Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I made some LP baskets

Since the dairy industry did me the diservice of changing the shape of milk crates to not hold LP records properly before I was born, I've never been able to just pick up a crate to keep my records in. The cheapo bins from Wal-Mart are fimsy and I wanted something better but didn't feel like messing with replacing the flimsybin enough to make something.

Then yesterday my stepmom mentioned wanting a bike basket after seeing my bike rack. I made one out of the same blue news stand mesh, 12" by 9". When I brought it inside and set it down by my record collection though I realized it was the right size to hold records. I had to make more of these to keep my LPs in.

The construction is pretty easy. Cut out a lopsided or even sided T with at least one dimension of the middle being 12". then fold, beat, and bang the sides up and into place, holding them down with zip ties for a little extra support. They turn out nice and hold about 50 records each. I made a full out Instructable here. It got featured on the Instructables homepage, kinda neat to have happen.

Since I commandeered my stepmom's basket (the initial one) I made a couple more so she'll still have one.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Made a Nice Rack

For about a month I've been riding my trusty, rusty, occasionally crusty bike around wherever I can. Gas is expensive and the exercise is good for my knee. Only problem is while on it I didn't have any way to carry things short of a backpack. While that works pretty well it does put extra load on me, which got me thinking about this nice rack a girl at FCCJ had. Not that kind of rack. Her bicycle had pannier cages. Moving on.

I went looking around and found the pannier style racks her bike had were too too big for what I usually need, and since I take great pride in the lacking looks, but smooth and easy ride of the bike, I decided to see what I could scrounge up. A little dumpster diving here, a little salvaging of some steel stock from my part of dad's materials junk pile and a handful of various mismatched nuts, hose clamps, and bolts from the garage and I had all I needed to make a bike rack.

The construction is pretty simple once you free your materials form their donor sources. I used the vice to bang the upright arms, U base, rack deck, and frame support (my terms) into the shapes I needed, drilled holes in the proper places (all eye-ball, not a measured inch on the whole thing), then bolted and clamped it all together. I tell myself the totally mis-matched fasteners are there as a means of keeping it from being stolen since you'd need the better part of a tool set to get the whole thing off of there. I had to cut a small chunk out of the front left and right since standing upright could let you bump into those parts, but this didn't impact carry capacity.

I'm very pleased with it and I'll probably give it a decent wire-brushing and a lick of paint when I get a chance. That or I might just leave it as-is for now.

Update 1:
I've gone ahead and painted the rack, it looks much nicer now and I've also made a pretty detailed set of instructions for it over at Instructables.com

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I made a box

Simple simple simple. I salvaged some 1x4 plywood planks that were broken from around my work, cut the broken ends off and cut the four odd lengths into as many 1' lengths as I could get. I put together four of them together as a frame, then screwed the extra ones onto the bottom, cutting the last one thin enough to not hang off the edge.

To finish it I went with a little rasping and sanding to smooth the edges and mask slightly unsquare edges and used a propane torch to add some age to the box, burn off the little flaky bits, and seal the wood a little. It's also a decent faux-aging since it already looks like something they don't make like that anymore. I dunno what I'm planning to do with the bugger. Any ideas? It's really strong, I guess it would make a good soapbox to speak from.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I made another ray gun (and a new term)

A couple of friends of mine are going to an anime convention in Atlanta this weekend, and were wanting to do some steampunkish cosplay. They were looking to have some props and pieces for their costumes, so I obliged and made up a new ray gun.

The construction is pretty obvious, I pretty much just took a look in my junk bin and pulled out anything with a neat coil or old looking electromechanical component. I wound up soldering a copper pipe to the shaft of a vacuum motor core. Then, using pipe clamps I mounted that to a pull saw handle. I attached the other bits with super-glue, some more soldering, hot glue, and adding magnet wire where it looked necessary and what you see below is what I wound up with.

It's pretty hefty since it's got so much steel and copper to it. I was originally going for steampunk, but since I didn't have much copper or brass on hand, but did have plenty of coils and simple but chunky electronics on hand I went with that and I've decided to further splinter the "old looking things that look like more modern things made with old technology" movement and dub this a Teslapunk death ray. It's not quite Buck Rogers looking enough to my eye to group it with that time, and the round motor core on top kinda looks reminicent of a revolver. My original plan was to have there be a button and battery to trigger the solenoid so there'd be some motion to it, but since they were headed out I decided to put further additions off for the moment. Maybe I'll add that and some sound effects when they get back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I made something to clean rust

I was reading a post on makezine.com about electrolytic rust removal. The setup described called for rebar, washing soda, a battery charger, a bucket, wire nuts, wire, and several other parts. Looking over the whole thing though it seemed like the whole setup just needed the charger (or any low voltage, decent amperage power source), an electrolytic solution, the metal to be cleaned, and an anode which could be any conductive metal. I wanted to test it out as cheaply as possible to see how effective it could be without making a big to-do about setting it up.

My materials were as follows:
Salt (1/4 cup or I just poured til I felt jazzy)
Water (the wet kind, not the solid kind)
Baling wire (cheap, metal, and flexible)
6-12v charger (anything more than 10 amps is serious overkill and won't work any better)
Bucket (which you should always has)

Setup is pretty simple. Fill the bucket with water, mix the salt in well, bend a piece of baling wire so it sits in the water down to the bottom of the bucket in a couple places. Next attach the + (red) charger cable to the baling wire and the -(Black) cable to the piece you want cleaned. Set the peice in the water (fully submerged is preferable) and plug in/turn on your charger. You should start seeing bubbles within 30 seconds on both the submerged wire and piece. My scissors bubbled more on the side with clamp because the joint in the middle doesn't connect them terribly well I guess.

After leaving the whole setup in a well ventilated place for about an hour for smaller things, more for larger, you should be able to take a wire brush to clean off any remaining rust, then redipping any parts that weren't under the water before. You can leave it in longer, but I was happy with the results I got with about 1:30. Taking a wire wheel, wire brush, or steel wool to clean the whole thing and then keeping it either clearcoated or covered in light oil will prevent further corrosion. Shabam!, from rusted solid to ready for re-sharpening in an hour and a half. I need to hit up a flea market and get some rusty but awesome old tools to do next.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'll Make an SOS to The World

I made a message in a bottle to send out to whoever might find it. I used some Faux aged paper I made a while ago by dipping heavy stock paper in coffee and wrote out a letter on it. I'll put it in a wine bottle, seal the end with wax and a cork, and chunk it out to sea. Here's to hoping someone finds it and emails me back since I left a finder's log with my email address on it.

I also went ahead and printed out the lyrics to "Message in a bottle" by The Police to toss out in a bottle as well. I figured it would be a funny thing to find in a message in a bottle. I'll update with pictures of tossing the bottles as well as if anyone replies to them. Who knows where they might wind up?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Made Steampunk Goggles (Just like everyone else!)

For some time now I've been meaning to get or make a set of steampunk goggles. While they are a staple of the steampunk scene and one can't be expected to properly pilot an aerodrome or keep a boiler properly tuned without a set. I didn't want to make some that were overly simple or shell out the money for a set of brazing goggles. I also wanted to make them from fairly common materials so that others could build on mine if they like. Instructables.org has several 'ibles on how to make various sets of goggles, but when I saw this one I knew I could make it work for what I wanted.

Instead of using a baseball I went with a softball. I didn't really want to spray paint Gatorade lids for eye pieces so I walked around the hardware section of [Big-Blue-Box-Store] and found some brass-plated door bumpers that looked just right for the task. I also decided that elastic would make for an easier headband than rings and painted denim.

The whole process is pretty simple. You cut the stitching off of your softball until you've got one of the peanut shaped leather pieces, then cut that in the middle. These will be your left and right sides. Color them black or dark brown (I used a big black permanent marker, paint works too). You cut a reticle-like shape just smaller in diameter than your eye cups (door bumpers) and super-glue the tabs to the inside of the eye cups. After that you can super glue or hot glue round clear plastic (plexiglass or that impenetrable packaging plastic works well) into place as the lenses. Sew the middle together slightly above center, then sew the elastic band on the ends.

You're now one step closer to a becoming a proper ornithopter test pilot. Just remember that goggles alone do not steampunk make. One must come up with other creative re-imaginings of the contrivances of the contemporary with the contraptioning of days long gone.

These goggles were actually the second set I've had a hand in, with the first being for a friend, I just made these from the leftovers and extra bumpers. His look almost exactly like mine, except I hot glued my lenses in place.

I made a solar light for the dock

Since my dad had a big extension put on our dock, he's worried that someone might come around at night and hit the end of it. We didn't want anything too big or wired out there, just something to mark the end of the dock at night. As I was cleaning up around the dock after tropical storm Fay came through and flooded out the back yard, I noticed that it had broken and washed up some of the solar walkway lights near the waterline.

After a thorough cleaning and repair to a broken trace on the charging circuit, I managed to get one of these lights working again, but the housing for it was too cracked and dryrotted to be of any good, which is OK since those things always looked like butt anyway. I found a candle holder that had stained glass on it and it happened to fit the solar light just right, so I hot glued it in place after charging the batteries and went looking for parts for a base to hold the new light fixture up.

The storm also blew and washed in plenty of other good flotsam as well, including some barnacle covered but still sound 2x6 boards. I sent them through the saw and nailed them together, then used some salvaged drywall screws to hold down the light. After this I took it down to the dock and screwed it in place while hanging loosely onto the end pole of the dock. With the barnacle spots it looks pretty cool, the whole thing didn't cost one red cent, and we don't have to worry about errant boaters denting the dock with misdirected dinghies.