Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And This is Probably Why We Have Mouse Problem...

The kids tend to leave food scraps around the house, being less concerned with housekeeping than we are.

Henry decided to feed the cat, "So he'll trace the food". Now Fidel does catch mice from time to time, but he's getting old and selective in his hunting.

I might as well show you a taste of things to come. I bought the kids one of those "10 Arcade Games" controllers you plug into the TV. I told them it was an X Box. It's amazing how quickly they got the hang of playing these old school games.
One of my Taig customers let me know that he had published the 3rd edition of his book, "The Tiniest Guns". I bought a copy and it is a wonderful read. He catalogues all of the miniature guns past and present, and shows how to make and research them. Buy a copy, you'll enjoy it! Just don't put your eye out.

Building a Worse Mousetrap

Yes, we're the sort of people who live trap mice, rather than killing them...so for many years we've used a Victor "Tin Cat" mouse trap. We're dealing with a bit of a mouse problem right now, so I thought I'd buy another mousetrap for my shop.
I bought a small plastic live trap, also made by Victor, the last time we were are Home Depot. It has caught several mice, but I noticed that they had been chewing on the plastic a bit.

The two traps.

Well, I caught a mouse late in the evening after setting the trap out in my shop that afternoon. Since it was late I figured I'd wait until morning to release it off in the woods. That morning I picked up the trap and the mouse was gone. I don't know how it squeezed out exactly, but as you can see it had chewed up the plastic baffles in many places.

And around the edge.

This is how I think it escaped, by chewing the baffle by the door completely away.

Anyway, I'll send an annoying email to the Victor people letting them know that they have succeeded in undoing the Moore's Law like progress in mousetraps with this design.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Henry's Snail House

Henry and Max have been collecting insects and snails lately. To protect and house his latest terrestrial snail, Henry built this snail house out of the Legos we bought on Friday.

Henry later released the snail outside. Quite a wonderful repurposing of some Wild West and City legos. It would have been made with Star Wars legos as well, but I discovered that the value of an unopened Mos Eisley Cantina set on Ebay is around $80...so that will get sold to buy other, less expensive toys (I paid $5, score!). I hope that it will teach Henry not to become a degenerate collector, and to value function over form. Or something like that.

I did a bunch of work in the shop, building an airgun spring compressor (to be blogged later this week over on the airgun blog). I think these spirals of plastic are pleasing to the eye.

We went to Home Depot yesterday to buy an electric stapler, staples, a new cordless driver and some screws. The Driver is compact, 12V Lithium, and will drive 3" screws with no problems. My old cordless drill's batteries are dying, and this drill was cheaper than the cost of two new batteries.

I bought the wrong staples for the Arrow ET2025D Electric Staple + Nail Gun which annoys me to no end. While the box calls out the specific product numbers for the staples it accepts, no where does it say "Uses T20 and T25 Staples". So I bought T50 staples. Off to the hardware store tomorrow.

Felice wanted me to take a picture of her with the boys. Henry was uncooperative.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Just Checking In

I figured I should check in and let people know what I've been up to. First, a cute picture of Max that Henry took:

Carey lapped in the valves of his motorcycle engine using a Nerf N-Strike Maverick dart, last night at Kent's open shop night.

I've been posting up a storm on my airgun blog, check it out if you have the inclination.

I also uploaded an Rhino animation of a sight mechanism idea to Youtube...

Other than that I just spend my days making jewelry and parenting. We finally had the Tuff Shed wired up for a light, now we just need to insulate and sheetrock it. Felice and I dropped the kids off at preschool and went to a yard sale, which qualifies as a date. I bought some Legos, router bits and a gun cleaning kit. Felice bought a shovel. We live it up!


All of the plans in Elmer's Engines (out of print and expensive to buy) have been archived on this yahoogroup.

The Smithsonian has placed a number (54, is that all of them?) of their Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology online, for free.

Netflix Instant Movie Search , would that Netflix actually had this functionality in-site....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

George's Rear Window Louvers

George, who has modified and augmented every piece of hardware on his Geo Metro, showed me his latest work, an internally mounted rear window louver (or is it louvers?).

Pretty classy!

You can see how the vertical struts have holes reminiscent of aircraft framework.

He sawed, sanded and filed the curves by hand.

The top just snaps in place with those two brackets.

He has a small gap between the window and the louver so the defroster doesn't get screwed up.

The slotted elements are retained by ball bearings. He used slingshot ammo.

He said that you just spring the strip away from the hole and snap the ball in.

The sides, rather than using balls, are peened over to hold the strips.

The only place it is bolted is at the bottom to the brake light.

You can see George's hat...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Fracking Toaster!

Well the toaster developed a problem. The lever was loose and wouldn't push down enough to engage the switch. I was irritated by this until I realized I could make an excellent Battlestar Galactica reference if I blogged about the repair.

So I unscrewed the base.

And unplugged the two leads from the slot selector switch.

If you look closely you will see a raised whitish bump above where the metal arm goes into the plastic. This is why the lever can wiggle, as it has broken through the plastic. Bad engineering!

This is how it should look.

This is how it is when pushed down. This prevents the switch from locking the toaster and starting the cycle, as the lever hits the circuit board below, preventing the toast carriage from travelling down as far as it should.

My first thought was that by shimming out the lever arm with some thin steel strips, it would spread the load on the plastic and prevent it from wiggling.

All that happened was that it still wiggled, and finally broke off the lever retaining piece from the plastic assembly.

So in a last attempt to fix it, I resorted to JB Weld, which is a wonderful metal filled epoxy. Their website shows it as resistant to heat of 500 degrees F, which should be fine for the toaster.

I mixed up a dollop.

And filled the slot.

I reassembled the toaster and inserted the lever, making sure it was oriented correctly. I let the epoxy harden for 24 hours.

The proof is in the pudding, or rather the Nature's Path Organic Toaster Pastries, Strawberry Frosted , which I was able to toast to perfection as a companion to my afternoon coffee.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scribing a Line

Ok, this is a pretty stupid project. Felice uses the end of a stepped ring mandrel to make her Sterling Silver Fancy Loop Hoop Earrings but was having problems getting the top and bottom features in line. She asked if I could scribe a line across the center of the face. So I did.

I put the end of the mandrel in a vee block, and supported the far end with a Starrett Jack.

I brought the scriber of the digital height gage down onto the top of the mandrel with a .002" thick piece of paper in between, until the scriber grabbed the paper.

I then zeroed the gage, moved down .002, then zeroed again and moved down .499", which is half the diameter of the mandrel end.

I moved the scriber across the face to make a line.

A nice line on center. Hard to see in the pictures, but much more pronounced in real life.

Now Felice can make sure things line up.

I then remembered that I could use the center finding head on my Starrett Combination Square to do the same thing in about 30 seconds. Oh well...