Utility Pole House

We have a utility pole in our backyard (previous owners had a trailer there) and it’s not that nice of a thing to have in one’s backyard (at least when it’s not doing anything). So your left with two options: take it out, or build something on it… guess which one I’d like to do:

FYI – Utility lines have already been removed.

Now, I’d like to build this for our boys (it would be great for Airsoft); but it can serve a second purpose – pull up the ladder and it would make a safe (at least temporary) shelter from the zombie hordes.

DIY Fume Extractor

I was tired of breathing solder fumes so I decided to make myself a fume extractor – in its simplest form a fume extractor sucks the soldering fumes up and passes them through a filter, in this case I used and activated carbon filter.

You can buy fume extractors from anywhere $30 to thousands but since I already had everything to make this (except the carbon filters and the tin) I decided to go the DIY route. The filters were $11 for a big roll (enough to cut a few dozen filters for this) and $3 for the tin.

MADE – DIY Ring Light

I’ve always wanted a ring light to mess with and this idea has been sitting in my bookmarks for awhile.

So, I finally got around to making my own and this is the result:

My ring light was completely inspired by Joe Holst’s blog post on his own DIY ring light. Stop by his site and take a look at his – it’s much prettier than mine.

FedEx – Will It Blend?

Seems as though FedEx got there hands on a Blendtec Blender and decided to do their own “Will It Blend?” test on my order from Adafruit Industries.

Fortunately, Adafruit is sending out a replacement overnight (at no cost to me), which is really above and beyond considering that this was a FedEx FAIL and I was a bit of an ass to Adafruit about the issue initially blaming them rather than FedEx.

Computer Power Usage

A friend asked me how much it costs to have his office computers running 24/7. So, I used my current measurement interface and multimeter to measure how much current one of the systems drew in various states of use. Knowing the current draw I could figure out how much wattage the system was using in those various states of use.
volts x amps = watts

I found the Oregon commercial electric rate of ¢7.63 per kilowatthour from here and used the following formula to figure out the cost to run one system 24/7:

watts x 24 hours x 30.5 days/month = watt hours (Wh)

Wh / 1000 = kilowatthour (kWh)

kWh x ¢7.63 = cost per month to run computer 24/7 for month

What’s most interesting is that when the system and the monitor were powered off they were still drawing 9.6 watts! That’s ¢54 a month just for the privilege of having the device plugged in!

Wikipedia – Vampire Power

On Life

In my 26 years of existence I’ve learned that life is hardly ever fair. In fact a lot of times it can feel like life is kicking you in the face, when you’re already on the ground from it punching you in the stomach. In all the times that life was punching or kicking me, I learned some things:

  • Even though life is hardly ever fair, it’s still worth living.
  • Life is worth living because of other people, and the experiences both good and bad that we share.
  • Life should not be lived alone, it should be shared with friends, family and even those you can’t stand.
  • Don’t over analyze, life isn’t that complicated – just live.
  • Don’t let the punching and kicking make you bitter, let yourself be happy.
  • Be yourself, always.
  • Every now and then life stops the punching and the kicking and hands you a gift, and when it does you should grab on to that gift and never let go.
  • The single most precious gift that life can give you is people that accept and love you for who you are because being you is really what your life is meant for.

Sandi is beautiful, smart, funny, and caring. She is someone who makes it worth going though the kicks and punches of life. She is one of those gifts that life gives you. In order to grab hold of that gift and never let it go I have asked her to marry me.

She said yes.

Date is set for April 1st (Yeah, I know April 1st! w00t)

-I love you Sandi and Boys-

Me & Sandi

Me & Boys

Me & Boys

120Vac Interface for Current Measurement

WARNING: The following project deals with mains voltage, which can cause serious injury or death. Should you choose to replicate any part of this project I am not responsible for any damage, injury or death that may result.

I wanted a way to easily and safely (or semi-safely) use my multimeter’s current measuring function (ammeter) on 120Vac devices.

To measure current with an ammeter you need to break the circuit and insert the ammeter so that the electricity flows through the ammeter on its way to the device being powered.

To do this easily and safely with devices powered via mains voltage (120Vac) I made this “interface.” One side of the circuit goes directly to the outlet, and the other is broken and goes to a terminal strip. An ammeter is connected to the terminal strip, completing the circuit and allowing the ammeter to measure the current being drawn from the device plugged into the outlet.

This was easy, took only about an hour to make, and all the parts can be picked up from any decent hardware store:

I started with a standard plastic surface mount switch/outlet box:

I used small angle brackets to attach the terminal strip to the box:

Drilled holes in the box to mount the terminal strip:

Cut some machine screws down to size:

The terminal strip attached to the box:

Drilled a hole for the wires to pass through to the terminal strip:

Wired up the outlet – this is wired the same way you’d normally wire an outlet except that one side (positive in this case) of the circuit is being broken by the terminal strip:

All together:

Only the last two terminals are used, the rest are just extra:

Measuring the current draw of a desk lamp (CLF bulb). Notice that I used longer screws on the terminal strip to allow alligator clips to be clipped on:

Now I can measure the current draw of a 120Vac device (or devices) easily and relatively safely using my multimeter. I say “relatively safely” because the terminals are exposed so caution should be taken when in use. Also, it should only be used for quick measurements, noting long term.

By measuring the current draw (amps) of a device you can easily figure out how many watts it’s pulling by multiplying the source voltage by the amps.

volts x amps = watts

My CFL bulb is drawing 0.12 amps, times that by 120 and we get 14.4 watts.