Articulated Arm Camera Mount – chapter 3


articulated camera arm template measurements


  1. These are the ends of the arms were the arm attaches to the ceiling mount and the at the opposite end, the camera mount. 6 pieces.
  2. These make up the elbow of the arm. 3 pieces.
  3. These are part of the shoulder joint of the arm. The flat portion of this part is attached to the ceiling mount. 4 pieces.
  4. These are the spacers for part “C” above. 3 pieces.
  5. These are arm stabilizers. I don’t really know if they help or not, but there was a hole there and I figured it might. 2 pieces.
  6. These are the tensioner mount points. 4 pieces.

Read more “Articulated Arm Camera Mount – chapter 3”

Articulated Arm Camera Mount – chapter 2

Mounting the arm to the ceiling

After testing the new hardware everything seemed to work pretty well, so I started working on the ceiling attachment pad. The part that attaches to the pad required several versions to get a fairly stable mounting area. I managed to hang it from the ceiling and get a look at where everything was going to hold steady.

Read more “Articulated Arm Camera Mount – chapter 2”

Articulated Arm Camera Mount – chapter 1

The camera needs to be in the same place you are for the best shot

A couple of weeks ago I was making a video while milling some materials, and found my camera position didn’t allow me to run the cross slide all the way from left to right. I kept ending up with my shoulder in the shot, and wasn’t able to use much of that video.

I decided I really needed to build an articulated arm to hang from the ceiling and position the camera where I’d be out of the shot.

I knew I wanted to do something along the lines of what you would see on a normal desk lamp, with the arm and two springs giving some help for positioning the light. Of course I wanted to change over to a camera and I wanted to hang from ceiling so it would be out of the way and not prone to picking up vibration from the machines. I also needed it to be large enough that it could reach several places in the garage so I didn’t have to move it every time I wanted to do a video.

I did some preliminary research by looking at my own desk lamp, drawing up some basic plans, and trying to figure out what material to make the arm out of. I didn’t want it to be incredibly heavy, but I also wanted to be rigid enough that I could reasonably depend on it to hold the camera still, and I also wanted it to hold some lighting for the videos.

Read more “Articulated Arm Camera Mount – chapter 1”

Unboxing the WEN 3920 Scroll Saw

Unboxing the WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw

WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw Full ViewI ordered a scroll saw to build molds for aluminum and plastic casting. I’d been keeping an eye on the WEN 3920 and it’s competitors, like the Harbor Freight #62519, and the Grizzly #G0536. I finally pulled the trigger on the WEN #3920 when it hit $75 on Amazon. The saw arrived yesterday, so I decided to throw together an unboxing video for your enjoyment.

Read more “Unboxing the WEN 3920 Scroll Saw”

Recycling HDPE High Density Polyethylene

Small batch HDPE Recycling

Recycled HDPE is an excellent media source for making small parts.
If you’ve ever priced materials such as aluminum steel or plastic for making small parts or prototyping you know how expensive it can be. This of course is why I end up melting down aluminum and in this case, plastics.

Collecting Materials
The easiest and most prevalent home recycling of plastics is done with HDPE, or “Number 2”, recyclable plastic. It’s easy to find, inexpensive, and holds up well to machining, and abrasion, but can be easily recycled in the home shop.

The first step in the process is to make sure you’re using HDPE. You can identify it by the recycling label on the plastic itself. Also… Not all HDPE will react the same under recycling conditions. You need to sort the materials you plan to process into “like” groups. Mixing materials from different sources can lead to plastic that is unusable.

Obligatory safety notes

  • Melted plastic is hot and sticks to everything, including skin.
  • Wear Eye Protection, leather gloves, long sleeves, long pants, shoes, etc.
  • Melting plastic can produce toxic fumes and smoke. I only do this outside. Proper ventilation is mandatory.
  • This process does NOT produce food safe plastic…

Read more “Recycling HDPE High Density Polyethylene”


When I was a kid, and my grandparents would visit, my grandfather would bring me something out of his workshop/barn to take apart. Sometimes it was a radio, other times an old TV. These where old school radios with tubes, and clunky CRT televisions. In retrospect there was probably enough asbestos and lead to choke a horse in every electronic device I took apart. Regardless the impact to my lifespan, I was happy as a pig in mud, removing every screw and tinkering with the parts I managed liberate from the greater machine. To this day if I get a hold of something that’s broken or no longer useful, I’m more inclined to take it apart to see how it works than to just toss it out.

I think all that tinkering helped me as I got older, and started my career as first, a graphic artist, and then as a web designer/programmer. The “finding order in the chaos”, part of my childhood hobby helps me parse and learn from the code I sometimes need to sort through. …or maybe that’s just a rationalization for liking to take things apart. Yea, I’m pretty sure that’s closer to the truth than any “life lesson” I can apply to my hobby.

I’m sure the things I do on this site won’t be interesting to most people, but they’re interesting to me. That’s what the internet is all about.

A few notes:

  • I haven’t set an actual schedule for adding posts, but when/if possible, I’ll make a post once a week.
  • I usually have more than one project going at a time, so I may post about another project before I finish the project I was working on.
  • I’m not a professional, this site is about a hobby. Please be safe, and don’t try this at home.
  • Always wear proper safety equipment. Gloves, Eye Protection, etc., Taking things apart can be pretty easy, putting people’s parts back together is much more difficult, and sometimes impossible. …and don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to get a person fixed, if they went and got themself dead…
  • This site for my own enjoyment, and hopefully to the enjoyment others.

Converting a cordless tool battery to use a cord – chapter 3

Figuring out how to best replace the internal battery structure

battery cell widthThe individual battery cells in my battery pack are roughly 7/8 of an inch wide. I looked through my scrap bin and found I had a wooden dowel that was close if not exactly the same size. Don’t depend on my measurements, there’s a good chance that if you do this type of conversion, the battery cells in your battery will be a different size.

battery replacement dowelSince I’m removing the internal components of the battery pack I need to replace the contents with something to hold the electrodes in the correct position for use. The stem of the battery is roughly twice the height of the main battery pack so I will be running the dowel from the top of this down to the bottom of the shell.

battery replacement dowelA bottom up view of the dowel placement and how the dowel will go into the stem of the battery pack. The electrodes will sit on top of this dowel.

Read more “Converting a cordless tool battery to use a cord – chapter 3”

Converting a cordless tool battery to use a cord – chapter 2

Dissecting the internals of the battery pack

battery pack cellsI started by snipping the leads on the bottom of the battery pack, leaving as many cells grouped together as possible. This, in case I needed to measure anything as I work through the project. I then pried the positive lead from the cell below the stem.

closeup of terminalsThe “-” terminal is soldered to the top of the stem. Later in the project I’ll solder the “-” lead to this tab.

Read more “Converting a cordless tool battery to use a cord – chapter 2”

Converting a cordless tool battery to use a cord – chapter 1

Some time ago my father gave me several cordless tools that he had retired. They where pretty much on their last legs and he was moving over to the then, new lithium ion type batteries.

I appreciate cordless tools for their handiness, but overall my experience with them is that they don’t run long enough and the batteries stop taking a full charge way before I feel like they’ve paid for themselves. My understanding is the lithium batteries are better about holding a charge and can be recharged many more times than the Ni-Cd battery used for this project.

Why the Cordless to Corded Conversion?

I have several AC corded drills, so I don’t really “need” to build a corded, cordless drill. What I didn’t have was a 1/4 impact driver. This is a tool that I didn’t have a use for until I used one, now I don’t know how I got by without it. The cordless tools my dad gave me included a 1/4 impact driver, two 14.4v batteries. One battery was a Dewalt that works enough for quick tasks, the other was after market copy of the Dewalt, and it’s dead as a door nail.

Frankly the impact driver isn’t worth buying a new $60+ battery for, it makes more since to replace the driver and battery with a new one, but since I have the dead battery, Converting it over to use a cord looks like a fun project.

I’ve seen other people do projects like this, but for the most part they’ve converted drills to run off a remote power supply. That’s what this project is, except I want to convert the 1/4 impact driver. From what I can tell 1/4 impact drivers are always cordless, unlike drills that are easy to find in both formats.

Read more “Converting a cordless tool battery to use a cord – chapter 1”

Harbor Freight 18v .25in Impact Driver

Harbor Freight Impact Driver, A fathers day gift

For fathers day 2017 my sons gave me some money to spend on some tools I’ve been wanting. Thanks to you both.

recipt with discountFirst on the long list of tools I’ve been wanting was a 1/4 inch impact driver with a battery that actually works. So with that in mind I swung by my local Harbor Freight and bought one of their 18v 1/4 impact driver packages. It’s the driver, charger, and single battery in a fitted plastic box. Normal price is $99.00, but it was on close out at $39.97. I’ve seen it priced at ~$99.00 in store before, but I think that it’s usually right at ~$40.00. I also purchased a magnetic bit holder for $2.00.

I gave the cashier a 20% coupon figuring .40 off of the $2.00 bit holder was something. The other cashier was desperately tying to get me to buy the warranty so I didn’t really look at my change. I noticed later that they had applied the 20% coupon to the impact driver, saving me about $8.00. I swore you couldn’t use a coupon on close out items, so either I was wrong or I just got hold of a nice cashier. I’m happy either way.

Read more “Harbor Freight 18v .25in Impact Driver”