You’re a Wizard, Harry!


Cozy Heat Control with an Arduino

I think we’re clearly at a point where Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone, etc, are no longer toys but are solving real world problems.

I use Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone at work now to replace large and expensive, less than reliable systems and while there have been some growing pains, the advantages of these open source boards far outweigh any hassles.


[George Dewar] and his wife live in a typical 1940’s house in New Zealand , which in case you didn’t know, have a little insulation in the ceiling… and nowhere else. Like most, they put up with the cold — but after having a baby, [George] decided it was time to start controlling the heat a bit better.

They have an electric oil radiator which works well, but isn’t very smart. It only has 6 settings — not very useful when you’re trying to stay at a certain temperature. First off, they looked into a plug-in thermostat controller, and found a cheap one called the HeaterMate. Unfortunately it left a lot to be desired. For example, it didn’t seem to have PID control at all — and for an oil radiator, when you turn it off… it’s still going to heat the room for a while. He also found that…

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Keep Your Friends Close and Your Tools Closer with this Pegboard on Rollers

Okay, I’m going to build one of these…


There’s nothing that adds more time to building or repairing something than having to walk back and forth to grab the right tool for the job. “Wait, was that a 15/16 inch socket I needed?  Nope it’s a 3/4 inch!  Rats!”

[Brad Justinen] shares his solution to the problem in this very simple, but well documented tutorial on Instructables. He welded up a metal A-frame, then simply added pegboard to the sides and casters to the bottom. Our first thought was if something like this could be made out of lumber for a bit more of a DIY approach, but if you’ve ever moved a tool box full of tools, you know how their weight really adds up fast. So perhaps it might be best to bribe your welder-owning friend with a 12 pack of his or her favorite adult beverage.

If you haven’t used pegboard for organizing tools, it really…

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I like to picture the Open Source Movement in a tuxedo T-Shirt because it says I want to be formal, but I’m here to party.

I’m starting to feel like the shittiest blogger ever to blog in the blogosphere.

Anyway, a little about me…

I’m a person who craves a creative outlet. My job was not one that allowed for that at all really and building things with my hands and tinkering on my days off was my greatest source of stress relief. Well, low and behold, around March of this year I fell into a position with my non-profit employer wherein I get to use my knack for tinkering in a pseudo-research and development role without having to change employers or be the FNG again.

It’s freaking awesome.

So now that I’m a tinkerer/researcher guy I’ve had to address a lot of problems and challenges with equipment we use while avoiding trying to reinvent the wheel or burning through a very limited budget. Additionally, I’m working with equipment developed by a guy who retired and whose spot I took over and that guy was a genius. Sometimes I’m left scratching my head trying to figure out how a thing he put together worked.

One of the things I have brought to the party in my new job is a deep love for all things open source and a love for standardized systems. Trying to get a gizmo to run that uses proprietary software to work right now when the IT nazis want a month or more to decide if they will approve some stupid ActiveX control has led me to embrace with open arms tools that are designed to work under standards like HTML5.

It may be presumptuous of me to say but I firmly believe we can credit the Linux community as being the driving force of the Open Source movement. If you’re one of the wonderful people developing stuff for that community, Tina Fey high five to you. People like you saved my little non-profit organization over $3,000 last week…

tina fey high five

This leads me to my main point: give back and share information when you get it. Don’t hoard information if it was basically free for you to learn it.

One of the beautiful things about the Internet is information is often freely available, yet someone had to sit down and organize it so another person could understand it and learn. I have learned tons from YouTube pages like Welding Tips and Tricks, Eli the Computer Guy, Kevin Caron, Hak5, MrPete222, and many more and have directly put that knowledge to work. The open source and DIY community is all about helping each other learn either to solve real world problems or just to have fun. If you know something, put it out there so another person can learn and grow and maybe share something you didn’t know.

I’m going to start work on a master list of my favorite resources so these folks get the recognition they deserve.

Stay tuned!

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Milling Machines and You!

While the opening is reminiscent of a porno… Kevin Caron lays down some good basic info like usual about milling machines.

Check out Kevin’s other videos. He does some neato stuff with a variety of mediums.

And of course look out for those zany machinists with their crazy pranks!

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