Wednesday, May 18, 2022

RGB Light Bulbs - Finally

 I've gone the rounds with Chinese hardware that is based way too much in the cloud, or with stupid configurations that are supposed to be "easy" but open your phone up to an application that presents your local Wi-Fi configuration to an untrusted application.  (It all started with a Feit Electric RGB light bulb from Costco, and just seemed to get worse from there.)

Then I found an Athom LB01 7 Watt light bulb on Amazon.  It's an E27 format, meaning it plugs into a standard light socket, and is based on the ESP8266 hardware.  That likely meant it was hackable.  So, I ordered two of them.

They shipped from China.  Not a good initial sign, but let's see what this thing has going on.

Starting out, the instructions had this set up list of six steps.  The first step was plug it in and power it up, and then find a new Wi-Fi called "Homekit_XXXX".  This was the first sign of life for these bulbs. That meant that these things were configurable using a web browser on a computer.... so no unsecured, trashy, untrusted phone application requiring access to all my phones data was required.  Woohoo!  Plug that thing in and turn it on.  Yes, indeed.  A new wireless network showed up :

I connected, and ran "ipconfig" to see what the gateway was.

    Ethernet adapter Bluetooth Network Connection:
       Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
       Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
    Wireless LAN adapter Wi-Fi:
       Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
       Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . : fe80::f5d9:f994:7e91:6c88%13
       IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . :
       Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . :
       Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :

So, I see it created a 192.168.4.X network.  I opened the browser and connected.

Then, I found this nifty little tab in the web interface on which a firmware could be uploaded.  On that about page is the MAC address, if you are going to add static DHCP addresses or allow a MAC onto your network.  Make a note of that.

Wait a minute..... that means that I don't even need to break it open to find soldering tabs to re-flash firmware?  Seriously?  This light bulb just got even better.  I have to just try a random firmware.

I grabbed the WLED firmware from some random page (I trust that more than I trust Chinesium, right?), and uploaded it.  It gave me a nice progress bar, and then the bulb turned off and then the browser went into a "can't be reached".  Of course, that thing had to reboot, so I expect that behavior.  I had to reconnect to the new network.

BTW, the default AP mode firmware password is "wled1234".  I'd change that quickly.  In my neighborhood, I may have trained a few neighbor kids to run amok with stuff like this.  Open a web browser tab, and point it to after you've connected to WLED-AP.  The initial page is a classic 80's style look to it.

The first thing to do is click on the WIFI SETTINGS button.

The fields that are critical are the Network name and password, the mDNS address, and the AP SSID and associated password.  Set them properly, and hit save (at the top).

Once you have it configured for your wireless network, get the new IP address for the device, and re-connect once more to the light bulb.  At this point, you will get a green light on the bulb when it is turned on (it might not be on initially - you can flip the power switch on the web interface a few times just to see).

Click on the config button, because we have to make a few changes.  Then, click on "LED Preferences", and (under the Hardware setup), alter the LED outputs.  Change the 1: from WS281x" to "PWM RGB+CCT" (it's an RGB bulb with CCT, controlled via Pulsed Width Modulation), set the color order to RGB, and the GPIO's as 4, 12, 14, 13, and 5.

4 is the red GPIO pin, 12 is the green GPIO pin, and 14 is the blue GPIO pin.  GPIO 13 is the warm white, and GPIO 5 is the cold white pin.  One more thing before you save - toward the bottom is the Relay GPIO - it's set to 12 by default.  Set this to 0 (or clear it) to avoid a conflict.  NOW you can save it (save button at the top, yet again).

You can now use this as needed.  It will remember those settings.  Congrats!  You now have a light bulb that can be put on a network that doesn't have Internet access, further securing your system!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sanding Pad Rebuild

 I visited some family, and learned that a little old Black and Decker belt/disc sander was having some problems.  The disc was completely removed, amid the questions of the family member on what to do.  The disc was wobbling badly, and kept coming loose.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the motor shaft - it's in rough shape, and I don't know if I'd be able to fix that without pulling the entire motor apart.

The shaft had a flat on it (not a normal "keyway" for pulleys or gears), and the disc used a set screw to bind to the shaft.  Unfortunately, where the set screw bound to the shaft, the shaft had a worn groove in it.  It will still work.

The wobble problem came because the disc had kept coming loose on the shaft, and it wore the disc down and made the bore for the disc un-round (anti-round? non-round? out of round?).

That's where I came in.  I measured (as well as I could with the Harbor Freight digital caliper) that the shaft was 0.504".  The inside bore was well worn on the inside.

I took the disc home, and chucked it up four different ways until I had something that I thought was acceptable.  My 8" chuck failed (the disc is 8", but the jaws would not clear the lathe bed because of how far they stuck out).  My 3" chuck couldn't get a solid grip on the backside boss where the set screw was.  My 5" self-centering couldn't grab where I wanted to, so I ended up with my 6" independent 4 jaw chuck.

The face was 0.050" out of square.  For a wood worker, that's got to be pretty dang good, but I am neither pretty nor good.  I have the danged part down well, though.

I faced it off and bored it out in one operation.  This should guarantee that the bore is perpendicular to the face.

The bore was brought to 0.750" (a little goof, and I ended up at 0.757", but hey, I'm making the matching sleeve, too).  At this point, it could be removed from the chuck - we were done with this part.

Next was to begin working on the sleeve.  I had a drop piece of aluminum from a previous job that was 1" in diameter (ugh! that's a lot of waste material!), and chucked it up in the small 3" 3-jaw chuck.

The first operation when working with an internal and an external is to bore it.  This is a proper sequence, because materials don't compress as easily when cutting on the outside - thin walls should have the last operation as the outside.  I used a 7/16 drill bit to get large enough for a boring bar.

Then I used the boring bar to clean it out.

After ward, I turned down the outside to 0.752" (yes, 0.005" undersized - I was actually aiming for 0.001" over-sized, but didn't take into account the part cooling down to a different size).

I marked where the set screw hole will go (to be later drilled), and parted it off.  You can see in the next picture that I still have the large burr on the parted end - I need to clean that out and put a chamfer on that.  I also need to drill the cross hole through one side for the set screw to pass through it.

This fits fairly well, so I am pleased with the outcome.

The Combination is Very Plane

 I must have a thing for weird tools.  On one of my curiosity rampages, I ended up purchasing a "combination plane".  One of these just struck my fancy.  The most sought after ones on eBay seem to be Stanley No. 55's, like (the photo was unapologetically stolen from over on Woodcraft, called it the "King of Combination Planes") :

Given that those fetch more of a premium than I wanted to pay just to see what the heck they are and how to use one, I bought one with a different brand.

This one came a wee bit rusty, and (buyer beware, obviously) included a crack in one of the cast iron parts that finished breaking off as it was unwrapped.  That crack was not identified in the sale, hence the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude.  Frankly, I'd do it all over again.  Anyway, enough of my silly rant about being more cognizant of ads and their honesty.

This was an opportunity to use some rust remover.  I didn't want to pay $100 for shipping for the name-brand evapo-rust, so I ran over to the over-priced big box hardware store and picked up a gallon.  I began by taking photos of how it was set up before taking the thing apart.  I need a record of how it will go back together, obviously.

I set the parts soak for a bit (some parts over night), and then rinsed them in water, and then in WD40.  (I figured the WD40 would keep it from rusting instantly all over again.)

I used a wire brush to clean it up - and realized this was indeed cast iron.  It had been painted a bright "aluminum" color, but was cast iron.  That broken tip can actually be brazed back on - if I ever figure out how to do that.

After re-assembly, I had to give it a test on some scrap so I could become familiar with the use of it.  Different knobs control the depth of the cut, the side bars adjust how far away from an edge, and the two hockey-skate-like blade chunks of iron (one of which is broken) are used to cut into the grain for a cleaner cut.  This one came with a bead blade - now I need more of blades.

With the test cut out of the way, I needed to store it.  With my recent foray into French cleats, it was a simple to tack a french cleat holder together for this and my Harbor Freight #33 fake plane.

Speaking of the Harbor Freight, one of the blade adjuster knurled nuts was the wrong size, so I grabbed a few measurements.  The bad one was an m8x1.0, when it needed to be an m6x1.0 .

Next project (when I get a minute) will be to cut a new nut.  I do have the taps.  And right above this are the measurements, so I can always get back to this and know what needs to be made.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Unsportsmanlike Conduct with French Cleats

 In the past few years, I'd finally started migrating to cordless tools.  It started with helping a niece fix a car (the water pump housing bolt snapped, requiring a narrow drill, so I went with a Harbor Freight 3/8" Right Angle Drill do that I didn't have to remove the bumper to drill it out).  Next, a few months ago, my angle grinder finally gave up the ghost (another Harbor Freight special that lasted for 13 years), and that resulted in me seeing a battery-powered angle grinder.  Be wary, it will drain the battery really fast, so be prepared to have a few batteries on hand when you need it).  Since I was already part way into the Harbor Freight "Bauer" line, I just picked up a hammer drill, a regular drill, an impact wrench, and one of those detail sanders (I needed to sand into a corner for a repair).  I had piles of tools sitting around the garage, with no organization.  The tools were always getting under foot, in the way, and I needed to organize it all.  That forced my hand.

I ran to home depot and bought a 10' length of 4" schedule 40 PVC pipe.  I cut off a few lengths, and then ran them through the table saw for slits (do NOT run them all the way through - the pipe is under tension and will clamp down on the table saw blade as soon as you break through, and you really don't need the slot all the way through the length of the pipe).  I measured for the handle widths on the pipe and put an identical slot far enough away to clear the handle (but not the body of the tools).  Unfortunately, I ended up all the way through on a few of these, so I ended up cementing a piece of pipe ring around the PVC so that one end was secured.

While I was at it, I created a French Cleat system using two 2"x4" boards attached vertically to some studs for stability.  Then I ran two 10" boards through the table saw at a 45 degree angle, and attached those horizontally (using a level) with the sharp corner at the top and away from the 2"x4" boards.  That gives a locking "lug" that can be attached to the back of a shelf.  (The picture was shamelessly stolen from if you want to know, and the picture links over there, too.)

Next was just building a shelf and adding the PVC pipes to it, then put it in place.  The shelf doesn't need to be attached to the horizontal boards with screws - gravity will keep them in place as the accessory cleat is pulled down to the wall cleat.

That's it.  Battery tools have been organized, and I have a recharging station, plus I can add shelves or move them as I need to.  Yes, that is another cleat accessory to hold some cleaning and some of my wife's craft spray cans.  I have another accessory to add (just a simple shelf) to hold a few more things, but I'm happy to have some floor space back, and a central location for the wood working tools.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Completing an Old Project

 I had a really old chess board.  It was definitely nothing to write home about.  It was poorly made, and barely even in dimension.  I should know, I made it when I was in grade 9 in wood shop class at school.  It was the first piece of wood work I'd ever done, so it's only expected to be rough.

Apparently, I have never done things normally.  The projects are for complete, one piece boards.  Yet on mine, I wanted a folding board, and that's what I built.  Some of the squares were split and re-glued but not planer enough to even keep the squares flat.  I had a border and brass hinges that weren't even straight (the thing folds up at an angle).

I figured it was time for the chess pieces. It's a small board, with squares that were 1", so the pieces all had to be less than 1" in any horizontal position (e.g. 1" diameter or less on the kings base).  I managed to find a chess set that was really old (I had a magnetic one as a gift from my dad in middle school), and that was missing a pawn.  I first made a test run with that missing pawn, casting it in silicone.

With that done, I set about creating molds for all of the pieces.  I went with green and gold, because those were two colors at the time that I loved.  I had to repeat a lot of pieces over and over to get the count (I'm not making 8 molds for 8 pawns).  I used a Dremel to cut off the bottom sprue from the pieces, and then set it up.

Nice to have that completed.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Bandsaw Mitre Measurement Attachment - And Fence

 Someone asked if I could cut them some boards on the bandsaw.  I went to check it out, and the blade was dull.  Plus, my old wood fence for the bandsaw was warped.  And, when setting up the fence, I got tired of the mitre-to-board-via-c-clamp setup that I had.

Always start with a plan.  I used some machinist gauge pins to determine the slots in the mitre gauge, and the distance between the holes.  This gave me both the distance between the two holes, and the height from the base of the mitre gauge.  Rummaging through my cut-off/drop stock, I found a bar of aluminum that would come to the height of the top of the mitre gauge, and a small, thinner bar I could cut in half to be some risers.  The mitre bar was twice as long as it needed to be, but I did not cut it - I thought this would be a good opportunity to make this attachment adjustable.  I also divided the twice-length into thirds for the risers, and marked them all out for drilling.

I planned on #10-32 for assembly, because the slots in the mitre gauge would take that size (nothing bigger).  The riser bar had two holes in it already at the ends, and that forced me to switch that side from a #10-32 to a 1/4"-20 on those particular holes.  I had thumb screws that size (in brass), so it was a natural fit to drill those for a 1/4"-20 and tap them.

A lot of drilling, tapping, and counter sinking later, I had the basic assembly.  I lost a few pictures in the mix, so I don't have photos of the simple assembly at this stage.  I needed some thumb screws to attach the assembly to the mitre gauge.  I ordered some #10-32 thumb screws in stainless steel that were 1" in length.

I used a piece of extruded, 90-degree aluminum, and drilled holes for a slot (I didn't want to break out the mill - I had too many wood tools where I'd have to go and clean up was off-putting).  The task of marking the holes took the longest.  It wasn't a single slot, and it was designed to allow overlap on the risers so that I could hit any position and length.

Once the slot holes were drilled, I used a file on the slots.  Being a soft aluminum, this went MUCH faster than the drilling.  At this point, the basic assembly was complete, but I needed a ruler.  A quick trip to the craft store ended with me having a 12" aluminum ruler that had a plastic "handle" on it.  I used a heat gun and softened the plastic enough I just popped it out of the ruler.  I then marked the holes from the ruler to my angle-aluminum, and drilled and tapped the angle (1/8" thick, #8-32 with some machines screw washers).  I had a big pile of parts.

This was assembled into the final assembly.

While here, I took two 25mmx75mm aluminum extrusions and cut them down to size.  I added angle blocks to lock them together into a bandsaw fence.  After checking for squareness, I cussed a few times because it was 0.035" out of square over 75mm - or 1/32" over 3".  Sorry for the mixed metrology there.

I cut a few 0.012" shims and stuffed them into one end on the angle brackets, and had it fully square.  Phew!

I ran both out to the bandsaw to check the fit.  The attachment dropped into the mitre gauge slots perfectly, andI ran a few tests.  It worked out perfectly!

Here's how it works.

  1. Clamp the device clamped to the mitre gauge.
  2. Position the ruler near the saw blade.
  3. Loosen the brass thumb screws holding the ruler in position, and slide until the desired depth of cut is obtained, and lock the thumbscrews to keep the ruler in position.
  4. Shift the mitre gauge to one end of the bandsaw, and slide the fence up to the ruler end.  Lightly lock that end of the fence down.
  5. Shift the mitre gauge to the opposite end of the band saw table, and repeat the sliding of the fence against the rulers, and lightly lock it down.
  6. Once more, do the opposite end that we've done already, just to make sure.
  7. Lock the fence down.
  8. Remove the miter gauge (or the attachment if you are using the mitre gauge itself for your cuts).

Then, you are set up, and ready to go.

Now, once I get time to do some re-sawing, I'm ready.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Boring Head with a Morse Taper 1

I finally got my small, internal threading boring bars.  It took a little bit to ship them from China, but once they got here, I could finish my boring head for my wood lathe.

My father-in-law has started pursuing "ring turning".  There are three styles of "rings" to turn.

First, and hardest, is to turn everything yourself - if you want just a wood ring, you chuck it up, core it out (drill the middle to the right size) and face it, and then chuck it onto a mandrel to turn the outside.  Now, this is the process you'd do for ALL ring turning but what you are left with is something that could be brittle (wood grain on ends could easily snap if you were doing just wood).

The second and third forms use a "core" - it's basically a pre-sized ring that can have a groove in it, or just a flat surface to glue stuff onto for strength.  The second method doesn't require boring.  It has a groove, and you are required to fill the groove in with an inlay material, such as "tru stone" crumbs glued into place with an epoxy filler.  The third method uses either a 2-piece core that has your material sandwiched in between in the groove, or it's just a simple surface you glue your blank onto leaving the sides of your material exposed.  Some examples (this is not a clickable ad) :

If I wanted to explore ring turning with my father-in-law, I was going to have to get a ring chuck and a boring head.  Unfortunately, my wood lathe is 80 years old.  The tailstock is a more taper #1 (or 1MT or MT1 for you abbreviation snobs).  It may not sound like a big deal, but I'd ask you to go looking for a boring head for an MT1 lathe.  If you find one, please tell me - they don't exist.  Also, they don't exist with threads that can easily be mated together.

I had to take a bar of 1 3/4" steel, turn it down to 1 1/2", cut an 18 pitch thread, then bore it out to 0.5505" (the minor diameter of a 5/8-16" thread), and internally thread it.  I wanted it to be extremely tight.  So, when I got close to the MT1 adapter fitting (meaning it kept starting to thread but wouldn't continue), I threw the MT1 adapter into the freezer for a half hour.  Then I hit the part with a torch to get it ti expand, grabbed the MT1 adapter out of the freezer, and threaded it together.  It was still very tight - these two parts are now one - they will NOT come apart.

Then I could thread the 1 1/2"-18 into the back of the boring head.  I used lactate - I didn't get this one tight enough for me to trust it without.

Bingo!  I have a boring head for my MT1 wood lathe now!