Making Things in 2017

It was late in 2016 when I started getting into electronics and this summer I started buying more tools and converted most of my basement into a workshop. Here’s a recap of my 2017 posts related to making or fixing things.













Wow, I did a lot of experimenting, failing, learning, and accomplishing in my “free time” last year! 2018 should be even better when I combine the new skills I’m acquiring with my list of project ideas.

Favorite Buys of 2017

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite 2017 purchases. Links are included where appropriate.

Cardboard Cutter

I’ve bought a lot of tools this year, but this might be my favorite. Works great for breaking down boxes to put in the recycle bin. Can be used for detailed work when creating models as well. Much easier to use than a utility knife. Goes for $6-7 on Amazon.

Digital Calipers

I use these all the time. You can can measure insides, outsides, and depths and switch between inches, inch fractions, and metric. I wouldn’t go too cheap, which may sacrifice accuracy. I got mine from Amazon on Prime Day and plan to pick up a shorter set as well.

HackerBoxes Subscription

I started out with an AdaBox subscription and later found the HackerBoxes subscription. I would say AdaBox is aimed more at beginners (no soldering required) and the components are higher quality, but HackerBoxes is usually more challenging and exciting. I also like getting a box each month, which keeps me learning more and coming back to electronics if I drift off a bit.


mini French Press

If you’re not grinding beans and using a brewing method similar to a French Press you’re probably settling for low quality coffee. This mini press is $8 at IKEA and is the perfect size for my one cup per day.

iPhone X

I’m still loving this iPhone. Face ID is a game changer and works really well for a first version. The user interface changes made possible (and necessary) after removing the home button are a huge improvement over previous iPhones. No regrets getting the X instead of an 8 Plus.

Oscillating Spindle Sander

I bought this from a guy (found on Craig’s List) when I went to buy his planer. I feel like I stole it when all he wanted was $50, which included 3 extra sets of sanding sleeves. Nobody enjoys sanding, so every machine that speeds up that process is worth the money.

Impact Driver

I basically stole this well, getting it with a set of several other used Craftsman battery tools. It probably come out to about $10. I was excited when I learned how to use a power drill clutch, but an impact driver does all of that automatically. Plus it pretty much eliminates slipping, so the days of stripping screws are gone.

YI 4K Action Camera

Much cheaper than a GoPro and it does all of the same stuff. I got mine (both of them) from Amazon. Yep, I said both. 😦 After I cracked my first one and replaced the screen, the crack eventually spread and the mounting threads came out.

Magnetic Parts Holders

I use these in my workshop and at my hobby desk. I think I have 5 of them now, because they are that useful. The base is magnetic making it easy to attach to something and the magnetic tray is great for holding on to your screws as you work on something. They’re only $2.99 at Harbor Freight, but I haven’t paid for a single one because you can get them for free with a coupon.

Playstation Vue

A great streaming TV service with cloud DVR. I’ve been using this for a year now and don’t miss cable at all. The service has improved a lot since my free trial and the Apple TV app hasn’t locked up or skipped a beat in months.

I Don’t Trust…

  • Anyone who calls themselves an “expert” of any kind.
  • Someone who turns their car off in the drive thru to save gas.
  • Recipe time estimates.
  • Politicians.
  • Climate change denialists.
  • Milk on or after the expiration date.
  • Twitter users who post multiple tweets as a thread instead of publishing to a blog.
  • Anyone who stops eating bread and claims not to miss it.
  • Drivers who pull out into the turn lane but instead of stopping and waiting to merge, they keep driving in the turn lane.
  • Farts from a 3-year-old.
  • People who don’t use cruise control.
  • Food recommendations from anyone who claims Halo Top tastes like ice cream.
  • Anything described with the word “best.”
  • Prompts on web sites asking, “Are you sure you want to leave? You have unsaved changes.”
  • People who struggle with the brown yard waste bags every year instead of buying trash bins.

Don’t take these too seriously.

Ranked Styles of French Fries

This French fry style ranking by Food Republic was getting attention on Twitter last week, even though it was published over a year ago.


There are definitely some flaws to their selection of “styles” as they call them, but I’ll roll with it. If I had to choose my own top 10 from this list it would be:

  1. Sweet Potato Fries
  2. Cheese Fries
  3. Waffle Fries
  4. Tater Tots
  5. Steak Fries
  6. Crinkle Cut
  7. Shoestring/Matchstick
  8. Chili Cheese Fries
  9. Cottage Fries
  10. Potato Wedges

I’ve always though curly fries are overrated so they definitely don’t make my list. A few months ago I ranked fries from local fast food joints.

What would your list look like?

Before I Die

A few months ago I started a list of things I wanted to do before I die. I never got around to publishing it and ended up completing one of the items (eagle a par 4) about a month ago. I just hit the publish button on the page.

Before I Die…

What are some of the things on your list? If you have a web site, create your own page and link back here for others to track back to you.

Busy Busy

New postings have been few and far between here at MDV for the past few months and especially during the last month. I’ve been extremely busy and having a lot of fun. The big secret (I sold is out, went to Cedar Point, bought a black MacBook, have golfed a ton this summer, and just recently took a 5-night trip to Las Vegas. Detailed posts on all of these will be making their way to a NICKED Up blog in the near future. This post will help serve as a reminder of what I need to get done. Maybe I’ll even get started on a new design for MDV, which I’ve had visions of doing for far too long.

I Wonder

I wonder…

  • Will I ever escape the Matrix?
  • How old will I be before I stop playing video games?
  • Do the houses used in the Real World have light switches? They never seem to be in the dark. Ever!
  • How old will I be before I lose my hair and start to shave my head?
  • When will we get the first woman president?
  • How do babies survive and grow on only milk?

Any answers? What do you wonder?

I Wonder

I’ve decided to take the first “I Wonder” post and make it into the I Wonder Series. I’ll add things into a saved post and when I have enough I’ll post it. I think I come up with plenty of random thoughts to keep this going on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

I wonder…

  • Is there is a company doing drug testing of potential employees that would let someone off the hook because of a recent trip to Amsterdam? Doubtful.
  • Do some of the “bigger” girls wearing tight clothes actually think they look good? Working at a college I see way too many clothes that don’t fit being worn.
  • How much do people get paid on some of the big reality TV shows? The Real World and Big Brother as examples. I recently found out that a friend of a friend of a friend got paid $30,000 and over $200 a day for being on an FX reality show which taped for 30 days. The $200/day was for food and entertainment purposes. That’s some sweet cash!
  • Will Dan Brown ever finish his next book?
  • Why is the drinking age in the United States still 21? So many other countries with the age at 18 or 19 don’t seem to have a problem.
  • How long will it take Michelle Wie to win a tournament on the PGA Tour? Yes, that is the men’s tour. I think she is going to be that good.
  • What is the longest distance someone has run without stopping?
  • Does anyone besides me alphabetize their DVD collection?
  • How much snow will we get this winter? Hopefully a lot less than last year.
  • Would I feel more screwed if my birthday had been on a February 29th instead of the day after X-mas?

Any answers? What do you wonder?

I Wonder

I always have random thoughts running through my mind, so I thought I’d share a few of them I’ve had lately…

  • Why is your list of criminal offenses called a “rap sheet”?
  • When we fold our hands, is it based on our dominant hand? I’m right-handed and I fold my hands with my right thumb on top.
  • Which pant leg to people tend to put on first? At the moment I can’t even think of which one I do.
  • What did Lance Armstrong ever do to piss off the French? I really wish he’d come back for another Tour de France or two, but I can understand why he wants to walk away after 7 straight wins.
  • Will the next generation of video game consoles live up to the hype? My guess is they will not.
  • Why do people keep dumping money into savings accounts when they have debt up the ass? Interest rates on credit cards and loans are usually much much higher than the rate you earn in a savings account. Using the money to pay off debt makes you money in the long run. Keep enough money stored away for an emergency situation, but put the rest to good use. I’ve paid off my student loans less than 4 years after college and in another 6 months or less I’ll have my auto loan paid off in less than one year. It really does work.
  • Why do males tend to read more in the bathroom?
  • How can pro athletes to broke? With smart investing their children and grand children should be set for life.
  • What would I do first if I won the lottery?
  • How much different would I be if I had been born in another state of the US?
  • If I was living alone and had some freak accident at home, how long would it take for someone to come looking for me?
  • What will be the next big thing in technology? Right now I’d have to say it’s still the iPod family.
  • Will anyone ever beat Google as a search engine? Not for a long time…
  • Where will I be in 5 years? 10 years? How will I get there?
  • Will we see flying cars in our lifetime? I want to drive the highway in the sky.
  • How long will poker be as popular as it has been over the last two years?
  • Am I making the world a better place?
  • Can I recite my ABCs when I’m drunk?

Have an answer to something? Leave a comment.

What do you wonder? Leave a comment.