Posts will appear intermittently over the next week or two.

I’m still spending an inordinate amount of time studying the back of my eyelids while horizontally polarized in the lift chair. I can highly recommend not doing whatever it is that triggers a pinched lumbar nerve, but as nearly as I can tell, the proximate cause (shredding leaves) isn’t anything close to whatever the root cause might be.

It does provide plenty of time to conjure solid models from the vasty digital deep:

Wheelchair Brake Mods - solid model
Wheelchair Brake Mods – solid model

The wheelchair brake lever seems to have been designed by somebody who never actually had to shove it very often:

Pride Wheelchair Brake
Pride Wheelchair Brake

At least I can fix that

Neiko Hole Punch Accurizing

Having struggled to cut nice rings from gooey foam adhesive tape, I got a Neiko hollow hole punch set, despite reviews suggesting the pilot point might be a bit off. The case wrapper claims otherwise:

Neiko hole punch - description
Neiko hole punch – description

As the saying (almost) goes:

Inconcievable! Precision!”

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Goldman, The Princess Bride

An eyeballometric measurement suggests this is another one of those Chinese tools missing the last 10% of its manufacturing process:

Neiko hole punch - as-received off-center tip
Neiko hole punch – as-received off-center tip

That’s the 5 mm punch, where being (at least) half a millimeter off-center matters more than it would in the 32 mm punch.

Unscrewing the painfully awkward screw in the side releases the pilot:

Neiko hole punch - punch tip debris
Neiko hole punch – punch tip debris

The debris on the back end of the pilot is a harbinger of things to come:

Neiko hole punch - damaged spring debris
Neiko hole punch – damaged spring debris

Looks like whoever was on spring-cutting duty nicked the next coil with the cutoff wheel. I have no idea where the steel curl came from, as it arrived loose inside the spring.

Although it doesn’t appear here, I replaced that huge screw with a nice stainless steel grub screw that doesn’t stick out at all.

Chucking the pilot in the lathe suggested it was horribly out of true, but cleaning the burrs off the outside diameter and chamfering the edges with a file improved it mightily. Filing doesn’t remove much material, so apparently the pilot is supposed to have half a millimeter of free play in the handle:

Neiko hole punch - undersized pilot
Neiko hole punch – undersized pilot

That’s looking down at the handle, without a punch screwed onto the threads surrounding the pilot.

Wrapping a rectangle of 2 mil brass shimstock into a cylinder around the pilot removed the slop:

Neiko hole punch - cleaned tip brass shim
Neiko hole punch – cleaned tip brass shim

But chucking the handle in the lathe showed the pilot was still grossly off-center, so I set it up for boring:

Neiko hole punch - boring setup
Neiko hole punch – boring setup

The entry of the hole was comfortingly on-axis, but the far end was way off-center. I would expect it to be drilled on a lathe and, with a hole that size, it ought to go right down the middle. I’ve drilled a few drunken holes, though.

Truing the hole enlarged it enough to require a 0.5 mm shimstock wrap, but the pilot is now pretty much dead on:

Neiko hole punch - accurized results
Neiko hole punch – accurized results

Those are 5, 6, 8, and 10 mm punches whacked into a plywood scrap; looks well under a quarter millimeter to me and plenty good enough for what I need.

Jonas Peeler: Reshaping and Origin Mystery

This past summer we replaced a worn-out vegetable peeler with what was allegedly a high-quality Linden Jonas peeler. It worked quite well, which it should have, given that it cost nigh onto seven bucks, until I recently backed over it with my wheelchair (about which, more later) and smashed it flat.

World+dog having recently discovered the virtues of home-cooked meals, the replacement cost nigh onto ten bucks and, through the wonders of Amazon, came from a different seller, albeit with a letter-for-letter identical description:

Linden Jonas peeler orders
Linden Jonas peeler orders

With a spare in the kitchen, I applied some shop-fu to unbend the first peeler:

Jonas peeler - reshaping tools
Jonas peeler – reshaping tools

Tapping the handle against the bandsawed dowel sufficed to remove the sharpest bends. The final trick involved clamping one edge of the handle to the section cut from a thread spool, resting the Vise-Grip on the bench vise, and whacking the other edge with the rubber mallet to restore the smooth curve around the main axis, repeating the process along the other side, then hand-forming the gentle curve closer to the blade. It ain’t perfect and never will be, but it’s once again comfortable in the hand.

During that process I had plenty of time to admire the identification stamped into the handle:

Jonas peeler - weak emboss
Jonas peeler – weak emboss

Which, frankly, looks rather gritty on an allegedly high-quality product from a Swedish factory.

Compare it with the new peeler:

Jonas peeler - good emboss
Jonas peeler – good emboss

Now, that’s more like it.

The genuine Linden website doesn’t provide much detail, so I can’t be absolutely sure which peeler is a counterfeit, but it sure looks like at least one fails the sniff test. Linden’s site redirects to Amazon through a Google search link (!) that, given the way Amazon works, could result in anything appearing as a valid result:


As one should expect by now, Amazon’s commingled inventory produces a fair percentage of reviews complaining about craptastic peelers stamped “Made in China” from any of the sellers unearthed by that search.

Aerosol Can Corrosion

An odd smell in the Basement Laboratory Chemical Warehouse led to this discovery:

Leaking aerosol can
Leaking aerosol can

It’s a can of spray-on topical anesthetic That Came With The House™, so it’s almost certainly four decades old and, other than being moved to that shelf, hasn’t been touched in the last quarter century.

Surprisingly, the orange-brown goo wiped off the shelf almost completely. The similarly old box of stain remover on the left was a dead loss.

Suet Feeder Extension

Shortly after this season’s suet feeder deployment, the neighborhood raccoons emptied it. A few years ago, putting a 3D printed feeder at the end of a repurposed ski pole protected it for a few weeks, so I scrounged another pole from the pile, cut off the flattened top and battered tip, and put it into service:

Suet Feeder Extension - deployed
Suet Feeder Extension – deployed

The near end has a loop made from a pair of stainless steel key cables, because a single cable was just slightly too short:

Suet Feeder Extension - anchor loop
Suet Feeder Extension – anchor loop

The far end has what was once a hook, beaten straight to fit through the hole, then beaten around the curve of the pole:

Suet Feeder Extension - chain anchor
Suet Feeder Extension – chain anchor

Raccoons lacking opposable thumbs, this should suffice until the black bear(s) spotted around here take up residence in the yard.

Astable Multivibrator: Dressed-up LED Spider

Adding a bit of trim to the bottom of the LED spider makes it look better and helps keep the strut wires in place:

Astable Multivibrator - Alkaline - Radome trim
Astable Multivibrator – Alkaline – Radome trim

It’s obviously impossible to build like that, so it’s split across the middle of the strut:

Astable Multivibrator - Alkaline - Radome trim
Astable Multivibrator – Alkaline – Radome trim

Glue it together with black adhesive and a couple of clamps:

LED Spider - glue clamping
LED Spider – glue clamping

The aluminum fixtures (jigs?) are epoxied around snippets of strut wire aligning the spider parts:

LED Spider - gluing fixture
LED Spider – gluing fixture

Those grossly oversized holes came pre-drilled in an otherwise suitable aluminum rod from the Little Tray o’ Cutoffs. I faced off the ends, chopped the rod in two, recessed the new ends, and declared victory. Might need better ones at some point, but they’ll do for now.

Next step: wire up an astable with a yellow LED to go with the green and blue boosted LEDs.