House of Hacks

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

DIY Valentines card idea 2018 - Magic hearts


Looking for a unique DIY Valentines card idea in 2018? Today you'll see how to make a simple homemade card out of paper craft that will warm a nerd's heart.

Numberphile video that inspired this:
Last year’s Valentine’s Day video:

Are you interested in making things around the home and shop? You’ve found the right place. Here at the House of Hacks, we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, go subscribe and click the bell to get notifications.

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 DIY Valentines card idea 2018 - Magic hearts

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

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 4.0 by Audionautix at
Incidental: Alison

YouTube licensed
Incidental: Forget Me Not by E’s Jammy Jams


Whether you're a math nerd, or your significant other's a math nerd, or you just enjoy making off-the-wall cool stuff, today at the House of Hacks we're going to make a Valentine's Day card out of a piece of paper and a couple simple materials.


Hi! Harley here.

If you're new here, welcome!

I'm glad you're here and would love to have you subscribe if you're interested in a variety of things related to making things.

Things usually made out of wood, metal, electronics. Today we're going to be doing a little bit of paper crafts because it's Valentine's Day.

I got this idea off a Numberphile video talking about topology. I'll leave a link to the original video down in the description below.

This is real simple to do and easy to make.

All we need is a piece of paper. I chose red because it's Valentine's Day.

A pair of scissors. You could use a knife too I guess if you want.

Something to mark with. I've got a fine tipped Sharpie.

Something to measure with. This is just a blade out of a t-square.

And some tape.

OK. I'm starting here with an 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper. It can really be any size, but we do need it to be square.

So, the first thing I'm going to do is take my ruler and on the long edge measure out 8-1/2 inches and then cut off the extra.

Now you can use a knife or scissors if you want a nice straight edge. Or if you want something a little decorative, you can just rip it like that.

The next step is to fold it into quarters so we're going to fold it once this way and crease it well.

We're going to be using the crease in a future step so fold it back on itself just to make it easy to see the crease.

And then turn it 90 degrees and fold it again.

And again, fold it back on itself.

And now on each of the points on the creases, we want to measure out 1/2 an inch. It can really be anything you want, but I found 1/2 an inch works well for 8-1/2 by 8-1/2 squares. Larger tends to not work so well.

So just pick tick marks on each one of these at 1/2 inch from the fold.

And now we're going to make squares on each of the corners. So, just draw some lines like so.

They guide you in cutting with the scissors so they just need to be as accurate as you need them to be for cutting.

The next step is we're going to cut out each of the four corners with the scissors.

You could use a knife if you wanted to use a knife on this also.

This is all preparatory steps. So you want to have this done before you actually want to present the card.

I don't know if it's a card or a gift. It kind of could be either one or both, but it's something you need to do kind of in person and talking to them probably.

It's something more of a demonstration.

So you could actually take this to dinner or something like this as long as you take along the materials you need in addition to the paper.

OK. So we're done with the ruler and the marker. This is all the preparation steps are done. We have the little cross looking thing.

We'll need scissors and tape now for the rest of it.

Now at this point you could make up a story.

I'm more of a teacher than a storyteller, so I don't know if I have any good stories to necessarily recommend but you could start something like maybe talking about how you met and your paths crossed or something like that.

I don't know. Maybe sounds a little corny.

But anyway, you want to proceed by making a loop and putting half a twist in one of them. This will make a mobius strip.

Now when you do this, you want to make sure which way you're doing your twist.

So I'm going to be twisting with my right hand overhand and then these get taped together.

So we're kind of making a mobius strip type of thing out of two of these.

And we want to tape the ends together but we also want to tape the backside so it has a little bit more support because we will be cutting this here shortly and it's much more stable if both sides are taped.

Now we want to do the same thing with this one.

Only now instead of... previously we twisted forward, now we need to twist in the reverse direction.

So I'm going to twist this underhand on the right hand side and this gets taped.

And maybe in your storytelling you could talk about how after your paths' crossed at some point you came to embrace life with each other.

Or something like that. Like I said, that sounds a little corny, but I'm not a good storyteller, so don't follow my advice.

So now we have this.

And the next stage is we want to cut along the fold lines. So we're basically cutting each one of these in half lengthwise.

Don't cut through the center piece though where they cross. Just cut the edges first.

And so we take the scissors and just cut along those lines.

The paper ripped a little bit so I'm going to do a quick repair here with a piece of tape on that center piece. The center part ripped where it wasn't supposed to rip.

So, I don't know, maybe you could talk about how you get busy after embracing the relationship and school and work and life circumstances make things crazy and you feel like you're getting torn apart.

And then you go to the other side and cut this edge also along the fold that we started out making.

Everything's cut apart except where we made the cross. Now we want to go ahead and cut the cross apart.

And this is where the actually the magic starts happening. So you want to be winding up your story pretty quickly now because once we snip these last two pieces you can tell them that through everything you've been through your hearts are now entwined together.

OK. That might be a little corny.

But you know, it's Valentine's Day.

So there's the entwined hearts for you to give to your beloved and show her how much you care.

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

And until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Movable wall mounted boom arm (redesign)


Need to wall-mount a boom arm? In this episode, Harley looks at a movable wall-mounted boom arm redesign. An overhead adjustable boom arm is a useful piece of photography studio equipment. Previously he showed a design for wall mounting a boom arm that didn't work so well. Today he will present a better design. Overhead boom arms can support many things in a photography studio: hair lights, soft boxes, overhead remote-controlled cameras and many other things. The Impact 7' wall-mounted boom arm has simple holes in it to mount directly to the wall. Harley shows how to mount it to a bracket that can be positioned in many places in the studio.

Horizontal toggle clamps used: (Affiliate link)
Heavy duty horizontal toggle clamps: (Affiliate link)

Unboxing of the boom arm:
Video of the first design for the mounting bracket:

Are you interested in making things around the home and shop? You’ve found the right place. Here at the House of Hacks, we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, go subscribe and click the bell to get notifications.

Multiplying binary numbers
Bits of Binary playlist

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 Movable wall mounted boom arm (redesign)

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0 by Kevin MacLeod at
Intro/Exit: Hot Swing
  • Clipper
  • Cool Blast
  • Iron Bacon
  • What You Want ver 2


Today we're going to look at the failure of this moveable wall mounted boom arm bracket and look at the failure reasons and come up with a new design. Hopefully, one that works.


Hi! Harley here.

If you're new and are interested in making things out of wood, metal, electronics and other similar types of materials, hit the subscribe button and then hit the bell notification and YouTube will let you know next time there's something released here at the House of Hacks.

You know, sometimes you have a great idea, but the execution of it just doesn't work quite right.

Well, that's what happened last summer. I made a video up here about making a moveable wall-mounted bracket for this Impact 7' boom arm that's used in a photography studio.

And the idea was we'd have a piece of metal that's mounted to the wall and this bracket could be mounted anywhere along that metal to provide adjustability for where the long arm boom arm is mounted.

The idea was there'd be a couple pins here that drop in to holes in the metal and there's a cam activated lock here that keeps it from shifting around while it's being used.

There were a couple problems with this design.

First, of all, the pins that were epoxied in place in here didn't have enough depth to them, into the wood, and so they fell out fairly easily.

The second problem is this cam lock is asymmetrical in the way that it was providing support.

The boom arm can swing to give you adjustability on your position of whatever you have mounted to it. And if you swung one way, this worked fine. But if you swung it the other way, the whole mounting bracket would have a tendency to tilt because it didn't have support on both sides.

So, in this redesign, I'm going to address both these issues.

OK. The new game plan is to replace the pins that fell out with some bolts that will go through the wood all the way. The bolts are longer than this wood and so the bottom of the bolt will drop into the holes in the perforated tubing that's going to be on the wall to hold it in place.

To hold the bolt in the wood, I've got some T-nuts that will just go in like so, so it'll be flush on the bottom where it mounts against the wood, or against the metal and it'll just be held in like so.

To lock it in place, I've got some toggle clamps. These are inexpensive. I picked them up on Amazon, a four pack for less than $9. I was really surprised that I could get some this inexpensively. And I'll leave a link to it down in the description in case you're interested in something like this.

They're rated at 100 pounds each. I'll have two, one on each side. So that should be able to hold it in without any problem. I'll cut a couple pieces of wood, this size, to mount on each side here to mount this to and I'll set the spacing such that when they're open, there's enough room to drop it into place and when it's closed, it will lock up tight against the metal on the wall.

So, let's start putting this all together.

[Project work]

OK. After I got the bolts in and tried test fitting it in the holes, the clearances were just such that there was a little bit more interference than I would have liked. And so I took the bolts off and put them on the lathe and just filed off the ends of the bolts.

(You can probably see it a little bit better with the contrast.)

So the part of the bolt that sticks out of the T-nut is filed off but the threads that thread into the T-nut are still there. So it will still go in just fine this way and, as this gets bottomed out and tightened up, we can see there's just enough extra room for those to fit in there just fine.

So now I'll go put this back on the mounting bracket and figure out where the toggle clamps go.

[Project work]

So, I mounted the clamp on the wood such that the fixed part of the clamp is fairly flush with the end of the wood. There's some adjustability in here so I wasn't looking for exact precision, just kind of got in the ballpark.

And the bolts that are coming out of the T-nuts, extending beyond, is less than the total throw of this bolt on the latch. So, the difference between the closed position and the opened position is a certain measurement. And that measurement is greater than the length of the bolts that are extending out the bottom of the T-nuts. So, in theory, I should be able to set one of these clamps in the locked position and put it right up here against the perforated pipe and mark the block's position here on the mounting bracket. And when this is mounted in, when it's closed, it should be locked and when it unlocks there should be enough movement to be able to pull the bracket up off the perforated pipes. That's the theory. We'll put it together and hopefully everything works out.

[Project work]

OK. I'm much more pleased with the way this works. It's much more sturdy. It seems much more secure. I think it's going to work much better.

As you may have noticed, I was making some adjustments to this. The way this works is there's a barrel that moves in and out in this bushing and in the end of the barrel, there's a screw that has a rubber tip on it and a lock nut, so you can adjust the length of the screw that's coming out of it with the rubber bumper on it and then you can lock it in place with the lock nut. And that's what I was doing with the pliers, was just kind of getting that tightened down and adjusting that. So now when you lock it in place, there's just a little bit of resistance before it locks in and so it holds it pretty secure. And I did that on both sides.

Like I said, these are rated on the web site at, I think, 99 pounds of force that they should take. So, both of them combined is 200 pounds and that should be plenty sufficient, I think, even with the leverage that this will have when you put a light on it.

But we won't know until we really get it in place in the studio. So, let's head over to the studio and see how it works in real life.


OK. That looks like it's going to work pretty well. It's a whole lot more sturdy than it was before particularly when it's out on the outer edges which is really where we had the problem last time. Like I said last time, it would have a tendency to torque this base sideways when it was out at the far angles and not having any problems like that now. It's really, really good and solid.

So, I think this is going to work. We'll now put it in practice here in the studio and let people use it and see how it works in the real world. Hopefully this will be the last time I have to address this issue.

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

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!