Hakko FX-888 Soldering Iron Pilot Light

The Hakko FX-888 soldering iron perched on the corner of my bench has a little red LED that lights up when it’s heating and goes off when it’s not. Unfortunately, while shutting down after fixing something, I sometimes glance at the thing while the LED is off, whereupon it will patiently keep the iron hot, sometimes for days, until I return.

A recent Squidwrench session gave me the opportunity to yoink that nuisance off the to-do pile where it has been pending since about ten minutes after I unboxed the iron a decade ago.

Some concerted rummaging failed to turn up the stash of bridge rectifiers, so I air-wired one from a quartet of discrete diodes:

Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot - bridge rectifier
Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot – bridge rectifier

Remember: the bigger the blob, the better the job.

For the record, the transformer produces 28 VAC, with the center tap 26 VAC from the left end and 2 VAC from the right end.

A 10 kΩ resistor stands upright at the far corner of the bridge, limiting the LED current to a few milliamps and making it bright enough for the purpose.

The front of the case has plenty of vacant space in its upper corners, so I drilled a hole and poked a blue LED:

Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot - heating
Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot – heating

That’s shown with the iron heating.

Here’s an action shot with the temperature at the setpoint:

Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot - stable
Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot – stable

Nowadays all soldering irons have digital readouts with no need for a pilot light.

Of course, two days later I found the bridge rectifier stash, but there’s no point in opening the patient again.

Rolltop Cupcake Box

It’s actually the sample Bread Box, sized just about right for a cupcake or two:

Rolltop cupcake box - closed
Rolltop cupcake box – closed

Even if I have a soft spot for cupcakes, it’s also the right size to corral the batteries we use on the bikes:

Rolltop cupcake box - open
Rolltop cupcake box – open

I’d never done anything with flexible plywood sheets, so I started by cutting the door all by itself. Turns out 3 mm plywood flexes wonderfully well, which led to cutting the rest of the box.

The zit on the left side is a knot on the “bad” side of the plywood, visible due to not reversing that piece to put its “good” side downward. I also had to re-cut the curved door guides along the front edge (using the paper support) after they fell through the stock (up on spikes) and got torched during subsequent cuts:

Rolltop cupcake box - cutting guides
Rolltop cupcake box – cutting guides

The instructions recommend applying wax to the sliding surfaces and that’s a very good idea; although I used cutting wax, paraffin should work. In addition, I filed off the projecting edges of the guide plates around the interior curve, if only to be sure the door couldn’t possibly catch after it was permanently assembled.

I glued it in about five stages to keep everything aligned, starting with the right rear corner stabilized by the bench block and eventually coaxing the left side over all those fingers.

Hit the festi.info custom URL with all the build parameters to make your own, although you should tweak the measurements to suit your plywood.

Thermador In-Wall Heater

Our house dates back to 1955 and features several fancy items not found in contemporary dwellings. Take, for example, the Thermador in-wall heater in the front bathroom:

Thermador In-Wall Heater
Thermador In-Wall Heater

It has a finger-friendly design apparently intended to admit a small finger through the grille, where it can easily contact the resistance heating coil, so while we were moving in I snapped a GFI circuit breaker into that slot in the breaker panel. We advised our (very young) Larval Engineer of the hazard and had no further problem; as far as I know, that breaker never tripped and no fingers were damaged.

Back then, while adding that breaker and cleaning the first half-century of fuzz out of the thing, I evidently blobbed silicone rubber on the screw terminals of the switch:

Thermador In-Wall Heater - switch contacts
Thermador In-Wall Heater – switch contacts

They don’t make switches like that any more.

For reasons not relevant here, we’ll be using it for the first time since we moved in, so I spent a while cleaning / blowing / brushing another two decades of fuzz out of it.

Minus the fuzz, the heater no longer smells like a house on fire:

Thermador In-Wall Heater - glowing
Thermador In-Wall Heater – glowing

If that doesn’t warm your buns, nothing will!

CPAP Hose Dryer: Filter Bottle

With the general idea being to dry a CPAP hose by pulling clean air through it, putting laser-cut MDF upwind of the inlet was a known-bad idea:

CPAP Dryer - overview
CPAP Dryer – overview

It did, however, dry the tubing and the construction was Pretty Close™ to being the proper size.

Making the stand from acrylic sheet eliminates the MDF stench:

CPAP Dryer filter - acrylic stand - fitting end
CPAP Dryer filter – acrylic stand – fitting end

Incoming air passes through a dome-style N95 mask:

CPAP Dryer filter - acrylic stand - filter end
CPAP Dryer filter – acrylic stand – filter end

The mask sets the overall size of the stand:

CPAP Dryer - Filter holder - LB layout
CPAP Dryer – Filter holder – LB layout

Given that we’re not talking Level 4 Biohazard, any filter would work equally well. A dome mask has a nicely defined and self-supporting shape with a flange around the edge.

The flange provides a convenient way to build the clamp ring, starting with a scan from the face side:

Demetech Dome Mask - interior scan
Demetech Dome Mask – interior scan

Tracing the flange outline using GIMP’s Scissor Select tool and doing a little cleanup in Quick Mask mode produced a selection suitable for becoming a binary mask of the N95 mask:

Demetech Dome Mask - perimeter mask
Demetech Dome Mask – perimeter mask

Ex post facto, I realized the mask has a sufficiently regular outline to fit a much simpler Beziér spline:

CPAP Dryer - Filter holder - LB splines
CPAP Dryer – Filter holder – LB splines

That began in LightBurn as a circle fitting the lower part of the mask, converted to a path, then tweaked with the Node Editor to fit the top of the nose and add two nodes to pull the path inward on either side. In the unlikely event I make another bottle stand, the cut will be irrelevantly smoother.

The hole in the clamp comes from insetting that path by the flange width of 4 mm, whereupon the N95 mask pretty much self-centers in the hole:

CPAP Dryer filter - acrylic stand - filter clamp
CPAP Dryer filter – acrylic stand – filter clamp

You could draw a face on that thing…

The four small holes fit M3 aluminum rivet nuts:

CPAP Dryer filter - trimmed Rivnuts
CPAP Dryer filter – trimmed Rivnuts

They’re shortened by 1 mm (from the original length shown in the upper right) to fit 1 mm of mask sandwiched inside a pair of 3 mm acrylic sheets:

CPAP Dryer filter - Rivnut installed
CPAP Dryer filter – Rivnut installed

The glowy edge-lit acrylic sheet has 4.8 mm holes for a snug push fit and the white clamp ring has 5.1 mm holes for a loose alignment fit. I drilled out the laser-cut holes for nice smooth sides.

I picked a bottle large enough to also hold the mask’s elbow, so that it would dry in the same stream of clean air. So far, the elbows dry well enough on their own, but the bottle remains a convenient size for fitting the mask on its end.

On the other end of the bottle, the lid gets a hose fitting turned from PVC pipe:

CPAP Dryer - filter hose fitting glue rings
CPAP Dryer – filter hose fitting glue rings

The Official ResMed fittings on the masks and the AirSense 11 machine are about 20 mm long and just over 22 mm OD with a slight taper. The unheated hose has silicone rubber ends fitting very snugly around those cylinders, so I made the pipe fittings 25 mm long and 21 mm OD to ensure a low-effort, but still secure, fit.

The grooves cut into the fitting anchor a generous hot-melt glue blob sealing it to the lid:

CPAP Dryer - filter hose fitting inside
CPAP Dryer – filter hose fitting inside

Yes, the foam disk and the hole through the lid were both laser-cut. Making perfect circles in thin organic material with zero drama is wonderful.

The downstream / mask end of the heated ClimateLine hose (left) is physically identical to the unheated hose ends, but the machine / upstream end (right) sports an electrical connector for the spiral heating element and the thermistor (in the white stud protruding into the mask end lumen):

ResMed ClimateLine heated hose ends
ResMed ClimateLine heated hose ends

Yes, that does look a lot like a naked USB connector, as does the main power connection on the machine, and you can actually slide a Type A USB connector around it. The ResMed manual pointedly notes:

•Do not insert any USB cable into the AirSense 11 device or attempt to plug the AC adaptor into a USB device. This may cause damage to the AirSense 11 device or USB device.
•The electrical connector end of the heated air tubing is only compatible with the air outlet at the device end and should not be fitted to the mask.

ResMed AirSense 11 Clinical Guide

Protip: When you must carefully explain why T. C. Mits should not mate two obviously compatible and mutually antagonistic devices, your design-fu has failed.

The four ribs inside the upstream end slide over a 23.5 mm cylinder, which is enough larger than the 22 mm cylinder on the machine to wiggle the not-USB connector into place. Without a connector to worry about, I turned a sleeve adapting the smaller fitting to those ribs:

CPAP Dryer filter - heated hose bushing
CPAP Dryer filter – heated hose bushing

It’s 27 mm long to keep the lip of the silicone seal away from the setscrew, 23.5 mm OD to exactly fit between the ribs, and a 21.5 mm ID slip fit over the bottle snout.

The tiny M3 setscrew lives in a hole tapped into the inner tube, because the sleeve is only 1 mm thick:

CPAP Dryer filter - acrylic stand - bushing center drill
CPAP Dryer filter – acrylic stand – bushing center drill

The setscrew turns outward into a clearance hole drilled in the sleeve to lock it in place.

The outer PVC pipe in the vise is a simple cylinder fixture bored to match the sleeve, so I could grab it in the lathe chuck / vise without distortion. Just the force from a normal grip squishes the fixture enough to keep the sleeve from turning / moving / getting annoyed.

Improving the MDF fan box awaits a few parts, but, being downstream, isn’t on the critical path for drying hoses. The only trick is keeping the bottle inlet upstream of the fan exhaust.

CPAP Hose Dryer: MVP Overview

For all the usual reasons, we’re now confronted with the need to dry a freshly washed CPAP hose:

CPAP Dryer - water droplets in hose
CPAP Dryer – water droplets in hose

Those droplets might not seem like much, but I am reliably informed they produce over-humid air and sprinkle when they migrate into the mask during the night.

Commercial drying machines are available, but seem grossly overqualified and require proprietary foam filters. I wondered if simply pulling air through the hose for a few hours would work:

CPAP Dryer - dried hose
CPAP Dryer – dried hose

Why, yes, it does.

That test took two hours and another with a different hose required about five, but simply “hanging the hose up to dry” consistently produced poor results after three days, so we count a few hours as a win.

I cut the first minimally viable prototype CPAP Hose Dryer from MDF:

CPAP Dryer - overview
CPAP Dryer – overview

Stipulated: MDF is absolutely the wrong material for an air-handling project, because laser-cut MDF stinketh unto high heaven. This was the first pass using cheap material to see how well, if at all, the idea worked.

The CPAP hose goes between the fittings on the bottle and box, with air entering the bottle through a hole drilled in what was its bottom:

CPAP Dryer - filter bottle cutout
CPAP Dryer – filter bottle cutout

An air filter seemed like a Good Idea™, if only to keep ordinary room fuzz out of the bottle and hose. In this Third Pandemic Year, I could simply pull a least-favorite N95 mask from the stockpile and fit a clamp ring around it:

CPAP Dryer - filter clamp installed
CPAP Dryer – filter clamp installed

The motivation for pulling air through the tube, rather than pushing it, came when I realized I could build a much cleaner intake structure by starting with an ordinary HDPE bottle than I could possibly assemble from random parts.

So the fan in the box pulls air through the fitting on the side of the box and blows it out the swirl on top:

CPAP Dryer - fan box
CPAP Dryer – fan box

The box contains a coaxial power jack, the switch, and an 80 mm fan extricated from the Box o’ MostlyFans. I briefly considered an LED, but it’s obvious when the fan runs. The box and swirl cutting patterns come from the invaluable festi.info.

The two slots give the bottle somewhere to stand while idle. In use, the hose is sufficiently unwieldy to require standing the bottle wherever it wants to be, rather than insisting on putting it anywhere in particular.

More details to follow …

Numeric Keypad Repair

Having set up a cheap wireless numeric keypad as a simple macro pad at my left hand, I eventually knocked it off the desk, whereupon the screw compressing the back of the case against the membrane switches ripped through the plastic:

Numeric Keypad - compression screw pullout
Numeric Keypad – compression screw pullout

The symptoms came down to erratic operation of a few keys that became worse as I continued tapping on the thing. Finally, with nothing to lose, I took it apart and, upon seeing the hole in the case, realized I didn’t have to cut the usual label to find the hidden screw.

Slathering the little donut with acetone and clamping things together might work for a while, but I’m sure the keypad will hit the floor again with similar results.

Instead, recruit some candidates from the Box o’ Random Screws:

Numeric Keypad - screw selection
Numeric Keypad – screw selection

Pick the screw big enough to grip the undamaged boss on the front of the case, yet short enough to compress the back again, add a small washer spanning the hole, and it’s all good again:

Numeric Keypad - screw installed
Numeric Keypad – screw installed

This only works because the keypad sits at enough of an angle to hold the screw off the desk.

That was easy …

Tree Frog Marquetry: FAIL

I thought this critter would look great in marquetry:

Tree frog - on trash can lid
Tree frog – on trash can lid

Posterizing the colors to represent a few shades in my Little Box o’ Veneers simplified the problem:

Tree frog - posterized
Tree frog – posterized

Applying LightBurn’s Trace tool to the various shades produced vector outlines, which I then collected together based on the veneer they should come from:

Tree Frog vector patterns
Tree Frog vector patterns

Which seemed similar to my hand-drawn doodles on a larger image:

Tree frog - sketch vs chipboard
Tree frog – sketch vs chipboard

Before committing to actual veneers, though, I cut the shapes from spraypainted chipboard on a small scale, which showed why this wasn’t going to work:

Tree Frog - auto-trace chipboard
Tree Frog – auto-trace chipboard

It’s facing the other way because I cut the chipboard from the back side, so as to keep the colors reasonably clean and bright.

Contrary to what I initially thought, the automagic tracing routine generates different nodes along a boundary between two colors depending on which side is selected by the color range. Because the nodes (and control points) don’t match exactly, adjacent pieces will have different border shapes and won’t quite match up. The missing pieces at the frog’s rump simply did not fit after the other parts soaked up all the tolerances in between.

So (I think) a better way to do this requires carefully hand-tracing the borders, then using the same path (all the nodes) for adjoining pieces. This mean duplicating the borders for each of the pieces: tedious bookkeeping and layer manipulation.

More study is needed …