Posts Tagged Projects

Emma’s Red Dresser

Katie and I needed to get a dresser/changing table for Emma.  We decided to find an antique dresser to redo rather than the pressed-wood pieces of crap you can buy today.  We found one at the Corvallis ARC that fit the bill nicely.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take photos of it before attacking it with the sander.  The following two photos are during the sanding process, though.

Starting to sand off the stain

Starting to sand off the stain

Some of the drawers before sanding

Some of the drawers before sanding

The stain and finish that they used was nasty to sand off.  When it got hot from the friction, it would melt, kinda, and gum up the sand paper.  Eventually, and after many sheets, we got it all off.  In the process, I bought a Ryobi Corner Cat which I like O.K.  I had to replace the velcro pad that holds the sand paper because it wore out.  Shipping took a bit, but the replacements were only a dollar or two.

Once I got all the stain off, I could assess the level of wear the dresser had accumulated over the years.  In total, it wasn’t bad.  It was pretty interesting to see how construction methods have changes over the years.

Slightly distressed corner

Slightly distressed corner

In getting ready to paint, I masked off the inside of the chest openings.  In this view, you can see the construction.  Lots of random sizes of lumber, everything is mortised, etc.

ready to paint the chest

ready to paint the chest

It took a ton of coats to adequately paint the dresser.  It didn’t help that we did this at the height of summer, and it was HOT.  The paint was practically drying as soon as it left the pail.  This left a very poor finish, and honestly, I’m a bit disappointed in it.

The chest is painted

The chest is painted

Eventually, it got to a point that I could live with, and we reassembled everything.  I chucked the knobs into the drill to sand the finish off.  I’d like to eventually get some antique porcelain knobs.  I think that would look really nice.

One extra thing we had to do, that I don’t have pictures of, is replace the drawer bottoms.  Most of them were in really bad shape, and weren’t even square!  I just bought some plywood at the store and had my friend Tom cut them to size on his table saw.

Painting and reassembling all finished

Painting and reassembling all finished

We’re all finished!  Here’s the dresser in its new home, complete with changing pad.  Hopefully, as Emma grows up, she’ll like and appreciate it!

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Lexan Cyvasse Set

I have a friend with a problem.  He’s a board game addict.  Not only that, he’s also a Game of Thrones (GOT) fan.  For his birthday (last February, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while) I decided to try and make him a Cyvasse set.  For those of you that are similarly afflicted, Cyvasse is a board game that comes up in GOT occasionally.  I’ve never read the books, so I had to go off of the descriptions of the rules that some people have designed based on the text (Game of Cyvasse, A Wiki of Fire and Ice).  A year ago, the different interpretations were quite different, so I settled on the Game of Cyvasse site’s rules.

Lexan Blanks cut out

Lexan Blanks cut out

The first task was to decide upon the materials that I should use.  I decided to use Lexan as the substrate, and to paint the backs of the pieces so the color and design would shine through the plastic.  In the photo above, I have cut some of the blanks out of the lexan sheet.  I only had a miter saw to work with, so I carefully cut it into strips first (the saw cut length was just barely long enough to cut the narrow direction).  Then, I cut the blanks out of the strips.  A note about cutting lexan on a chop saw: GO SLOW!  Unless you have a fine-toothed blade, the teeth will bite into the plastic and cause havoc.  If you go very slow, you can get a good cut.

We had the idea of using transparent sticker sheets for the graphics.  I couldn’t find blank sheets that were large (nearly 8″x10″), so we settled on using mailing address labels.  These worked O.K.  I worried that, because they had a matte finish, they would make the designs look cheesy.  Luckily, if you work hard to get a good bond between the sticker and the plastic, when you paint the back of the piece it looks perfectly transparent.  I couldn’t have asked for a better finished look.  Also, the matte finish probably helped the paint to stick.

Play pieces pained and backed.

Play pieces pained and backed.

I wanted to provide the paint a little more protection, and to make the finished product look a little nicer, so we decided to put felt on the back of the play pieces and craft foam on the back of the field pieces.  Notice in the photo above that I left the front protective plastic layer on the pieces.  This kept the paint off of the front and helped prevent scratching.  To adhere the backing, I used Scotch Super 77 spray adhesive.

There were some extra effects that I wanted to achieve with the water and mountain field tiles.  I thought it would look really cool to have a subtle glittery effect to the water, so before spraying on the blue color, I sprayed a light layer of glitter on.  For the mountain tiles, I used one of those fancy textured spray paints.  I thought the water turned out beautifully, and the mountains were just O.K.

Close up of the set

Close up of the set

I’m really happy with how the pieces turned out.  In the photo above, you can see how the play pieces seem to float on the play field.  Also, you can see how the labels used for the graphics disappear into the background color.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the patience to sand the edges of all the pieces, so they have a bit of a rough texture.  I did bevel the edges, though.

Pieces all boxed up

Pieces all boxed up

Finally, I needed a way to present the set.  A convenience store near my office sells their old cigar boxes for a few dollars, so I was able to find this brass-inlaied box for about $5.  It fit the pieces adequately, and added a bit of class to the whole thing.

A sample of what a games might look like

A sample of what a games might look like

Here is a photo of our first time playing the game.  We were still deciding on how exactly the rules should work.  I think this game ended in either a stalemate of forfeit.  It’s fairly fun to play, but the rules need a lot of work.  There’s quite a bit of ambiguity.

Eric's satisfied!

Eric’s satisfied!

Overall, it was a fun project.  I think Eric enjoyed the present quite a bit!

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Support for the Rafael Micro R820t tuner in Cocoa Radio

R820t tuner on a rtl-sdr compatible dongle, from eBay seller CosyCave

Relating to the rtl-sdr work that has been done, the E4000 tuner was the standard barer for a long time.  However, Elonics has discontinued this part, and it’s becoming difficult to find.  The popularity, and scarcity, of this part has encouraged sellers to offer products claiming to be built with the E4000 and are not.  Luckily, someone discovered the code for using the R820t tuner in the Linux V4Lin drivers.  They ported this code into the rtl-sdr source maintained by osmocom.

I just finished porting their code into Cocoa Radio.  Now, it’s possible to use my software with both the E4000 and the R820t.  On startup, Cocoa Radio will automatically detect which tuner you’re using and perform the appropriate actions.

It did take a little while to finish this work, and there are several more tuners out there.  If you are desperate for support of a specific tuner, you can donate a device for the cause and I’ll try to support it.  By the way, Softshell uses the same code for tuning as Cocoa Radio, if you recompile softshell, it should include this new code.

All the relevant code and binaries are, as usual, available at github.  Make absolutely sure that you also update the softshell repository!

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New Cocoa Radio release!!

Cocoa radio interface explained (click for full size)

Well, I’m back from vacation and I want to tell everyone about a new version of Cocoa Radio (my application for demodulating radio signals using the rtlsdr dongles on mac os x, written in Objective C).  This version seems to be running really well.  I’ve set the sample rate to 1024000 samples per second for the moment (though this value can be changed in the code), and at this rate everything seems really stable.  Please give it a try and create issues at the github issues page if you find any problems.  I should say that I’m a little tired of working on it, so unless there are major issues I’ll be working on other projects for a while.  I encourage others to take a look at the code if they’re interested in SDR.  It’s not as scary as it looks!

Also, the sliders are a little buggy (especially the bandwidth ones).  Move the a little bit once the app starts up and they’ll work correctly.

Finally, I don’t have any support for AM (amplitude modulation) yet.  It’s an easy modulation type, and I may add it soon.

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Cocoa Radio Alpha testing

I’ve been working on a stand-alone software defined radio (SDR) application for Mac OS on-and-off for a few months, and I think it’s good enough now to encourage people to test it and provide feedback.  Though it’s possible, of course, to do everything my app does in GNU Radio, it’s much more convenient to have a dedicated app.  Especially because this app uses a lot less CPU than GNU Radio.

This video shows the basic operation of the user interface:

And this one shows an ‘inside peek’ at what happens to the signal inside of the application. In normal usage, the waterfall display won’t do this, but it’s an interesting effect:

There are still many, many bugs, but it should be enough to play around with. I’ve been able to listen to broadcast FM radio for some time using the app. There is no squelch control, that’s on the list of things to add. Also, it’s possible to get audio buffer underruns. It’s likely caused by slight differences in the clock rate of the rtl-sdr dongle and the audio device that you’re using.

If you notice any bugs, or have specific issues that you would like addressed, please create an issue on the github page.  Also, if you are able to contribute, please let me know.  I’m obviously in need of some GUI assistance!

One word of advice, don’t try to change the modulation type using the drop-down menu, it doesn’t work! 🙂

Again, code is available at github, as is an application binary.

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