Low Temperature Low Cost Circular Film Light

With any project I do it is important to have nice photo’s that are in focus and well lit. I occasionally dabble in stop motion and other film as well as just the projects you see on this site. Lighting is something I have always had difficulty with and never spent any time trying to resolve. Occasionally I use a work light but I find them annoying to set up and they get very hot and difficult to work with.

Total Cost $28
New CFL Bulbs (8): $16
New Bulb Holders (6): $12
Glue: Already had a bottle.
Mylar: Already had a roll.
Wood (1 30cm x 30cm square and 1  2M x 2cm x 6cm plank: All recycled from old furniture.
Electrical Cabling (1 Mains power lead, 1M of extra blue/brown for individual bulbs): All recycled from old appliances.
Hobbyist Wire (about 2M): Already had a roll.
Polyfill Wood Filler (200ml): Already had a bag, also this is not completely necessary.
Screws (30? ish): Already had.
Painting Tape (3M): Already had

Tools Needed: Ruler, 90 degree edge ruler, Saw (Jig or Hand is fine), Drill, Various Screwdrivers.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I show you how to do some mains electrical wiring. Please exercise extreme caution and seek advice if you are unsure about anything! If you test this before its finished being wired you MUST make sure any live wires are appropriately secured, tape the ends or leave them screwed into a socket.

I watched the indy mogul video here (It is worth watching if your interested in this topic)

But It seems I wasn’t paying enough attention and when I got around to building mine, I built my own rendition of his first version which wasn’t that great. Regardless I will show you everything so you can make your own decisions and see what I learned.

I started out with a blank board of MDF and ruled out some lines for a grid of where I wanted the bulbs to go.

Click any of the pictures to enlarge

Then I drilled holes for the cable and wired them up in parallel. In this photo it is the first socket so the mains comes in via a white cable. It is wired properly only mains side cable is hard to see.

The second socket. You can see the two wires per socket. Because I am using a reasonably heavy grade of wire (suitable for mains power) It is quite thick and can be difficult to get into the socket. If it was particularly difficult (notably with older battens with narrower holes) I would spray the ends out of the cable little then cut a few of the copper strands off, this means that the wire is thinner making it easier to twist around another piece of wire.

It sort of looks like series wiring due to the wires going in and out of each bulb but if you imagine where the electricity flows, since there is two wires in an out of each side of each socket its like an entire ‘hot’ line all over the back of the board.

IMPORTANT REMINDER AGAIN: If you don’t feel confident doing this please seek appropriate advice. Make sure any live wires are safe.

After finishing the wiring I put the bulbs in and tested it.

Note how dark everything else is in comparison to the previous photo. It is the same time but the camera adjusts to suit the additional light. I played around with it a bit and took a couple test shots. I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t as effective as it could be. I re-watched the YouTube film above and realised what they did; and that I could do it better.

A lot of the light was going sideways but in this configuration only the top of the bulb was in use. With these particular bulbs they are quite short so the height is only slightly longer than the diameter but still: the side outputs more light than the top. If I upgrade the bulbs to larger/longer ones this would be more noticeable. I started to sketch up some designs to convert my board into a sideways design and eventually I decided if I was going to do it I might as well cut the whole thing up and make a completely new shape. Here we go:

I cut up all of the socket holder squares as small as possible. In hindsight I wish I had been more accurate. I did purchase a jigsaw for this but it would of been a good idea to do some more practice cuts first. You will see what I mean here:

I placed them into the expected layout. You might notice they don’t fit particularly well (see the last paragraph). This cleans up a little better later. I then glued them to some cardboard and wrapped it in some painting tape. I mixed up some poly-filler and filled in the gaps to try and smooth out the layout to make it a little cleaner looking and also to increase the strength since its just cardboard holding it together at the moment.

The next day the I removed the tape and sanded it down a little. It came out feeling really strong and ready for the next steps.

I wired up the sockets again

and tested it out

So far so good! Although I did not realise how large it would be. One upside to this is that the further away the lights are from each other the softer the shadows. Imagine the opposite of the sun which is very far away and very small (relatively) it casts very sharp/well-defined shadows which you generally don’t want.

Next I built a mount for the light. quite basic as you can see. A little glue, screws and scrap wood.

While waiting for the glue to dry I measured and then cut up some old thick poster card for a rear reflective board.

Using some double sided tape and glue I attached some mylar (like reflective tin foil only better)

I then took some hobby wire and twisted two strands together for extra rigidity. Taped them to either side and I could adjust the angles and they would stick really well.

A single strand of this gauge wire would not be strong enough, I have heard of using electrical wire although I did not think it would stay in the right shape. The paint tape seems to be strong enough though.

I cut holes in the card for the bracket and the power.

The bracket attaches quite simply and then slots  into the rear reflector. Below is the light with bracket before being slotted in.

Then inserted and tested. The sides hold their position quite well, the card is thick enough and the slot is tight enough that it doesn’t need to be glued or screwed into place.

Time to make some test shots!

With the light bulb in the roof only (150W)

With an indirect work light only (100W)

And the new lamp by itself

Obviously the new lamp beats anything else I have in the workshop.

I built a floor stand which is pretty basic. It stands 2M ish tall and holds the setup pretty well. This way I can adjust the angle and height.

Test shot using camera on auto settings with just the ceiling light

and with the light

Home Brew – Temperature managed fermenting cabinet

When home brewing beer, it is important to keep a constant and cool temperature. I like to aim for around 19 degrees C (66F) for ales (references) and 4 degrees C for lagers but in New Zealand the general yeasts sold or packaged with kits for lagers are really ‘lager style’ top fermenting (ale) yeasts; also I don’t have the budget or equipment to go for a lager style ferment anyway.

So I wanted to build something that would smooth out daily temperature variations and could potentially have some temperature management (eg peltiers in the summer, incandescent light bulbs in the winter) to assist in smooth and appropriate temperature management.

Total Cost: $2
Tallboy: Recycled
Scrap Wood: Recycled
Polystyrene: Recycled (Sometimes you can find large sheets on the roadside in industrial areas)
Masking Tape: Already had a roll.
Screws: Already had
Adhesive Insulating Foam Tape: $2 a roll
Hinges: Already had

Tools Needed: Screwdrivers, Drill, Hammer, Torch or other light source

 

I had a tallboy waiting to be junked so I removed all the drawers, stripped the front panel off them and attached them together to form a solid pseudo wall/door. I also drilled a 8cm hole and installed a fan although currently I am not using it.

After creating the front ‘door’ I removed the drawer sliders, mounted it on hinges, and placed a small block on the bottom of the door so it would fit into the cabinet and stay closed. Then I glued polystyrene to the sides, floor, roof and back panel. The back panel sheet is on the rear of the cabinet otherwise there would not have been enough room for the fermenter.

I did the torch test (put a light inside and close the door, if you see light there is a leak) and found quite a few flaws. I also thought that there might be some problems with gaps between the sheets in the corners etc so used duct tape to try and seal it up a bit. I also got some door seal padding strips and lined the door where it was appropriate.

The twisted pair cable you see in those pictures is the temperature probe to test the effectiveness which I graphed and will explain here.

This is the raw temperature data for 20 days from 4 probes. (The second graph is of the same data but only 4 days so you can get a better idea of what happens on a day to day basis)

One is on a shelf to the side of the the cool-box, one is inside the cool-box, another one is on the floor just outside the cool-box and one is outside.

Some obvious things to note is

  • Purple (outside) has a very large variation and has some quite significant drops as you might expect. The probe is subject to direct sun, wind and any other environmental factors.
  • Blue (shelf) is basically right next to the computer recording the data, although the exhaust fan is on the other side and blowing the other way. It currently can get direct sun for a few hours though, and as it is higher I would believe that it is subject to generally higher temperatures as heat rises.
  • Green (floor outside cool-box) is, except for the cool-box, the least affected by direct sun. and being on the floor should generally be the lowest of them all, although there is still some large variations
  • Red (Cool-box) is the smoothest of them all, although it is noticeably but only by a little bit, higher in temperature than some other probes most of the time.

This graph shows how much time is spent in the optimal temperature zone (16-21 degrees c) and how much time is in the extremes. Outside and garage probe 1 are in the red quite a bit as you would expect. Surprisingly, garage probe 2 spends the most time in the optimal temperature, and almost no time in the extremes. This is good as this is about where I plan to have an air intake to cool the box should its internal temperature be higher than the external temperature.

So far the project is a success, but I need to install either an internal cooling system, either by peltiers & light bulbs or possibly using mains water to cool the box. Over winter I may use a relay switched heating pad to maintain an even more constant temperature. Although this assumes it’s going to be too cold in there of course.

 

 

Motorcycle chain oiling system

I have often been frustrated with the task of oiling the chain on my motorbike, I want a Scottoiler but I don’t want to pay for it. So I built something that would do the same sort of thing only temporarily. When you want to oil the chain, you fix it on, go for a small ride or spin the wheel a bit, then take it off again.

Requirements

  • Easy to put on and take off
  • will spread lubricant evenly on the chain
  • cost effective

The basic idea I came up with was to place a rag on the chain with oil flowing onto it at a slow rate, the oil would spread over the rag and onto the chain. This is how I built it.

 

I had intended to attach it either by using the rear stand thread but I didn’t have any bolts that size, but I found a piece of wood would very happily wedge into the swing-arm very tightly. I took an off cut, drilled a hole through it at 9mm then applied a piece of 10mm threaded rod to it (installed the thread into the wood very happily, the threaded rod was tightly stuck in there.

offcut with threaded rod insertedAn ‘arm’ was needed to reach down to the chain, so another off cut was attached with a couple washers and bolts. This also meant I could adjust the angle to suit when on the bike.

adjustable angle arm bolted to holder

Then I built the oiling base itself, I made two because the first one wasn’t large enough to be drilled again for the second rod. Basically its a small off cut with a 5m hole drilled in it for the hose.

block 1 drilled

Inserting the oil flow tube.

base with tube inserted

The “oiling system” is a folded up rag. I kept the rag and the block the width of the chain to keep the oil where it should be.

first oiling system ready to have the rag attached

I used electrical tape to keep it on. Electrical tape works here because of its ability to stretch. whilst it doesn’t stick to the wood etc. It’s basically working like a rubber-band in this instance.

first oiling block tested on the chain

Its looking good here, but because I cant really attach it to anything I remade it slightly larger, The threaded rod is the second arm between the first and the base, I used threaded rod again so I could adjust the distance.

block two with tube and rod inserted

This is the full mount set. The small block on the right is the wedge for the swing arm, then there is the arm that goes down to the chain. Then the rod that goes inwards to the right distance to place the oiling block where it should be. Bolts for Africa to keep everything in place.

Full mount set - dryInstalled on the bike:

installed on bike from side

chain and base oiler in placeI was a little surprised at how sturdy it is. you would expect with wood, tape, bolts, threaded rod, and something that’s just wedged into the swing-arm to be quite fragile, but its pretty solid.

At the other end of the tube is an adapter I had made earlier for a standard soft drink bottle. I drilled a hole that was 1m too small and  used a small off cut of another tube to make the base. some hot glue to seal and then inserted the smaller tube. I didn’t have any hose clamps handy so used some 20 gauge wire to make my own clamp sort of thing. works well 🙂

sprite zero connector

So now I have my oil input ready. for testing its just sitting in the pillion foot peg.

oil input readyIdeally I will have a small, thin, seal-able tube that has a screw thread on both ends that I can use to put the right amount of oil in, and maybe it has a gauge so I can see how fast its draining etc. but for now; the top of a sprite bottle will do.

ready to roll... and oil

So I put some oil in the “reservoir” and let it flow through. the tube thickness and oil viscosity control the rate at which oil gets onto the chain. and it was flowing through the tube at about 1cm per second, which was perfect. The oil goes through the rag and onto the chain as expected. I am a bit slow here, I was too busy taking pictures and musing to start rotating the wheel which is why that small drop is on the bottom. the idea is you pour the oil in and go for a ride around the street to drain it. Today I just tilted the bike on the stand and manually rolled the wheel, this worked just as well.oil through the chain

Full system off the bike (excluding reservoir)

full system off the bike

Overall, this was a resounding success. It does everything I wanted for very little cost (I had everything already) Its not too fragile, its not too bulky, and it actually works!

 

Possible improvements

  • I would like a better ‘wedge’ system perhaps some sort of clamp that fits on the underside of the swingarm
  • I should remake it with a better material than wood
  • I need to build a better tube style reservoir

Grass Cutter Mk II

Important Update: This doesn’t work! 🙁
I thought this was going to be an awesome re-purposing of my old hand mixer but turns out these things aren’t meant to be used for more than a few seconds at a time.
The second or third time I was using it, I went for about 10 minutes and it overheated and caught fire. I wouldn’t recommend going down this path. Read on if you want to see anyway

(<- Part 1 )

I present to you, the Grass Cutter Mk II

So a list of upgrades/changes

A new handle, taped up to keep it safter and secure. inside this is a lightswitch embedded in the wood for off/on and the control board.

A new adjustable angle handle, I can loosen the bolt and change the angle so if its not really comfortable where it is, I can change it.

The engine is now parrallel to the ground, much more ‘mower-like’ less ‘weed strimmer-like’.  Also I removed the rubber as it wasnt providing any vibration releif and was just making it smelly. The strimmer line (orange twine) is also attached in a more reliable way: I threaded it through a drilled hole in the shaft head, then tied a double knot on each side so it cant pass through either direction.

And a new height setting/adjustment pole. there will be a wheel on here soon, I tried a couch floor knob but it doesnt slide very well. The point of this is to make it easier to push around rather than having to manually hold it at a certain height. although doesnt mean you cant flip it upside down and go manual if you want to do edges etc.

String trimmer from a hand blender (Failed)

Important Update: This doesn’t work! 🙁

I thought this was going to be an awesome re-purposing of my old hand mixer but turns out these things arent meant to be used for more than a few seconds at a time.

The second or third time I was using it, I went for about 10 minutes and it overheated and caught fire. I wouldn’t recommend going down this path.

Read on if you want to see the original

I planted a lawn out the back of the property where the gardener couldnt get to without a key so I needed something to cut the grass. My lawn mower is a bit pre-occupied and my weed-wacker was wacked. So in the usual recycling manner I made my self a string trimmer (weed wacker) out of an old hand blender

Wow look at that, badly thrown together lense flare, a fluro background. This thing HAS to be awesome.

To be honest, the only reason I am calling it MK I  it because its rather hastily assembled and has some design uglies, I’ll probably never rebuild it because it works* (edit: not really see top of this page) and that’s all I care about.

So I started with an old hand mixer/blender motor I had lying about, and thought about strapping it to a peice of wood, without anything else more suitable I made a sort of wooden vice with two threaded steel rods and 4 bolts. This worked really well!

I basically just nailed the control board onto the length of wood for now, holds fine, but I had to wire up a switch. In the interim I have some twine nailed to the board, going over the switch with another small peice of rubber, then round a nail and back to the top of the board for a lever.

I also attached some twine to the end of the engine so I could cut some grass. simple; effective.

bill of components

* engine: from a hand blender like: * a bunch of wood I recycled out of an old couch.

* about a 1/4 of some threaded steel I bought a while back
* a 6cm bolt for the lever
* 5 bolts
* cut mains cable I had left from another project.
* some weed wacker twine for the controller and the cutting part.

 

(goto part 2 -> )

    Homemade Engine Clutch

I found a problem with my engine; it wont start under any significant load. The second pulley I made meant it was extremely difficult to start.

pulley = no startMain pulley off engine

I needed a clutch at some point anyway so I started thinking about how I could resolve both problems at once, removing as much load off the engine on startup and being able to clutch the engine.
My plan is to put a small disk on the bottom of the shaft, then create a method of being able to push the pulley onto it; a dry friction clutch, but with a few changes. The clutch control will be a nut that I turn remotely (Likely by another pulley). The reason for this is it means I will be able to apply more force to the connecting plates via the bolt, and possibly later I may be able to automate it (ie, mechanical clutch)
Also it seems like it will be the easiest to build.

This is what I imagine it would assemble like (click for big)


first home made clutch assembly prototype design

More detail on the bottom of the pulley:
Clutch design prototype other views

The pulley will turn freely inside the bolt, I may later replace the bolt and bearings with a real bearing perhaps out of a skateboard or something. The bolt pushes the pulley up using the two lower fixed nuts, turning the bolt inside them will push itself up up.

Update 16 July 2010
I started working on the pulley/clutch shaft and bearing. I spent most of the time trying to hammer, screw, grind some washers to the right shape. the most successfull was one that I ground down with an angle grinder except for the middle, then bashed the sides up a little bit. I found a aluminium ring which I think came from a hard drive and installed that and it seems to hold everything quite nice. Its not anywhere near perfect, not even near good, but its usable for now.


Exploded pulley with shaft and bearingsassembled pulley with bearings and various bolts
(Click for big)

The left picture shows an exploded simulation of how the bearing fits together, surprisingly this doesnt work too bad. The right image shows what it could look like assembled. Note the bit that says ‘Clutch Control’ this is just a bolt and two washers for image purposes. I need to put some thought into how I will turn the shaft, without allowing the spinning pulley to have any control over it. if I used a smaller pulley down the bottom or in the middle (as pictured), I fear it would be too easy for it to slip and the engine would dis-engage the clutch automatically. I also found I will need to modify the holes that the top bolt and bearing fit into; they are too shallow.

Update 17 July 2010
Started building the new base, and resunk the pulley so I had more bolt to play with, I am pretty happy with it. then I sunk a bolt into a wooden beam to go under the engine shaft, I shaped it with a craft knife, chiseled it out a little bit, then wacked it in with a hammer. It feels really solid so I am happy with this part. I in the 3rd pic I have placed it roughly where I expect it to sit. But I noticed I will have to be quite precise, I dont want the too shafts to be mis-aligned because it will mean the clutch plates wont sit true.


new base in progress

bolt mounted in a small beam to hold the clutchPlaced clutch in base underside of placed clutch

I still havent figured out how I can turn the clutch shaft without using too much bolt real estate and keeping it secure so its not able to be spun by the engine. although I am thinking about two small pulleys with some rope attached and wraped around a few times. buy pulling one rope, the pulley will spin the shaft and the height will increase, at the same time another pulley will be pulled and wrapped around the second pulley. I can then pull the second rope to do the opposite.

    Wooden Pulleys – Turning

As per Part 1. I now have a working drill and hole saw that runs of an old computer power supply. I can turn wood with the same drill by mounting it in a vice and bolting the wood into the chuck.
Power supplyDrill running off ATX PSU Drill Lathe

Firstly I took an old piece of MDF that was once a set of shelves, then a speaker box, and now wasting away in the garage and cut two pieces out. One was 5″ the other 4″. It took about 10/15mins to get through the MDF, I thought the drill bits were a bit crap but I think the drill itself is probably still underpowered. (it was quite a cheap unit when I bought it) Also I found it was very easy to get on an angle, possibly the density of the wood was different nearer the edges but I found it was digging in quite a fair amount on one side or the other and I ended up with not very even pieces. The first one wasn’t so bad but the second significantly skew. I will borrow a drill press to try and get a better piece, at least until I build my own later.

I put a bolt down the center shaft and tightened it up and placed the bolt into the chuck of my drill, then mounted the drill in the vice. To get foot control I tied a rope around the trigger, which travelled along my workbench to a nail then down and tied to a metal ruler/level at a height where I could push it down to pull the rope and as such, pull the trigger. I had some control over speed, but it could definately be improved.

Working on first pulleyPulley being turned and carved

This is how it came out, I was quite happy with this result.
Finished MDF pulley

I built a second but it came out quite skew, I will use a drill press to re-cut the MDF, and if its faster than the hand drill I might cut two circles, and stick them together to form a bigger pulley. something like so:

plan for new wood pulleycross section new wood pulley
This will also give me a wider groove so I can use thicker belts.

Update 12 July 2010
I also refined my drill/lathe technique a little over the weekend. I think I will modify it further to become a slightly more permanent fixture with a bearing on the other side. because its only fixed to the drill its quite easy to push too hard and bend the drill which alters the shape of the turned wood. to start with I may just buy a 30cm peice of threaded steel, grind myself a nice 3 sided head on one side so that it fits into the drill nicely, and smooth the otherside and it can sit in some sort of fixed socket to provide a more stable shaft.

I also built the new pulley, twice as wide so it will accomodate more reasonably sized belts.


Pulley 3Pulley 3

Currently my plan for the belt is to use rubber from an old push-bike inner tube

    Wooden Pulleys – Equipment

(5 July 2010) – Power and Drills

First thing I needed for my generator was either cogs or a pulley/belt system to drive the washing machine engine. I thought about several different options from buying old car pulleys/belt, using a bevel/helical gear, or building my own cogs/gears/pulleys on the cheap.

I decided the cheapest option (since all my projects try to be as low cost as possible) for me is to try manufacture my own pulley’s from wood.
I needed a few things,

* Hole saw
* Reliable drill to run the saw
* Wood turning equipment to cut the grooves.

I had none of these so started with what I did have.

I had an old portable battery drill that had a battery that was dead and generally ready for the trash, I figured I could wire it into the mains and turns out I was able to find an old ATX PSU that put out enough power, so I snipped all the ATX connectors down fit inside case, covered the ends up with heatshrink (didn’t want one accidentally touching something) and rigged up a switch and so on so I could run it like a lab power supply.


Modified ATX Power SupplyModified ATX Power Supply

(This PSU came in quite handy for other 12v (ish) projects like a peltier effect device I am playing around with.)

So now I have power, then I removed the casing of my drill battery pack, removed all the battery’s and chucked them (they were quite corroded) then basically clamped two cables to the connectors that go inside the drill, unfortunately it wouldn’t let me solder them on so I ended up turning the metal sheet over to clamp the cable in. I tied a knot in the cables before the hole so they wouldn’t tug on the connection. Then ran about 2.5m of cable out to a Molex Plug I picked up from jaycar so I could plug it neatly into the PSU.


Drill with modified battery pack to run off 12v powerportable drill running off power supply

I ended up buying a hole saw, I didnt have anything I could modify to make that, but it was only $20.

For the Lathe/Wood turner I found I could bolt the wood I wanted into work with into the drill, and mount the drill into a small vice and I used a rope tied around the trigger, around a nail, down to a metal level so I had it foot controlled. but I talk about this more in part 2.

Wood turning and Pulley making with a drill in a vice


(17 July 2010) – New Wood Turner

Ive started working on a new wood turner (I cant really call it a lathe as its shaft reliant) pics now, further update coming later.


taking the drill apart
drill too far apartmaking the mount for the drill motor

wood turner mount in progresswood turner mount in progress, side angle

(click for big)

the offcuts from the MDF I was using to make the pulley’s is used (leave no wood scraps behind) so its all odd shapes, its almost artistic! I just need to cut the bottom to a standard height, mount it to a small board, then figure out what ill mount that to. Probably make it like a vice that can be moved around, bench mountable, I also need to make another end that holds the other side of the shaft so that the shaft is stable, not able to move around, which is the biggest problem with the drill-in-a-vice “lathe”.


(28 July 2010) – New Wood Turner: Wiring

I finished wiring and testing the new setup. Power comes off the other psuedo drill pack and I’ve just hacked the bottom off the drill I am using for the turning. Power then goes too the jandal controller for analogue (ie: more presssure more speed) control of the motor. I mounted the original drill control into a recess into the bottom jandal and glued the jandals together. then it goes off to the drill in the mount.

new lathe wired up
Lathe jandal pedal
lathe power 'wiring'

Modular Engine

I was given a ‘broken’ Briggs and Stratton 095722 engine by my father, I casually disassembled it down to the crank over a couple of months, replaced the gaskets, cleaned it up was pleasantly surprised to find it was working once more.

Bore: 60mm
Stroke: 50cm
Displacement: 141cc
Torque: 6.4Ft Lbs (I think is about 3HP)

Then comes the hard part; I had to decide what to do with it.

I decided to make it as portable and modular as possible, so I could attach it to a variety of other projects I could now do, some ideas were

* Go Kart (its so… ‘done’)
* Generator (using an alternator or F&P Smart Drive Washing machine engine )
* Wood turning Lathe
* Motorbike/Scooter

Currently I am working on the generator as I have the parts required and it should be the easiest to make.

The engine currently sits on a makeshift platform to keep it steady and lift the shaft up, because of the carb position, I will not be able to run it sideways to get a horizontal shaft, although I have heard of people rotating it to allow for this.


complete
Briggs & Stratton 095722

almost
Engine almost done