a handle on things

fredhack meeting on 012112 was themed with woodworking. 

we picked up this exotic lacewood at woodcraft near richmond and decided to make handles. here's a pocket knife kit and some gun grips. a bowie knife project is also underway.  also see the handcrafted pen entry below.

     We started off with a knife kit from Woodcraft. This kit is basically a complete pocket knife, fully assembled minus the grips. They give you the grip screws, pocket clip, and clip screws to install. The first step then is to trace and cut some grip blanks. They need to be slightly oversized so that you have room to work when sanding them to the final dimensions. These are a bit more than "slightly" since the bandsaw desperately needs a new blade. (some idiot, who shall remain nameless, got in a hurry building my his shelves and decided to cut soft iron with a wood blade, but I think I he learned my his lesson.)

Once the blanks are cut, throw them on the belt sander and take them down to near the edge of your profile.

Yes, the stand for that tool is made from a driveshaft and a brake drum. Cute isn't it :)
Round the edges and sand the rounded profile into the handles.

Now comes the fun part. Mount the handles temporarily to the frams to verify your fit. If it's off a bit, sand it down to match. Once the profile fits, start finish sanding the part. Sand with progressively finer grits from 100 to 1500. I used: 100, 220, 320, 420, 600, and 1500. After the 1500, take it to a buffing wheel with fine (white) compound. Don't use rouge as it'll stain the wood. The last step in my case was a coat of paste wax since I want my grips grippy.

There you go, a matching set. One cordless drill and one screwdriver.

woodworking department - handcrafted pen

Natasha's handcrafted thuya burl ink pen by Russell.

1) select a pen blank and pen kit (woodcraft in Richmond)
2) drill the blank to the OD of the brass tube in the pen kit.
3) glue said tube into said blank
4) sand down  the ends of the blank to exactly the edge of the brass.
5) realize that you don't have the necessary bushings or mandrel to turn the wood the "correct" way.
6) realize that you have a metal lathe and not a wood lathe, make your own d@mn bushings. feel bada$$/
7) realize you don't have a live center and your dead center is too small, find a small bearing, make more bushings.  /bada$$
8) Mount it to your lathe, rough it round with a concave chisel.
9) fix what you just did with the metal lathe's carbide bit (chiseling sucks)
10) sand, sand, sand....polish. see the post on wood grips for the list of sandpapers I use.
11) press fit the pen kit together.


mailbox - lcd screen

got this lcd screen in the mail.  decided to wire up the basic use.  took us a minute to figure out the backlight, couldn't see crap before.  (ignore the excess arduinos on the breadboard... they're just hanging out)



refresh richmond - web professionals meetup

recently attended a meeting of refresh richmond on Jan 17 at 804workspace.  there was a panel discussion about internet outlook for 2012. the panelists were Doug Meacham from Experience Matters, Jeff Rock from Mobelux, Emily Shane from Hodges Digital.  

they talked primarily about social networking on the web.  i completely agreed with Jeff about the pointlessness of most data mining coming from social networking.  anyway, stuff was said outloud that i'm often thinking in my head.  will be attending the next one if anyone wants to come along. they occur every 3rd tuesday.



2 members attended feastRVA on Jan 15th.  this is pretty cool deal where three groups present ideas for start-ups, public interest groups, non-profits, etc  the attendees vote on which one they like best.  the winner gets to keep the proceeds for the night.  tickets weere $25 and the food was great.  met some interesting people too, especially from the vcu brandcenter.

Mattie Hinkley and her winning proposal for Richmond Defensive Cycling.


stovetop rocket fuel

Making fuel ethanol.

First, make a mash. This is a bucket of rotten grapes and sugar that I was attempting to make into wine. I failed quite miserably at that, so we decided to make fuel out of it. I'll say that again, fuel. The following steps describe a process by which a person can make fuel alcohol. Do not attempt to consume any product or byproduct of this process.

Making the mash is easy, yeast pretty much doesn't care. Put exactly one metric "a lot" of sugar and/or fruit in a bucket, fill up about half of the bucket with water, add precisely149,383 cells of yeast (one packet). Drill a hole in the lid and jam an airlock in it with some electrical tape. Stick it in a corner and forget it. Come back here when your wife starts complaining about the smell. Something between a week and 3 years should work.

This is a pressure cooker, coil of pipe, and a bucket. Simple enough, right?

The coil will condense the vapors coming off of the pressure cooker.

Condenser filled with chemically inert coolant. This special coolant can be found at most gas stations for about $1.50/bag.       

You'll also need a jar to catch the fuel as it exits the coil, and if your setup is sloppily constructed like mine you'll need a pan to catch the drip water leaking around the pipe exit.

Once the aparatus is constructed, fill it with your rancid wine/mash/yeast-soup and fire it up. You want to run the stove just under the boiling point of water, the ethanol will boil off first before the water can. The coil will start burping and eventually you'll get a clear fluid from the coil that will immediately stink up your whole house. Smells just like whiskey hand sanitizer or fuel alcohol.

Burns like fuel alcohol too.

yuletide solder

junior member A2 soldered together this radioshack kit.  those velleman kits are pretty cool.

strip search

sometimes you just don't feel like building something new.  instead you just want to take something apart.  like printer stripping.  those old printers you have laying around are great for salvage at any hackerspace.  various motors, ground rods, sensors, encoder disks, cogs, and plastic/rubber wheels can be salvaged from a printer. 

light book

started to make a light book for a teachers desk.  it wasn't really going as planned, but we have version 2 on the way with a new design.

electrifying craft fail

our conductive play dough from this instructable just wouldn't conduct... even when we put a welder on it.  not sure what we did wrong, but it made a pretty good insulator.

big time

Russ soldered the bigtime watch kit in 4:36.  we were timing him at the sparkfun tent. he also added on the esd bracelet shown below for some bonus functionality.

get a grip

polishing is relaxing.  these previously cut acrylic gun grips were taken from flat edged to form fitted.

tube necklace

we were walking through the hardware store looking for fittings on our ethanol project when Natasha just happened to spot some nice clear tube.  she hacked a necklace from the plumbing aisle.


this is one of those perfunctory instructables, the good ole mini-grill from a clothes-hanger and an altoids(this time lemonheads) tin.  cooked one hotdog about a year ago.