Sunday, October 31, 2010

Frankenstein Neck Electrical Studs

So this year Kayla decided she wanted to be Frankenstein's Monster's bride. She picked out the hair and used one of her dresses, and while the bride doesn't have the neck studs in the movies, I thought it would be a nice tough to make it more easily recognizable.

I started out with a scrap of leather, 1/2" PVC end caps, some chrome paint and super glue. I painted the end caps and had Kayla blow dry them as we were in a hurry.

When then filed the bases of the end caps flat to help give them a better gluing surface. We put the strap around her neck and marked it for where to place the velcro and studs, then glued them in to place with the superglue (either superglue or hot glue seems to end up in most of my projects :-S). I also drew some stitches on the strap for kicks.

I think it turned out pretty nice and she was happy with it. Should be fun to see what they want to do next year! :-). Jenny should be getting pictures of the kids up on duttonlabs sometime soon for more pics of the kids.

Scary Pumpkin!

So on a whim on Sunday morning I decided to remake the Scariest Pumpkin Ever as seen in Make Magazine. I didn't want to spend too much time on it as it would be dissassembled shortly after creating it so just used a little breadboard to make most of the connections. I took these photoes of the dissassembly as I didn't take any putting it together.

Crammed the Ooga horn inside the pumpkin, just barely fit. I had to take it out once during assembly because I pulled out a bunch of wires from the breadboard while fitting it in.

I put the electronic bits (Arduino, Solid State Relay) into a little box to keep them from getting too wet.

And here is a decent pic of the electronics. I put duct tape around the breadboard to keep the wires from pulling out again.

And finally a video. I was out with the girls trick or treating so wasn't able to witness most of the scares, but Jenny said that everyone that tried it really liked it or really didn't for some of the younger ones :-D. I wish I had set a video camera on it all night long to get the reactions, maybe I'll have to work something up next year for that :-).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ooga Horn on Motorcycle

I have been getting tired of the anemic horn on my motorcycle for a while. About 8 months ago I picked up an Ooga horn from Harbor Freight (bright red) but just hadn't gotten around to installing it. Anyway, finally got to it. Made a little bracket out of some steel, though I might have to modify it somewhat when I get the batwing fairing installed or if I ever decide to pick up the take project again.

Painted it all black with some cheap Krylon.

And a video of it in action. The horn was too loud for the mic on the video camera, so it doesn't sound very true to life, but just as the horn starts making noise you can get an idea:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Google's new image search layout

Just a couple quick complaints about the new google image search layout.

What is with the new layout? If I wanted Bing image search I would go Bing. While this is something I can adapt to, it is somewhat annoying.

The javascript image resizing? Not only is that annoying but it causes problems with opening images in new tabs using the middle click. Either have to middle click before it resizes or wait until it has resized.

Opening the image on the target page with more javascript crap. Now I have to close the image before I can see the context and related images on the page. Just one more click to get to what I'm looking for. The frame at the top has always been a nuisance, but this is worse.

On a plus note, I have found that altavista's image search has none of these issues, and takes you directly to the target page. Wow, altavista, feels like a blast from the past, but it works so I'll be using that for image searches for now.

So, how would I fix this if I were google? I would probably leave the layout, but turn off the javascript image expansion on the results page or make it an option. Likewise with the image on the target page, either make it an option or get rid of it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Clutch on Honda Shadow

So the clutch on my motorcycle has been slipping lately. Usually just when shifting gears but occasionally when accelerating hard it would start slipping around 3k rpm. I've been in it before trying to fix it without luck. It had a new clutch spring, all the friction plates and disks measured well within spec. Tried different oils, checked to make sure my one way clutch was in right. Nothing, still slipped.

So there were a couple things I was hoping to do away with: the one way clutch (because it could potentially slip on the shaft) and the conical spring (no aftermarket replacements, also, I can't imagine it was a good design as they phased it out the next year).

So here's the bike, just about ready to take the side cover off. Exhaust removed, forward controls removed, piece of the frame removed, cross member removed. Yay!

So after careful measurements the outer clutch basket was almost identical with the exception of the big gear at the bottom of it, slightly taller on the '86, so I decided to keep it. Basket depth and overall height was the same so I wasn't too worried. Notice the nice spot for the 5 springs.

It didn't quite go as smoothly as I had hoped, but I didn't get any pics of the process. The shaft coming out of the transmission must be a little shorter on the '87, so I ended up having to put in a spacer for the nut to hold the inner clutch to the transmission shaft (I made it from the one on the '86 with an angle grinder and drill press). The longer shaft from the tranny also meant that the clutch didn't compress enough to engage the disks. To fix this I experimented with different shim arrangements until I got one of the inner metal disks and used it to space it out a little.

Here you can see the super conical spring on the old clutch.

So anyway, back to the new clutch. The addition of the clutch disk as a shim caused the clutch to stick out from the bike further and interfere with the clutch cover. Aftermaking a spacer from a part of the old clutch going back wasn't an option, not that I would have anyway, so I figured a spacer would be the easiest way to solve this. A few quick measurements on the bike and I was off to the store to buy some 1/4" 6061 aluminum plate.

After talking to Roy on the phone he suggested gluing the gasket to the plate, which was much better than my idea of tracing or marking compound on the cover. Anyway, I figured I could probably pull it off and not have to get the glued on gasket off by laying the gasket on and using it as a paint mask.

And it worked pretty well. Just need to cut off the areas with paint. I was thinking it would be cool to have a milling machine/water jet that could remove areas with a certain color paint or marker on them, then you could fab up parts without having to draw them up in a cad program for quick one off projects like this.

Here we go ready to cut some tests. I put the hole in the middle in case I made a big gnarly mess for my test cut and didn't want to mess up the contact surface.

Test cut with the jig saw went well, but it didn't turn well so I drilled a bunch of relief holes to make it easier. The inner radius was still too tight for the jig saw so but they helped with using the scroll saw with a wood cutting blade.

Jenny made me get a band saw for this project so I used it to cut away the exposed side while it was still heavily supported.

I finished up the inside with the scroll saw that I've had since around 12 years old. Still works like a champ :-).

I kept a candle around and would apply the wax to the blade to reduce the friction and help it pull the metal particles out of the cutting area. I read online that beeswax would have been better but this worked pretty well. That's what most of the crud on the cut out area is.

And another nice clean cut to finish it up from the bandsaw. This was my first time using a band saw, so I was a little nervous before I got started. I need to do a little more tuning on the saw to get it to stop wobbling (it's not too bad, just a little), but the band runs true on the belts and everything was nice and quiet and seemed to cut just fine. I also used wax on this while cutting.

I left a bit of a mess from the cuts and didn't want it to look out of place on the bike, also needed to remove any hanging bits. I started off with some 80 grit, worked up to 220 then used a scotch brite belt to finish it off. I didn't worry as much about the inside, mostly just needed to make sure no hanging bits of metal would come off and make sure that the inside of the bolted areas wouldn't contact the spinning clutch.

Looks pretty close, this thing would get pretty hot while sanding so I had to take a lot of breaks.

And now we're ready to roll. Outside looks good, inside looks good. Seems to fit properly.

Here it is giving me that extra space I need and then some. The blue crap is RTV, the red crap is some grease on the paper gasket (that I cleaned the paint off of). I figured that if I pulled it apart I would leave the spacer and the cover connected via RTV, and the grease should keep the paper gasket from adhering to the faces for a while.

As for the test ride? Woohoo! I don't think I realized how much and how often it was slipping until it was fixed. Every time I'd drop into a new gear it would slip a little as I released the clutch, now it's nice and solid. The handle is a little tougher to pull, but I guess more friction has to come from somewhere.

So, if you've got an '86 with a clutch driving you crazy this might be a fun project to undertake. If you had the shim fabricated before hand it would be a pretty quick job, wouldn't even require removing the side of the case, just the clutch cover. Happy Riding!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Craigslist Image Preview

So if you're a craigslist addict, this might make things worse (if you're a firefox user).

After using CraigsToolbox before they were commercial I got hooked on having images show up under the ads. I found some decent image preview plugins for Greasemonkey for firefox, but they just didn't have the smooth flow I was looking I did what anyone would do, fork the source and modify what was there to fit what I wanted:

Craigslist Image Preview 2.1

You'll have to install GreaseMonkey in order to use it, but with Greasemonkey there are other nice scripts (Flag Spam Easier).

Craigslist Alone:

Here's a screenshot (what blog post is complete without some sort of image?):

Mouseover Thumbnail:

Friday, April 2, 2010

New saddlebags on motorcycle

I was getting tired of the sissy bar on my motorcycle and figured some saddle bags would look nice in its place. So just a quick before and after. I picked up the saddle bags at Cycle Gear on clearance for $50.

I think it looks much nicer this way, though I lost a good tie down point in the process :-).

Next for the motorcycle: Figure out why the stinking clutch slips when I lay on it, finish up the batwing fairing and mount it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Attic Fan, a good job for someone else to do...

I've been on a kick to get my utility bills down and make the house more comfortable to be in. On my laundry list of ideas to try was an attic fan, reasonably priced at under $100 and no waiting for things to grow. I had a $10 off a Lowes so picked up their 2300 sqft model. The box has a template on the side, so I cut it out and headed into the attic to make sure it would fit the way I wanted. That's it, in the false gabled end through that hole. Fun.

After crawling back out with measurements of how big to make a mounting board I got it all cut out. It is necessary to block off the air passages around the attic fan to prevent the air from swirling instead of being pulled through the attic, thus the 20"x30" piece of plywood.

All mounted up with the thermostat, looks pretty good.

Also hooked up the wiring before entering the attic. I measured how much romex I needed before leaving the attic, this needed to be a two trip deal.

I got a little concerned about fitting it through the hole, it isn't even the width of the trusses (which are 22"ish). It fit fine.

Now for the fun part, I thought it was bad enough getting out to the gabled end when I didn't have to carry anything other than a tape measure and piece of cardboard. This was a pain. And of course I made the classic weekend handyman mistake, didn't measure to make sure I could get it into place. I got lucky with being 20" tall, as I could skootch it between the trusses on top of the insulation. Getting it upright was interesting. I thought I would be yelling for a jig saw to take off the corners but with a bit of jostling was able to work it into place. A few screws later and I was crawling backwards with the wire in hand.

And that was it. I wired it into some unused plugs that are for swamp coolers on the roof. Guess I better make sure they are hot before summer arrives. The thermostat is set to 120F, the hottest it would go. I figured this would be a good starting place but may turn it down a little if I can crawl in there again.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reel Mower Basics

In an effort to get in shape and have fun with old American Steel (I really do have a trouble not purchasing it when I see it) I picked up a reel mower from Deseret Industries. I didn't want to ride home, get the truck, head all the way back to DI and pick up the reel mower. Nor did I want Jenny to have to make a trip with the kids all the way down there just to turn around and head home. So I did what any half crazy person on a motorcycle does, strapped the reel mower to the back. I took it apart first of course, and bought a bag to protect my newly upholstered seats :-).

When I first got it home I couldn't wait to try it out. Pushing on the driveway was easy and got the reel spinning really fast. I thought it looked great and would be perfect to cut the grass with. Ugh. It was a pain in the butt. Blisters all over my hands and I was exhausted, huge pain to push around the yard, and I had only done the small front patch of grass. The next day Elizabeth mowed the rear lawn for me because I couldn't do it with the reel mower.

I had a lot to learn, as usual. The reason the mower was so easy to push on the driveway was that the reel wasn't making contact with the cutter bar.

Skip this section if you don't want to be bored to tears about how I sharpened my mower

The cutter bar is in the back and requires light pressure on the reel to get the shearing action like scissors that it's supposed to. Because of the gap between the reel and the cutter bar the grass would bunch up in there as the reel spun until there was so much it would rip the grass off. After watching and reading way too much stuff online I figured I'd better go make some adjustments and sharpen the reel and cutter bar while I was at it.

Don't bother with the silly reel mower sharpening kits from the store, they look like even more work than what I did. First pop the wheel covers off. On my old model there are holes on the inside, then had to spin the wheels for the magic spot on them to pop the covers off. Then remove the C clips. Then the wheels pop off. I swapped the gears from one side to the other and turned around the gear catches. Put the wheels back on and C clips back on. Then I got some valve lapping compound for $4 from Auto Zone. I would put a dab of it on my finger then pinch it onto each reel blade and run it down in order to leave a nice thick bead on the cutting portion of the reel blade. Repeat for each blade (mine has 7). Now, adjust the screws on the cutter bar to make light contact with the reel blades. Maybe a little more than light, I always overdo things. Now just go have a 10 minute push with the mower backwards, spinning the reel backwards against the cutter bar. If it gets too loose or the blade spins too freely just tighten up the cutter bar a little bit. If it won't budge you're too tight and loosen it up. Now that it is sharpened put it on its side and turn it real slow, make sure the reel contacts the cutter bar down the whole length (mine was still loose in the middle). Keep sharpening until it has full contact.

Now that the sharpening is complete you'll need to clean off the valve lapping compound. I used some WD40 on a rag to clean it off, but pick your poison. You could probably get away with hosing it off if you can dry it off afterward.

All cleaned up and ready to cut. Tighten up the cutter bar until it makes light contact with the reel again (you loosened it to get the lapping compound off right? I did....maybe you were smarter). Take the wheels off again and swap the gears back to the way it was. You should be able to cut newspaper between the reel and the cutter bar all the way down. If it doesn't don't get too upset, mine took a couple sharpenings before it would. Go make a mess of it all over again and see if that does the trick.

Now, spray the crap out of it with WD40 and you're all set for mowing. You'll notice the shearing sound and the blade won't keep spinning for too long on when not on the grass now. Whew, now we're ready to mow. Apparently you only have to do the sharpening once a year, not sure if I'll have to adjust the bar more often.

Also, if you bought a new one from the store, they usually back off the cutter bar in order to prevent damage during shipping. Tighten it up until you have light contact and you should be set. If your cutter bar isn't tight enough then you'll hate your mower, trust me.

Push push push. It shouldn't be too tough at this point. If the grass is too wet it won't stand back up quick enough after you run over it with the wheels and end up with lines of uncut areas, like a rotary mower but perhaps a little more pronounced.

You can resume reading here. Somewhere in the skipped section I figured out how to adjust the mower so it wasn't so hard to push and would cut properly.

It *is* more work than a rotary mower. At least with mine it is, not tons more, but more. I have no idea how old my mower is, 15, 20 years maybe? Maybe more, the wheels and gears look like cast iron. Newer units are likely lighter and easier to push. It is much less frustrating than my rotary mower, at least in this wet rye grass. The grass would clump up and stick to the underside of my rotary mower until it was too heavy, then fall back onto the spinning blade and shake the whole mower, leaving a pile of wet grass where it happens. So after mowing with the rotary mower I had to go clean up the 7 or 8 spots it made a mess, what a joke.

With the reel mower I just let the grass fly. Nice light pieces of grass fly through the air as the mower slices through it, it's really kinda fun. Come on over and give it a try sometime ;-). I'll probably keep it up until it gets unbearably hot, but even then I've got the pool nearby so might use it all summer. It doesn't get quite as close to obstacles as the rotary mower so I have to use the weed eater a little more, but the rotary mower didn't get all the way up to them either.

Notice the shiny blades in this photo. If yours aren't shiny you probably need to adjust your cutter bar, maybe sharpen and adjust your cutter bar.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garden Update March 27

The plants have been coming up for a while now. The corn is coming up in the rows and I transplanted a bean sprout into the corn rows to get two of the three sisters growing together. I will probably try doing the three sisters in that area next time I plant, but that will have to wait for now.

Lots of transplants make it look like I've really done good so far! The basil (lower left two) isn't doing that great, but might just make it. The four red cabbage transplants are looking great. The tomatoes and bell peppers weren't looking so hot at first but seem to have turned a corner for the better. The beans and peas are growing fast, but the beans by far the fastest. The peas leaves are a little yellow, but it seems to come and go, maybe I'm not watering a way they like?

The roma grape tomato plant is by far the best looking of the ones we got. Hopefully it will bring out a good bunch of us this year. This planter has the lettuce which are growing great, radishes that I've had a dozen of and taste delicious and some carrots in need of thinning.

And what garden would be complete without some stinky composters nearby? Actually, the one on the left is ready to use and never really smelled while it was composting, as I had a lot more leaves when I started it (well, them, I combined them into the left one when they broke down). The one on the right is a new start and it reeks. It has way too much nitrogen from grass clippings, even mixed with sawdust it's still too much nitrogen. The color of the green grass and the yellow sawdust makes it look as disgusting as it smells. As long as I don't turn it though it doesn't really escape the barrel. I recently added a bunch of shredded cardboard in an attempt to bring balance to it, but I doubt it was enough.

Much more interesting with them open:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Garden Update Mid February

So after a month or so of waiting the seeds finally arrived. I couldn't stand waiting around to get them started in the ground so got busy making grids in the square foot garden type of setup. This made mapping out where everything is nice and simple, Elizabeth did most of the work of making the map, filling it in and transferring it to excel.

The grids came out nicely. They are held together with brad nails and not permanently attached to the raised beds. At the places edges of the raised beds are little blocks of wood on either side of the grid pieces that hold them in place.

Notice on this side of the raised beds the ground is still flat. That didn't last long.

Partially turned up, with the sandy loam mixed in.

And here it is turned up and ready for planting. Some of the seeds hadn't arrived yet at this point for the mounds, but the corn is planted in the rows on the left. The mounds are a bit higher than I should have made them I think, but we'll see how stuff grows before I discount them entirely.