Making Things in 2020

I got burnt out in 2019, but 2020 relit my fire for making stuff.










Once I found the spark, the rest of the year felt balanced, in terms of not doing too much and varying the types of projects. My favorites were the new home office, the Gympac, and the picnic table / benches. 2021 is off to a great start with several posts already published and others being planned. The hobby room updates will allow me to get back to electronics projects.

Making Things in 2019

I posted recaps of my making for 2017 and 2018. I thought I might be able to hit 100 making posts in 2019, but I fell well short of that. November and December of 2018 kind of burned me out. I did a bit in 2019 though…








Only 21 posts for the year!

Hidden Wireless Charging in my Desk

After getting a set of AirPods this year I thought it would be nice to have wireless charging at my desk. I like using the touch pad on my MacBook pro, so this mouse pad drawer doesn’t get used and I got the idea to embed a charger in it.


I bought a cheap $10 wireless charger.


It won’t charge very quick, but it doesn’t have to when I’m sitting there working most of the day. I figured it would be a fun project and the worst that could happen is I fail and I’m out $10. I opened up the case and there wasn’t much to it.


Then there was only one small screw to remove and the electronics were free.



I forgot to take any other pictures until I had put everything back together. After pulling up the top of the mouse pad, there was some foam underneath. I traced the electronics and USB cable to make a cut out in the foam. Then I used a chisel to carve out the particle board until there was a deep enough recess. I drilled a few holes for wires and the LED. I had cut the LED off of the circuit board so I could route it to the front of the drawer. I soldered on some wires to connect the LED back to the board, hot glued everything in place, and then used super glue to put the mouse pad top back on. Overall it was an ugly hack job. Over to the right is a picture of the holes and wiring underneath.

Check out this short video of the charging in action.

BTW, the mouse pad drawer has two identical halves, so if I ever decide to use a mouse again (it’s been at least 5 years since I had one), I’m good to go.

Make Your Future. Make Your Life.

Make your life. Make your job. Make your career. Make your family. Make your fantastic big sandwich. Make your axes, hatchets, tables, oversized work shelves, and a cabinet that fits perfectly in one spot. Make your workout, bike routine around the block, and health goals. Make your Thanksgiving turkey outside with the kids. Make your place a home. Make your friends. Make your time matter, and give it away. Make the three piece suit you bought from a second hand store your first project. Make your daydreams entertaining, no matter how weird, wild, and fast that slide goes. Make your first impression stick with a firm handshake, eye contact, a genuine smile, and repeat their first name. Make your slice of this world colorful where you find it gray, songful where you find it silent, warm where you find it cold, all the while remembering that in the end, it’s a rental.

Saw this on a Skull & Spade poster after watching a frame build for it.

2018 Maker Faire Detroit

Yesterday I went to Maker Faire Detroit again with my brother, since we had such a good time last year. Unfortunately we were both very disappointed because it was almost exactly the same as last year. Same vendors, same makers, same companies, same activities. Everyone’s booths were even in almost the identical locations as last year. Guess we won’t be going back next year. 😦

Walnut Bandsaw Box

My buddy Kevin told me about a local shop that sells woodworking tools, supplies, and wood so we took a ride out to Barn Door Lumber Company a few weeks ago. While looking through their scrap pile, this butcher block cutoff caught my eye. It was roughly 1.5 x 6 x 23 inches.


I had bought a 10″ bandsaw (RIKON 10-305) not too long before and hadn’t used it yet.


I thought it would be a fun project to chop up this piece on the table saw, glue it into a large block, and then create a bandsaw box. That’s when you create a box out of a block of wood by only making cuts with a bandsaw. Seemed like a good project to get my feet wet. My sister’s birthday was coming up so it would also make a good gift.

The first thing I did was square up the edge.


Then I sliced 5 pieces. I’m still learning a lot and forgot to set a stop block on my sled, which would have helped with getting pieces that were exactly the same size. The order of operations and remembering little tricks like that are what I’m struggling with the most on this woodworking adventure.


I glued each piece.


Quickly realized I only needed glue on 4 pieces. I told myself the last two pieces would just get a really good bond. Then I clamped everything together.


Of course I forgot to flip that last piece around so that 2 glued sides were facing each other. The glue side ended up facing out and I put 3 clamps in place before remembering. So I backed off the clamps and added a piece of parchment paper.

After squaring up an edge on the table saw I was ready for some work on the bandsaw. Or so I thought…


After another trip to the table saw I finally had my block of wood. I was ready for the bandsaw!

I quickly found out the blade that came with the saw wasn’t up for the job because it couldn’t make the turns I wanted. I got everything cut but there were several mistakes. Learned a lot though and had fun with the project.


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.

Sound Card Oscilloscope

Earlier this year I came across an old Make post about building your own oscilloscope. I messed around with it a little bit at the time, but I didn’t have the necessary potentiometers, so I set it aside. Then the topic came up again when the tutorials accompanying HackerBox #0018 made use a 3.5mm audio breakout module and some PC oscope software. So in my next Digi-Key order, I got the pots I needed and I picked up some cheap test leads on Amazon. It’s several months later, but I got around to building my own sound card oscilloscope.

First, a couple of notes…

You’ll definitely want to read through the Make post to get familiar with the project. As mentioned in their guide, there really isn’t any good oscope software for the Mac like there is for the PC. With Audacity, which is what I used, at least you can see the signals in wave form.

I spliced an old audio cable. There are several different styles of 3.5mm connectors, but if you’re doing 2 channels, you’ll want to make sure you your cable has the tip, ring, and sleeve.


A lot of MacBooks only do mono microphone input. Several Mac bummers in this build! It wasn’t easy, but I found a USB adapter on Amazon that does stereo mic input (most of them only do mono). It’s pricey at almost $30 for something I’m not even sure I’ll use after this build.

Enough of that, on to the build…

I added the LEDs to my build as a visual reference a signal was coming through, but they can be left out, just like in the Make build. If you’re interested in the Fritzing I showed in the video, head over to sound-card-oscilloscope on GitHub. Whenever I’m soldering up a final project I prefer to have the Fritzing for reference instead of looking at my prototype, which typically has a lot of extra wires hanging around. Having a nice clean diagram helps me from making mistakes.

I also found another guide on a site called Home DIY Electronics, which I didn’t end up following.

If you have any questions or build your own version of this, let me know in the comments.

2017 Maker Faire Detroit

On Sunday I spent almost 6 hours at the Henry Ford Museum for Maker Faire Detroit. It was a great venue for it because attendees had access to the museum as well.


Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these “makers” to show hobbies, experiments, projects.

We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Glimpse the future and get inspired!

Maker Faire Detroit

It was inspiring to see all of the makers and I had a blast geeking out.

Other posts about the event…