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.

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.

Tascam iM2 stereo microphone review

OK, so the Tascam iM2 is hardly anything new, but I just got my hands on one, so I thought I’d write a quick review

I’m testing this on my 4th generation iPod as that is the newest iDevice I own. I will make it clear that this will NOT work on a iPhone 3gs, as I’ve tried it, and the phone doesn’t detect it.

The tascam iM2 is a stereo microphone, in a Near Coincident microphone pair configuration

It is a 16 bit recorder, not 24 bit like the rode iXY, but it is a fraction of the cost. This doesn’t make it useless. 16 bit is still perfectly usable, you just need to be a little more observant of your recording levels than you would if the same device was 24bit.

 

iPod attached to iM2

iPod attached to iM2

 

Connecting the Tascam iM2 is quite easy, just it into the dock connector, and away you go. The app I’m using is Rode’s Rode Rec app. There was a Tascam one, whoever it didn’t work reliably on my ipod. It would freak out, and require a force close of the app. On going to update the app to try to fix the Tascam app, the appstore notified me that it was no longer avaliable. Rode Rec seems like a better program anyway. It does have its good and bad points, but its the best app out there I could find for this use.

Rode Rec picks the stereo mic up without a problem. The free app restricts you to 44khz which is perfectly usable, however, by updating to the pro version, it unlocks 48khz which is slightly better if your planning to use the recordings in video (The differences should be marginal, however thats technically the best way of doing things)

 

Snap and go

Snap and go

 

Back side of the microphone

Back side of the microphone

 

The main problem with using the iM2 on my iPod is that the headphone port on the iPod is on the same end as the dock connector, meaning there is no way to monitor my recordings. This is a bit of a bummer, but I guess it can be worked around, mostly by “guessing” its recording good audio. A dock connector extender might be useful here, however I don’t have one, so that isn’t tested.

So how does it sound?

I’ve uploaded a very quick comparison between the iM2 and the Zoom H4n to Soundcloud so you can listen for yourself. Its far from scientific, but it gives a clear indication of the performance of the mic.

 

What I found was that surprisingly, the Tascam has a lot less hiss than the inbuilt Zoom mics. Even when adjusting the mics to match closely in signal levels, there is a much more prominent hiss in the Zoom’s tracks.

The Zoom had a slightly better stereo image however, where the Tascam sounded slightly flatter.

 

So is it usable? I think it is. I think it should make a great recorder for impromptu recording sessions, and should be capable of great atmos tracks while tripping around. I’ll be certainly keeping this near by at all times. Which is, coincidently, an advantage of this. Its small enough that I can leave it tucked in my bag, with my ipod, and be ready to go at a moments notice. The biggest issue will be remembering to make sure the ipod’s battery is charged.

 

See the problem?

See the problem?