Posted by: andy idsinga | August 11, 2010

Kitchen DIY : patching a furnace vent hole

I’ve been working on my DIY kitchen remodel project for a while now. This past weekend’s task was to get the floor prepared for the new in floor heating and nice new tile.

Here is a picture of me removing the old flooring. I used a pry bar to slide under and pry up the old flooring pieces.

Once I had all the mess cleaned up I started in on the patch work. The goal was to patch up the floor where an old furnace vent had been.
The patch must be:

  • strong enough for me to stand on (200+ lbs) and take walking abuse for many many years.
  • stiff enough to not flex as we would be putting tile on it – and if tile flexes it may crack.
  • flush with the surface of the floor to avoid a bumpy or sagging appearance in that area. (which could also cause the tile to crack).

Here is a picture of the hole in the floor after I removed the old furnace vent and duct-work. I used my circular saw set at 3/4″ depth to cut a wider hole out of the original floor boards – the top most boards. The 3/4″ depth was chosen so that I would NOT cut into the sub-floor boards!!

These three pics show how I progressively built up the patch from a 2×4 board that I screwed into two floor joists just below the sub-floor boards with three layers of wood that brought the patch flush with the original floor top.

Here is a diagram (made in google sketchup) to show all the of pieces involved. The floor joists in in the diagram are not visible in the pictures above – because they are hidden by the floor and sub-floor boards. Interestingly, the top floor boards are about 1/8 larger than my 3/4 material – this is why I added a spacer made out of masonite.

Here are couple pics of the final product : a nicely patched floor.

Posted by: andy idsinga | May 23, 2010

My DIY HDTV antenna

Here’s a little HDTV antenna I built recently.

Psst – it could be used to receive regular old tv and other radio transmissions too :)

I built it after reading this page that describes the shoebox HDTV antenna. Why did I not just build the shoebox antenna? I dunno – I just had to do my own thing :)

Okay, so the antenna works pretty good here in the Portland OR area and it will likely work good for you too if you are within 8-10 miles from your local TV stations.

It is a very simple dipole antenna with two 36″ lengths of 12 gauge copper wire. The exact same copper wire that is run inside the wall of a home for 110v electricity. You can buy it at many hardware stores.

Why did I choose 36″?
Well, the shoe box antenna above indicated that 6″ minimum was required. That length is important as it’s related to the TV frequencies being received.
I just multiplied 6″ by a number ( x 6 ) I pulled out of you know where to make it longer and hopefully get better reception.
The reality is that this 36″ length is not really correct and to make it correct I should go back and read my ARRL Antenna book and figure out the right wire length to support receiving the TV frequencies in my area.
…maybe later because this is one is actually working ;)

Why did I wrap the wire around in that funky pattern?
I vaguely remembered reading something about that pattern having a positive affect.
Reality: After talking to a friend about it and getting a really weird stare, I’m pretty sure I was remembering something completely fictional and I don’t think it has an affect other than to get more wire on the piece of plywood.
Again, consulting the ARRL Antenna book is the way to get that kind of thing right.

Materials and tools:

  • 2 36″ pieces of 12 guage copper wire
  • 75 Ohm coax connector
  • 75 Ohm female to female coax coupler
  • A splitter that passes frequencies from 40Mhz to 2Ghz
  • A piece of scrap plywood
  • wire snips
  • A soldering iron and solder. Note: I use a 45Watt soldering iron that looks like this
  • A hot glue gun and hot glue sticks

A couple pics of materials and tools:

I put temporary screws into the plywood and used them to wrap both wires into the desired pattern. (again – this pattern is meaningless – I just made it up).

I soldered one of the copper antenna wires to the tiny pin that sticks out of the middle of the coax connector. I soldered the other wire to another small wire (the red thing) that I then wrapped around the outside part of the coax connector.

I then mounted the pieces to the plywood using hot glue.

The finished antenna:

…and mounted on the back of my desk using double sided mounting tape. It turns out my desk is pointed in the right direction for all our local TV stations. If your TV stations are not in a single direction you might consider mounting it to a tripod so that you can aim it and get better reception.

By the way – I used a splitter so that I could attach my single antenna to an HDTV receiver with two tuners. So far it is a great product: Silicon Dust HD Home Run. I use it with a PC connected to my TV.

Posted by: andy idsinga | May 23, 2010

Planter Box Progress – things are growing

In my last post I shared the details of the planter boxes that we built.

In this post I’m excited to share some progress.

Note that I built a couple trellises to allow the peas to grow vertically.
There is a whole art and craft to vertical gardening that is worth looking into in order to make the best use of your space and available sunlight … especially important for urban gardening!

These two pics were taken a week or so ago…

I took this pic a few minutes ago …we’ve already been making salads with the greens!

Cheers to my wife and daughter for all their planting effort that is now paying off in delicious and healthy food!

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