visit my Dad and step-Mom. And while we were there, I spent a couple days with my Dad cleaning out and organizing his workshop. In the process, he gave me a Jeep full of antique tools that he got from my Granddad, his Dad's, workshop when my Granddad passed away, it's been close to 10 years ago now.

When he passed away, I got a lot of his tools and I currently have them down in my workshop and use them on a regular basis. Over the years he and my Grandmother, for Christmas and birthday, would routinely give me tools for my own use. And it's rare that I work on a project that I don't use at least some of the tools that they've given me.

Many times, most of the tools I use were given to me by them.

And so, it's a cool legacy that they've passed down in this regard.

My paternal Grandfather was probably the one grandparent that I was closest to in terms of interests that we shared.

He was a self-taught machinist and had an extensive workshop behind his house.

He had a metal lathe that I now have. And did quite a bit of machining on his own, just for general projects around the house and cars and things like that. So it's quite an honor for me to be able to get some more of his tools and outfit my workshop a little bit more.

Some of these things that I got are actually things that I want to refurbish and put on the shelf sort of as museum pieces almost. I won't be planning on using them.

I also got a library of books all on machining that I'm looking forward to reading and learning more about machining.

I wouldn't call myself a machinist by any stretch of the imagination but I do have his metal lathe and would like to learn how to use it more effectively in projects and make more projects out of metal.

Let's start unpacking.


OK! So this is the haul.

I've got a table saw and a lathe and these were purchased by my Granddad in probably the mid-50s or so. They came as a set of three. There's also, that I've had for awhile, a jigsaw. And they're all kind of the same style. They're all Craftsman. They're kind of like an entry level, beginner's Craftsman set for that time period.

My plan for these is to kind of fix them up, clean the rust off them. I haven't decided if I want to paint them or not, kind of get them back to more period colors. Most of the paint has kind of chipped off over the years. So I'm kind of up in the air over what I want to do with finish on these. But I do want to at least clean them up and mount them with probably a some sort of, maybe an inexpensive drill or something, just to make them turn as kind of a demonstration unit for those three units.

The jigsaw that I have down in the basement is probably the one that's in the roughest shape. It needs to be completely disassembled. It has more rust on it and it has some wood parts on it that need to be remanufactured.

So that's kind of a side project that I have for the winter months.

I also got this arbor press. It's a small bench mount unit. It was cracked. I'm not sure how it got cracked or where it got cracked but my Granddad did a repair on it and mounted it to a really heavy base. The base probably weighs as much as the arbor press itself does. But that'll be nice if I need to do any pressing for anything.

I picked up an anvil. It's probably... I'm not sure exactly the weight on it. It's somewhere in the 80 to 120 pound range, I'm guessing, just based on how heavy it is to lift. I think it's heavier. My Dad thinks it's lighter. He thinks it's about the weight of an 80 pound bag of concrete. I think it's a little bit more than my 100 pound weight set down in the basement. But it's somewhere in that range. One person can move it by themselves.

I got an old Kodak slide projector. I've got a bunch of slides that I actually want to transfer to digital and make a home movie out of it. My grandparents had slides for their 50th wedding anniversary and there's also notes in there that they read as they did the slide presentation. So I want to redo that kind of in video format just for some family history. I think that'd be kind of cool.

I got a later model sander/grinder unit that takes the 1 inch wide sanding strips. It's also a Craftsman but much newer than some of these other things but it's still old enough that it's all pretty heavy duty steel. So I'm guessing that's probably 70s vintage would be my guess.

I've got some corner clamps that are new that my Dad didn't want anymore. He'd picked those up a couple years ago for a project he was working on. So those aren't antiques, anything special.

I got a couple task lamps: a black one and a white one. We'll put those up, probably one in my wife's sewing room and one in the workshop, just for general task illumination. Again, those aren't super old. I'm guessing probably 70s vintage would be my guess.

I got a wood vise that I'm not sure exactly what the vintage is on it. It is probably, I'm guessing, 50s vintage.

I got an old manual blowtorch that ought to be kind of fun for the museum shelf. It'll kind of go along with these. I'll clean it up a little bit but I don't really anticipate using that. Propane torches are so much easier to use than these.

I got a vacuum pump. I have no idea what the condition is on that or really anything about it. I don't know when my Granddad picked it up or what he used it for. But figured that'd be a handy thing to have around the shop.

A couple T-squares. Nothing of particular note there. Those are relatively new. My Dad bought those in the 80s I think.

I got an old microscope that my Granddad had.

And a bunch of books.

And really the big unit is this jigsaw and the mounting base that my Granddad made for it. Those are pretty heavy. I'm guessing the mounting base is probably upwards of 80 to 100 pounds and the saw itself is probably, again I'm guessing, probably over 100 pounds based on what it takes to lift it. It's all cast-iron. Again a Craftsman, vintage, probably the mid to late 50s.

I got some sheet aluminum that my Dad had lying around the place that he didn't have any need for anymore. So I brought that home, just to have stock on hand for various projects.

And then I got a box over there of small hand tools and books. I'll go over those in the workshop down below after I get out of the wind and where it's a bit more quieter.

I've got a bunch of books in here: Gas and welding, How to use power tools, just some old things, a pattern making book. That ought to be pretty interesting to peruse through.

This is some project templates that Granddad had lying around.

One thing that I got, I think some of it is in here, was a... the guts of a clock. This is a pattern for the case.

A couple articles on miscellaneous things in and around the workshop, making some tools and sharpening. Just some articles my Dad had pulled out.

An old magazine, Science and Mechanics in the workshop.

A book on the basics of welding. I'd like to get into welding here in the relatively near future so thought that'd be a good text to just kind of read up on.

Directions for a water level. The water level's in here somewhere.

Probably the most interesting in here's a multi-set library on machine shop practices. So there's, I think, eight volumes in here going from Machine Shop Work and Pattern Making and Foundry Work and Tool Making and Metallurgy and Blueprint Reading and Mechanical Drawing. I'll put this up so it's readable here. There's the whole set of eight books like that so you can read those titles. That ought to be interesting to go through and see what's in there. Grandpa was a self taught machinist and this will be interesting to go through. I think there's some markings in there, things that he made, notes that he took, things like that.

Some string. Dad probably threw that in there at the last minute.

Some workshop projects and idea books. Sheet metal shop practice book. More shop machining workbook. This one was precision measurement and gauging techniques. Again, that ought to be interesting to go through and look at.

I'm not sure what this is...

Machine Shop Operations. Oh, just... this is in the same series as that eight series book, same manufacturer. More information on how to do machine work. That was some lathe tool grinding stuff. Cutting threads. And more machine work for the lathe. This will be really good to be going through and getting that information. I'm really looking forward to that.

Making Whirligigs. Another book.

This is a face plate for that old lathe that I brought home with me to just kind of complete that kit.

Band clamp that Dad had lying around.

This is just an aluminum project box. Again just miscellaneous stuff. Put that in the projects stuff. Somehow I got all these screws. Miscellaneous sheet metal, or not sheet metal, machine screws that Dad had around. Again, I thought that had gotten left there at Dad's but apparently it got migrated to my box.

Some sanding belts for that grinder.

I was actually looking for one of these and I got two of them. These are solvent containers so they're completely contained for solvents, so you don't have fumes in the shop. But they have measured, metering valves here so you go like that and get just a measured amount to put on a rag or something. I got two of those. This is one that Granddad had... something had happened to the bottom. I think they're made out of brass and so usually they're impervious to chemicals. Something apparently happened to the bottom because the bottom had been cut out and Grandpa had soldered in a new base. The other one is in its original condition. These are probably vintage 50s or so. There's another one buried in there.

OK. This is an interesting piece. This is the optics out of a Norden bombsight. Grandpa, after the war, found a Norden bombsight at a surplus store and had taken it apart just to see how it worked. This is all that remains of that one that he took apart. The machining on this is pretty amazing. It has a mirror, some optics that go through. It looks like there's a prism inside here that things bounce around through. I've never really investigated it. I don't know really exactly how they work. Dad mentioned that when they got close to their target, the control of the plane was actually transferred to the bombardier and he'd guide the plane in through the Norden bombsight and the bombsight apparently was somehow connected to the avionics on the plane. Those planes all had mechanical, they didn't even have hydrolics, they were all cable driven going to all the control surfaces on the plane. So apparently this was some sort of, kind of big mechanical computer that the bombsight was connected to the cables controlling the plane and it just, the bombardier just kind of guided it in. That was kind of one of the secret weapons of World War II for the Allies. So that was kind of interesting. I got that for the ol' museum shelf. An interesting piece. I'll clean it up a little bit. It's a little dusty and stuff so I'll take some Q-tips to it and clean it up and it'll be kind of an interesting to look at. Probably inspire me to go look at the Wikipedia page for the Norden bombsight just to see how they really operated.

As I proceed to dump things all over the place.

This is just a fluid level for hook up to a garden hose. So you can hook up a garden hose between these to measure things... to get things level between two distant points. Like if you're trying to get a fence level across a large distance outside in the garden area or something. Put water in it, connect a garden hose in between. Water seeks its own level on both sides and so the top of the water will be at the same level regardless of how far apart these are. Kind of cool little instrument. Very simple.

And I just dumped a whole bunch of screws and nuts and things all over the box. The important things in here are these screws that hold the jigsaw to the base that Grandpa made. Some drill bits with counter-sinks.

More books. These are all electronics books. Oscilloscope. Solid state electronics. Motor control circuits. Experimental circuits. Just things to play around with. Increase general knowledge.

A couple inspirational signs Dad had and apparently somehow they managed to make it in here. This one talks about requirements being important. Two out of three isn't good enough.

And this one says: On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless missions, who at the dawn of victory sat down to rest... and while resting... died.

A couple books that I actually have on my reading list and so now I don't have to go out and buy them. Good to Great and Built to Last, both my James Collins. Those are things that I've been wanting to read. Put that on the end table in the bedroom. Read before going to bed.

A shaper. Sureform I think is what they call them. It's basically just a wood rasp on a plane type handle system. These are really handy sometimes when you're doing rough forming of wood.

Here's a small hand plane that needs a little bit of refurbish work. It's a little rusty. Just kind of clean that up and put it on the shelf with the other planes to work with.

A spoke shave. Dad's had this forever. It just needs a little bit of clean-up and have a new edge put on it. It'll hurt you if you're not careful but it's not very sharp for woodworking at the moment. So that needs to be cleaned up.

I think I put... I think you saw in the earlier part of the video the slide projector. These are a bunch of slides that I need to go through and sort and take a look at.

A brace for drilling holes by hand.

Another hand drill. Sometimes these are handy if you need more control than you get with an electric drill. Slow speed. Things where you need to see what's going on.

Here's another one of those solvent containers. The interesting thing about this and I didn't realize this until I was taking a closer look at these... These actually have different throws on them, so you can get different amounts of measured liquid. This one has a smaller volume amount on the release than the first one did.

And here you can see the size difference between the two. The one that Grandpa had repaired is probably about an inch shorter than the standard one. Again, I was looking for these online a number of months ago and I wasn't able to find any. So I don't know if they don't make them or if I just didn't know what to search for.

Some hair trimmers. Old manual ones. Again just for the museum.

Here's a hole cutter for the brace.

This is an interesting tool. One of those that if you need it, you need this specific tool but you'll probably rarely need it. I'll just put it on the shelf for future possibilities. It's actually a sheet metal crimping tool designed to crimp the edges of sheet metal for when working with duct work. So I don't really do much duct work. I've done one small project around the house but, you know, Dad didn't have a need for it and was going to throw it away if I didn't take it. Figured I'd save it from the dust bin.

Oh, and here's the innards for that clock I was telling you about that Grandpa had. The bag looks like it's been unopened from the manufacturer. You can see in there all the bits and gears and spring and there's the pendulum for it.

A couple pieces of plexiglass. Just to have on hand for the scrap pile.

This is for sharpening chisels and plane blades. You run it across your stone and it keeps it at a consistent angle.

I think these are some impact drivers. So, you hit this on the end with a hammer and it will impart a rotational force to help break things loose if they're tightened up. These are high strength bits to go with it because you can break bits if it's not designed for this kind of use.

Another rasp type device for forming wood with a spare blade.

A handle for safety razor blades. All the blades I have, or handles, are where you scrape like this. This allows you to scrape sideways. I figured that'd be kind of handy to have hanging on the wall.

A putty knife. Actually this is an ink knife. Grandpa was a printer so he'd use this for putting ink on the press.

A nut cracker. This will split hex nuts if they're... put the hex nut in there and tighten this down until it comes off the bolt.

Another book. This is on the Lord's Prayer by Phillip Keller. I enjoy him as an author. I haven't read that book of his so I thought I'd grab it.

A cutter for a milling machine. It can be used in the lathe also. Dad doesn't have any tools that he can use that in so I got that.

OK. You may not be able to see this real well. We'll see if that'll focus on that. But that's a... It's shaped the way and set type was shaped so it would go inline with those things. But it has etched on the front of it the Lord's Prayer. It's just kind of a curiosity from the printing industry.

Tape measure with double sided tape on one side to stick it to the workbench top.

A wrench for something. I have no idea what that's for or how that made it in there.

A whetstone. Very fine grade. It needs to be cleaned off. But that's for like putting a final polish on honing a blade.

Miscellaneous 9-volt connectors. Put that in the electronics bin.

A bunch of bolts for different things. I'm not sure what.

Some bolts for cars. Specialty bolts for... I've got a Skylark. I've got a '65 Buick Skylark that that's for. Some more miscellaneous car parts.

More slides.

Oh. These are the notes for my Grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary slide presentation that they did. And so it has it organized by title and who was... what it is and what they were saying and who was saying it. I really want to go through and kind of redo that as a video just for family history purposes.

Units in the Machining of Metal. It's a book primarily of machining metal and how to do measurements. All machining. Ought to be pretty interesting to go through and learn about.

A deburring device.

And the rest are all just miscellaneous small parts that fell out of the bins.

This is an on/off switch plate that my Dad had made, oh gosh, a long, long time ago. He never actually finished the project that he was using it on but I thought that'd be kind of fun to use for something. Polish up the brass and it should look nice for some project.

And that's it for this box.

Well now I need to find a place for all this stuff in the workshop.

As you saw, I have a wide variety of interests, from machining to electronics and things in between.

If workshop and house projects of this nature are things that you're interested in, I encourage you to subscribe and I'll see you again in the next video.

Until then go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Friday, November 17, 2017

How to sync audio and video in Premiere Pro


Need to sync audio and video in Premiere Pro? Harley steps you through the process that, once mastered, takes about 30 seconds. Synchronizing audio with video seems like a hard, time consuming task. But with a proper understanding and a little practice it is really quite simple to accomplish in Premiere Pro.

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, you may subscribe on YouTube.

Here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to sync audio and video in Premiere Pro

All music by Kevin MacLeod at and under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: Hot Swing


Need to sync some external audio with video from your camera?

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to talk about how to this easily in Premiere Pro.


Hi Makers, Builders and Videographers.

Harley here.

Today we're going to talk about how to take external audio and sync it with video footage in Premiere Pro.

Sometimes this can really seem daunting if you've never done it before but it really is a very simple, easy task.

Once you've done it a few times, it really only takes about 30 seconds to sync audio.

So it goes really quickly.

Usually when I shoot video, I only have maybe 3 or 4, at the most, different clips I need to sync, so 2 minutes, 3 minutes, in post production and the video part of the syncing is done.

That's a very minor percentage of my overall editing time, so it really does go very quickly.

Let's get into the computer and see how it's done.

Here we are in Premiere Pro and I've got the video and audio both imported.

I'm going to first create a new sequence by dragging the video onto this little icon to create a new sequence.

And it comes up down here in our timeline.

And then I'm going to drag the external audio and put it right next to that down in the bottom.

Next up is to just kind of clean this up a little bit.

I'm going to right click and "Delete tracks..."

And delete both video and audio tracks.

This will delete all the empty tracks so we'll just be left with the three tracks that we're interested in.

Now I'm going to collapse the video because we don't really care about that.

And move that up to the top; get it out of the way.

Open up the Audio 2 and then I'm going to make both of these about the same size just so we can see the wave form because what we're doing is we're going to sync the wave forms together.

We're just going to do this through a visual process.

Right now this is kind of hard to see because we're seeing such a large part of it altogether.

We'll zoom in a little bit here and we'll start to see these three hand claps right here.

We'll use those to sync with.

You can do this with just looking at the audio because all you're trying to do is get the wave to match up and we can see there's a blip here and a blip here.

We could sync to those.

It's just much easier if you have a hand clap to work with.

So the first thing to do is to just get it in the general vicinity.

So I'm going to click on the header right above the first hand clap on the external audio and I'm going to just drag it over to approximately underneath the first hand clap of the scratch audio.

And then I'm going to put the insert head right there at that location and zoom in quite a bit so that one frame takes up a a signification portion of the time line like that.

And I actually got that pretty close there.

We can see that the wave form is kind of at the end of this frame and just before this second frame and here the audio is trailing behind it, what is that, about half a frame.

To dial that in a little bit more, we want to turn off the snap feature and then over on this little menu, we want to select show audio time unit.

This allows us to zoom in greater than the frame resolution.

So now we can scroll in a bit and we can see the audio waveform at a much higher resolution.

Now we're going to just repeat the previous practice.

I'm going to move this over to right at the very beginning of the wave form on the scratch audio.

And then I'm going to select that same portion and drag it over to the red line and then when I release we should see that that's pretty closely lined up.

I'll zoom in some more, and see how those wave forms line up?

And, yeah, that's going to be pretty much perfect.

Next we want to turn off the audio and if we want to do any testing, we can play it back right now.

The way I have this setup right now for recording purposes, we can't listen to it live while I'm recording though you'll just have to trust me on that.

Next what we can do is kind of get rid of the scratch audio that we don't really need anymore.

It's served its purpose.

So we can select the audio and the video tracks, they're linked together since they're both highlighted.

If we right click, we can then select "Unlnk" and we have the video highlighted now but the audio isn't.

We can shift click on our external audio which selects both of them and right click on the track and select "Link."

And now the external audio is linked to the video.

We can then go in here and delete the track that we don't need anymore, the scratch audio.

And then we can also delete the track.

We don't have any video tracks to delete so we'll just delete the audio tracks.

And that's pretty much it.

We can now take this sequence that we've created and use that in our main editing and take everything out that we don't want for our final production.

This audio that I sync'd here is the audio for this particular video.

You've already seen the results of it sync'd in the intro and now we'll see the outro.

That was pretty simple, wasn't it?

It didn't take much time at all.

The more you do it, the faster it gets.

Are you interested in more how to videos?

Videos that tell you how to do different things around the workshop or the house?

Or even on your computer?

If this sounds interesting to you, making things out of wood, metal, electronics, photography and sometimes computer stuff, go ahead and subscribe to the House of Hacks.

Ring the bell notification icon so YouTube will notify you next time there's a video and I'll see you again in the next video.

Thanks for joining me on this creative journey we're on.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How to multiply binary numbers


Continuing the Bits of Binary series, this episode of House of Hacks shows how to multiple binary numbers. Harley shows how binary number multiplication is as easy as 1 x 1 = 1 and 1 x 0 = 0.

This is the fifth in a series dealing with binary numbers. All the videos in this series can be found on the Bits of Binary playlist.

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, you may subscribe on YouTube.

Here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to multiply binary numbers

All music by Kevin MacLeod at and under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: Hot Swing


Do you want to multiply binary numbers together?

In this episode of the House of Hacks, we'll look at how easy this operation really is.

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-It-Yourselfers. Harley here.

The playlist up here contains previous episodes where we looked at what binary numbers are, how to count in binary, how to convert between the more familiar decimal base 10 numbers and binary, and how to do addition and subtraction on binary numbers.

In this episode we'll look at multiplying binary numbers together.

Back when we learned how to multiply decimal numbers in school, we had to memorize a table that looked something like this.

If you know this table, you already know everything there is to know about multiplying binary numbers.

The cool thing is multiplication in binary is exactly the same as decimal except you only use these two rows and columns from the table you've already learned.

And the process is exactly the same too.

Let's take a look at a couple examples and then a couple short cuts.

Let's take seven times three.

Just like in decimal, we first multiply the units and write that down under the equal bar.

Since we're multiplying by 1, we just write down the first number.

Then we add a zero placeholder and multiply by the next column.

Since we're again multiplying by 1, we write down the first number again.

And finally we add the two numbers together to get the total.

1 and 0 is 1.

1 and 1 is two, which in binary is one zero, so we write the 0 and carry the 1.

1 plus 1 plus 1 is three represented in binary as one one, so write the 1 and carry the 1.

Again, 1 plus 1 is 10 so write the 0 and carry the 1.

1 and 0 is again 1 so write the 1 and we're done.

Let's double check this by converting the result to decimal.

Remember each column is a power of two and we add the column values that contain a one.

Looking at the values of the columns we have 16 plus 4 plus 1 which is 21.

Let's do another one. Five times five.

Starting with the units, we multiply by the first number times one and write that down.

We put down a zero placeholder for the next column but notice we're now multiplying by zero.

So we ignore that column since zero times anything is zero, and add another placeholder and move to the next column.

We're again multiplying the first number times one and write it down.

Now we're ready to add.

One and zero is one.

Zero and zero is zero.

One and one is two, so write down the zero and carry the one.

One and zero is one.

Finally zero and one is one.

Giving us the result 11001.

Again, we can verify this by converting to decimal.

So we have sixteen plus eight plus one giving us 25.

There are two shortcuts we can observe.

First, since we're always multiplying by either zero or one, the numbers we're adding together are always nothing for zero or the first number shifted by the column that contains a one in the second number.

So this is a really mechanical process of just writing down the first number multiple times shifted as needed and then adding the numbers together.

As an example, we'll take this random number and multiply it by this random number.

We write down the first number with the units under the second number where the columns contain ones.

We can add placeholder zeros if it makes it easier to keep track of the columns.

And then just add.

The second shortcut is related to multiplying by powers of two.

Let's go back to decimal for a minute.

You probably know the shortcut for multiplying by a power of ten.

For ten, one hundred, one thousand, and so forth, all we have to do is add the appropriate number of zeros to the number we're multiplying.

Three times ten is thirty.

Three times a hundred is three hundred, and so forth.

Binary has a similar concept except it's related to powers of two: two, four, eight, sixteen and so on.

Every time a zero is added to the end of a number, it's the same thing as multiplying by two.

So if we are multiplying by two, we add one zero.

If we're multiplying by four we add two zeros, and so forth.

And since powers of two in binary look just like powers of ten in decimal, we really don't have to think about it.

All we have to do is add zeros and we're done.

In this episode, we looked at how binary multiplication is using all the same ideas as decimal multiplication we're already familiar with.

We also looked at two easy shortcuts to mechanically handle the multiplication and multiplying by powers of two.

Binary is a common non-decimal numeric base, but really, any number can be used as a base for a number system.

Leave a comment below if you've worked with number bases besides decimal and for what purposes.

If this is your first time here at House of Hacks: Welcome, I'm glad you're here and I'd love to have you subscribe.

Through these videos I hope to inspire, educate and encourage makers in their creative endeavors.

In spite of this series, usually this involves various physical media like wood, metal, electronics, photographs and other similar materials.

So subscribe and I'll see you again in the next video.

Thanks for joining me on our creative journey.

Now, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How to replace a dishwasher


Need to replace a dishwasher? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows how to install a Bosch 500 series dishwasher after first removing the existing dishwasher. Knowing how to remove and replace a dishwasher is useful information for a home owner. It’s not intimidating once you see how easy they are to install under a counter top.

Bosch 500 series dishwashers on Amazon (Associates link)

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, you may subscribe on YouTube.

Here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to replace a dishwasher

All music by Kevin MacLeod at and under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: Hot Swing
Incidental: Beach Bum, Guiton Sketch, Happy Alley and Pump Sting


Need to replace an old dishwasher with a new one?

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to do exactly that!


For the last six months or so, every once in a while we'd come home and the dishwasher would have leaked. It was a random occurrence. It only happened on rare occasions.

It was pretty frustrating to find. I spent quite a bit of time trying to track it down. I actually went so far as to pull the dishwasher out from the cabinet and put it up on 2 x 4s for a week and we ran it that way to try to isolate where it was leaking. And of course, in that time it never leaked and my wife finally got frustrated with having it out in the middle of the kitchen and asked me to put it back.

Last weekend we came home from running errands and found it had leaked again. It had finished shortly before we got home and I thought maybe it was still wet where it had been leaking and so I immediately pulled it out from the cupboard. I couldn't find any leaks. I was able though to trace the water back from where it was wet on the floor and where it wasn't wet on the floor to kind of get the general region and did some more investigation. I pulled a flashlight out and I did find the tell tale signs of leaking water where you have that white, dried, crustiness from dried water that had been leaking and had since dried. And in tracking it down I found a seam in the tub that had some discoloration in it and that was right where the water was coming out on the other side. And so obviously there's rust through in that seam and there's really no repairing that kind of thing from a practical standpoint. I could kind of hack it with some epoxy or silicone gel, but that's just sort of a stop gap measure and eventually I'm going to have to replace the dishwasher. So I decided to go ahead and do that.

To do this project, I think it's going to require three tools. I may be wrong, but thinking through the project, I think there's three things we're going to need. There's a screwdriver that we'll need to disconnect it from the counter top and also, if there's electrical connections that have screws, they're probably going to be Philips. I think that's the only thing we need Philips for.

The water inlet is probably a compression fitting which will use a 5/8ths inch open end wrench. If it's not a compression fitting, it's probably a hose clamp which again will use the screwdriver.

And finally, I believe the drain has a spring clamp that we'll remove with pliers.

I think that's all we need. Three tools.

If any more are required, when I get into it, I'll talk about that in the process of needing them.

The way this model dishwasher is held in is there's two screws on the top that hold it to the counter top and there's a dust panel on the bottom by the floor that needs to come off so we can move it around.

A total of four screws to pull out and then it should just be able to slide right out.

Let's get to it.

[Turn off the water]

[Turn off the power]

[Loosen dust cover]

[Remove screws]

[Double check there's no power]

[Disconnect drain]

[but put down a towel first]

[Disconnect water supply]

[Access electrical]

[Disconnect wires]

[Remove old machine]

So you saw with the old dishwasher, it had a built in junction box in the bottom front corner that the electrical ran into.

The new one has a separate junction box that is supposed to be mounted away from the dishwasher and then it has this cord that has an end that plugs into the dishwasher.

From a mechanical standpoint, this is a lot easier because I can... I'll have to cut off the old knarly ends and get some new wire here, but there are some screw terminals in there that I'll just screw right into. It'll be quick and easy. But I don't have a good place to mount this. The way the cupboards are designed, the closest place to mount this where it's going to be accessible is further away than the length of this cord. And so, it's just going to float around in the back there.

Let's get this hooked up.

[Trim off old wire]

[Strip insulation]

[Affix strain relief]

[Attach wire to terminals]

[Tighten screws]

[Put on cover]

The water hook up has been a little bit more challenging than I expected.

The dishwasher has a 3/4" MPT fitting on the back of it and my plumbing has a 3/8" flex pipe. So it didn't work directly in there obviously. So I had to go buy a fitting specially for this project that is a 3/4" MPT fitting to a 3/8" compression fitting.

I'm going to put this on and first of all I need to cut off the old compression fitting on the piping because it can't be used again.

[Install fitting]

[Connect water supply line]

OK, now we're going to connect the drain.

This comes from the dishwasher and it has a section for either 1/2" or 3/4" drain pipe.

This pipe is 3/4" so we're going to put the hose clamp on the 3/4" section and push this in there until it's good and seated.

And that's I think as far as it's going to go.

It seems like it should go a little bit further... but maybe not.

Now we put the hose clamp on.

And tighten it down.

I must say I really like the old hose clamp where it was a spring clamp.

It was so much more convenient.

[Install the mounting clips]

[Push the dishwasher under the counter]

OK, now we get the joy of leveling it.

It seems to be in there OK.

All the water and drain stuff, electrical seems good.

It's pretty well centered.

Now it just needs to get leveled and needs to get lifted up actually.

I've got probably almost an inch gap here at the top.

But that's what the leveler feet are for.

OK, to turn this, turn the feet on the right and left to level it side to side.

And to level it front to back, there's a screw right here in the middle you turn to get the front and back level.

[Screw in mounting screws]

[Attach dust panel]

OK. Well, I finally got it done and in.

That was a lot more work than I expected.

The last dishwasher that I'd taken out was one I had also installed 10 years ago or so probably. Maybe 12 years ago.

It was really pretty simple. It was just straight forward: take out the old, put in the new and it was done.

This one there was "some assembly required" as they say.

I had to pick up that part from Home Depot.

I had to wire in things, it was just a little bit more involved.

It was just more work.

It took a lot longer than I expected.

And it took more tools than I expected.

So the final tools:

Scissors to open packaging.

Level to level it.

Tube cutter to cut off the old compression fitting that I didn't need.

A couple adjustable wrenches to level it.

A Philips and a straight screwdriver.

Wire cutters to trim up the wiring.

And a box knife to trim the insulation.

And a 5/8ths inch wrench to tighten up the water connection.

And pliers to put in those little clips. The clips on this particular dishwasher you can put either on the top or on the sides so you had to install those. Use pliers to do that.

That was it. All in all, not a tough job. It just took about 4 hours to do, and that included having to film and setup.

So that slowed it down a little bit. Probably a good 3 hours to do this even if I hadn't been filming.

So that's it for this project.

Thanks for joining me on our creative journey.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

How to replace a water shut off valve


Do you need to replace a water shut off valve? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows how to fix a shut off valve under a sink.

Other plumbing tips.

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to make a rustic table top

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


Do you have a crusty, frozen, broken shut-off valve that needs to be replaced?

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to do just that.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

Today we're going to remove this old shut-off valve that doesn't work anymore and replace it a bright, shiny new one.

To do this should required just a few minimal tools.

First off, I've turned off the water and drained all the taps so there should be minimal water in the system.

However, there will still be a little residual water that will drain out when we cut into the pipe.

So, I have got a pile of towels to soak up any water that does come out.

We have a couple wrenches we will need.

This is a 15/16th inch open end wrench and this is a 5/8th inch open end wrench.

And we have a tubing cutter that we will use to remove the old one.

And we have our new valve.

Now these valves have compression fittings on them so they just slide on and then you tighten down the nut.

However, once a pipe has had a compression fitting on it, you don't want to put a compression fitting back on the pipe in that same location.

So on the old pipe, we are going to just cut it off since even if we did try to remove it and take off the compression fitting...

First of all it is going to be really difficult and second of all, even it we got it off, we would not be able to use that section of pipe.

So we are just going to cut it off.

It does have plastic lines going into it, so we will remove those plastic lines because those can be reused.

If you have plastic or braided lines going into the output side of the shut off valves, then those can be taken off and reused.

But if you have got hard, solid lines going in there, then again, those need to be cut off as well.

For this particular project, I will be removing the two plastic lines and then cutting off the valve from the main input line.

Put down a towel before opening up the lines to catch any water that might still be in them.

Then a 5/8" wrench loosens the connections until they can be removed by hand.

A small tubing cutter makes quick work of removing the old valve assembly.

Let the towel wick up enough water from the pipe that it won't make a mess when putting the new valve assembly on.

A cleaning brush makes sure we have a good connection to help prevent any leaks at the joint.

Put on the compression nut and then the compression ring.

Fit the valve assembly and make sure it's oriented the way that works best for your environment.

Thread the compression nut onto the valve and tighten it down.

It should be good and tight but you don't need to strong arm it.

Make sure the valves are closed and turn on the main water.

OK. That was a bit exciting.

I made sure before I turned the water on to have the valves all turned off because I have not hooked up the inputs on this yet. Or the outputs.

And I turned on the water because I wanted to make sure that this main input here was tight and did not have any leaks on it.

What I failed to do was turn off the faucet up above and it was turned on in the middle position.

So when I turned the water on, the cold water side got pressurized, went through the faucet, out the hot water side and came out through the unconnected connection.

So, lesson learned: remember, before you turn the water on, to turn off the faucet here if everything is not tightened up and buttoned up down below.

But the good news is we do not have any leaks down here.

And a good way to test that is to use a piece of tissue paper.

Tissue paper soaks up water really easily and just the tiniest drop will cause it to swell up and also change color.

So it is real obvious if there is a tiny leak, even if you can not see it or feel it, it shows up on the tissue paper real well.

And if I run this around here and get it up in the crack of that seal and run it around the top, it's completely, perfectly dry.

There is no change in it whatsoever.

So that tells me that this first connection has a good seal on it.

So let us continue with the last two connections.

OK. A lot of times plastic line on the end here has triangular shaped end on it that is designed to kind of go inside the pipe and provide a good seal on it.

This one does not though.

This one is just straight pipe and then has a compression fitting on it.

You should not really reuse compression fittings once they've been used once.

So I am going to cut this off and then use the new fitting that came with this to connect this up.

And in this case, for the other end, we have braided line, and that has a rubber seal on it, so it can just thread right back on.

And on this rubber stuff, you do not need to really torque it down.

You just need to get it snug.

And again the tissue paper test.

And everything is nice and dry.

And now we have everything connected down below and the valves turned on and we can see we have water on the cold side and water on the hot side, so everything seems to be good.

I didn't see any leaks with the tissue paper.

I like to leave it sit for a couple hours and then test again with the tissue paper because sometimes you have a little bit of seepage that you want to double check a couple hours later just to make sure that there is no leakage.

But I do not think there is going to be a problem with this.

It is rare that I have problems with this side of the plumbing.

Usually when I have leakage problems it is on drain sides, with p-traps, not on pressure sides, interestingly enough.

I am not sure why that is, but that has been my experience.

I believe everyone has a God-given creative spark and this involves making things with a mechanical or technical bent, and sometimes repairing them.

If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out the rest of the channel and see if this is something you are interested in, and if it is, go ahead and subscribe.

Click the bell notification icon and YouTube will let you know next time I have a video uploaded.

Until then, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How to make a rustic table top


Have some reclaimed wood? Need a rustic table top? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows a simple way to make a DIY rustic table top using reclaimed wood. A nice thing about doing a rustic table top build is you don’t have to be terribly precise, which allows you to move quickly. The reclaimed wood table top made in this video was done in a couple hours. It’s primary purpose is for product photography, so it doesn’t need legs or finish. If you wanted to use this in a living space, you’d want to spend a bit more time on it to finish the edges, put a sealer on it and craft some legs.

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to make a rustic table top

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


Today at the House of Hacks we're going to make a rustic table top that can be used for a variety of purposes.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

A couple months ago, I helped by buddy Rich install a new backdrop wall in the studio that used some reclaimed wood.

You may have seen this in a couple of the videos last month.

Well, he wanted to create a table top to do product shoots with using some of this old reclaimed wood so it kind of matched the wood backdrop.

So today we're going to take some of that left over wood and combine it with some wood I scavanged from a built-in cabinet that was in the studio space before we tore it apart and combine that together to make this new table top.

In our case we want the table top to be portable so we're not going to put any legs or anything on it and just set it on available surfaces when we need to set it up.

But if you want to do something like this, you could use it as a end table or a coffee table or something of that nature.

Let's get started.
I first vacuumed all the loose dirt, sawdust and miscellaneous things off the fence wood.

Then I sorted the boards into an order that looked nice.

Next I glued and nailed each board onto the plywood substrate.

I trimmed the uneven edges off with a circular saw.

And gave it a final vacuuming to get all the sawdust off.

So this is what the table looks like setup in the studio.

And here's a test product shot using it.

If you're going to use this idea in a living space, you'd probably want to finish it off with some sort of Verathane or something just to seal it in.

Keep the splinters out of your hands. That sort of thing.

And you probably also want to put a edge banding around it to just trim it off and finish it.

For the purposes of this project, we don't need to do any of that.

The way it is is plenty sufficient because it'll never be in an image and you won't see it.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How to convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs using ballast bypass (Part 2)


Want to see how to convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs while bypassing the ballast? In a previous video, Harley showed a very easy but expensive way to convert fluorescent tubes to LED tubes. In this video, Harley shows a more involved, but typically less expensive, way to convert a fluorescent fixture to use LEDs involving a ballast bypass.

Ballast bypass, also called direct wired, involves removing the ballast and using LED tubes that run off of line voltage rather than the high-voltage from the ballast. Typically these bulbs are less expensive because they don’t have to deal with the higher voltage used by fluorescent tubes. This video gives instructions for how to wire the fixture to use these bulbs and provides a wiring diagram.

Convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs with the ballast (Part 1)

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Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs using ballast bypass (Part 2)

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at
Incidental: "Acid Trumpet" by Kevin MacLeod at


Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to go from this to this.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

In a previous video, I explained how to convert 8' long fluorescent fixtures from fluorescent tubes to LED lights in a very quick and easy way.

However, this way was pretty expensive. It involved just getting some ready-made 8' LED lights and those things are really pricey. For some reason, the 8' LED tube replacements are a whole lot more expensive than 2 4' LED replacement tubes. The 8' tube replacement are $60 each whereas I picked up a 4 pack of 4' ones for $24. I have no idea why. And they've been this way for quite a while. I picked up two pair last year I think it was, and they were $60 and I just picked up two pair yesterday and they're still $60. Same price. It hasn't moved at all. And it's pretty much the same price whether you buy it online or retail like I did. There's usually a few dollars off buying online but of course you have shipping and handling costs added to it so it ends up being a wash.

It's a real quick way to do it because you don't need to replace ballast, you don't need to rewire anything, you just plug them in in replacement of the existing bulbs. So, it's really quick. It's more expensive getting the bulbs that are designed for ballast.

However, in the 4' market you can buy tubes that work either with ballast or without ballast. And I have a fixture that needs some work on it. The ballast is making noise and the tubes are flickering and so I wanted to replace them with LEDs.

But because the ballast is making noise, I want to do a ballast bypass and remove the ballast altogether. And so I'm going to be demonstrating that in today's video. It is a little bit more work because you have to take the ballast out and rewire things a little bit, but it's not a whole lot more work and you do remove one more component that could possibly fail on you. So let's get started.

First remove the old bulbs.
It'd probably be a good idea to turn off the power before doing this.
Yeah, do as I say, not as I do.

Now take the fixture down. This will vary depending on how it's installed.
In my case, it's just sitting between the joists on some 2x4s.

Next disconnect the mains power.
Be sure to have the power turned off.
You don't want to be working with live power at this point.

On the bench, the fixture needs to be opened up.
This will vary depending on the type of lamp you have.
In my case, it's just a matter of removing two nuts.

And then the case just opens up.

Here we see where the sockets are connected to the ballast.
Since we're removing the ballast, all these connectors get taken apart.
We need to do this on both sides of the fixture.

And we need to remove the mains wire from the ballast input.

Once all the electrial connections are separated, we can physically remove the ballast.
In this case, there are two screws with nuts on them.
Other designs may have a single sheet metal screw on one side and a slot on the other.

Now we need a short piece of wire to run from the center where the mains are connected to one end of the fixture.
I'm using some scrap 14/2 TPS cable I had in the parts bin.
If you have to buy some, 3 feet should be plenty.

Now I prepare all the ends by stripping off about 3/4" of insulation from each wire and twisting the strands so they don't fray as easily.

I also strip the insulation from the 14/2 cable.

Now comes the most technical part of this project.
Here we see each socket has two wires coming out of it.
On one end of the fixture, we want to connect one wire from each socket to the white wire and the other one to the black wire.

It's probably easiest to see this in a pictoral diagram.
Hit pause on the video if you need to study this.

Because I have four sockets on this fixture, I used some pigtails to keep from having a huge number of wires all in one wire nut.
When it's all put together, it looks like this.

The sockets on the other end of the fixture don't need any connection.
I just put wire nuts over the ends of the wires to keep them from potentially shorting anything out.
And then zip tied them together to keep them neat and tidy.

Finally I stripped the insulation back from the other end of the 14/2 cable.

We can see here, I'm not using the copper ground from the new cable, but the existing ground that goes to the fixture.

And now it's a matter of reassembling the fixture.

And reconnecting the mains.
Again, make sure the power is off before doing this!

Reinstall the fixture.
In my case it's just a matter of dropping it back into place between the joists.

Finally, install the bulbs.
These particular bulbs have only one end that connects to the sockets with power, so if they don't work the first time, turn the bulbs around end for end.

Turn on the power and enjoy your new lights!

So give me a thumbs up if you found that helpful. I really appreciate it.

And I really thank you for joining me on this continuing creative journey that we're on.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What I learned doing a video every day in August (VEDA)


During the month of August, Harley uploaded a video every day to learn more about making videos. In this final video, he talks about some of the things he learned.

Organizing with Simple Solutions

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Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to What I learned doing a video every day in August (VEDA)


[Starting soon]


OK. It's almost 8 o'clock. I think we'll just kind of get this show started. I'm not sure how many people are on, but...

Welcome to this first live stream for House of Hacks.

I'm Harley.

Tonight I want to go over a little bit about what I learned doing a video every day here at House of Hacks.

Afterwards I will answer any questions, if there are any questions from anybody in the audience. So you can just leave that in the chat... type in the chat if you have any questions.

(Change over to my notes.)

I had a couple goals starting out August doing, and the whole reason for doing VEDA this month was...

One, I wanted to expand the content that I produce. In the past I've traditionally done project videos and tutorials and tool reviews and that's about it. I want to expand out and talk a little bit more about the values of House of Hacks, the philosophy, things of that nature. If you're familiar with Roberto Blake, I was inspired a little bit by his Creative Thoughts series that he does. So I called it Maker Musings for this series and just wanted to explain a little bit about why I do House of Hacks and some of my own personal operating philosophy behind it. With the thought that that would become a regular series on the channel.

The second reason that I wanted to do VEDA was to develop some of my own processes around making videos. In the past I've been pretty inconsistent in producing videos and getting them posted. I wanted to step up my game a little bit and be more consistent and increase the frequency. To do that, I need to develop some systems around producing videos.

And so that was the two fold reasons for being involved in VEDA this year.

Another thing that I learned... So I'll get into some of those details a little later...

One of the things I learned about myself through this process was I can get a lot more done in the evenings than I sometimes thought I could. At the beginning of the month I had great plans of batching up videos and having them posted days in advance and be able to have this rigorous, well defined system. And that worked for about 2 weeks and then life got in the way and things kind of fell apart. The last 2 weeks I was basically shooting and editing and uploading a video every night. That got to be pretty intense with having a full time job during the day, coming home and doing that, yeah, I saw a lot of 2am's the last two weeks. I worked through it, got it done, but it wasn't a terribly pleasant experience but I did learn that I could get a lot done in the evenings if I really set my mind to it.

One thing I did cut out though was I didn't get any exercise, my normal workout routine was completely eliminated, which, at the end of two weeks I'm really starting to feel that and need to get back into my regular exercise routines.

I did find though during those first couple weeks that batching really does help with efficiency. There's a lot of people that have talked about batching to improve efficiency while making videos and they're absolutely right. It does really help. You have to have a lot of pre-planning going in before hand though so that when you sit down to edit you have everything you need and you know where you're going with everything. It does take a lot more pre-planning than I'm personally used to, but if I can do it, it does help quite a bit.

It really helped too at the beginning of the month because I went to CVX Live which was a three day conference for YouTube content creators. If I hadn't gotten the batches done beforehand, there's no way I could have done videos and the conference. There just wasn't time. So, batching does really help.

With the content I normally do, I can see batching working well for tutorials where I can do a bunch of tutorials all at once and then edit them and upload them over time. I'm not quite sure how, or see how batching could work doing my more... project videos that I do where I'm presenting a project. That kind of seems like I don't know, I'd have to do multiple projects at the same time or something. It doesn't really seem like that'd work out. I could see if I do one project and release multiple videos how it might fit in with that. But again, it's something I need to explore because it does work.

Another thing that I found, if I shoot less and have less video, then it makes editing go faster because I just have less to choose from. In the past I've done, a lot of times, I'll do a whole presentation multiple times and then pick the parts out of each presentation that I liked and that takes a lot of time in editing to go through and figure out what pieces of which parts of the presentations to pull out to make a final whole. I found it works a lot better to just start the camera rolling and go through the presentation once and do each tiny section, sometimes down to a sentence at a time, do those one at a time and then it makes it much easier to edit into one thing.

Looking at the analytics, with what I found related to the content, going back to the Maker Musings things. I found that really wasn't very popular. Well, let me take that back. It was either a love/hate relationship for viewers. Some viewers, I got more positive comments on the Maker Musings than any other series of videos I've done. I had a lot of comments. A lot of positive comments on those. But I also, on those same videos, had the most number of subscribers unsubscribe. Normally I run about between 30 and 40 subscribers a month that drop off on average. This month I had over 60 subscribers leave. And all of them were in that two week period where I was doing the more philosophical/values related videos. So, some people just unsubscribe because of those but I also got a lot of positive comments. So, I don't think I'm going to make that a regular content on the channel, but probably still do occasional ones here and there where I get inspired, but I won't go out of my way to plan and make that into a series. Which was one of my original thoughts, that I might do that.

Things that the analytics say the viewers did like were Photography. The Photography videos that I did had higher than average views and watch time over the month as compared to all the other videos I did.

Another thing that I did, in some of my tool tip videos, I added a little bit of goofiness at the very beginning. That really surprised me how well that did. The audience retention scores for those videos where I added that goofiness was probably twice my average audience retention. So, I need to be more goofy I guess is what I'm finding out. I kind of need to relax a little bit and be more of a clown which goes against my nature a little bit. It's really out of my comfort zone on that, but it seems to really help and people seem to enjoy that. In fact there was one part of one video that I had more than 100% watch time which indicates people going back and rewatching it. That was really surprising for me.

Talked about everything on that list and those points. I think that's everything I wanted to present today. I don't know if there's any questions. Nope. Nothing coming up in the live chat.

It does say there are two people watching. I want to say "thanks for joining me." I'm thinking one of them might be Christy at Organizing Simple Solutions based on one of the comments that was left earlier. Just want to say "thanks."

Christy has a great series of videos on her channel called "ABCs of organizing" or something to that effect. There are 26 videos about organizing various aspects of your life. And you can see probably over here, that's a great place that I need to do some organization. I've got a pile of metal. I've got a "zone" for metal, but it's not organized.

I think that's about it for tonight.

Thanks for joining me.

And until the next video, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hands on: Compare Hole saws to Hole cutters


Is a Hole Saw or Hole Cutter better for your project? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley puts his hands on each type and compares hole saws to hole cutters.

Hole cutter (Amazon affiliate)

Hole saws (Amazon affiliate)

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For a written transcript, go to Hands on: Compare Hole saws to Hole cutters

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


Hole saw versus circle cutter.

Which is best for your project?

Today we're going to talk about the pros and cons of each.

Today at the House of Hacks.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to talk about hole saws and circle cutters and the pros and cons of each and which is going to be best for your project.

But first I want to thank all the subscribers for joining me on a regular basis for this creative journey that we're on.

And if you haven't subscribed and you're interested in shop projects and reviews of tools and tips and tricks and things of that nature, for woodworking, metalworking, electronics, photography, things of that nature, I encourage you to check out the channel and subscribe.

So a hole saw looks like this and it's basically a saw that's wrapped around in a circle. It has teeth on it just like a normal saw does and a center drill bit in the middle to keep it in one place and get it started.

A circle cutter is very similar in that it has a center bit to start the cut but it differs in that it has a bar and an adjustable cutter bit that can be placed anywhere along this bar.

So right away you can see two of the principle differences between the two.

These come in fixed sizes. You have to have one saw for each size that you want to cut. Whereas these are infinitely adjustable from the minimum size to the maximum size for the particular piece that you have. And there's pros and cons of both.

With a hole saw, you don't have to worry about measuring. You just grab the one for the size that you need and chuck it up and you're ready to go.

With the hole cutter, you need to adjust the size, if it's not already set, to what you need for that particular hole. They're just a little bit more fiddly for this one, rather than this one.

But this one, you have to have an exact size for the exact hole that you need, whereas this one can be adjusted to any size you might happen to need.

And there's a couple things that fall out from that difference.

With hole saws, you have to have one for each size that you need. If you have a whole set, it's going to take up more storage space just because there's physically more of these to store.

Whereas the hole cutter, this is all you need for cutting anything from about, I think the minimum size on this is about 3/4" all the way up to a 6" hole. So this fits in your tool bag a lot better, a lot less to carry, a lot less weight, a lot less space.

The other thing that's a fall out from the two basic design differences is the hole saw, when it gets dull, you have all these teeth that need to be sharpened. It's probably easier to just throw it away and get a new one that's sharp than to try to sharpen this.

Whereas with the hole cutter, it's basically just a square piece of high speed steel that you can put on a grinder and get a new edge on. Also, you can buy the tips separately and they're replaceable. You just pull out a setscrew and the old one
pops out and the new one can pop in.

Another thing the design drives is whether you can use it handheld or not.

With the hole saw, because you have pressure going all the way around the hole evenly, you easily use a hand drill with these.

These have a tendency to catch, so if you're using a hand drill, you need to be careful that there's nothing for your hand to slam into if the drill catches and the torque spins your hand around.

I have a friend that has a metal plate in the side of his hand because that exact thing happened to him. One of these hole saws caught, it drove his hand into a pole or something that was right next to the hole he was drilling and he ended up having to have some orthopedic surgery done on his hand.

So you do need to be careful with these if you're doing hand held, but it can be done.

With these, because the pressure is always on one edge, you've got wobble if you're trying to do it hand held, and I don't think it's possible to use a hand held drill on these. You have to use a drill press when cutting with these.

So those are the major pros and cons that I'm aware of between a hole saw and a hole cutter.

If you have any others that you've run into that you like one or the other for some other reason than what I've talked about, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

In the description below, I've left links to Amazon for both hole saw systems and hole cutter systems. And if you're interested in either one, you can go check those out.

Thanks for joining me again here at House of Hacks for this continuing creative journey that we're on.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hands on: Aoyue 937+ soldering station review


Inexpensive temperature controlled soldering stations are a great upgrade to an entry-level pencil soldering iron. In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley does a quick review of his Aoyue 937+ soldering station that he’s used for a number of years. The Aoyue 937+ is a good type of soldering iron for circuit boards and what he uses for electronics.

Aoyue 937+ on Amazon (Affiliate link)

Soldering stations on Amazon (Affiliate link)

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Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


Want to replace your pencil soldering iron something else?

Today at the House of Hacks, we talk about one of your options for an inexpensive digital temperature controlled soldering station.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-youselfers. Harley here.

For years and years, I used a pencil type soldering iron. In fact I started with one of these and I used one up until about six years ago. These are really inexpensive. They're usually less than $10 and they just plug right into an outlet. There's nothing in between. The cord goes directly into the soldering iron and the resistance inside the soldering iron is what controls the temperature. They're not the best things around but they get the job done. And like I said, I used these almost my whole life now.

About six years ago I picked up an inexpensive soldering station off of Amazon for about $60 and I've been really pleased with it. About 30 years ago, I used a Weller on the job briefly and really, really liked it. But it was a $300 dollar soldering station. I'm guessing. It was somewhere in that neighborhood. So, it was significantly more expensive than what I was using. And for hobbyist use it was more than I wanted to afford.

But about six years ago I picked up an inexpensive temperature controlled digital soldering station off of Amazon. And I've really enjoyed it. It works really well for hobbyist use around the workshop and it's been my "go to" iron for now the last six years or so.

So, let's take a look at some of the features that it has and just explore it a little bit.

I have no idea how to pronounce this manufacturer. It's five vowels. But it's the 937+ and it's digitally controlled.

It comes with this control unit, a power cord, the soldering iron itself, a sponge for wiping the tip off and a little holder to keep the hot soldering iron in and to hold the sponge.

You can also put a roll of solder on here, and somewhere in the shop I have a little dowel thingy that holds the solder in here. But personally I don't like putting the solder on there. It's a little bit cumbersome and the rolls don't really fit on there very well. It's hard to get the solder out when you're trying to use it. So I just leave the solder loose.

One of the nice things about this unit is the tips on it are interchangeable. They have a number of different designs for different types of applications. And the way you change it is you just loosen this little knurl and this heat shield comes off and the tip just slides on. And here inside we can see the ceramic element that is the heating element. And you can get all kinds of different tips for this. This one is a small sharp tip that works really well for general electronics use. It's large enough to work for most applications but small enough that you can get in on PCBs and stuff. They also have things like chisel and angled tips and a number of different styles depending on your application.

You have the power switch on the front that turns it on and you have a digital display that shows the current temperature.

So it kind of has two modes depending on what it's doing. Normally it shows the current temperature. But if you press the up and down buttons, it shows the temperature that you're setting it to. And when you let it go, after a couple seconds, it reverts back to the current temperature of the soldering iron.

It takes 30 to 60 seconds to initially come up to temperature. Once it's at temperature, it holds the temperature really well. I've not had a problem with it dropping temperature. It always keeps it right spot on what you set it for.

It'll go all the way up to 480 and this is Celsius, so it's 800 and something, almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit. And it goes down to 200, I believe, is the lowest it'll go. So you can set it in 1 degree Celsius increments anywhere between those two ranges.

One thing I don't like about it is this base. It's pretty lightweight and moves around pretty easily and also the soldering iron is kind of touchy in terms of how it fits in there. It's easy for it to not get in there quite right. And so I'm not a bit fan of this little base thing. I use it sometimes. A lot of times I'm using this Panavise for my projects and it has its own soldering iron holder and if I'm using this I just use that instead. It's a whole lot more convenient. It works really well.

So it's a real basic simple unit. It gets the job done really well. Like I said, it's about $60. I'll leave a link to it down in the description below if you're interested in this particular model. Check out Amazon for this and other competitors.

If you're a subscriber here at House of Hacks, I want to thank you for joining me on a regular basis on this continuing creative journey that we're on.

And if you're new to House of Hacks, I believe everyone has a God-given creative spark that sometimes manifests in making things with a mechanical or technical bent to them. And I hope to inspire, educate and encourage these types of makers in their wood working, metal working, electronics, photography and other similar endeavors.

If this sounds interesting to you, go ahead and subscribe and I'll see you again in the next video.

Thanks again for joining me on this creative journey we're on.

And until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Monday, August 28, 2017

How to use an outlet tester


When working on electrical outlets, a must have tool is the outlet tester. In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley show how to use one of these inexpensive tools to test receptacles for proper power and ground wiring. They are also an easy way to test an outlet to see if the power is off prior to working on the wall plug.

A list of 110 receptacle testers from different manufacturers (Affiliate link)

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Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


If you do anything with 110 volt receptacles or outlets and wiring them, you need one of these. We're going to talk about what it is and how to use it, today at the House of Hacks.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

Wiring 110 volt receptacles or outlets are pretty simple and straight-forward for the average DIYer. There's only three wires to connect and they're all color coded. So as long as the circuit was installed correctly originally, replacing the outlet is really trivial.

But when you do replace an outlet, you do want to make sure you use one of these tools. They're designed to tell you if things are wired properly or if you have safety issues. They're really inexpensive and you can pick them up on Amazon for less than $5. I'll leave a link to a bunch of them down in the description below.

To use one of these, all you do is you just plug it in. It has three lights on it that light up and, depending on what order the lights are lit and which ones are lit, it'll tell you the status of the outlet.

The best condition is that it's lit up as correct and you're good to go.

There are a number of problem that may occur. The first one is open ground. This is where the ground wire is not connected. The ground wire is typically green or copper without any insulation on it at all and in this case you need to make sure it's connected and make sure it's properly connected to ground on the other end.

The next one is open neutral. This means the white wire is not connected for some reason. You need to go in there and trace the white wire and find out where the disconnect is.

The next one is open hot. This means the black wire is not connected properly. In this case nothing will work when you plug something into it because there is no power actually reaching the outlet.

The last two are safety concerns because if you plug something into the outlet with these configurations then you may have power exposed to the user in ways that are unsafe. Which is why one of these tools is really important to use to make sure everything is good.

The first of these two critical ones is hot neutral reversed. And this means the black wire and the white wire are backwards. You just need to take the plug off and reverse those two wires and you should be good to go.

And the last one is hot ground reversal. This means that the hot wire and the ground are backwards which are the black and the green wires or the plain copper one, depending on the wire that's used. And in that case, just these two need to be switched around.

That covers all the error cases and also the good case. So, make sure you use one of these anytime you're wiring up an outlet just to make sure everything's safe for your users.

And until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hands on: Canon 77D first impressions and review


Harley reviews the Canon 77D and gives his first impressions after having his hands on it for five months. This includes a brief comparison between the Canon 77D and 80D. This is a subjective review and not an in-depth scientific analysis and comparison of the 77D vs 80D.

Canon 77D unboxing

What entry level DSLR should I buy?

How to take your first picture

Absolute Beginners Guide to Removable Lens Cameras

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Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


After five months of owning it, today at the House of Hacks I want to give a quick hands-on review of the Canon 77D and give my first impressions of it.


Hi Makers, Builders and Photographers. Harley here.

As I mentioned in the intro, about five months ago I got a new Canon 77D on the first day that it came out. I did an unboxing of that. If you want to see what it looks like coming out of the box, you can take a look at the card here or link down in the description below.

I won't be actually showing the camera today since I'm using it to record. But I do want to talk about some of the pros and cons that I found with it. Things that I've like and things I didn't like and also do a little bit of comparison between the 77D and the 80D in terms of features, because they're pretty similar in a lot of respects.

There's a lot of similarities between the 77D, the T7i and the 80D. It really does fall right in between the two of them, both price wise and feature wise. So I want to talk a little bit about that today. I don't want to compare it to the T7i, it's really pretty close in a lot of ways. Really the only difference is it has a few more buttons and it has an information panel on the top of the camera rather than completely relying on the LCD on the back. So, it's a little bit more "pro" but not as "pro" as the 80D.

So the real comparison I wanted to do today is with the 80D. All the numbers I'm throwing out here today are as of August 2017 and are for "body only." I'm not including any lens kits because those can kind of change the prices somewhat. So it's just the "body only" I'm going to be using for price comparison on.

The 77D is about $300 less expensive than the 80D. The interesting thing is that both have the same sensor in them. The 77D does have a newer computer in it and with that newer computer come some additional functionality. The 77D's ISO does have one more stop than the 80D and I think this is primarily because the processor in it can do more noise reduction and things of this nature. Like I said, the sensor is the same, so it's purely a difference in the way it can process the information with the faster computer.

That said, the 77D does have one less stop on the shutter speed. It only goes to 1/4000th of a second whereas the 80D goes to 1/8000th of a second. Also, the 80D's sync speed is 1/250th of a second instead of 1/200th of a second for the 77D.

The 77D's viewfinder, that you look through the back on, covers less surface area of the sensor than the 80D. The 80D covers 100% whereas the 77D only covers [95%]. So it works well for focusing and composition, but it doesn't give you the full range all the way out to the outer edges.

On drive mode, the 77D only shoots 6 frames per second as compared to the 80D's 7 frames per second. So it's one frame a second less but on the other hand the faster processor allows it to save that as fast as it shoots it whereas the 80D has a buffer that fills up eventually. So you can shoot all day on drive mode with the 77D whereas the 80D eventually will fill up and will stop taking pictures. This is only if you're shooting JPEG. If you're shooting RAW, they'll both fill up right around 25 frames.

If audio is a concern for you, the 77D does not have a headphone jack to monitor audio with whereas the 80D does.

The 77D also has a lower battery life than the 80D when taking stills. I'm not sure how it compares when shooting video.

The 80D is designed as a lower level pro camera, so it does have some additional features that aren't found on the 77D. Notably, it has an optional battery grip so you can get more battery life out of it. It has weather sealing so you don't have to worry about rain quite so much. It has more buttons to get direct access to certain features and it has more features built into the firmware for finer control of some of the features like auto-focus and micro-adjustments on lenses.

Some of the things I like about the 77D personally, coming from having shot with a 5D mark II previously... It has much better battery life than the 5D did. It does have less battery life than the 80D, but compared to the 5D it's much, much better on batteries. On the 5D I have a system where I can plug the camera into line power so I don't have to run off batteries because it runs through batteries so quickly. The 77D, I haven't had that problem with. I've always run batteries. I am thinking about getting an adapter, just on general principles, but I don't feel like I have a pressing need for it.

Another feature that I really, really like is when you hit the 4 gigabyte maximum file size, the 5D just stops recording. So you have no warning when it's run out of file space and stopped recording. It just stops. Whereas the 77D when it fills up a file, it just automatically creates a new file and continues going. Now it does only do this for 30 minutes. There is a 29 minute, 59 second cut-off that's mandated by some European legal standard somewhere. I'm not quite sure of all the details so this is a common limitation across all DSLR and mirrorless cameras that sell on the international markets. It's not a technical limitation. It's strictly to conform to a certain regulations. And the 77D does give you audible and visual feedback when it hits that limit. It displays a message on the screen and also the mirror pops up so you can actually hear it when it stops recording.

The 77D has an articulating screen and I love this feature. On the 5D mark II, the screen is fixed on the back and it was always a pain to try to focus and frame, particularly shooting solo with my videos. With the articulating screen on the 77D, it's a wonderful, wonderful feature.

And speaking of the screen, it's touch sensitive. This is really cool because you can direct touch on it to activate features and change options on it rather than have to use buttons and scrolling through menus. I really love the touch screen. Also, you can use it to zoom on your photos and move, pan around, as you're reviewing photos. It's awesome.

One cool feature that was kind of a surprise, kind of a sleeper feature, is if you don't have the battery in, the viewfinder as you're looking through it is really dim. It's some sort of mechanical overlay system where if the battery's not physically in and the door's not shut, then the viewfinder display is kind of a grey. You can kind of see through it, but it's very definite that there's a problem there. Just kind of a reminder of "oh, I don't have a battery in," I need to put one in and get the door closed.

Another cool feature about this that's common to I think all new cameras, is the wi-fi connectivity. You can control it from the phone or from a tablet, something like that, as long as you have an app for it, and this is a really cool feature. I need to use it more. I kind of forget about it at times and it would really make things a lot easier I think.

The 77D also has Bluetooth and NFC communications. I've personally never used those yet.

And finally, I want to talk a little bit about the auto-focus. It is really smooth. It works really, really well. I had it out shooting some video, just outside playing around, and as the subject moved through the frame, it would follow it. And if the subject moved out of frame and a new subject came into frame, it would just kind of nicely glide to the new subject and pick it up. Auto-focus worked really well, particularly compared to the old 5D system which was known for not being great on it's auto-focus.

And the other thing about the auto-focus is it has face detection. And that face detection is spot on. It works really, really, really well.

Ok, let's talk about the things I don't like. And this is a much, much smaller list.

The first thing really isn't the fault of the camera so much as the lens. Talking about auto-focus. I'm using a 24-105 L lens and it is really loud when it focuses. It makes the audio that's recorded on the camera completely unusable. You can use it for syncing to, but you definitely wouldn't want to use it in your video if auto focus is being used. Of course, you can put it in manual focus and you wouldn't have that issue.

Another thing that I really don't like about it is the CR2 format for this camera is unique to this camera. And so my older software that I use requires an upgrade and in order to get the upgrade, I have to pay money and you know... it'd be nice if, and this is kind of a pet peeve of mine is... file formats should stay the same. Let's design a file format so that raw files can be saved and not have to have new formats internally every time a new sensor is developed. I'm not quite sure why they can't come up with a file format that's parameterized such that when a new sensor comes out, just the parameters can change but the format can stay the same and that give you backward compatibility on all the old software. I mean I understand from possibly a business standpoint, but from an end user satisfaction standpoint, it's really, really annoying that files are not forwardly compatible.

OK. I'll get off my soapbox now.

OK. And the last thing that is kind of a downer about this, and again this is almost a soapbox kind of issue, is I'm not sure why, in this day and age, Canon can't put 4K video in all their SLRs. I mean we have point and shoots with 4K video. Our phones have 4K video in them. Why can't, on a $1000 camera, we have 4K video?

In fact earlier today I saw and was handling a Panasonic GH5 and the owner had the same lens on it that I have right now on my Canon, the 24-105 L glass. He was using an adapter to use that glass with that body. So, I don't know, I may be looking at other camera systems for my next body. The Fuji X-T20 has adapters that will work with the Canon lenses, so I'm going to be seriously looking at that. One of the reasons I got this camera was because I'm heavily invested in the Canon ecosystem and I didn't want to change systems at this point in time. But given that Canon's reticence about getting into 4K and the extra flexibility you have shooting 4K, my next camera purchase may not be a Canon even though I may still continue to use Canon lenses.

And I want to talk about two other points someone else has brought up in a review that I read.

One is that the LCD screen can be kind of dim if you're out in bright sunlight. Personally, I've never shot out in bright sunlight, so I haven't really run into this problem. But it is a consideration if you're thinking about one of these cameras.

And second, while this sensor was a big step up from some of Canon's previous offerings, it's still not as good as some of the competition. Particularly Sony and Fuji, they're using the same sensor, are just really killing the rest of the competition in terms of dynamic range of the sensor. And Canon just doesn't quite live up to the competition in this regard. So if you're shooting in high-dynamic range situations, where you want to capture a lot of detail over a broad spectrum, this may not necessarily be the camera for you.

One thing that was a big surprise for me was I use highlight alert. And I'm used to going into them menu system and turning this on. And I went through the menu system when I got this camera and I couldn't find it. I was kind of surprised that it wasn't there because my old XTi has highlight alert on it. So I was surprised it wasn't included as an option. But then I started reading through the manual about it and it is an option... well... it's not an option... it's always on. You can't turn it off. Which for me is just fine. I never want it turned off. But if highlight alert is something that you find distracting, just be aware you can't turn it off. It's always on.

And that's pretty much it for this quick review.

Thanks for joining me on this creative journey that we're all on. I hope you enjoyed this and find this review helpful.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!