Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recycled Pallet Rain Barrel Stand

DSC02976.JPGThe city we live in is under year round water restrictions, so having a rain water collection system helps keep the garden growing while reducing stress on the city water supply. The city supports water collection by supplying barrels and fittings as a DIY kit at a nominal cost to homeowners. We purchased two 55 gallon pickle barrels ($15 each) and associated fittings ($15 each) from the City for a total of $60. Pickle barrels will sporadically pop up on craigslist anywhere from $5 to $30 each, so the city option was cost effective one stop shopping.

To support the barrels, a stand was constructed from recycled shipping pallets which I was able to find on craigslist for free. This Instructable details the construction of the rain barrel stand, and the assembly of the rain barrels to enable rain water collection. The remaining decking planks from the pallets were used to make a trellis to surround the tanks so that we can grow a creeper around them to beautify the installation.

Initially our plan had been to use the rain water for our vegetable garden. Several resources on the web including university research reports advise against this due to the chemicals present in the typical USA asphalt shingle roof, and the presence of bacteria from birds, squirrels and other animals. Things might be different in your country but research first. Anyway, the water is perfectly good for watering your lawn, shrubs and other non-edibles which is a major water source of water consumption anyhow. So lets get building!

DSC02687.JPGIt's quite likely that I will miss a tool/part/material or 7 from this list. If you see something pop up in a photo that wasn't on the list, get that item as well!

For the recycle pallet stand: 3 x Pallets – I used standard 42” pallets. Make sure you select heat treated pallets – search Instructables for detail information on pallet types. Claw Hammer – a roofing hammer would be ideal Big Hammer – I found a 3lb hammer to be a great help Pry bar – longer is better. I used a 18” pry bar Electric/Battery Drill Kreg Pocket Hole Kit with 1 -1/2” and 2-1/2" pocket hole screws 1-1/4" All weather screws for screwing down the decking Miter Saw Table Saw Woodworking clamps
For the trellis Table saw to cut the decking planks into 1" wide strips Miter saw to cut strips to length and cut joining strips as needed Nail gun and air compressor to drive nail gun with ¾” brads (18 gauge) Elmer Max waterproof wood glue Square – carpentry or roofing square Measuring tape
For the rain barrels: 2 x 50 gallon Pickle barrels. Check craigslist in your area for the best pricing. Faucet with standard ¾” house thread for connecting a garden hose Hose Reel Leader hose for connecting the two barrels together Replacement house nut Dual channel valve 1 ½” PVC tube 6 foot long and right angle PVC fitting for the same 5/8” Drill bit for the faucet. 1” spade drill bit for the PVC fitting 6 foot lung plastic gutter extensions (the extensions supplied in the kit from the City were too short for my barrel location Gauze/Mesh to use as a leaf trap Utility knife Heatgun for shaping the overflow tube Channel Locks (Waterpump pliers) for assembling the faucet That's all for the materials. And here's the disclaimer:
Please make sure you understand safe working practices for your power tools. They can cause serious injury very quickly. Make sure your wear appropriate safety equipment recommended in the manuals that came with your power tools. Always read the manuals for safe operation. A power saw can kick the work piece back at you at high velocity - always work outside of the "line-of-fire" - check your manual..

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Homemade laser pointer

laser.pngP4080387.jpgWhat i needed to make that laser is:
- A laser diode, I used visible red diode, but you can use the color you want (or the one you have)
-LM 317 voltage regulator
-2x 10ohm 1/2w resistors
-1N4001 or somilar diode
-One 100nF capacitor
-A 100ohm potentiometer
-A push button
-The PCB (step 2)
-A case (step 4)
-A focusing system (steps 5 & 6)

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Easy Southern BBQ

13, 10:47 PM.jpgAlright y'all, down here in the south, when folks say BBQ, they are talkin' about what's called pulled pork. It's almost as common as sweet tea. Matter of fact, you should probably have some sweet tea while you're eatin' it. It's great for family gatherings, tailgating, and even fund-raisers. This is a very easy way to make it. So grab a big ole glass of sweet tea, and let's get started. 13, 10:47 PM.jpgNo not THAT kind of butt! A big old Boston butt roast. But it's just fun to say grab a big butt. Anyway, you need the butt (heehee) and some good ole BBQ sauce, a little salt and pepper, some buns, and a crock pot. That's it.

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Sorry everyone, there won't be a live Ask Lifehacker Podcast this week because Google Hangouts On A

Sorry everyone, there won't be a live Ask Lifehacker Podcast this week because Google Hangouts On Air isn't working. We'll post the podcast as soon as we're done on Soundcloud and you'll get the show notes plus everything else (maybe even a video version!) today at 5:00 PM PT.

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Paper Electronics: Conductive Paints, Inks, and More

Paper Electronics Cover Final 1.jpg     This Instructable is all about the amazing technology of paper electronics and conductive materials. Instead of using stubborn wires and your rusty soldering skills to painstakingly connect components, why not use paint and glue? This tutorial will share various recipes to create your very own conductive paint, tape, glue, and ink. Using a maximum of 3 easy to find ingredients, these simple materials are easy to make. All of the conductive materials explained in this Instructable are based around the conductive paint (step 1). Using increments of different chemicals, the consistency of the paint can be changed from thick to thin (glue to ink). At the end of the Instructable a simple project will be shown using conductive materials (step 5). There is also a step that is dedicated interfacing conductive materials with kits and teaching classes and workshops.
Even though commercially available conductive materials work great, they are a wee pricey and often need to be ordered online. Another disadvantage of commercial products is that they are usually only available in conductive paint form.
To start off, I would like to share some of the science behind the main ingredient used in the conductive materials; graphite. Graphite is a mineral and a form of pure carbon. Graphite is very conductive and is sometimes used in arc-lamp electrodes. Because of its conductivity, graphite is the primary candidate for making conductive materials. Its other bonuses include being easy to obtain, mixing well with paint, and coming in a very fine powdered form. 

     Here are the supplies needed to make the conductive materials in this Instructable:

- powdered graphite lubricant- from from Ace Hardware or other hardware store
- black poster paint- from local craft store or from Amazon
- paint thinner- from local hardware store or from Amazon   
- popsicle/mixing sticks- from local craft store or Walmart 
- mixing cups- I used styrofoam cups from grocery store
- measuring spoon- baking spoons will work 

     To complete the ink and stamping steps and the project, you will need these additional supplies:
- light emitting diode (led) available at local Radioshack
- 3-volt coin cell battery- available at grocery store
- sponge- some type of sponge, I got mine out of an old printer ink cartridge
- airtight vial- any type of airtight container will work
- airtight plastic container- possibly tupperware or old food container  
- paper

     Now that the materials have been gathered, it is time to begin making conductive materials!

Warnings: Some of the projects and instructions in this Instructable use paint thinner. This chemical produces nasty fumes that probably aren't very healthy for you. Perform all projects using paint thinner in a well-ventilated room. I am not responsible for any accidents that may occur while using this Instructable. 

Please don't forget to vote for this Instructable in the Pocket Sized Electronics Contest and all of the other contests.

This Instructable is submitted for Powell Cubs for the Instructables Sponsorship Program.

P1010419.JPG     The first part of this tutorial features conductive paint. The paint will be the base of all of the other materials that are explained in this Instructable. The paint makes an ideal base because of its consistency. To make glue you add slightly more graphite powder, and to make ink a few drops of paint thinner is added... but onto that in later steps.
Conductive paint sticks well to most materials, especially paper and cardboard. Anything that the poster paint will bond to, the conductive paint will as well. I have found that this mixture of conductive paint flexes well on paper. However, sharp creases and folds will lead to a crack, usually causing a shaky connection. The conductive paint will turn out to have the same flexibility as the paint that is mixed in. 
As a general rule of thumb, use this paint in low-medium areas of stress to ensure a reliable connection. For higher stress applications resort to one of the conductive inks mentioned later in the Instructable.
The two materials used in conductive paint are powdered graphite and the poster paint. After much experimentation, I found that a mixture of 2 parts powdered graphite to 1 part black paint worked exceptionally well. 
Instructions: Using the measuring spoon, measure out two spoonfuls of powdered graphite and pour it into a mixing cup. Add 1 spoonful of the poster paint. Mix well, making sure all of the graphite is added. 

Application: Slather heavily onto the material (i.e- paper, cardboard) in the desired pattern using a paintbrush. Make sure that all lines are coated evenly. Allow a few hours to dry before using. Store remaining paint in an airtight container.
When dry, the conductive paint has a very low amount of resistance. After several tests, I calculated the resistance to be around  
115 ohms per centimeter. Even though 1 centimeter of standard 22 gauge hookup wire has a resistance of about 2 ohms, the 113 ohms difference will barely make a difference in the circuit. If the circuit schematic calls for a small resistor  (<115 ohms), it would be alright to omit it. I found that when you connect a new 9-volt battery to a painted line (of conductive paint) and attach a digital multimeter on the other side, the voltage detected is 9.27-9.28 volts out of 9.29-9.30 volts. In sum, there is a very minimal amount of voltage lost when using conductive paint. 

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How to Bring Back the Delete Button in the New Gmail for Android

How to Bring Back the Delete Button in the New Gmail for Android

If you've updated to the new Gmail app for Android, you'll see there's a lot to love about it. One little quirk however is that the delete button is gone from the toolbar, leaving you only with options to archive, "mark as unread," and "move to" a folder. Here's how to get the delete button back.

As it stands, you have to press the menu button on your phone to bring up additional options, and "Delete" is right at the top of that menu. That's fine, but here's how to get the trash can back on your toolbar:

Press the menu button on your phone, and select settings from the pop-up menu.Tap "General Settings," then tap "Archive & Delete actions" at the top of the menu.Next, you'll see a pop-up menu with "Show archive only," "Show delete only," and "Show archive & delete." Archive only is the default. Select the one you prefer. I like "Show archive & delete," because options are good things to have.Press the back button to go back to your message view.That's all there is to it. Then end result is the image you see on the right above. The "move to" folder icon has been bumped off, and the trash can is back. One important thing to note—the new version of the app lets you swipe a message to archive or delete it from your inbox. If you select "Show archive & delete," swiping will archive messages (this is the default behavior, so you're not missing anything). If you want swiping to delete messages, you'll have to go back and choose "Show delete only."

Granted, most of us probably just archive everything in Gmail anyway—with so much space, there's little need to delete. However, if you get as much mail as I do, sometimes you just want to trash something and save the space.

Update: Reader Brian over at Google+ reminds us that if you want to swipe to delete, go back to General Settings and check the option to "swipe to delete." That's right, it's a stand-alone setting option now, but at least it's easy to find!

PSA: Your Gmail's "Delete" Button Is Not Gone In The New App, It's Just Hiding - Here's How To Re-Enable It | Android Police