Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here.
Last week, I forgot to include a link to the oscillating multi-tool tips video I included. Thanks to those of you who kindly pointed out the omission. In the future, if this happens, you can always go to the channel I mention, search on the subject, and find the video. My apologies for the hiccup.
Tips Busters: Amazingly Stupid Tape Tricks
Months back, I proposed the idea of doing a “Tips Busters” section where I deputize readers to try out a tip, any tip they see that appears too good to be true, to determine whether it works, doesn’t work, sorta works. I’m still hoping to put such a series together. If you want to bust a tip or have a tip to bust, message me. In the meantime, I’m going to start running pieces from others who are testing and evaluating tips. On this episode of Stumpy Nubs, James looks at a number of dubious (at best) painter’s tape “hacks” as found on YouTube. There are many such tips. As James points out, lots of them are just plain silly.
Understanding Tolerances for 3D Design and Printing
Via Maker Update comes this gem of a video on Practical Alchemy about understanding parts tolerances when designing in Fusion 360 (and other CAD programs) and how to ensure that your 3D designed parts will properly fit when sent to a 3D printer. They also show you how to create a 3D printed “Fit Guide” to better understand and accommodate tolerances for your particular printer.
A User’s Guide to H-Bridge Motor Drivers
Anyone with even a casual familiarity with hobby electronics is likely familiar with H-bridge motor drivers. So named for the H-like configuration of the circuit schematic, with its 4 switching elements, these drivers allow you to control DC motors for speed and moving forwards, backwards, left, and right. In this DroneBot Workshop, they look at a number of popular H-bridge drivers (e.g. L298N, DRV8871, and the MX1508) and the types of DC motors they can control. At over 1-hour, this is a useful crash course in understanding and using this common drive train controller.
Animations of 75 Different Knots
Via the Tools for Possibilities newsletter comes this amazingly useful resource. Knot-tying is a fundamental maker skill. But learning to tie them from a text, or looking at still images, can make them seem unnecessarily confusing and complicated. I don’t know about you, but seeing these knot animations immediately makes me want to grab a rope and go to lashing school.
Slang, jargon, and technical terms for the many realms of making things.
Surface profile – The 3-dimensional tolerance zone around the surface of an object, often one that’s a complex curve or shape. This profile requires that every point along the surface lies within a specified tolerance range.
Slush casting – A form of casting where material is “slushed around” inside of a mold, creating a thin layer on the outer walls of the casting. This technique is most often used to create a lightweight, hollow castings. It can also be done as the first pour in a highly-detailed mold, with a second pour finishing a solid cast.
The Rule of Cool – In making anything from realms of the imagination (e.g. sci-fi, fantasy, other fiction), the overriding of realism, the laws of physics, and practicality in the service of sheer cool factor.
In response to my piece on toilet floats and valve reseating tools, I got an interesting message from a reader. He was taken aback by the fact that doing this sort of basic household plumbing was even a question for me. He assumed that any maker/handyperson would do this type of maintenance/repair work without even thinking about it. This led him to ask: “Is there anything you look at and think: ‘I cannot fix THAT!’ I’ve never once thought that. Am I in the majority or minority?”
My situation might be somewhat unique in this regard. I have severe spinal arthritis. So, many maintenance, repair, and DIY projects are outside my reach. Even to replace the float tank, I couldn’t reach down and shut off the very frozen water intake valve on the toilet. I had to get a friend to come over and do that for me.
But even for the more physically able, I’m sure there are preferences. I know plenty of people who loathe house painting, and others who would never think about doing electrical work. And I know plenty of electronics nerds who build robots, microcontroller projects, and all sorts of other high-tech makery who wouldn’t think about doing traditional shopcraft (woodworking, metalwork, etc). And vice versa.
Different strokes for different folks. And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.
A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a headline like that and it actually delivered: usually it means there are plans that might happen a decade from now. But on Friday, the new Brightline train from Orlando Airport to Miami will finally be running for real. It stops at West Palm Beach and Boca Raton too, or you could switch to local service for a stop and get to the Ft. Lauderdale or Miami airports. The next phase, which is still “someday,” will connect Orlando and Tampa. Watch future issues about new lines coming soon in Mexico too, ones the president already rode on for photo ops.
“Laptop Luggers” Profile
A Deloitte report based on a survey conducted in March and April predicted a huge summer for international air travel (they were right) but had some interesting insights on "laptop luggers" who planned to work while they were away. Those bringing a laptop were wealthier (39% making $100K+), more confident about their finances, and planned to take an average of 3.8 trips over the summer. They're not stereotypical loners: "One in four will travel with 3–5 people, while over half of disconnectors are traveling with one other adult." (via Kevin Kelly)
Home Swaps for Working Travelers
Have you ever rented an Airbnb place that promised fast Wi-Fi, only to find you couldn’t get any work done because it was down or super slow? And that you had to work from a bed or sofa? Noad Exchange (an occasional Nomadico advertiser) is trying to change all that with a home exchange program just for working travelers. Every listing must have internet speeds of 20mbps or more and have a place to get work done. Once you join and list your own place, you only pay one credit per night plus the cleaning fee, making it far cheaper than renting through Airbnb or Booking as well. Use ALCENTRO as the promo code to get 3 additional credits when you sign up and if you feel like taking a flyer on an early-stage investment, they’ve got a funding round going too, with low minimums.
Digital Nomad Visa Realities
The hype about digital nomad visas seems to be dying down in the mainstream press as it becomes clear that some of these big announcements aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Some of the plans that are real have hidden tax implications or onerous paperwork requirements that don’t suit the self-employed. We’ve linked to a few round-up reports in the past, but this seems to be the best one for digital nomad visas you can apply for now and they’re laying out all the cons, not just the pros. Don’t forget that in these other countries that allow long-stay tourist visas, you may not need residency anyway if not moving there permanently.