Arcade Button - Baby Light Game

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Arcade Button - Baby Light Game 

A few months ago we started teaching our son colors.  We have some books and games and things that teach colors, but i noticed something on a shelf in the basement that could make a great game.
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It was something that i originally made for the photobooth for our wedding, but never used.  It was 4 arcade buttons of different colors.  Originally i wanted to have different buttons to do things like turn the lights on, take pictures, print, etc.  But i ended up just having 1 button do everything.
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I made a photobooth for our wedding reception several years ago.
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Here it is on the photobooth frame in front of the monitor and camera.
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Blog post about Photo Booth
Video showing Photo Booth in action

That arcade button i had connected to a mouse that i took apart, so that pressing the arcade button was like Light-Click and started the photobooth program to start taking pictures.  It worked great.
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So i had the frame and buttons left over sitting in the basement.  I thought i would be cool if i wired colored LED's to the colored buttons to teach him 4 different colors.
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So i drilled a little hole near each button and hot glued in the corresponding LED.  Now you'd think that it wouldn't be that complicated, but man did i screw it up.  I've wired up LED's before to a battery but for some reason i had trouble.
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The main problem i had was from the tabs on the arcade buttons.  Some tabs are "open" when the button is pressed, some buttons are "closed" when the button is pressed.  It took me many tries and testing with my volt meter to figure out what i was doing wrong.
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But eventually i figured it out.
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Here's another drawing showing everything inside of the game.
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The top drawing is what i did first that wasn't correct, the bottom is right.
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Power came from the battery, through a 220 ohm resistor, into the switch, out from the switch, to the LED, from the LED and back to the battery.  All of that times 4 switches.
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Another picture of the wiring chaos.
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But eventually it worked.  And i taped everything down so that it wouldn't come loose.  Then i attached the wood base i made so that he couldn't get to the wires.

It was fun to play with, even some of the older nieces and nephews that came over played a little.  But there would have been a few changes i would have made if i built it again.  First, protect the LED's that stick up.  After a few months of being dropped, stepped on, and thrown down the stairs, a couple of the LED's broke off.  I should have glued on a little ring or something to guard them.
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The other thing is to really secure the wires.  After all that abuse some of the wires came loose.  Now only 1 LED lights up.  So i will have to rewire everything when i get some free time.  Which with a 1 year old is never.


Workbench From 2x4's - Easy Build Plans


I currently have two workbenches in my basement workshop, which were made from pine 2x4's.  I built them with the thought that they would be very strong and sturdy, but i also wanted them to be quick and easy to build with a minimal amount of wood.  The workbenches are 8' long, 3' high, and 2' deep.  This is what they looked like in my old shop.
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Here's a link to when i built the 2nd bench back in 2012.

Here are a couple of pictures i took while building my second bench several years ago, back when i had half of the basement as my workshop.

The 2x4 boards i started with.
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Making cuts
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All the 2x4's cut into pieces to the correct length.
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The basic framework of the 2x4 bench assembled.  The first bench i made i used screws.  This second bench i used nails.  I probably should have used glue as well.
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Basic framework.
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Here's a close up of the new one i built using screws.  
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Another view of the old bench frame.
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For me, a 36" high work bench is comfortable, which is why that is the height.  The 8' long and 2' deep dimensions come from the size of the table surface.  I used a 4'x8' sheet of 3/4" melamine board cut in half lengthwise as the table top.  But this time instead of buying the melamine board, which cost around $35 for a 4x8 sheet, i used our old kitchen counter top.  But i have to say that the melamine that i've used in the past works great.  It never gets marked, worn, dented, stained, and its condition has held up wonderfully for the many years that i've had them.

The workbench that i make is super quick, super basic, and super simple.  I could have made a more complicated bench with dado's or mortise and tendon joints, but i feel like i don't need that.  Sometimes the quick and simple design is the best.

This new bench that i decided to build was for my parents garage up north.  Again it will be a 3'high, 8'long, 2' wide bench.  I built the legs first, using screws again.
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In place next to the first bench with a melamine top.
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In the past i've just laid the melamine top on the table, no screws or attachment.  This time i had the old counter top.  I had to cut it down a bit and it was a little tricky because it wasn't flat on the bottom.  But i got it to fit fairly well, with a little overhang on each side.
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Realizing that the old countertop was too short.  So i took the 3 cross-members off and shortened the bench a fe inches.
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Then i cut and attached the 8' horizontal boards.  I decided that it would look a lot better if it was painted white.  So i took everything out to the backyard and painted on 2 coats of white primer.

Then i took it apart, leaving the legs together, and took it all up north.  Then i put it back together in the garage.  It seems to fit well along the wall and hopefully will get a lot of use.
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Finished workbench.
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Baby Height Ruler - Easy to Make Wood


Something that we had been planning on making once our son started standing was a baby height ruler.  It is simply a large 6 foot tall board which roughly looks like a ruler and every few months you mark the child's height.  Also you can mark the height on birthdays and Christmas and things like that.

I looked online and saw many different styles.  The one i liked and decided to make was one that had a natural stain finish.  So i started by going to Lowe's or Home Depot and find a nice board to start with.  Since this would be something we would have in his room for years, i wanted to get something nice.  I'm always surprised when i see how much a board cost.
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The price of oak, cedar, and maple are crazy.  I'm not spending $30 for a board.  So i went over to the pine side of the isle.  I got a decent 6' pine board for $5.

When i got home i sanded all the sides, corners and edges and made sure it was cut to 6'.  Then it was time to layout the distances.  So using a pencil i marked every 2", making slightly longer lines every 6" and 12".

Then i used a wood burner to burn those pencil lines into the wood.  I don't use the wood burner a whole lot and it can be a little tricky.  If you go to quickly the temperature drops.  Too slowly and it burns really dark.
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I found a number and letter pattern online and printed numbers 1-6 and the letters for my son's name.  Using an exacto knife i cut them out and then traced everything onto the board with a pencil.  I wanted the numbers and letters to be large but also fit nicely onto the board.
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Close up view
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Again i used the wood burner to trace and then fill in the letters/numbers.  This is really where you have to go at a slow pace to keep the burner temperature high.
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After that i applied a cherry stain and then 2 coats of wax, with a slight polish after each coat.  I could have gone with polyurethane but i feel like the wax gives it a nicer look and feel.
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We usually only check it now every few months.
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Clothes Dryer - How To Fix A Broken Belt


You open up the door to the clothes dryer and realize that your clothes are still wet.  That's where it starts.

I've had problems with my gas clothes dryer in the past.  Several years ago i had an issue where the flame would come on, then turn off after a few minutes.  The fix for that was to replace the $3 black solenoids.
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Then a year later i had another issue where the flame didn't come on at all.  The fix for that was a blown fuse.  That part cost around $12.

The problem this time with the clothes dryer is something more common, a broken belt.  I realized it when i pressed the start button and instead of hearing the drum spinning, i just heard a whizzing noise from the motor.  A broken belt is easier to fix then you may think.  The hardest part is getting to it and taking everything apart.

It depends on what type of dryer you have, but you have to somehow get inside and take out the drum.  For my dryer i had to pop off the front by getting the plastic tabs off.
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Then i removed the front door panel and lifted off the drum.
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Sure enough the broken belt was laying on the bottom of dryer.

I went on to Amazon and ordered a new belt for $8.
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Check behind the door to find the dryer model number.
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NOW...before you put the new belt on and reassemble everything, there's a reason why the belt broke.  In the instructions it says to clean everything, oil the motor and wheels, and make sure everything spins freely.  It's a good thing i did this step, otherwise the new belt would have broken again.  The motor was fine, one wheel was ok, but the other wheel was so gummed up and could barely spin.
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Closer View
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The other wheel looked ok but i still oiled it.
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It was causing a ton of friction with the drum and that's why the belt broke.  So i took the wheels off, cut off the hair and thread that was on the axle, oiled it up, and put the wheels back on.
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To put the belt back on i found it easiest if you wrap the belt around the drum, install the drum, then focus on getting the belt through the tensioner and snap the tensioner into place.  Make sure you have the grooved side of the belt facing the grooves in the motor wheel.  It helps if you have 3 arms.  See the provided diagrams:
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Dryer belt diagram 
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Test to see that the drum spins then put the case back together.  Hopefully it's as good as new.
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