Friday, 21 September 2012

Rubber band vehicles ... ...

Well despite the sunshine it's autumn (well more or less) so we can expect more cold weather and no doubt more rain, so here's an easy project for a rainy day.

These aren't by any means a new idea, but they are easy, cost very little (if you have stuff lying about like me) and they are also good as a teaching aid.

Here they are -

The won't win any design awards, but they are fun.

All these are made from scrap bits of wood, and they are all powered by rubber bands, they are basic I'll admit, but they can be messed about with, and it's more about what you can do with your imagination, and it shows how you can store energy.

All you need are some bits of wood, some rubber bands and a few tools.

The Tank - 

See anything familiar about it ?

Okay, calling it a tank might be stretching things a bit, but I used to make these as a kid, from a rubber band a pencil a match stick and an old cotton reel, much to my nans, and my aunts annoyance if memory serves. 
I've just used slightly different materials, but the principal is the same, the rubber band drives the wheel, and the stick (in this case a bit of dowel) holds it steady (ish)

The rubber band is held in place by a bit of skewer that sits in a groove, this stops the whole thing from just unwinding on the spot, I did have to add a little bit of rubber to the wheel though, this was because it slipped a fair bit on our floors as we don't have carpet.

Next the bike - 

It's a bike honest.

Again I'm reaching a little, but it has two wheels, front and back, that makes it a bike in my book, as with the tank this is driven by one wheel with a rubber band through it, each wheel is actually made in two parts (all will become clear later)

With the back wheel I added a small nail sandwiched between the two parts of the wheel to stop the rubber band just twisting about with out moving the bike, I've made a small diagram of what I'm on about.

The bike drive wheel -

Hopefully that goes some way to explaining how it works.

For the front wheel I just used a small piece of dowel as an axle that goes through the wooden frame of the bike, or you could just glue it onto the frame, the rubber band also goes through the frame of the bike, and as long as you make sure you can secure it, the bike should move easily, you can just use a couple of small hooks in a similar way to the paddle boat, which is up next.

If you want an easy way to make wheels for this type of thing then I'd suggest buying a set of hole saws, they can be picked up for very little money for a set like the one in the picture below, great for making wheels, and cutting holes oddly enough.

Hole saws - 

I have about 4 sets of these for some reason.

And last, but not least we have the paddle boat - 

Likes to paddle.

I'm pretty sure you've seen this done before, if not where have you been ? these used to be the staple of most kids toy boxes years ago, they are great fun, and they also explain how those old paddle steamers used to work, obviously we've replaced the steam with rubber bands, but the principal is the same, that being big paddle drives boat.

Here's a diagram showing how to make a simple paddle - 

Quick and simple, but quite effective.

And there you have it, a lesson in wood working, and potential energy (or is it kinetic ? I forget) and it's also fun.

Just in case you are wondering if any of these work, I have video evidence, all be it slightly shaky and a bit too short, but you'll get the idea, have fun.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Homemade phone holder ...

I had a spare few minutes the other day, and seeing as I don't have a phone holder on my desk I decided to make one, I can even use it to transfer files to and from the phone and charge it as well, and it cost nothing.

Here it is -

Might not be to everyone’s taste, but I like it.

It's basically made from a scrap piece of Pear wood, the micro usb cable for connecting the phone to a computer and some copper wire.

Here it is without a phone in it - 

Simple to make.

All I've done is cut a groove in the wood to hold the phone at an angle that suits where it goes on my desk, then I made a channel in the base of the stand with a router bit to hold the cable (you can see it running from the back of the stand)

The base - 

The base, I've left it a little rough looking.

On the other end of the usb cable I wrapped some twisted copper wire to make it a little less flexible, and to make it look a little more interesting.

The copper wire - 

I used a little glue to hold it in place.

And that's about it really, I did give the copper a polish using a wire brush bit in my multi-tool, just to make it a little shinier.

I guess you could say it's a bit of a hack, but I like it better than most of the boring plastic docks that are about, and to be honest it suits my personality better, that being a little eccentric and a tad mad scientist.

And this is where it sits - 

It works !

I normally have it running the clock and local weather, but the phone also has a mode for displaying pictures, kind of like a digital picture frame, like in the picture above.

As I said it might not be to everyone's taste, but I like it, and that's what matters, and if nothing else it shows I still have a little imagination left, all be it slightly warped.

" Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere " - Albert Einstein.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

The future's bright, the future's 'O' rings ...

If you visit regularly you'll know that I like to make various turned wood boxes, be they memory boxes, needle cases and all the other stuff as well.

Now I have for sometime now made the lids in the same way (more or less) like in my latest piece, it's a very basic way to do things.

Here's the latest box -

Pointy box.

The lid basically fits inside the body of the box, probably the easiest way possible.

You can see how it fits into the box - 

Simple, but it works.

And that's as complicated as it gets, the lid sits in the body of the box, and the little extra bit stops it from sliding off, I do tend to make them a tight fit, but as it's wood it doesn't always stay tight, and sometimes it gets tighter, so what to do about it ?

Well I have experimented with various ways of securing the lids, the first thing I tried is a click fit lid, it involves making a rim on the lid that fits into a gap in the body of the box.

The click fit lid - 

You can just make out the shape.

The box body - 

The lid clicks into the body of the box.
The lid then clicks into the gap in the body, with a click oddly enough, and this it seems is a good way to stop the lids coming off the body, this is good if you've got needles or other items in the box, how ever it does take a fair bit of time (at least for me) to get it all lined up, and if the wood happens to shrink a little or indeed expand you can end up with the same issues, either too tight or not tight enough.

And that's when I started to think about rubber, or more specifically rubber rings ('O' rings) lots of different types of storage use a rubber seal of some kind, so I decided to try a similar thing.

'O' rings - 

Not sure why they are popular, maybe they asked a plumber.

It's handy to have them around anyway for fixing leaky taps - 

Small rubber rings.

To get the rings onto a box lid is pretty easy, I just turned the lid and box as I normally would, but with the addition of a small groove, which the O ring sits in, this seems to allow for a good secure fit, but the tightness of the lids seems to stay pretty constant, even if the wood shrinks or expands a little, as the rubber also expands and contracts with the wood.

So far I've tried two boxes with this idea, one with the rubber ring on the lid, and one with the rubber ring on the box body, both ways seem to work well, which is good as the two pots are both for storing pins, and they both have a built in pin cushion.

This Pear wood pot has the rubber ring on the lid - 

The rings fit well.

And as you can see even if I hold the box upside down the lid stays on - 

No spillage here.

The next box is made from Cherry, and has the rubber ring on the box body, rather than in the lid, again it works just as well.

Here's a picture of the groove ready for it's rubber seal - 

It's easy to make the small grooves.

Rubber seal fitted - 

All ready.

And now the upside down test - 

Another success.

I'll no doubt keep experimenting with this and other methods of making these boxes a touch more secure, I have plans to make a lockable one, all be it with a simple lock.

Here are the boxes the right way up - 

Cherry with a velvet cushion.

Pear with a velvet cushion.

Thanks for reading.