A New Hobby Desk and Organization

When I was doing the wiring for the cabinet LED lighting, I remembered how much I hated the tall desk for that kind of work.

I woke up the next day and decided to get a new desk. I wanted something similar and I basically found the little brother; it’s almost identical. The old one was 4″ deeper, which I think I’ll miss.

When I was desk shopping I saw these storage bins and they sparked ideas for decluttering the area.

I had to make a modification to the desk, because the adjustable shelf couldn’t be placed in the middle. After measuring everything about five times, I made two risers to get the shelf where I wanted. You wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t point them out.

I was in the zone and decided to tackle another problem. A couple of years ago I made an overhead camera rig out of a swing arm desk lamp. The mount it came with was someone else’s mod and one wrong bump knocked it off the desk. This is what it looked like.

I made a mount to match the profile of my new desk, which hooks up and over the metal bar. This isn’t going anywhere!

Back to those storage bins. My goal was to get the hobby tools out of sight, while making them easy to access. On the bookshelf they were always piled up and I had to get off the chair to reach them. All I needed was some cardboard (from the desk’s box) and hot glue.

The second bin didn’t get dividers because everything in there is pretty big and doesn’t need dedicated space. I can always update it later if necessary. In fact I probably don’t even need the cardboard liner, but it was already made. The small bookshelf, where my tools had been, moved inside the closet. I love the cleaner look the room has.

IKEA BILLY / OXBERG with Custom LED Lighting

I made a recent roadtrip to IKEA for two BILLY bookcases with OXBERG doors.

Perfect fit in the Tesla Model 3

These are for my hobby room to help organize as well as display things I make or collect. That’s why I went with the half panel half glass doors.

I added some LED tape strip lights I picked up at Home Depot. Two boxes of 16′ lengths left me with several feet left over. There was a fair amount of time spent cutting, stripping, splitting off from the power source, etc. It was good to get back in to some electronics work though.

Hobby Room

This used to be my home office, before I created the new one.

I wanted to make it in to a hobby room, where I could organize all of my electronics stuff and any future projects. My woodworking shop is still obviously in the basement though.

Notice anything odd with the lighting? Yeah, one ceiling light and it was in the corner of the room. I’ll never understand that placement. Luckily the joists ran the correct direction (no attic above), so I was able to feed wire across the ceiling for a second light to the left of the window. It was time for the carpet to go as well and I liked the flooring I installed in my new office so much I went with the same stuff.

Look how much brighter it is when the lamp is off and it’s dark outside.

I still have to organize the closet and all of my electronics parts, but the room is already a lot more functional.

My New Office: Lighting & Furniture

One of the next steps in the new office project was lighting. The room didn’t have any, so I installed a ceiling light today.

I hadn’t posted about the furniture yet, which came in a couple of weeks ago. I’ve always wanted a brown leather chair in my office but didn’t have space for it. Now I do. White seemed more fitting.

I also have some top down bottom up blinds ordered, but I won’t get those for weeks because it took forever to get some samples. The air conditioning install starts tomorrow morning, so I’ll be able to move in my desk very soon!

Moving a Thermostat

As I’m preparing my new office, I realized it didn’t make sense to keep the thermostat for the front heating zone in the old/current office anymore. In the winter I’ll probably keep the doors closed and the register shut in that room unless I’m using it. So today I wanted to move the thermostat to the new office.

Disconnecting the thermostat and pulling wire through the basement was a walk in the park. Getting wire up the wall and through a small hole is no easy task though. I was playing around with some ideas in my head when I remembered I had an endoscope. I bought it 3 years ago, to the day, on Woot, knowing it would come in handy one day. Which reminds me of this quote from Adam Savage.

Today was that day! A couple of friends even made fun of me at the time, asking what in the world I’d ever need it for. I love proving people wrong when they doubt me. 😉

Ok, so what did I do? First, I found a hole in the basement that led up to a light switch on the back of the wall where I wanted to put the thermostat. Then I drilled some holes where I’d mount the thermostat. I tied a washer to a piece of string, for some weight, and fed it through the hole and down the wall. I uncoiled a wire coat hanger and made a small hook on the end. I fed the endoscope and wire hook up through the hole, found the string, and pulled it down through the hole. Success!

The hard part was done. I looped my thermostat wire around the washer.

I fed that back up through the hole. Then I went upstairs and pulled the string and wire up through my hole in the wall.

From there it was just a matter of mounting the thermostat and connecting wires.

Creating a New Home Office

Late in August I’m finally getting air conditioning (Mitsubishi mini splits) installed in my house. One of the wall units will be in the room across the hall from my current office, so I decided I’ll move there. The room is larger, gets more natural light, and has never been used for anything.

I’ve spent a lot of time in that room over the last three weekends, removing wallpaper, painting, and installing flooring. I’m loving with how it’s turning out. Here’s a before and after with the progress so far.

It’s been nice to have a big project to focus on. This room has already become a happy place whenever I walk by or look across from where my desk is now. Since I spend so much time in my office, I have several other plans for the room. More to come!

Automated Closet Lighting

After building a rack for my workout shoes a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to tackle another thing about the broom closet that has been bugging me for years. It never had a light! I put together a rough video of the entire process.

I’m really happy with how it turned out, especially since I was able to use parts I had in my electronics collection. The whole thing uses a simple circuit, cost less than $10, and doesn’t require WiFi or any fancy connections. The Working of Transistor as a Switch page on Electronics Hub was a big help. I ended up using a PNP transistor in my circuit without resistors because the LEDs were dimming and I wanted maximum brightness.

Home Fixes

Yesterday I set out to fix a couple of things around the house.

Garbage Disposal

It stopped working several weeks ago when the cleaning lady was using it. I was out golfing at the time so have no idea what happened. There was no sound or anything when the switch was flipped. My first step was to make sure the outlet worked.

test-socket

So then I moved everything out from under the sink, got a bucket to catch the water, and removed the unit. I noticed a red button on the bottom.

disposal-button

It responded like the button on a GFI outlet. Then I plugged the disposal back in. There was a humming sound for a few seconds and then it stopped. The red button had popped out. Must be some kind of safety mechanism so the unit doesn’t burn up the motor. While cleaning out the cupboard I had come across an allen wrench.

disposal-allen-wrench

There was also a hole in the bottom of the disposal where this fit. Gave it a bunch of turns and it started to feel pretty smooth. Pushed in the button, started plugging it in, and holy shit! The torque on that thing nearly sent it flying across the room. Glad I had barely touched the plug to power because my hand was able to jerk it away from the outlet.

I put the garbage disposal back in place, reconnected all the pipes, and I was back in business. No leaks either. Something must have been jammed inside.

As a bonus it turned out to be a good reason to clean the cupboards under the sink, which had accumulated a bunch of junk.

Garage Door Opener Light

It’s been flaky for several years. I had tried replacing bulbs and sometimes they would work for a bit or flicker here and there, but eventually stop working. With my new knowledge and confidence with electricity and circuits I figured there had to be something going on with the connection. After unplugging the garage door opener, I took off the face plate and disconnected the wires from the back of the light socket.

garage-door-old-light-socket.jpg

Looking at this socket, 2 things stood out to me: 1) seems like both contact points were corroded and 2) unlike a lot of light bulb sockets where the sides are metal, this only had the contact pad which is at about 1:00 if this were a clock face. I grabbed my favorite tool, the digital multimeter…

I may have been able to clean up the contacts on the socket, but I figured it was better to replace it. The only thing at Home Depot that looked like it would work was this waterproof light socket for $3.47.

waterproof-light-socket.jpg

I carved off some of the rubber with an X-ACTO knife for a better angled fit and applied a bunch of hot glue. Here are views of the front and back…

garage-door-opener-light-socket-frontgarage-door-opener-light-socket-back

It ended up working much better than expected. I reassembled everything, plugged in the garage door opener, and voila!

garage-door-opener-light-on.jpg

I also replaced a 3-way light switch I could hear shorting out, but it was an ordinary replacement job.