Archive for category Home Ec

Wireless Keypad Cap Swap

One of the wireless numeric keypads I’ve been using with the streaming radio players developed some intermittent key switch failures resisting all the usual blandishments. Eventually it hard-failed, but I was unwilling to scrap the tediously printed keycap labels:

Wireless keypads - swapped caps
Wireless keypads – swapped caps

Hard to believe, but I’ve been using the white keypad for plain old numeric entry with the keypad-less Kinesis Freestyle 2 keyboard.

I swapped the Frankenpad + receiver to the least-conspicuous streamer and, someday, I’ll update all the labels on all the keypads to match the current streams. Until then, the white keycaps shall remain in the same bag as the defunct black keypad, tucked into the Big Box o’ USB mice & suchlike.

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Crock Pot Base Screw

While washing our ancient electric crock pot (“slow cooker”), I wondered how corroded the inside of the steel shell had become. A simple nut secured the base plate and unscrewed easily enough, whereupon what I thought was a stud vanished inside the shell.

The shell wasn’t rusty enough to worry about, but the stud turned out to be a crudely chopped-off thumbscrew on a springy rod pulling the base toward the ceramic pot:

Crock Pot Base - OEM thumbscrew
Crock Pot Base – OEM thumbscrew

Evidently, they pulled the thumbscrew through the base, tightened the nut, then cut off the thumbscrew flush with the nut.

I desperately wanted to drill a hole in a new thumbscrew and repeat the process, but I no longer have a small drawer full of assorted thumbscrews. So I must either lengthen the existing thread just enough to complete the mission or build a screw from scratch.

The thumbscrew is threaded 10-24, I have a bunch of 10-32 threaded inserts, so pretend they have the same thread diameter and tap one end to 10-24:

Crock Pot Base - tapping insert
Crock Pot Base – tapping insert

Jam the new threads on the thumbscrew and jam a 10-32 setscrew into the un-wrecked end:

Crock Pot Base - thumbscrew extender
Crock Pot Base – thumbscrew extender

You can see the surface rust in there, right?

Make a Delrin bushing to fit around the insert poking through the base:

Crock Pot Base - drilling Delrin button
Crock Pot Base – drilling Delrin button

Reassemble the internal bits with permanent Loctite, top with a nyloc nut, and it’s only a little taller than the original nut:

Crock Pot Base - assembled
Crock Pot Base – assembled

The setscrew let me hold the new “stud” in place while torquing the nut, plus it looks spiffy.

Memo to Self: If it ain’t broke, don’t look inside. Hah!

Surprisingly, both Amazon and eBay lack useful thumbscrew assortments …

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Kenmore Gas Stove Oven Temperature Control Encoder

For the last year or so, the oven temperature control on our Kenmore gas stove has been decreasingly stable, sometimes varying by 100 °F from the setpoint before settling down somewhere close to what it should be. Spotting a replacement control board for a bit over $100, I decided the board used an absolute rotary encoder of the open-frame variety, so I took the thing apart:

Kenmore oven control - PCB overview
Kenmore oven control – PCB overview

The encoder was, indeed, an open frame:

Kenmore oven control - rotary encoder
Kenmore oven control – rotary encoder

The red droplet is DeoxIT, the rest of which went inside, just ahead of the contact fingers, and got vigorously massaged across the switch contacts on the wafer by spinning the shaft.

Some time ago, the membrane over the TIMER ON/OFF switch cracked and I applied a small square of Kapton tape. Having the entire controller in hand, I replaced the square with a strip of 2 inch Kapton, carefully aligned with the bezel marks embossed on the membrane, and now it’s smooth all over:

Kenmore oven control - Kapton tape cover
Kenmore oven control – Kapton tape cover

The MIN(ute) ^ switch required a much firmer than usual push, so I tucked a shim cut from a polypropylene clamshell between the membrane and the pin actuating the switch.

Reassembled, it works perfectly once more.

Gotta love a zero-dollar appliance repair!

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Monthly Science: Weight

After another two months:

Weight Chart 2019-10 - Ed
Weight Chart 2019-10 – Ed

The trend is definitely not uniformly downward, perhaps due to my increasing ability to accelerate (small) masses against the local gravity vector and, definitely, garden harvest season. My pants still fit fine, if that’s any indication.

I’ll add a skin-fold caliper dot to the weekly record after I can get repeatable measurements, perhaps by marking the test spot with a Sharpie.

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Pride Lift Chair Control Dimming

For reasons not relevant here, we recently decontaminated a second lift chair, this one in bariatric size (so it doesn’t suffer from fuzz-shaving struts) with a six-switch control pod:

Pride lift chair control - dimmed LEDs
Pride lift chair control – dimmed LEDs

The green LED-lit buttons were so bright I took it apart to see what could be done; the picture shows the considerably dimmed result.

Start by prying outward on the tab at the USB charging port:

Pride lift chair control - USB port latch
Pride lift chair control – USB port latch

Done right, you can then release the latches along the sides:

Pride lift chair control - side opened
Pride lift chair control – side opened

It’s impossible to photograph the PCB with the LEDs active, but here’s what it looks like without power:

Pride lift chair control - PCB overview
Pride lift chair control – PCB overview

The eight (!) SMD LEDs align with light pipes around the switch openings:

Pride lift chair control - button keys
Pride lift chair control – button keys

The black dots come from Sharpie ink daubed in the shallow recesses intended to nestle around the LEDs. Note that the four switch caps have unique keying, so you can’t put them back incorrectly without some effort.

While we’re inside, here’s a closer look at the cable entry point, just in case I must replace the industrial-strength coily cord:

Pride lift chair control - cable entry
Pride lift chair control – cable entry

Unfortunately, it has a five-conductor cable, so a cheap phone coily cord (remember when phones had coily cords?) won’t suffice.

The PCB sports a pair of PICs, one of which seems to handle the buttons. I betcha the cable dates back to the days of hard-wired power switches, with the PIC now handling the intricate logic of deciding which motors to actuate for each function, then controlling MOSFETs as fake switch contacts.

The other PIC snuggles against the USB interface, which the manual describes as a charging-only port. It might also serve as a programming interface for the main PIC; admittedly the notion of a firmware upgrade for a lift chair seems far-fetched.

Reassembly is in reverse order with a resounding snap at the conclusion. It works fine and you (well, I) can now look at the control pod without sunglasses.

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Bathroom Sink Drain: Epoxy FAIL

Apparently, “porcelain chip fix” epoxy survives about a year in a bathroom sink:

Bathroom sink epoxy - top
Bathroom sink epoxy – top

It came loose from the drain rim while I was cleaning the sink; I wasn’t doing anything particularly vigorous.

The stain in the lower right goes all the way around the epoxy:

Bathroom sink epoxy - bottom
Bathroom sink epoxy – bottom

For what should be obvious reasons, I was loathe to scuff up the sink surface to give the epoxy a better grip, so it couldn’t make a watertight seal all the way around.

A closer look at the stain:

Bathroom sink epoxy - detail
Bathroom sink epoxy – detail

I’m reasonably sure that’s iron bacteria colony, rather than actual rust, as there’s no iron to be found anywhere nearby.

For lack of anything smarter, I’ll apply another dose of the same epoxy, although this time I won’t be expecting a long-term fix.

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Suet Feeder Bracket Painting

The 4 inch column on the rear patio holds a bracket, probably intended for a welcoming sign or some such, which keeps the suet feeder mostly out of reach. It desperately wanted a coat of black paint to match the railing, so I stripped the old paint and applied Evapo-Rust:

Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware - Evapo-Rust bath
Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware – Evapo-Rust bath

The dark areas are iron oxide being converted to loose iron sulfide, which is what Evapo-Rust does for a living.

One could, of course, simply buy new eye screws & nuts, but we’re deep into historical preservation around here.

An hour of soaking and a few minutes of wire-wheeling got everything down to bare metal, ready for some rattle-can primer and black paint action:

Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware - installed
Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware – installed

It’s a version of what Eks calls a “used car finish”: high shine over deep pits.

Discussion of why one should not paint threaded parts will be unavailing; in this case, paint serves as permanent threadlock. I re-spritzed the eyescrews & nuts after getting everything aligned, so as to produce a lovely two-coat over-all finish.

The birds won’t care one way or the other and, as long as the paint lasts, neither will we.

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