Plastic Parts Organisers Rack

So, I’ve been on a prolonged mission to get the garage workshop a bit more organised. One thing that had frustrated me was having screws, bolts, nuts etc in small jars and packets in different places. Not knowing what I had caused me to buy doubles of common items and then it was a hassle finding things.

To get sorted, I bought a bunch of plastic organiser trays (they happened to be on a clearance sale so I bought double 🙂 ). Filling all the trays and labeling them all was very therapeutic and has been a huge improvement in itself. However, all the trays are currently sitting on the garage floor 😦 .

Sorting all the small bits and pieces (screws, nails, nuts, bolts, taps, rivets…) into plastic organisers has been great, but having them sit on the floor is a bit silly.

To fix this problem, its time to build a custom shelf with individual trays to slide each organiser into. Also, this was a good opportunity to learn how to use the plunge router I picked up at Dapto Markets (there’ll be plenty of mistakes and misadventures to report about :/ ).

The shelf is essentially a frame with an internal divider and multiple trays.

The sides and bottom of the shelf glued and screwed together. Grooves have already been cut in the sides.

I forgot to take a bunch of photos when doing the grooves because I got a bit frustrated using the router. Basically, I was learning on the fly. I’d made two tests passes and thought I had the hang of it, but I didn’t. There’s a small thumbwheel on the side that can be used for the depth stop, however, it doesn’t take much downward pressure to overcome the thumbwheel’s lock. When I was pressing down on the router to keep it down in the work, I was basically pushing it down the whole distance and plunging it through a lot of material. It also explains why it felt like I was dragging the thing through molasses. The poor router bit was trying to cut through an inch of Australian hardwood!

Anyway, after a bit of swearing and frustration, I changed my approach after realising there was a plunge lock mechanism. Now I set my desired depth, engage the plunge lock, route, stop, increase the depth stop, relock the plunge mechanism and take the next pass.

Another lesson learned was the need to ensure my edge guide is very secure. When you’re moving the router, there’s a lot going on – its loud, you’ve got glasses on, you’re trying to keep a good grip on the tool whilst holding the trigger – and you need to be able to rely on the edge guide and workpiece being secure. If the edge guide or workpiece moves, you bugger it up!

My edge guide moved

Next to do was make a large groove/recess down the centre of the top and bottom pieces to hold the vertical divider. Learning from my mistakes, the edge guide was held securely.

Now the top piece could be temporarily secured in place so I can measure how long the internal vertical divider needs to be.

Securing the top to the sides involved using regular wood screws. During the week I picked up some countersinking drills to see if they are any good.

Normally I’d pilot drill the hole and then countersink the hole so the wood screw’s head would sit flush, this doesn’t produce the cleanest finish and its an extra step. I was hoping that the new drill bit gave a better finish and was faster.

I’ll be using the countersink pilot drill bit again because its is much faster and the finish is far superior to my old way.

Placing the internal divider into position, I could mark its required length.

Marking the length of the internal divider.

Once the divider was cut to length, a test fit could be made.

Internal divider installed.

The internal divider needs to be trimmed down in width a bit. Something has moved when I was cutting all the pieces to width.

The internal divider needs to be resized.

Its starting to look like something useful.

So far it holds 2x plastic organisers 🙂

Ok, so things remaining to do are:

  • transfer the position of the grooves to the internal divider
  • cut the internal divider grooves
  • cut all the shelves
  • I’m thinking I’d like to route a hand-hold in each shelf so each divider can be grabbed easily
  • fix the gouges. I think I might fill them with epoxy. I don’t want to hide them because they’ll serve a reminder of the mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve learned.
  • mount it on the wall

Dapto Market Bargains – 27/1/19

The Dapto Markets are a bit of a favourite of mine. Held weekly, they bring all sorts of people along selling all sorts of wares. My favourite things to look for are used hand tools that are still in good condition or are good quality item/brands that are being sold cheap. Its a cash only affair and sometimes you can get some good deals.

My hands-down favourite and best buy so far would have to be my Hilti rotary hammer drill that I paid $20 for! Assembled in 1985, she’s older than me, but still an absolute brute of a tool. Once you’ve used a rotary-hammer drill you’ll never have the patience for a hammer drill again when drilling into concrete.

Anyway, back on track, this week’s finds include:
*2x bar clamps for $15 each. I found similar new ones at Bunnings for $32 each
*1x Clock – $4
*1x plunge router – $25

Cheap router, dodgy clock and good bar clamps

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Weather Station Display


Hey, so its been a while, there’s been a few projects since the last post, but I haven’t written them up 🙄 .

In an effort to stop the projects accumulating in the half-finished pile, I made an effort to take this project that has been sitting on the workbench for ages and put it on display. Its simple enough but I’m pleased with the result.

Ages ago I wrote some code for an HTU21D temperature and humidity sensor. I made an outdoor housing for the sensor and all, and used it for a while, but the display was a bit impractical. Anyway, this time I used a 2 line 20 character VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) I’ve had for years (sitting in the bits and pieces pile) to display the sensor measurements. I’ve always liked the display and now its time to show it off.

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3D Resin Casting Electronics – Fails and Wins

For a current project, I needed to cast some electronics in epoxy resin. The process was eventually successful, but it did take 3 attempts to get it right.

Three attempts at casting resin in 3D printed PETG molds.

The aim was to encapsulate a Neopixel ring and control electronics in epoxy and use this as an underwater macro ring light for my underwater camera.

This blog post is just going to detail the process I used and the mistakes made. Once I finish the ring light, I’ll make post about it.

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Bootleg Battery Charger Heart Transplant

Following on from my previous post where I looked inside a cheapo battery charger from eBay – I have since gutted the charger. All that I kept was the case and the battery contacts.

Gutting the unit eliminates a potential fire hazard. I replaced the circuitry with a dedicated lithium ion battery charger IC instead.

I’m using a MAX1555 and it is a single chip solution which requires a minimal number of external components. It is a single cell charger and has a maximum charge current of 280mA.

The chip has dual inputs, allowing you charge a battery from either a USB port or a DC plug pack. When charging from a USB port, the charge current is limited to 100mA. Whereas, the DC plug pack input allows for a charging current of 280mA. Also, this version of chip has a charge status indicator which can be used to drive an LED.

I’m not going to use the 240VAC socket anymore, and I’ve replaced it with a micro USB socket. This change lets me use a USB wall socket adapter which can deliver 1500mA at 5VDC. However, my new circuit will only require 280mA. (I’m already thinking about a 2nd iteration of this project which will use an IC with a higher charger current to charge faster.)

Schematic for the new battery charger using a MAX1555 IC.

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Bootleg Battery Charger Teardown

Its amazing how cheap some stuff is on eBay these days.

For example, I picked up 3x lithium ion batteries and a charger to suit my Olympus TG-4 camera for $25 Aussie dollars, including free delivery.

I got this charger and 3x batteries (yes, I know, only 1 battery is shown) for about $25. This stuff is just too cheap and nasty.

I have an upcoming camping trip and I wanted to get some spare batteries for the camera.

I didn’t want to buy just 1 battery in case it was dead on arrival so I got 3. The battery charger was a bonus. Olympus don’t supply a proper battery charger when you buy a TG-4, you have to charge the battery in the camera with a USB charger and charge times are pretty slow. Olympus sells an AC powered charger but its about $70 and doesn’t include extra batteries. I was hoping that the new charger would be faster or reasonably good, but I didn’t have high hopes on the quality of the battery charger.

Two screws at the back of the charger were removed, but the plastic halves are ultrasonic welded together. Splitting the ultrasonic weld was very easy though. A bare minimum of plastic has been used and it isn’t very rugged.

It looks pretty crusty.

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Linear CCD Update

Just a quick update. I was going through some boxes that I haven’t unpacked since moving and I found the linear CCD I was experimenting with.

After reviewing some schematics I’d saved and reviewing some datasheets, I’m sort of back up to speed with where I left the project.

I managed to get some traces on my analogue oscilloscope that sort of match the datasheets but the relatively fast timings and the inability to store a trace on my oscilloscope was making things difficult. So, I took the board into work to use one of the good digital oscilloscopes in the workshop and I managed to get the following trace.

Yellow trace is the CCD output signal. Green trace is the transfer gate signal I was using as a trigger signal.

After performing a few tests I am not confident that I have all of the signals or the timing correct. Why I know this is because when I placed small pieces of black tape over the CCD’s lens, I was not seeing a decreases in signal intensity to match the number of pieces of black tape. Also, when I shaded a quarter of the CCD, the signal output for all the CCD’s pixels decreased in output value rather than the pixels that were shaded.

Anyway, I’m learning a few things about analogue electronics which is good. So far I’ve needed to improve my knowledge on op-amp circuits and I’ve been using a sample and hold circuit to help isolate the specific pixel output signal from the entire output waveform.

Anywho, I’m sure I’ll share more details as they arise.