Projects: Weekend Projects

This page features some of my quick weekend projects. They are either so simple that they do not warrant a detailed project write-up, or they failed to work as I intended.

Magnetic Object Locator (September 2009)
This simple device is built from a section of black PVC pipe with end caps, a length of rope, and a dozen strong magnets epoxied to the pipe in a straight line. It is excellent at picking up iron filings, nails, bottle caps, and other metallic objects when dragged across the ground.

Magnetic Object Locator Magnetic Object Locator Magnetic Object Locator

DIY Flight Data Recorder Replica (June 2009)
One day I wanted to build a replica of a flight data recorder like the ones found on commercial airliners. I started with a surplus aircraft radio that was purchased from a local thrift store (though a metal project box works equally well). Once I applied some bright red paint, white reflective tape, and black pre-cut vinyl letters, it started looking pretty darn real. It's not perfect but I am very happy with it.

The original aircraft radio First coat of paint applied My Replica Flight Data Recorder My Replica Flight Data Recorder

Macintosh SE30 (May 2009)
This classic Macintosh SE 30 computer was picked up for $10 dollars at a thrift store. The screen powered on but did not work. I made a prison shank case opening tool by cutting the handle of a T10 torx driver. In spite of my efforts, I never could fix the display and I now have a very stylish doorstop.

Custom made Macintosh case opening tool Broken Macintosh SE30 Broken Macintosh SE30 Broken Macintosh SE30

Frequency Meter Power Cable (April 2009)
A friend came to me with this vintage Systron Donner Model 8220 Frequency Meter that he purchased secondhand. It had an awesome 7-digit Nixie tube display, but we could not find a power cord to fit the original socket. Using my trusty Dremel tool, I enlarged the opening on the back panel and replaced it with a 3-prong socket from an old computer power supply. This way, it could accept a standard IEC cord from any personal computer. The resulting display was worth the effort!

The strange power connector New power connector installed Wiring inside the frequency counter Systron Donner frequency meter with Nixie tube display

LED Nameplate (October 2008)
I built this LED nameplate for my desk at work. It uses a 12v transformer, a rocker switch, and a 12-inch strip of blue LED lights from The enclosure is built out of an old shoebox and electrical tape. The front was made on a scrap of plexiglass that I ran through the laser engraver at work.

Custom made LED nameplate Custom made LED nameplate

DIY Executive Racing Seat Office Chair (September 2008)
When someone threw away a racing seat at the curb in my neighborhood, I thought about how neat it would be to make it into an executive-style office chair at a fraction of the cost of a real one. I purchased a beat-up office chair for $5 dollars at GoodWill and kept the rolling base. Then I mounted a piece of scrap wood to the base using 3-inch carriage bolts. The seat had four threaded holes which mounted nicely to the wood. It's not glamorous but as a low budget proof-of-concept, it works.

Discarded racing seat Base platform made with scrap wood The finished executive racing chair

Faux Soviet Satellite (March 2008)
In the Spring of 2008, my friends and I decided to try and make a faux Soviet Spy Satellite. We started with a small satellite dish and added some olive drab spray paint and a stenciled hammer and sickle. An old Mac motherboard and some "heat treatment" gave it the "I survived re-entry" look we desired.

The satellite dish in its original condition Gathering supplies The completed Soviet Spy Satellite Backside of the Soviet Satellite

-Trevor Freeman
Created: 06 November 2009

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