All posts by Dave

One of my compact fluorescent lights stopped working recently. Instead of throwing it away I decided to crack it open and see what was inside.
<warning> Electricity can hurt you. If you don’t know what you are doing, get someone who does to help. </warning>

The first step was to remove the metal base and pry the plastic off of the globe. The plastic base, globe and lamp were disposed of. Be careful with the lamp, it contains mercury vapor, not something you want to be breathing.

The main circuit board. Everything was pretty tightly packed in. At first glance nothing is obviously bad. The plastic on the enclosure was a little browned, so I’m guessing something overheated. One part of the large yellow inductor was cracked when I removed it, so that is a possibility.
After a little time with the soldering iron I’ve got a nice pile of parts. I got six diodes, seven capacitors (two matching), five resistors (two matching), three inductors, two matching transistors, a fuse and a nifty circular pcb. Normally I would dispose of the pcb but I think it would make a really cool looking key chain.
Now all I need to do is check the parts that might be bad and put them away in my parts drawer.

Look what I got in the mail. I should really order things for myself more often.

The box was easily large enough to ship a full sized LCD. I reused the bubble wrap to ship my burned out Dremel in for repair.
The replacement screen, it looks exactly the same. So far so good.
All fixed up. All the screws went back into the right places, even the stickers and rubber bumpers went back. And I’ve even upgraded the software to boot. It’s like a brand new machine.

Recently Ive been looking into options for 3D rapid prototyping. There are two main categories, additive and subtractive. Additive involves depositing a liquid material that hardens, subtractive involves cutting out of a preexisting object. A few years ago the only options were tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and required specialized software and knowledge to operate. Now thanks to the open hardware movement there are more options available, and for less money. Read on for my initial investigation into what is available.

Cupcake CNC 3D printer $725 basic kit $950 deluxe kit
Fireball V90 CNC router $889 basic kit $1199 deluxe assembled
Lumen Labs micRo CNC router $699 micRo Premium $999 micRo Gold
Versa Laser/Epilog ~$8000-$15,000 and up
Rep Rap No complete kits available
Fab@Home $3700 fully assembled $2750 Kit (on sale)

Ubuntu: For Desktops, Servers, Netbooks and in the cloud
This is just a quick note to let you know that the newest version of Ubuntu came out yesterday. If you haven’t tried Linux before, or even if you have it is worth giving it a look. It’s really easy to use, you can try it out on your computer without changing anything and it’s free. Seriously man, check it out.

At work I found a hand push drill from Yankee Handyman. Unfortunately it was missing all but one drill bit, and it was bent and broken. I decided that I had to have one. I went to Rockler with my Grandpa looking for one, and it turned out that they haven’t been made for a long time.
When we got back to the house my Grandpa took me out to the garage and to one of his older toolboxes. He pulled out a Yankee Handyman drill, with four bits still stored in the handle.

This beauty belonged to my great grand father. Both it and the drill from work were dirty and slightly rusty. So I decided to clean and oil them. First up was the work driver.
All it took to dissasemble the driver was unscrewing the threaded bit at the front of the handle. As you can see there was a spring inside and below that a wooden peg that the whole thing spins on. It was all covered in dirty oil so first I cleaned all of the grime off with rubbing alcohol and q-tips.
Next up I oiled all of the moving parts and threads, as well as the bit since it was bare metal and a little rusty.
One neat thing about this drill is the bit storage area. Too bad I don’t have any bits to fill the other slots.
The threads on this driver only go in one direction. When you push it in the bit spins clockwise, on the way back out the bit spins counterclockwise. This probably explains the unique design of the drill bit.
Next up was cleaning my driver.
The shaft of this driver has threads in both directions. It can spin in either direction.
The driver had an amazing mechanism to allow it to spin in one direction, and then release freely in the other.

As you can see there was quite a bit of grime on the inside, and rust on the bits.
Getting inside this one was much harder. First I unscrewed the front like the other driver. Then I had to push in the switch on the ratcheting mechanism and slide down the silver cover. This got me into the ratchet. After removing three bits of metal the gears were loose. Next I had to unscrew the back, and then another bit that it screwed into. Even still I wasn’t able to get the shaft out completely.
After a thorough cleaning and oiling both drivers look much nicer, and work better as well. It is much easier to get the bits in and out. With the gunk and rust cleaned off these fine tools are ready for many more years of use.

A while ago the screen on my EEE PC 701 was cracked.

I decided it was time to look into getting a replacement.
To find out what kind of replacement screen I needed I had to open it up.
After removing the screws from the screen I realized I would have to take the bottom plastic off as well to get to the screen.I removed the battery and six screws on the bottom. Not even close to done.
After removing the keyboard, another batch of screws and the touchpad I was in.

Sure enough on the back of the LCD there is the model number I needed to get a replacement. Since I hadn’t ever ripped apart an LCD I went ahead and did so, there were several sheets of plastic, glass and the display all squeezed into that tiny case.
I ended up ordering a replacement screen off ebay for $68.67 new. I’ll post an update when it comes in.

One day I was heading out on a trip and decided to pick up a disposable camera. At first glance it looked like any other photo desk. But this one wanted a little more from you than most.
Take a closer look at the sign on the desk:
This gives a whole new meeting to one hour photo.

Today I was given an air compressor at work for free. The only catch was that it didn’t turn on and had a broken wheel. A quick clean of the contacts on the power switch and it turned on. Instead of replacing the wheel we decided to fix it.Five holes and five zip ties later and we had a wheel that was as good as new. Now all I have to figure out is why it doesn’t automatically turn off until the safety valve blows.