Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Inexpensive Steampunk Industrial Desk - Accent Light

I was picking up a few things at my local home and builders store yesterday and came across some parts for an idea for a project that has been rattling around in my head for some time.  I wanted to build a desk - accent light that had an industrial look to it.  Kind of steampunk feel to it if you will.  I had seen several different light housings online that I thought would be good for this project and was lucky enough to come across exactly what I was looking for while browsing. 

This was exactly the housing that I wanted.  It is definitely industrial looking and is just the right size standing only 7 inches tall with a diameter of 4 inches.  Galvanized steel construction and only $11.88.  

I did a little more searching in the store for all the necessary parts I would need for the lamp as you can see in the photo above.  I thought I would go with a red LED light bulb to give my light some color when it was lit and also being LED it would not produce the heat of a regular bulb.   The only other pieces I needed were an electrical box to mount the light to, a small extension cord for the lamp and a rotary switch to turn the light on and off.  Total cost for all the parts including the light came to $31.48..... tax included.  So I thought it was a pretty good deal. 

I started with the electrical box and removed the two inner clamps that were attached to it.  These were simply not needed and actually would have caused problems with resting the box on a desk top because of the protruding machine screws that came through the back or should I say now base of the box. 

I was lucky enough to find some felt pads in one of my work drawers in the shop and mounted four of them on to the base of the electrical box.  This keeps the box off of the desk top and protects any nice surface that I will rest the lamp on to.

I next removed one of the tabs on the side of the box so that I had a place to run the electrical wires into the lamp to connect everything up to make it. 

Here I disassembled the light so that it would be easier to connect up the wiring that would come into the electrical box that will be the base for the light.  I also was able to figure out how the light would actually mount to the box. This is simply done with a couple of machine screws that are already in the electrical box.  Another simple task to do for the assembly of the lamp.

Hooking the wiring up was a piece of cake. cut of the unused end of the extension cord making sure not to cut off the end that would be  needed to be plugged into the wall. Next I fed the extension cord wiring through the opening in the electrical box and tied a knot on to the end of the extension cord so that it could not accidentally be pulled out of the lamp.   The cut ends of the wires were then separated and stripped so that the orange wire acorns could be used to connect the extension cord wires to the wiring of the lamp.  

About five or six inches from the lamp I mounted a rotating on and off switch per the directions on the package for this part.  This again was a simple task of splitting the wire where I wanted the switch to be then cutting one of these wires in half.  The wires were then mounted into the housing of the switch and two small metal teeth got clamped to the ends of the cut wire and the assembly was put back together.  It worked like a charm and only took a couple of minutes to connect up.  I then added the red LED light bulb and plugged it in to test it.  First time out it fired right up with no problems.  YAH!

Now with the light and switch working it was just a simple matter of assembling the light to the electrical box with the two mounting screws and reinstalling the glass cover and wire cage over everything.  Another two minute job at most. 

Here is how the light looks lit with a bright red LED bulb.  I got a chance to turn the light on tonight and as I suspected it was way to bright.  Had to put sun glasses on just to look at it.  

I returned the red bulb and found something much more suitable for my little light display. In the photo above is a 40 watt bulb similar to what Edison had made back in his day. The light is much softer and easier on the eyes to look at so now I can honestly say it is completed.

 This had to be one of the easiest projects that I've put together in a long time.  It will be a nice addition to either my computer work room or even sitting in my living room just as a decoration.   Either way I would call this project a huge success for ease of construction, fast build time, and inexpensive cost. Always pluses when it comes to projects in my book!

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Small Project For A Big Job

While I was working on setting up my velomobile to be transported to the MakeFest in Davenport Iowa next month I had to figure out a simple way to tie a plastic tarp down over the vehicle without having to use a lot of rope and a lot of time.  I have found that it is always a pain to do this simple task as it always involved a lot of knot tieing and untieing to get the job done.  Then I remembered a simple little device that was used on a stuff sack for my sleeping bag that I had used while camping years ago.

This little device is called a barrel stopper.  It is a simple little cylinder that is used on a cord or string to hold a bag shut that has something in it.  Like my sleeping bag I just told you about.  The string is fed through the opening of this cylinder once an inner spring is compressed. The spring moves the cylinder outward and puts pressure on the string to hold the bag closed.  Why couldn't I just make this little gadget larger for use with a rope?  So I 3D printed one up to see if my idea was sound.

Here is my new larger version of the little barrel stopper.  I was able to find a good sized heavy spring that is 1/2" in diameter and 1-3/4" long at my local hardware store.  Then I 3D printed two cylinders.  An outer and an inner that would hold the spring in place.  The smaller inner cylinder has an opening just large enough for the springs outer diameter and the larger outer cylinder has an opening large enough for the smaller cylinder to slide into with very little friction.  In the base of the inside of the larger cylinder is another cylindrical opening to hold the bottom portion of the spring in place. 

Once the assembly is put together with the inner spring inside, it is just a matter of  pressing down on the inner cylinder and lining up the two holes in both cylinders so the 1/4" rope can slide through the assembly so it can be used. 

Once the rope has been fed through the two holes the inner spring holds the rope in place and the rope holds the assembly together. 

I looked at my enlarged version of the barrel stopper and I think it will do the job nicely of hold my tarp on to my velomobile for transport.  The rope is fed through the eyelets of the tarp which is then pulled tight just like the strings on my stuff sack for my sleeping bag only much larger so that the velomobile will now be protected on the inside of this huge plastic stuff sack.  
  The enlarged barrel stopper with the big spring in it has enough tension on the 1/4" diameter rope to hold the covering tightly closed during transport.  To make double sure that the stopper does it's job I can loop the end of the rope around the cylinder as shown above and the tension on the looped rope will lock it even further just to make sure it does not release it's grip. 
   The dimensions of my big barrel stopper once it has been assembled is 2-1/2" tall and 1-1/4" in diameter. Total cost to make my version of this little devise was only a couple dollars and will save me a lot of time tieing and untieing ropes to hold everything in place.  For light jobs like holding this tarp I think this gadget will work just fine.  I'm not so sure about something like holding a boat on to a trailer though.  I would have to do more testing to give you the answer on that kind of job.  In the mean time this will work just fine for the job I have in mind.  Have a good one and keep on tinkering!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Blender 3D 1963 Volkswagen 360 Degree Animation

As most of you have already seen on my blog I have been doing a lot of work on a Blender 3D model of a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle.  The work on this model has not stopped since my last post about this project and I finally completed a small animation today that my computer has been cranking on of this model. All I wanted to do was create a simple animation of my Blender "Bug" rotating 360 degrees around the model to show off all the sides.  This ended up being harder than it looks as the first attempt rotated WAY to fast and so the end result was far from satisfying. Just was difficult to see anything with the Bug whizzing around in a circle.

  The animation video below is only about a minute long and the camera rotates around the car three times. Once I had gotten the first revolution created I was able to duplicate the frames and complete the video.  With the animation running at 24 frames per second one revolution comes to 480 frames.  Just to render 480 frames for one revolution took my computer ten days to complete simply because of the detail that was put into the model.  One frame renders at anywhere from 15 minutes on up to 30 plus minutes.  So this was the reason it took ten days to render this animation.  With this running on my computer not much else could be done as it took a lot of computing power just to run Blender for this very detailed model. So without further delay check out the completed video below.  I think it turned out very well for my first attempt at showing off the Blender 3D Bug in an animation and making it look a bit more 3D than just a still image.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Velomobile Transport Cradle Is Ready For MakeFest!

Late this evening I put the finishing touches on to the transport cradle that I needed for my velomobile so that I can safely move it to the Davenport Iowa MakeFest in July.  I was happy to have this portion of my preparations for the show done well ahead of time.  Transporting the velomobile in a pickup truck is not an ideal way to move the velo but I simply could not afford to haul it in a covered trailer without a big expense to rent one.  So I designed this transport cradle for my friends pickup truck so that the velomobile will be safe and secure on next months road trip. 

The cradle is made up of 2 x 2's and some 1/4 inch by five inch panels that make up the ramps so the velomobile can easily roll into the correct position in the cradle.  The main pieces of the cradle are bolted together and the long ramps are simply nailed on using small finishing nails. The two small ramps in the photo above are not attached to the cradle and really do not need to be as the assembly does not move when the velo is being loaded on to it.  

Here is an underside view of the cradle.  I added four more pieces of 2 x 2's to the underside of the ramps for added support.  The velo is not that heavy but the 1/4 wood flexed quite a bit when I rolled the velo on to the ramps so I thought it would be a good idea and it did not add much extra weight to the cradle so it was a go from the start. 

Once I was happy with how the velo slid into position on the cradle I had to figure out how best to strap it down for transport. The picture above shows how the cargo straps are wrapped around the frame and then attached to to I-bolts at the front of the cradle. (See next photo for outside view) This worked out perfectly as there are I-bolts at each corner of the cradle so it (and the velo) can be strapped down to the bed of the pickup truck at each corner.

Here you can see the bright orange straps that hold the velo onto the cradle.  At the rear of the cradle the cargo straps attach to the corner I-bolts like the front and then directly to the frame just ahead of the rear tire.  It turned out to be a perfect mounting point to hold the velo securely without a lot of hassle or time to do so.  Once I have the velo all prepped for the Makefest I will again strap it down to the cradle and then cover it up with a plastic cover just in case there is a chance for rain on the day of the Makefest.  Hopefully not but it's a good idea to be prepared just in case. The cover has eyelets around the perimeter and I will run a rope in and out of these eyelets to draw the cover up around the base of the velo to secure it.  This should do nicely when the time. comes.  So another step closer to getting ready for the Makefest in July!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

3D Printed Velomobile Trike Is Completed!

I managed to put the finishing touches on my 1/4 scale 3D printed Velomobile Trike this afternoon.  It was a challenging model to put together but nothing that was terribly difficult to assemble.  My measurements for the original computer model only needed to be tweaked just a bit in a couple of areas to have the model look the way it does.

The model being 1/4 scale of the real thing turned out to be of a good size.  It is 17.5 inches long, 9.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches tall.  I had to draw the line when it came to how much detail I wanted in the model simply because of the limitations of my 3D printer.  Case in point is the fact that the trike does not have a chain or steering that actually works.  This was expected and so I was not disappointed in my efforts to make a model of the trike that makes my velomobile actually move down the road. 

Even with the limitations of my 3D printer I am still rather proud of my latest creation and how it has turned out.  Again another case in point is the mesh seat, the rims and tires as well as the front crank assembly with the pedals. This will make a nice addition to the display that I have planned for the upcoming MakeFest in Davenport Iowa in mid July.  There I will have the opportunity to display the real velomobile that I had completed last year along with this model and a large assortment of photos of how it was all put together.  I am also told that the convention center is so large that I will be able to drive the velomobile around inside the building  during the MakeFest.  Should be a lot of fun and a very eventful day. 
   I have all the necessary parts and plans made to get my velomobile to the Makefest and I will pass along additional information about the event just as soon as I get more news about it from my friends at the QC-Colab makerspace in Davenport Iowa.  So mark your calendar for mid-July and hopefully you will be close enough to Davenport Iowa take in the Makefest and I can show you the velomobile first hand.  Until then enjoy these photos and I will update you as soon as I can about this exciting upcoming event.