20 April 2018
Easy cleaning under running water
Ten years ago, I picked up a Braun MobileShave M-60 for about the price of a twelver of craft beer. Billed as a no-frills, compact shaver for travelers, this little guy has proven to be a trouble-free, tough, and effective electric razor. Admittedly, I don’t have lumberjack-type beard growth, so I can’t claim to know whether the Braun will handle the kind of whiskers that might best by cut by a small lawnmower. But for my purposes it is a winner.
I shave with a cartridge razor every other day (sorry, but no electric can beat a good blade…), and on the in between days, I use this. It is quick, nimble, and capable. I had a fancier electric razor, but its foils were like gossamer — tearing and having to be replaced about once a year for something like thirty bucks a pop. This little MobileShave has no such problem. I don’t even think I’ve ever replaced the cutter head. It runs forever on a pair of rechargeable AAs, washes clean under running water, and has a nifty cap that rotates to protect the foil and lock the power button into the “off” position. Also, it comes in colors. Colors are the best.04/20/18
19 April 2018
Cool Tools Show 119: Bob Clagett
Our guest this week is Bob Clagett. Bob loves making stuff. He loves showing other people how he works to hopefully inspire them and empower them to make whatever is that they’re passionate about.
AirTable + IFTTT
“So Airtable is, like it was mentioned before, it’s kind of an online spreadsheet. And that’s one way that people use it. But the thing that makes it different for me and the way that I use it is more of a relational database. I come from a software background, so when you’re programming you often have a database of tables, and those tables need to relate to each other. … The way that I use that in my business is I have what looks like a spreadsheet that is my project schedule, and then I have a separate one that is project ideas that I come up with all the time and I just dump into this big list, and I use IFTTT for that. … IFTTT is about taking multiple online services of all different types and connecting them together. So if something happens on one, it can cause something to happen on another. And I use that with Airtable. The IFTTT app, I’ve got a little thing set up where I can open an app on my phone that’s just a text field and a button, and that’s all it is. And if I type in a project idea, and I hit that button, it disappears. It’s gone. But in the background it’s sending that to Airtable. It’s putting in my list of project ideas, and it just keeps it there, and then I don’t have to remember it anymore, but I also don’t lose it.”
“The Hello is a doorbell, which seems, for the price it sounds so unrealistic to actually get, because it’s several hundred dollars. But it’s an HD camera built into a tiny little doorbell, and it’s the same technology that they have in their security cameras … It’s small and kind of modern-looking and it hooks right up to the normal hookup for a doorbell. So you don’t have to really do anything special to get this in to place. And it’s got some really cool features. It’s very new, so I think some of the features that will be the coolest have yet to be added. But when you get it hooked up and someone walks up to your door, you get a notification on your phone or device or whatever that shows you video of the person who’s walked up to the door. And you can press a button onscreen, and you can talk to them remotely through the doorbell. It’s got some kind of canned responses that you can just press a button and this voice will say, “Just leave the package by the door,” there’s a few things like that. But one of the coolest things, I think, about it is that they’ve got some facial recognition stuff built in to it. So once it starts to take pictures, it gets this video of the people that come up to your door, and it keeps a log of all these pictures of the people.”
ISOtunes Bluetooth Headphones
“They have basically the same features as far as listening that every other headphone in the world. But they have an interesting phone insert on them that you roll it up and you kind of heat it with your finger, between your thumb and your finger, and it squishes it down. And then when you put it in your ear it expands and completely fills the ear canal. So it cuts out basically all the noise that can come in. And the guy that works with me is maybe 10 feet from me right now, and I’ve yelled at the top of my voice his name to try to get his attention with these things in, and it completely blocks it out. But one of the things that I think is even color about them is that they have a, I can’t remember exactly what they call it, but it’s like a consistent noise level suppression. So if there’s a noise in the background, like if you had a saw running that was kind of the same noise the whole time or like a lawn mower or something, it can actively cut that sound out. So you can take a phone call while you’re on a riding lawn mower, and the person on the other end doesn’t really even know that there’s a mower running. They just hear when your voice spikes and things like that. That’s the part that they hear. And I have not heard of any other Bluetooth headphone that does that.”
Prusa i3 MK3 3D printer
“I’ve had several different 3D printers. I use them a lot for my projects. And I’m in a position where a lot of companies will send me things, and I get to try out really expensive things that I wouldn’t ever justified buying myself. But I have a lot of people who ask me about a good first printer. And I think the problem with that question is a lot of people are looking for a good first cheap printer. And what you actually want is a good printer, not a cheap printer, because cheap printers that don’t work very well are gonna make you hate 3D printing and think that it doesn’t work. And so when I’ve looked at a bunch of different ones from the perspective of cost and functionality and tried to find something in the middle, and I got the Prusa I3 Mark 2 a couple of years ago when it came out, and it was fantastic. It was like $699 for a printer that worked almost perfectly every single time right out of the box. You didn’t have to do anything to it, and it was a great printer, I was really happy with it. And then they announced this Mark 3, which is an upgraded version of the same thing. But they added all these features that just make it awesome. It’s now one of my favorite printers just because of its features. And then when you look at the price compared to a lot of other printers, it’s very, very reasonably priced for what you’re getting out of it. … It’s got a panic thing built in to it. So if it loses power, it has a little bit of a battery or capacitor in it somewhere that if it senses power dropping it will write the state of the print to some sort of a memory. And then when power is reapplied it’ll ask you, “Do you want to continue to print?” And you hit yes, and then it re-homes the print head, just goes over to the corner, and then comes right back and starts printing. It’s amazing. I’m sure there are other printers that do that, but I’ve never seen one, and it works great.”
Making Time by Bob Clagett
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19 April 2018
Flat blade digs into frozen ice cream
Trouble getting ice cream out of the carton? Bent spoons? Scoops that don’t penetrate? Wondering where the first aid kit is? One solution for parties (when the carton will likely soon be an empty husk) is to just slice the whole thing, paper & ice cream together, with a big knife.
Another solution is an Ice Cream Spade. What’s linked here is very similar to one we’ve been using for years: It’s a chunk of aluminum with a hollow handle that has some sort of “anti-freeze” in it. The relatively flat blade (as compared to scoops) much more easily gets into concrete-like frozen goodness. We’ve got a sister scoop model (same make/construction) but the scoop seriously doesn’t get the penetration the spade gets. And the mass of the metal maintains enough heat to avoid being a contributor to a big frozen/welded problem. And a quick rinse through hot/warm water is like honing a knife – it’s freshly sharpened, so to speak.
Sticking these into a dishwasher is discouraged as 1) the aluminum might corrode and 2) the fluid in the handle might end up being lost. I’m sure ours have been through the machine more than a few times and are still just fine, and hand-washing is easy too. Even if the fluid becomes lost, a hot rinse will help it through the concoctions.
There are a lot of similar models out there; I can’t attest to even the one linked – it may or may not be exactly as ours. A lot of reviewers seem to expect these things to cut ice cream like a Light Saber; it’s not magic, some effort is gonna be required. The one linked might be more expensive than some others though its reviews are pretty good. This summer, avoid the battle and enjoy the relative ease of using a spade like this.04/19/18
19 April 2018
Maker Update's projects of the week
This week on Maker Update, a Neopixel trampoline, pocket power supply, a mirrored arcade cabinet, light-up fingernails, Pixel Times, and a psychedelic scuba mask. This week’s Cool Tool is Socket Bit Hex Shanks.04/19/18
18 April 2018
0% fragrances, dyes, phosphates, or triclosan
Seventh Generation makes eco-friendly cleaning products. I am on board with that, but I would prefer not to spend more money or lose some effectiveness. But their Free and Clear dishwashing liquid is both cheap and good.
Good (in rough order of importance):
— Cheap. A 25 oz. bottle costs about $3 at Walmart or your grocery store. For some reason, Amazon charges more. [Amazon sell a 6-pack for under $18, making it about the same price as Walmart).
— Effective. Wirecutter calls it a tie between it and Dawn Ultra. I have used both, and I think I might use a tad more of the Seventh Generation for the same jobs, but that might be because it is clear, and hard to see when I squeeze just a drop out (which is all I ever use at a time.)
— Fragrance-free. This is a big one, and why I stopped using Dawn. There is no strong cloying odor of watermelon, patchouli, mango, or whatever to mix, sickeningly, with the odors of stale food and grease on your pots and pans, and to cling to sponges, cutting boards and countertops. That might be a personal foible, but it isn’t unique to me. Dawn does not make a fragrance-free version, though it does make a dye-free version. (Seventh Generation also makes scented versions that use plant-based essential oils and extracts.)
— It does not contain phthalates, triclosan or phosphates. Phosphates are gradually going away. But phthalates are typically found (and not labeled as such) in the fragrance compounds in detergents. They are “estrogen-like,” so even minuscule amounts can have biological effects, both on you and fish, birds, etc. Triclosan is a pointless antibacterial that hurts fish, helps create invincible super-bacteria, etc. It has been banned in hand and body soaps, but not dish soaps. It also contains no dyes, but I am indifferent about that.
— It isn’t tested on animals. I personally can understand the logic or even the necessity sometimes of testing on animals, but I think it should be avoided when necessary. And here, it wasn’t necessary! It is cheap and works great.
— Ummm… The stuff is crystal clear, so you might end up using a bit more on your sponge because it doesn’t stand out.
— I suppose I wish it didn’t come in a plastic bottle. But there might be no alternative.
Summary Seventh Generation Free and Clear dish liquid is cheap, effective, cruelty-free, benign to the environment, and comes in a fragrance-free version. Win/win/win/win.04/18/18
17 April 2018
Shake to start siphoning
I have been using a “shaker siphon” for 10+ years to fill up cars, boats, generators, lawn mowers, etc. The problem with fuel cans is that when they are full they become unwieldy to pour from a spout. The best method I have found is to siphon fuel from the can rather than pour it.
To use a “shaker siphon” put the copper end into the fuel can and the tube into the tank you want to fill. Then lift the copper end up and down (shaking it) in the fuel can. The entire process takes seconds. The system works best if the fuel can is higher than the tank it is filling. Afterwards a siphon is created which transfers about 3 gallon or so per minute from the fuel can into the tank. You will hear a bit of jingling from the copper end which lets you know it is working.
I can typically get almost all of the fuel out a can with a few ounces leftover. Those last few ounces are easy to pour out. Lifting the copper end out of the fuel can stops the transfer immediately. When you are done, it is best to lift the copper end above your head while the other end is still in the tank to let any fuel in the line drain into the tank.
I use the Hopkins FloTool Shaker Siphon. There are several variations of this design on Amazon and from what I can tell one is good as the next.04/17/18
Easy-to-attach spoke lights
Recomendo: issue no. 90
COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST
WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
23 February 2017
An avid cyclist shares his road gear
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