Monday, January 16, 2017

Drill battery refresh

Cordless drill batteries. Generally you can buy a new drill with 2 batteries and a charger for less than buying a new battery, and that's just wrong....

My first cordless drill: Wen, 9.6volt, not variable speed. Battery didn't last all that long, but we knew a guy that worked at Battery Plus, and he put in new cells for me. Those didn't last long, either.

2nd: Craftsman 13.2v. This was a good drill, and I used it a lot, till the batteries started failing. It was really long, from chuck to the end of the drill, so it didn't get into very small places. Plus it didn't stand up on the battery like most do now, but it was still balanced pretty well.

3rd Milwaukee 18v. Got this used, had a 1/2" chuck, which had a broken jaw, which really didn't affect it. It was also a good drill, and I'd be rebuilding the batteries for it, but it got stolen out of the garage.

4th Makita 12v. NiHd Good drill, bad batteries. I bought a set of NiCd from ebay a few years ago instead of rebuilding the battery packs. Seems like one of those batteries was not working right, but maybe giving it some love and threats has brought it back. Old and new:

5th Rockwell 12v lithium impact driver. Not a drill, exactly, but a driver. Was AWESOME but was stolen from the garage along with the Milwaukee. The lithium lasted nearly forever and would drive a lot of screws. Charged fast, too.

6th 12V Masterforce Menards brand  lithium drill/impact kit. These are awesome, too. I think I bought them when the Makita was not cooperating, and I said "I'm not buying more batteries for that POS". Got the kit on sale and a rebate, too, was quite cheap. Small, lightweight, has lights and works great.

I bought enough 2200mh batteries from ebay to rebuild the 2 Makitas, 1 Crapsman, and the Wen. My plan is to put one in the garage, and carry one in the car in case I find something in a dumpster that needs to be taken apart before I take it home.

The interesting/irritating thing about these batteries....Well, a couple things. The new batteries, the green ones have tabs already applied to them, pointing the same direction, with a piece of heat shrink tube on them. That has to be cut off. The tabs never need to go the same direction. But some patience and it comes together.

The other thing? The old batteries still hold a charge and seem to work. I don't have a real method to test them, to see how long or how much charge they hold....but they work well enough to power some LED lights for testing.

Drill needs new batteries? Bring it over, I'll help you fix it up.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Vibrating egg repair

Yes, the title is accurate. If you're not a fan of "pink" or are afraid to see a sex type toy opened up displaying the innards, then look away. These things have been hanging around my basement WAY too long, it's time to figure out if they are fixable or not.

My FB status was funny, I thought, even though it didn't get much attention. Several people liked it and then unliked it. And a few commented:
Friends, answer honestly. (This is a safe place, I've got a big pack of safety pins) Have you ever wondered what's inside a vibrating egg?
 One hyperglycemic chick.
UnlikeReply1Yesterday at 10:58Edited
I always assumed Mexican jumping beans.
 Two ninjas fighting?

I opened one up. It took some work to do, it was well sealed. It's probably actually a "bullet", connected with wires to a battery pack and switch. There's quite a lot of variety in that switch, must be a circuit board in there. But since that works fine, the egg must be the problem. First, I split it via the seam in the middle, around the circumference, but it would not open, so hacking it longitudinally  got it open. All that's inside:
A little bitty motor with a weight on the shaft that is off center, to make it unbalanced. 

Shaft. LOL

I connected the motor to a 6 volt battery and it didn't turn. I couldn't get the shaft to turn at all, so I took it apart too....but alas, no pics. the case held onto the 2 magnets. and the wires were only connected to the plastic end cap, which had 2 copper pieces which went over the end of the shaft. Once the end cap came off, the shaft turned easily, but when put back on, still didn't run. Recycle bin for the motor, trash for the egg, it's only plastic.

The other was more fun, more exciting and more fulfilling. And it's PINK. I don't even remember where this one came from, it's been lying down there for a long time....long enough for the battery to leak. :( 

The youtube video I watched the other day came in handy: how to fix electronics when a battery leaks.

Clean it up with vinegar. Wash off the vinegar. Resolder the broken wires. Yes, it had broken wires, too. The wire going from the battery pack to the circuit board was broken. A wire to the motor was broken. The wire that looks like a loop to pull it out was broken off. Turns out that has another function: antennae for the remote control. It has a couple knots in it to keep it from coming loose from the case, so use in confidence that it won't come back. LOL

OH, if you have to have to do more cleaning on those rivet battery terminals than just the vinegar. Scrape them to shiny metal before trying to solder them. 
I wound up replacing the wires from the battery to the board. And yes, those are Harbor Freight batteries. They test at nearly 2 volts.  The motor size is much different....a lot smaller here, but seems to work sufficiently well.  

I tried to count how many different settings this thing has, but after about 8 I get lost, or impatient, or confused. Pink has that effect on me.  There's a little gasket on the threaded part of the egg, and it has very fine careful with those....I'd think you'd want it to remain water proof.

This was a fun project...and I learned a few things, too.

Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year holiday project

This year's holiday project is a headboard for my upstairs bedroom. I have a 1950 1 1/2 story house; it's a huge room, compared to the size of the other rooms of the house (other than the living room) and since it's a 1 1/2 story, I have slanted ceiling and knee walls.  The bed goes up against the knee wall, which is about 45". The bed being 29" doesn't allow for sitting up against the wall/headboard, but what the hell, I'm building one anyway. 

Pallet wood, of course. I found a couple of pallets that were 7' wide, 1x6 boards. I did consider making it wide enough for a King sized bed, should I decide to buy one of that size when I buy a new bed. Then I remembered how much fun it is to get the queen sized mattress up the stairs and....considered the cost of buying all new sheets, and built the thing queen sized. 

Found something fun in one of the boards: 

Look at that....I can put the pics side by side to take up less space. I didn't spend too long analyzing the wood, just found the anomaly to be interesting. I cut the smaller piece off the bigger piece, and nailed it onto my project. I really like the look of the heartwood/sapwood and knot. 

I built the frame of the thing from 2x4, using pocket holes/screws. Screwed the boards to the frame, sanded, stained and varnished. I plan to add LEDs to it, when they arrive. I still have some, but what I have are waterproof and what are coming are not. I don't think I need waterproof LEDs on my headboard...and I'll refrain from making suggestive comments or innuendos. 
Cost: 16 1 5/8" screws, 8 2 1/2" pocket screws, 1 stain brush, 1 varnish brush, electricity. 

The stain I got free, from when I worked at the paint store. When we'd match stain for a customer, we'd start with the closest colour and add the various tints to make it match. Of course, sometimes you need more space in the can, so we'd dip some stain out before starting, and put it into a bucket.....and when that bucket was full, I saved it because the colour was good. That was more than 20 years ago.

The varnish I get free from the county recycle center, people drop off unwanted paint or chemicals, the county gives it away...just stop in and pick up what you want from what they have. I've gotten stain, varnish, spray lacquer, contact cement, paint, paint thinner, and I've not taken lots more stuff that I don't garden chemicals, etc.

I use cheap "chip brushes", available at Menard's, the paint store and even Harbor Freight. They are a natural bristle brush, and I only use them for oil based stuff, throwing them into my scrap bin when I'm done with them. If I have another project coming up soon that needs varnish, I'll wrap it with plastic and put it in the freezer, and sometimes the stain brush can be reused several times. 

Lots of people think the foam brush gives good results, but they get torn up very quickly on these pallet boards. And, they don't give good results with varnish, and lacquer dissolves them. Fun to watch....but not helpful with a project. 

I recall from the paint store lots of people complaining about getting a poor looking finish. There's lots of variables. But you can get a decent finish with a cheap brush....Here's a few do and don't do suggestions. 

  • Don't scrape the brush across the top of the can. The best way to remove excess paint or varnish from the brush is to tap the sides of the can with the loaded brush. Obviously you can only do this once the can isn't full. When the can is full, I just let it drip a bit before moving it to the project.
  • Don't brush too fast or "overbrush". Making lots of short fast strokes is never good (with varnish). Long slow smooth strokes is the way to go.
  • Keep the brush at a shallow angle to the project, most of the time. At the very end, you can hold it at 90* barely touching the surface.
  • Keep a light at the end of the item, so you can look down the surface to see if you missed a spot, if there's a place where you put on too much, if a hair came out of the brush, etc. 
  • DON'T shake varnish. Don't stir gloss varnish. Stir satin gently, and only as much as it needs. Much like making pancakes or biscuits.
  • Do keep a wet edge. Meaning: if you have a long board or several long boards, do the length of the board instead of just what you can reach. This is more important when staining a deck in the hot sun, rather than varnishing in a cool basement. can wind up with shiny spots or dark spots or visible thicker spots, or faded spots once the paint on the south side of your shed fades.
I generally put on a coat of gloss spar varnish, for a couple reasons. I like the colour of's got more of an amber colour, which gives the project a rich finish. Gloss, because you usually put on a couple coats, right? Satin has flatteners in it, which build up and look like dull plastic, because that's what it is. A couple coats of gloss, sanded and a coat of satin gives it a great finish. Trust me. 

2nd coat of Pratt and Lambert spar varnish, and my stain brush and varnish brush. Looks like I missed a spot on that 2nd board from the right. :( Even though I looked down the board at the lights at the other end of the basement. Several times.

Comments, questions, suggestions?