Solderable LED Xmas Tree Ornament – Christmas the DIY Way

DIY Tree

I got this because it looked like a cool little project, and a neat (if tiny) gift for the missus. So that’s about the extent of my motivations. If you’re trying to put one of these together, I’m hoping that this video might answer a couple of your questions. It’s not really meant to be an educational video, though; More a demonstration of what’s involved in assembly for anyone considering a purchase. Speaking of which, if you want one you can pick one up for about 5 bucks over at banggood.com.

And in case you were wondering, this is not a paid advertisement. I actually paid them for this thing, so it’s pretty much the opposite. (If this kit were complete crap I would tell you.)

2D Version

3D Version

For viewing with Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Rift, etc.

A couple of people have rightly told me that you can just set a 3D video to 2D viewing mode, and therefore don’t need to upload 2 versions of the same video.

There are a couple of problems with simply uploading one 3D video, however:

  • Because the two sides of the video are compressed horizontally, viewing it in 2D stretches one of the “eyes” to full screen. That means it’s much lower quality with half the horizontal resolution versus a regular 2D version.
  • As far as I can see, YouTube defaults to anaglyph (red/blue) mode when browsing 3D videos on a regular monitor. That’s a potential turn-off for any viewer that doesn’t know about the switch to view it in 2D instead.

If I’m off base here, please let me know. I’m still learning this whole 3D creation process.

Putting a Line Voltage Multimeter in a Receptacle Box (VA4K vs Shogun Test)

I got a Volt/Amp/Watt/Wh Meter from Banggood and wanted to put it to some use. So I decided to stick it in the back of a receptacle box, making some kind of metered extension cord.

This video shows the process of doing that, but is also a test of the Blackmagic Video Assist 4K vs. the Atomos Shogun for a review I’m working on. It’s a literal side-by-side comparison of the two. Though there’s no difference in quality (there shouldn’t be — they were both recording in ProRes HQ via SDI), I recorded about an hour of footage and neither one showed dropped frames or sync issues during that time. So far so good.

More to come on that later..

ecobee3 Smart Thermostat Install & Review

My old style programmable thermostat died last weekend, and so I rushed over to Home Depot to get a replacement. I wanted a smart thermostat mainly for its wifi connectivity, but also wanted to try out the truly “smart” aspect of it: Optimizing heating and cooling cycles to suit my needs.

They did an excellent job with the user interface, making setup really easy. And their app, though slow to connect at times, is overall well-designed and easy to use. So far I like the ecobee3, but my main concern is with reliability/longevity, and that of course remains to be seen.

Razer DeathAdder Button Swap (Left- to Right-Handed Mouse)

Razer DeathAdder Button Swap

I’m a leftie, but all my life I’ve used right-handed mouse in my left hand. I needed to replace my old Microsoft Optical Mouse, and found the DeathAdder Left-Handed Edition. It’s the perfect size and shape for me, but they did the weird thing of switching the left- and right-click buttons. It’s easy enough in most any operating system to swap the buttons in the settings. However — at least with Windows — the buttons are only changed locally. So when connecting to other hosts via Remote Desktop the buttons revert to their hardware configuration. That’s a no-go for me, but I liked the mouse so much that I decided to mod the hardware instead. Fortunately, it’s very easy to … Continue reading

Sixteen (!) New Batteries for a 3000VA APC UPS

I recently got a good deal on a 120V 3000VA APC SURTA3000XL, a 120 pound beast of a double conversion online UPS which boasts over 30 mins of runtime at half load (and that’s still over 1000 Watts)! It didn’t come with batteries, so this video shows the process of “refurbishing” a couple of old modules with new batteries, and testing out the UPS.

The reason I was hunting down reasonably priced DCO UPS wasn’t because I’m especially concerned about poor-quality power from my wall, but because I needed a UPS that would play nice with generator power.

I’d love to be able to afford a couple of ~7500 Watt inverter style generators (one primary and one backup) to run the whole house during a power failure, but the best I can do is a pair of contractor style gensets. They’re noisy and output a mess of voltages and frequencies, but they work. Well, they didn’t work with line interactive UPSes, but they’ll work fine with something like this APC.

DIY Motion Control Camera Slider

Motion Control Slider - YouTube Featured Image 01

Introductory Video This video is and introduction of my motion control slider project, showing the basics of what it can do and how it’s used. Time Lapse Assembly Video I figured that I’d record the entire assembly process of the MC slider from start to finish. This video shows about 24 hours of real time in 15 minutes, and in it I discuss some of the problems I faced and design choices I made. Feedback If you’ve got any comments or random abuse to hurl, please post it here on the ol’ blog. Seriously, I’d appreciate any and all suggestions and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. As promised in the videos, various downloads and a parts … Continue reading

Sprint / Netgear 6100D 4G Antenna Installation (Video)

What’s all this, then?

Back in August I reviewed the Netgear 6100D from Sprint and followed up with a post detailing some advanced configuration options.

The Video

I also installed a flat panel 4G antenna from 4G Antenna Shop. I made a video detailing the unboxing and installation (which I just got around to editing together):

It’s my first video of this sort, so if you have any feedback please let me know in the YouTube comments or by email!

4G Antenna Shop

I didn’t get into it in the video, but overall I’d recommend 4G Antenna Shop. The cable and antenna I got were both of very high quality and definitely worth the price.

Their customer service was great; I had a couple of questions about my order, and one of their guys (Robert) got back to me within 15 minutes and was extremely helpful. They shipped really quickly, too.

I did have two minor issues, both of which I talk about in the video:

During checkout they give you the option of selecting your device so that they can provide the correct adapters to go from the cable (if you order it through them) to the device. At the time I’d ordered, they had an option for “Netgear Sprint Spark LTE”, which I thought was the Netgear 6100D. There was no separate option for the 6100D, but it turned out that they were referencing a different product, and so I received the wrong adapters. (They’ve since added the 6100D as an option.)

I chalked this up to being mostly my fault, as I didn’t know that there was another Netgear LTE device out there for Sprint Spark.

My other issue was with the packing job. Again, it’s a minor complaint because nothing was damaged, but the box arrived pretty beaten up with holes in the top from the antenna mount having poked through. There was no packing material to keep the box rigid, and the antenna and cable were just sorta rattling around inside.

Bear with Me…

Oh, and sorry if I rambled on a bit in the video. If you couldn’t tell from a lot of my other posts on here, I have an aversion to brevity. :)

I’m hoping to get some more how-to and instructional videos out there in 2015, so please subscribe to my YouTube channel!

(Hey, I’m allowed to shill for myself, right?)

Installing Our New 240V/Level 2 Voltec Charge Station (Phase II)

This is a follow-up to my previous post, Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I). In the first phase, I ran a new dedicated circuit from the subpanel in my garage to the opposite wall to connect a 120V charging station.  In this phase, I removed the existing receptacle, rewired for 240V, installed the Voltec Level 2 charging station, and wired the kWh meter inline. It’s not my intent to write a full set of instructions for installation here.  The purpose of this post is to illustrate some of the installation steps with real-world pictures, which are somewhat hard to come by online (the pictures are rather small, but you can click on any of them for a larger version). As … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I)

Chevy Volt 120V Charger Mounted on the Wall

My wife and I recently brought home a brand new Chevy Volt (named “Sparky“), the plug-in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV) from Chevrolet.  It’s a really cool car, and you can read about our first experiences with it here. Of course, the whole point point behind a PHEV is the actual plugging in.  The Volt comes with a 120V charger that plugs into your average 15A receptacle, and can fully charge the car in about 10 hours. Chevrolet’s charging station partner, SPX, sells a variety of Level 2 charging stations compatible with the Volt (and most plug-in electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf).  The Level 2 charging stations use 240V, and can charge the Volt in about 4 hours.  We’re going to be … Continue reading