Why I use open source for my DIY projects and you should too

Use open source as often as possible. Not only is it free (as in gratis) but it can be as good or better than propietary software without the all the limiting terms found in a typical software license agreement. Open source enables the community to freely share ideas, information, concepts etc. This is key for a succesful and thriving society.

Introduction

I’ve been a user of proprietary products for a very long time without giving it much thought. In fact I’m writing this on an iMac with OSX as the operating system. I own this iMac for at least 5 years and it is a nice machine but as time went by something kept nagging. I used to believe that for good reliable software you had to pay money. If software was free (as in gratis) it was probably unstable, user unfriendly and unpolished that it wasn’t worth any money. At least that is what I thought. Continue reading “Why I use open source for my DIY projects and you should too”

Make a Photography Light Box of cheap material (part 1: design and 3d print).

DIY frame for a Photography Light Box. I designed a 3d printed three way connector to assemble the curtain rods for the box.

Introduction

My wife has a lot of stuff she wants to sell online and asked me to create a sturdy but cheap Photography Light Box. The dimensions of the different objects vary, so I wanted to be flexible with the dimensions of the light box. We came up with a simple idea to create a three way connector that connects curtain rods. The frame will be covered with white bed sheet cloth kept together with velcro. At the local hardware store I found plastified steel curtain rods. These were the cheapest I could find but are still very strong. Continue reading “Make a Photography Light Box of cheap material (part 1: design and 3d print).”

DIY Lego Cabinet

Making a woorden Lego cabinet for all this minifigs is easy and cheap. You do need a laser cutter for this project.

Introduction

My sons have large Lego minifig collections but most of it is lying in a large box. The older son wanted a cabinet so he could display (part of) his collection better. These cabinets can be pricy as I found out so I decided to make one myself. I’ve done some laser cut projects recently, such as the Darth Vader Chest Box and the Valentine’s Heart, so I decided to use the same technique for the cabinet. Continue reading “DIY Lego Cabinet”

Using Filaflex to improve my cooler

Filaflex is excellent material to improve the audio cooler that I made earlier. The material is very flexible and surprisingly strong making it perfect for sealing purposes

Introduction

A week ago I finished my audio cooler. Although I was happy with the result improvements could be made (as is always the case). Most important I didn’t particularly like the console on the side of the coolers lid. This was a 3d printed part of PLA that I glued to cooler with a superglue. This was far from ideal because of the space left between the printed console and the cooler . Another improvement could be made by the way that the speaker was fitted to the lid of the cooler. The speaker was directly attached to cooler with four screws again leaving some space between the two. I already had some FilaFlex filament but hadn’t used it yet. Because of the elastic and flexible properties of Filaflex I figured that I could both fix the issues with the console and the speaker.

Left the cooler with improved speaker and console and right "old cooler" with printed part of PLA filament.
Left the cooler with improved speaker and console and right “old cooler” with printed part of PLA filament.

Continue reading “Using Filaflex to improve my cooler”

Adding radio streams to the cooler with a Raspberry Pi

Using a Raspberry Pi and the program MPD to enhance my audio cooler

Introduction

In my previous blog post I finished my audio cooler. It’s a small cooler with a tiny audio system that nevertheless sounds good. The only way to control the audio is through a wired connection. It would be a nice addition to have some kind of remote control either by WiFi or Bluetooth. While testing the cooler I’ve got the idea to connect a Raspberry Pi A+, that was still unused, to the cooler and stream audio over WiFi to the Pi.¬† This could be useful for a garden party or BBQ where WiFi is available and I don’t want to attach the smartphone to the cooler. In this blog post I’ll share my experience with installation and operating the software needed for this project on the Pi.

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Raspberry Pi A+ (in it’s Pimoroni Pibow case) connected with the headphone jack to the cooler. The Pi has a small Edimax Wifi adapter.

Installing music software on the Raspberry Pi

Since I run the Raspberry Pi headless I use SSH login to the Pi. SSH is available for most operating systems with the notable exception of Windows. I already had Raspbian installed on the Pi so first I updated the OS. Continue reading “Adding radio streams to the cooler with a Raspberry Pi”

Audio system for cooler almost finished

A made a 3d printed enclosure for the audio components that fits in the coolers lid together with a simple console to operate the audio

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago I started to make a tiny audio system for our cooler. In my previous blogpost I described all the audio components that I chose for this project. I wanted the components to be small since I didn’t want to waste too much space in the cooler. With the audio components in hand I could design other parts for the audio system. I needed an enclosure for most of the audio components and a simple console to operate the audio. The parts were 3d printed with my Hephestos 2.

The complete audio system in the lid of the cooler. Most components are placed in the 3d printed enclosure.
The complete audio system in the lid of the cooler. Most components are placed in the 3d printed enclosure.

Continue reading “Audio system for cooler almost finished”

Making a tiny audio system for our cooler (part 1)

I’m selecting components for the audio cooler that I’m going to build. The components need to be tiny to fit in the coolers lid

Introduction

For picknicks we use a small cooler and with the upcoming spring and summer it seems like a great idea to add an audio system to it. Most DIY coolers with audio that I found on the internet are huge. Not only do they have large speakers and amplifiers but they also have a huge lead battery hardly leaving any space for the picknick gear. I want a tiny, one speaker system that sounds nice but is lightweight and leaves plenty of room for the other stuff. I also wanted it nicely integrated in the cooler without too many wires. I therefore started to design and build one.

Choosing the audio components

I started this project by choosing a suitable battery. As stated above lead batteries are relatively large due to their low energy density. Lithium polymer batteries on the other hand have large energy density, four to five times higher than lead according to this source. Prices of polymer batteries are also very reasonable nowadays.

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Lead-acid battery (left) and polymer battery (right) side by side on the small cooler. The much bigger and heavier lead-acid battery has a capacity of 5000mAh (6V) while the lithium polymer battery has 1200mAh (3,7V). The lithium polymer with it’s four to five times larger energy density is therefore perfect for my small audio system.

Continue reading “Making a tiny audio system for our cooler (part 1)”

OpenELEC maintenance

How to update OpenELEC without loosing settings, getting YouTube to work again and creating an OpenELEC backup. Make screenshots in OpenELEC.

Introduction

last year I built a PC especially for OpenELEC. For those of you who don’t know, OpenELEC is a Linux based system with the sole purpose to run Kodi, the all-in-one solution to play all media you throw at it. Because of this sole purpose OpenELEC is very fast, especially on the Intel based system that I built, and very reliable. Over time however some maintenance of the system is necessary to keep the system up-to-date and fully functional. Continue reading “OpenELEC maintenance”

More designing and 3D printing

putting my 3D printer to use

Introduction

The last couple of weeks I’ve been busy mastering 3D modeling programs and bringing my creations to life with my Hephestos 3D printer. In this entry I’ll share some of my creations and how they were made. For 3D modeling I started with OpenSCAD in the beginning of this year and later started using FreeCAD. The reason for using FreeCAD is that with more complex design in OpenSCAD it is easy for me to get lost in a large script. Yes, the learning curve of FreeCAD is steep but eventually it’s easier for me to create more complex models in this program than in OpenSCAD. For simpler models I still like OpenSCAD better. Continue reading “More designing and 3D printing”

Case for a FM-radio (Velleman MK194)

Making good use of a 3d printer

I have a MK194 radio kit from Velleman and turned it into a radio some  time ago. The radio looks pretty cool with all the electronic components visible but the wooden case was awful. I therefore decided to build a new case for it. Of course I want to use my Hephestos 2 printer from BQ to make this case.

First I designed a case in FreeCAD. I use FreeCAD for a couple of weeks now, together with OpenScad, but this is the first design with multiple parts that I create with it. After several iterations I finally decided to have a design consisting of three parts. A box, a support plate for the radio PCB and a lid. The radio fits into the support and the lid which are then screwed onto the box.

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Design for the radio case made with FreeCAD consisting of three parts (the red part just represents the MK194 PCB). I made a nice radius on the lid and the MK194 fits nicely between the support and the lid.

Continue reading “Case for a FM-radio (Velleman MK194)”