Friday, August 31, 2012

Travel Sewing Kit

I fix stuff, and sew stuff, however carrying the basic sewing essentials can be a challenge sometimes.  After a few years of storing my sewing needles in folds in 1/8ths of sheets of paper I decided to make a box that would slide shut to hold some of these needles.  It also turns out that I could hold thread wrapped around the same size papers, making the kit complete.

I have some big needles and small needles, potato sack string, elastic string, and a few colors of thread in there.

Also it all closes up into a neat small package.  I am quite happy with the result.  This kit has been traveling with me for a few years now with no trouble.

SD card holder card

I personally find SD cards too hard to manage because they are so small, especially when they do not end up living inside of devices.

So my solution was to make a holder for the few that I had out of some plastic canvas sewn with strips of shopping bags, making the cards larger and easier to manage.  The holder is nice and simple, and the cards just slide in and out, but do not fall out.  If I had any more cards I would make a holder twice the size, this one is the size of 1/16th of a sheet of letter sized paper.

Custom Hula Hoops

A little over two years ago I learned how to make really nice hula hoops for learning to do tricks with.

These are the first two hoops I made.  Both are made from 25mm IPEX pipe and a straight pipe joiner.  I have also made a few hoops for other people over the last two years.

The larger one was the first one I created, and was originally wrapped in white hockey tape with writing all over it.  Recently it accidentally ended up getting soaked in insecticide, so I stripped the tape off and re-wrapped it.  Both hoops are wrapped in white hockey tape and painted.

I plan to make an even larger one that moves even slower to help with learning motions, moving up to smaller ones as I get the motions learned and ingrained in muscle memory.

Monday, August 20, 2012

my first fun fur hammock

In the winter after I learned how to make hammocks I decided to try and make a warm one.

This hammock is fun fur lined with a thick fleece shell.  It is 1.5m wide and 2.5m long.  I actually built it to fit under the 3m long double wide nylon hammock that I started using as a tarp. 

This hammock is very comfortable, but does not actually block the wind very well, so it is not quite as warm as I hoped for winter sleep. However, it does make an extremely warm blanket on a double bed.

It has been well used for about a year, but has now fallen into disuse since I made the double wide fun fur windproof hammock.

large hand bag

When I was making my winter outfit I had a strip of leftover fleece, which when folded in half looked like a good sized hand bag.

It holds everything I need for a day of temping with fairly consistent weather and temperatures, or everything I need while in transit on a bus going anywhere.  The straps are scrap webbing that I diverted from the garbage at a furniture building gig a few years ago. There are loops in all four ends of the straps where I can hook small things, like my keys, phone, and water bottle, for easy retrieval.

The bag measures 43cm x 30cm with a 27cm opening.

smaller water bottle

I decided to paint the water bottle I got a few years ago during a gambling awareness presentation.

The bottle holds about 1/2 L of water, and is well used. At this point it is falling into disuse because I got myself a larger metal water bottle to keep in my bag.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

super cheap bike lights

One evening I was sprinting to catch a city bus, tripped, and smashed the back light for my bike. After that I was using some electric glow sticks for front and back lights on my bike for a while. Finally I found some bike lights at the local Dollarama, so I got the pair.

When I tried to install the bike lights the mounting clips broke off. Being a person who does crafting with things like plastic canvas this only drove me to find a way to make a mount to put them on my bike, since the lights themselves still worked fine.

The end result was a little box, held closed with a twist tie, attached to the bike with twist ties, holding the light part of the Dollarama bike lights, and they are working quite well.  The picture is the rear light, and the front light is basically the same.

Total cost to me: about $3 and about an hour.

Rainbow lighter

I had a quiet evening in Fredericton on one of my trips, and a couple of lighters in my kit bag, so I decided to start coloring them.

This is actually the third rainbow painted lighter I made.  The first one got borrowed at Eclipse and did not end up getting returned. The second one I gave to Pixie Sun Child before we went in opposite directions in Ontario. Finally the third one I made when I got back to Halifax.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Winter ready hammock

Last winter I spent most of my nights sleeping outside in a hammock.  This may sound cold, but it really was not.

This hammock is 3m wide and 2.5m when the ropes are not installed, and has slept three people comfortably.  The liner is thick fleece fun fur. The shell is coated rain wear nylon, which is both wind and water proof.  With the tarp and everything tethered properly it is ready for any weather except extreme heat.

I also have two fun fur blankets that I use as the temperature gets lower. I have gotten to almost -20 degrees Celsius with just two fun fur blankets and some warm clothing, and about zero with almost nothing in addition to the blankets.

There are zippers on the ends so that the foot end of the hammock can be zipped up to both keep the blanket inside the hammock around the feet, and keep the hammock closed by the feet.

In a pinch the hammock can be used as a warm sleeping bag on the ground as well.  This year when I took this hammock to Evolve I did not actually get to sleep in it because it was always occupied by someone else who was sleeping. I only hear good things about the comfort and warmth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

new water bottle

About a week ago I was shopping at a local thrift store and found a good sized metal water bottle.

This was good, except for the water bottle being branded, and I prefer to not have visible brands on my stuff.

The response was completely logical for me:

I covered the bottle with strips of white hockey tape, with as little overlap as I could.

Then I painted the bottle with acrylic paint, freehand, trying my best to color each strip one color.

Finally I glossed it with some of the gloss that my sister uses to make her masks shiny, though this step was not even really necessary.

I am happy with how the water bottle looks now, and it holds a pleasing amount of water, some time in the future I will actually measure how much water that is.

Neon yellow basic hammock

I learned how to make basic cloth hammocks about two years ago, they are quite comfortable and most are easy to transport.

This is one of the recently created ones.  I got the material before I left for Eclipse, and hung it as a no-sew hammock there for casual napping.  Later on one of the stops on the way home I sewed it at a friend's place to make it hang easier, and even more recently I trimmed it down to 2.5m in length so that it would hang between my regular two hammock trees and fit under my rain tarp.

The fabric is a fairly thick raincoat nylon.  This particular one does not stretch at all so it takes me a little while to get comfortable enough to sleep.

Combined with the rain cover this hammock is good for all summer weather: wind, rain, and clear.  I have also slept out in all of these with it already.

The main thing that keeps the rain off the hammock is the metal rings that divide the rope on the tree from the rope on the hammock.

The reason I created this hammock was because one of my hammocks that I took to Evolve left to go on an adventure without me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joining audiobook mp3 files together

I like to listen to audiobooks sometimes when I am walking and relaxing, and I like to listen to them on an iPod, but usually when I find them they are split up into a large number of mp3 files, and the iPod does not deal with them very well.

After getting sufficiently annoyed at the problem I decided it was time to find a way to join the files together into one, so it was easier to manage, also it would be nice to be able to reliably resume in the same place as I left off, it would keep resuming several minutes away from where I paused it.

The results of my tinkering was a small script to decode a directory of mp3 files, and then encode the resulting audio stream into a single constant bitrate mp3 file. I used a 64kbit rate since I was only dealing with speech.

[ "$1" ] || {
  echo use: $0 directory
  exit 0

for file in "$1"/*; do
  ffmpeg -i "$file" -acodec pcm_s16be -f s16be -ar 44100 -ac 2 -
done |
  lame -r -x -b 64 --cbr -s 44.1 --bitwidth 16 -m j - "$1".mp3
The script takes a directory as a parameter, and outputs an mp3 file by the same name. Remember to leave the trailing slash off the directory name, unless you want to get a hidden mp3 file in that directory as a result.