Step for sore puppy

Our dog Bella is about 9 years old now, and she has arthritis in at least her back hips, and I suspect her front ones are developing it as well.

So, my wife and I figured she needed some kind of step to help her get up onto her favourite chair, so this past weekend  I made her a step to help her get onto her chair.

All projects begin with some planning. Design wise, it’s pretty basic. It is just a wooden crate. Sketchup is fun and easy to use for sketching out designs like this. I began using dimensions from pine timber at Bunnings, but due to there being a surprise amount of timber needed to go into it, I decided to use what I could scrounge up around the house. Free is always good.

This is a rough cut and screw together project. There is no fine woodworking happening here!

Screwing sides together

Screwing sides together

In order to avoid bothering with trying to glue up a bunch of not completely straight pieces of timber, I went with screws. The strips of timber on the ends hold the two side pieces together. They are also decorative. Width wasn’t particularly important, and these were offcuts from ripping the timber for the thin strip on the top of the side.

On a side note, It can be a pain to rip a board that is already cut to length with a hand held circular saw, as the fence runs out of timber to guide it. It is easier to do if the board is longer than needed though.

Screwing the sides together

 

Sides done, now working on the top

 

 

Job done, Bella testing out the box. Apparently it makes a good pillow

 

For anyone interested in building something similar, Here is a picture of the sketchup drawing of my project. Please note that I made this to suit the timber I had lying around, and to match about 1/2 the hight of the chair, so if you are making this for a similar purpose, you may need to adjust your sizing to suit your chair, and the timber you are using. You could also turn this upside down, and it makes a fairly sturdy storage crate.

sketchup layout

Download for FREE old Usborne books – Including How to Make Computer Controlled Robots

Its been a really long time since I blogged anything on here, but here is something that I found the other day that I really wanted to share.

Usborne, the publisher of many child oriented technology books have published some of their old books on their website to download as PDFs

No need to read further if you don’t want. Follow the link below, and scroll down the bottom of the page. No login, no hoops to jump through.

https://usborne.com/browse-books/features/computer-and-coding-books/

 

There are a few books on their site regarding BASIC for early home computers, but the book that got my attention is the book pictured above, How to Make Computer Controlled Robots. I remember borrowing this book from the library as a kid, and I really wanted to make one of the robots that are outlined in the book.

I never did make the robot of course, but now I have a digital copy of the book, I’m tempted to give it a go. It will go on my list of things to do some day.

Plant stand DIY

Long weekends are good times to do projects around the house, and at the moment we are trying to grow some stuff. Here is one of the things I made last year during a long weekend. I can’t remember which weekend it was. I need to be more efficient at posting these posts.plant stand

We had this big terracotta pot from our previous trials, and we needed a stand to get it off the ground, to make it easier to get to, and to stop Bella, our dog from digging in it. Even though she has an entire yard that she can dig in, as soon as you give her a nice pot plant to dig in, she will. if there are plants, she’ll have them out of there!

The frame is nothing spectacular, and won’t win any design awards, but it’ll hold for now.

I made the design up as I went along, cutting up a length of construction lumber, and some bits of a pallet to build it, it was all just stuff I had lying around.

Its still holding strong so far, although the lettuce we had growing in the pot has succumbed to the heat of summer. We need to find something new to try and grow in there.Plant stand close up

I think it turned out pretty well. At the very least, it performs its intended task quite well

Sandpaper storage shelf (aka, I got a saw for my birthday, and needed an excuse to cut stuff)

Here is the completed shelf in its current location.

Here is the completed shelf in its current location.

I turned another year older recently, and for my birthday, my wonderful wife bought me a Ryobi One+ battery powered circular saw.

Of course, If you get something like a saw for your birthday, you instantly need to find something to cut.

I had to sit through an entire day of work before I could play with it, so after work, I stopped off at Bunnings on the way home, and bought a couple of sheets of MDF. I had an idea to make a shelf to store my sandpaper neatly.

Every time I make something like this, I always manage to stuff up in my measurements, and this time was no different.

When measuring up the MDF for the sides of the cabinet, I seemingly picked the narrow sides, instead of the long sides.

However, I measured and cut the the top and bottom with clearance for the sides Plus the sandpaper, but the front and back only had a little extra leeway, and the paper wouldn’t fit if I added the sides in the same way.

I didn’t have enough MDF to cut 2 new sides out, so instead, I used the sides, and the bottom, but cut another top that was the width of the bottom, Plus the thickness of 2x sheets of 12mm mdf. this meant I wouldn’t eat into the size of the top shelf.

The bottom was slightly larger than the rest of the compartments, as A: I was lazy and B: I wanted to try and make a little drawer for other bits and pieces, so I got away with using the original bottom.

I cut the slots for the 3mm MDF with the saw as well. If I did something like this again, I’d probably try and get a 3mm bit for my router, as for each slot in the MDF, I had to do 2 overlapping cuts with the circular saw. A lot of people do this kind of work on a table saw, but as I don’t have one of those, and I do have the hand held circular saw, that’s what I used.

As it was, Come assembly time, I discovered I wasn’t quite accurate enough with my slots, and while some were OK, a couple were a little too tight. While trying to tap the shelves into position, I was actually driving the sides apart. with a few knocks from a mallet, and some clamping and extra glue, I managed to get things to fit up well enough again. I’ll have to be a bit more careful next time. Its all a learning experience.

So, its not exactly an action shot, but

So, its not exactly an action shot, but here is the saw after cutting the slots for the shelves

I was impressed with the performance of the saw. After a couple of hours of working with it, not working full time obvously, but working it enought that I thought I might have dropped the battery a bit, the battery was still reading fully charged on its built in meter. I think I’m going to like these 5 amp hour batteries that I bought to go with my Ryobi One+ gear.

Out of glueup, and the shelves fitted.

Out of glueup, and the shelves fitted.

Boya BY-V01 stereo on camera microphone

Today, I’m looking at the microphone is the BOYA BY-V01 Stereo X/Y Mini Condenser Microphone.

This cheap stereo microphone is available on eBay and other locations, for about $30 Australian. I bought it wanting something cheap and low profile to sit on my camera most of the time, so I can get better sounding audio when I’m shooting, and I don’t want the bulk and clutter of the Rode Videomic.

From the outside, it looks OK. It’s a nice size, doesn’t stick out too far, and seems reasonably built.

The mic in place on my Canon 650d

The mic in place on my Canon 650d

But fairly quickly, you’ll establish that while it does work, it does have some fairly hard to ignore issues. I was hoping, being an externally powered microphone, it would a reasonable level of gain on the output of the mic, but it appears that there isn’t a whole lot of additional amplification given to the recording level.

This isn’t ideal for most DSLR cameras with microphone inputs. They are often build with budget preamps if they are luck enough to have mic inputs at all. The high noise recordings aren’t the greatest. Usually, the best thing to do is to have a microphone that has a strong output, or run an external mixer or preamp so you can turn down the inputs on the camera.

But that’s not the big issue on this microphone.

The sound recorded to camera appears to be flipped from what you would expect, With the left channel coming from the right, and vice-versa. That is a fixable issue by either flipping the channels in post, or re wiring the mic, but the point is, you shouldn’t have to do either. Also, to make matters worse, even if you do fix it, the sound image is not properly centered. If a sound is coming directly to the front of the mic, it will appear to come from one side of the mic.

I suspect the source of this problem comes from the fact that this microphone is not actually an X/Y microphone like advertised. If you pull the mic apart (like I did), It is actually appears to be a mid/side microphone.

Being  a mid/side microphone isn’t an issue (apart from the misleading labelling), I am guessing the side capsule is not performing as an accurate figure 8 microphone, and it is biasing one side just a little bit.


Boya microphone array internals

Boya microphone internals

 

My verdict on this microphone is that its probably not worth the $30. I wouldn’t buy it again. If you have a camera with on board microphones (like most, if not all you’d consider mounting this to), You will likely get audio that is as good as, if not better than this microphone. Sure, there might be some purposes that see it being useful, like using it with the little deadcat in windy environments, that would probably yield slightly better results than the internal mic. The sound quality isn’t great, I’d say close to the on camera ones on the 650D, and it has issues with the stereo reproduction. I’d think twice about buying this mic. Save your money. for a little more you can get something a little better from a name brand like Rode, or Tascam. You’ll get much better results there.

Replacement shock mount bands

What do you do when you need replacement rubber bands for a microphone shock mount,  but cannot find them anywhere (at least anywhere that would ship to me here in Australia)?

You improvise.

I started off using  lots of small standard rubber bands,  but that didn’t work the greatest.

The old rubber bands didn't work so well

The old rubber bands didn’t work so well

Brain wave!

Pushbike inner tubes, like one massive rubber band in a circle!

Pushbike inner tubes, like one massive rubber band in a circle!

Pushbike tubes!

I can cut them to the size I need,  and they are a bit sturdier than half a dozen of the thin ones.

Just cutting slices off the tire

Just cutting slices off the tire

 

There really isn’t much to this, so the pictures will pretty much tell the story. You cut off slices of tube.

 

This is what we get

This is what we get

 

Then you mount them on the shock-mount, and you’re done.

Then we just slip them into place. As good as a bought one.

Then we just slip them into place. As good as a bought one.

 

The resulting shock mount works much better than my original effort. all the small rubber bands really didn’t hold up so well. These inner tube ones work great.

Quick and simple laptop mod – a tape measure

Here is a very quick post to show an idea that I had recently.

Its so small, that It’s hardly worthy of a post, but I thought someone might find it interesting.

Often, I’ll find it handy to know how big something is while surfing the net, or trying to size up something I’m looking at, and I’ll either need to go find a ruler, or make a rough guestimation of the size.

Then I had a brainwave, what if I stuck a ruler to my laptop?

printable rulers can be found at various places on-line, and I found a neat short ruler at http://web.ncf.ca/jim/scale/, which is the one pictured below:

 

Ruler closeup

I printed it out, measured it for accuracy, and adjusted the size a few times and printed again until the accuracy was close enough for my liking before cutting it out and sticking it down with double sided tape.

 

The little ruler was a neat size, but I thought a longer ruler might be helpful, so I was going to find a larger ruler to print out, then I thought of an easier idea:

Ikea give away paper rulers at their stores, and I’ve had a bunch kicking around for ages. I thought I could save myself some trouble, and use one of those.

Instead of printing off another ruler, this time, I chose to go the lazy route, and cut up an Ikea measuring tape.

I split it down the middle, so i could use both the inches, and the centimetre  measurements, and stuck them down to the laptop with double sided sticky tape like before.

Laptop displaying rulers

As you can see from the pictures, the results aren’t exactly super neat and fancy, but they do exactly what I want them to do.

Hopefully someone can find this simple idea useful.