Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ok, so despite The Burning Crusade expansion (for WoW) coming out this last week, I actually got the lab work table finished. I made the legs over MLK Jr day, and then I finished up the frame this past weekend.

This has definitely been a learning experience. If I had better tools and a little more patience, the work table would be even better, but I am happy so far with what I accomplished...On to the pics!

I made the top here. My original design idea was to have the legs be 4x4s, but I figured that they would be too heavy and a bit too expensive, so I just went with 2x4s and came up with a design to interconnect them. Design- two sets of 2 vertical 2x4s connected and separated by a board on the bottom and the top. I used our current computer desk's height to figure out a good height for the legs. I also had to take into consideration the AC unit against the wall.

I cut the legs to about 30". As you can see, they are not as even as I would like, but all I have is a Black and Decker skill saw. It would be cool to get a Dewalt chop saw, but I doubt I would have any room for it in the house.

The legs turned out pretty good. I used 5" x 1/8" bolts to connect the legs. The bottom edges where the legs come together could be sanded down or the holes could be a little bit higher, but it provides enough stability when they are put in the frame.
The L bench top is made of two pieces: a 6 foot board and a 4 foot board. Ideally, I wanted to have it symmetrical, but that did not work out. I had to attach the 6 foot board to the 4 foot board resulting in a 8 foot x 4 foot "L" on the outside edge and a 6 foot x 2 foot "L" on the inside edge. I wanted to design the bench so that it would not need a pole/support in the middle of the "L". (Don't you just love banging your knees or even worse on those supports??) I built three sets of legs; two sets attach directly while the other set joins the side of those cross beams.
I found this "L" bracket at Home Depot. They are not as strong as I wanted. I also wanted to use the second hole on the cross beam, but there was just not enough room for that. I noticed later that there were three hole "L" brackets, but those were alot bigger so I didn't mess with it. To give the legs more support, I bought 1.75 " bolts and drilled through to the cross beam. It would probably be even stronger if they were 2" bolts. I added a screw on top in a couple places just for some more support.

Pictures of the cross beams connecting to the main table.

A lot of the table was done on the fly. I placed the top pieces on to see where I had to notch out the beam so they could sit flat. The notches in the middle are from when I thought the 6 foot section was going to be the main structure. I had to notch out a section for the middle beam and a section for where the two edges would come together. Originally, I had made just a big notch so that I would not have to worry about having to cut the notch so precisely, but the second time around, I tried to be a little more careful. In the end that helped because since the notch is so tight the top is more stable and no more bracing was needed. All in all, this has been a good project. I am a bit unsure about the long-term life of the table, but I tried to design it so that it could be taken apart and put back together fairly easily. That is why I used all the bolts as opposed to wood screws. The legs do lean a little bit so if anyone has an idea to make them a little more sturdy then I would be grateful.

Finally finished!

Last night, I set up the file server/workstation. The table seems pretty strong considering that it has a 60 lb monitor on it. One other flaw with the table is that I wanted to put cross beams on the bottom rear of the frame to give it more stablilty, but I wasn't able to. But the monitor can fit on the main section despite being a little too close to the front of the desk. (I put all the cross beams inside of the legs so every thing is a little tight.) Also, there is no way to connect the long section's lower cross beam because there is not a beam coming across in the front of the shorter section.

Here is my new DMM and Ardunio waiting to be used. I plan on trying to create a closed loop control Biodome to control the temp and light to assist in germination for our small garden. If anyone is checking this out, I hope it was interesting. I would enjoy your comments!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

here are some pics of the cool stuff that I got for Christmas.

My vast amount of electronics equipment before Christmas

After Christmas, Woot.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Well, I got some seriously cool stuff for Christmas, but I will go into that later when I have the pics from the camera. But I guess I have been on a New Year's resolutions kick over the past few days, or I have had too much free time at work. Either way some of the following tools could be helpful to you. I have heard of Getting Things Done before, but it was a wiki version and just took too much work to edit it. The whole process is still a little fuzzy, but I found a cool tool that makes it easier. GTDgmail is a plugin for Firefox that turns Gmail into a reminder or organizer of sorts. Basically, all it does is allow you to send yourself emails with labels (that you create) to break down your project into easy steps. I started with some basic ones such as "build legs for desk". When you are done with them, you change the label and move on to the next one.

The next site/web app is Joe's Goals. It is simple little app that lets you create small goals that you need to accomplish every day (i.e. - run) and give them + points or things you wish to avoid (i.e. - drinking soda in my case) and give them - points. Then it adds all your positive and negative points up for you. It is a cute little way to see if you are doing your daily tasks and avoiding your weaknesses. It even has an email reminder than can send you an email if you don't check it after X amount of time.

This one(The Couch-to-5K Running Plan) is more of a guide than an app. I cannot really apply it until my knee is a little more stable, but I hope to use it by February.

The last one is probably going to be the most helpful. Fitday is a site that allows you to log your meals. It calculates the calories and other nutritional information. It has a pretty big library of foods, but you can add your own custom ones. (It is pretty easy to find nutritional information on the web these days.)

I hope that I can keep at least some of these things up, but you know how New Year's resolutions go. Maybe there will be some cooler apps next year.