Gareth's Tips

New Electronics Series from Becky Stern

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #133

Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here.

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New Electronics Series from Becky Stern
My old Make: colleague, Becky Stern, has a new video series that she’s doing for the electronics component company, Digi-Key. Becky has always done an impressive job of explaining what can be intimidating technical information in an entertaining and digestible way. If this first installment, an introduction to LEDs, is any indication, this series looks to deliver more of her welcome brand of accessible tech education.
How to Get Clearer and Stronger Transparent FDM Prints
In this CNC Kitchen video, Stefan shows the special settings you can use to create superior-looking clear prints using an FDM (Fused deposition modeling) printer and clear filament. He also looks at how these parameters make your parts super strong.
Making Your Own Vinyl Stickers
If you’ve been attracted to the idea of creating your own custom vinyl stickers, this video shows you how. All you basically need is a crafting vinyl cutter (a few hundred dollars) and some sheets or rolls of vinyl material.
CA Glue Accelerator from Baking Soda and Water
One of the best takeaways from this Bill Making Stuff video (where he celebrates his 50th episode) is his tip for creating your own accelerator for CA glue. As you likely know, there are commercial accelerators, but they smell funny, have nasty stuff in them, and are combustible. You’re even supposed to wear eye protection when using them, though nobody does. You may also know about using baking soda as an accelerator. It works great, but it leaves a dusty powder on everything that you have to clean off. Bill mixes his baking soda with water in a spray bottle and has found that it works great and creates less mess. I will definitely be trying this.
How a Gas Pump Knows When to Turn Itself Off
If you’ve ever wondered how a gas pump nozzle knows when to shut off when your tank is full, this video reveals the clever design. Venturi tubes, Bernoulli principle, negative pressure — it turns out the design is far more complicated that you might expect. I always assumed it was some sort of an electronic sensor, but it’s purely mechanical.
Maker’s Muse
What is this sorcery?
Shop Talk
Reader Candy Clouston took exception to my recommendation of the OXO sink strainer in the last issue:

“I was surprised to see a recommendation for the OXO sink strainer. I love OXO products, but that strainer is a disappointment to me. I do like the inversion feature, but stuff still gets stuck in and around the holes. The silicone gets slimy. I have black slime after a week in my kitchen drain, probably from teensy bits of lettuce and herbs and salad dressing. UGH. (Cleaning out the bowl with a paper towel before washing it seems to help.) I don’t know that a standard issue strainer would make me any happier (though I’d love to quit using so many paper towels). I’m glad yours pleases you; my experience is just different.”

This is a great example of that adage made popular by early hacker culture: “Your mileage may vary” (YMMV). When I posted my review of the strainer on Boing Boing, the first few responses were similar to Candy’s and I got nervous, thinking I had prematurely decided a tool was a winner without giving it an honest testing myself. But then the positive reviews came and they were the overwhelming sentiment. And on Amazon, it has 17.5K reviews at 4.7 stars. After a month, we are more than happy with ours, but, as in all things, YMMV. Thanks for sharing your experience, Candy!

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