Tablet Car Headrest Case

Tuesday 04 June 2013 at 8:40 pm

Regular viewers may remember my tablet case made out of a book, and you'll know I like to make stuff out of things I already have laying around.

I wanted a holder for my cheapy 7" tablet so that my daughter could watch her cartoons in the back of the car on long journeys.  Yeah I know you can buy a portable DVD player for not much, but we don't do long trips that often, and why spend when you can bodge?

So what we have here is a standard DVD case, I cut away a screen-sized aperture in the back (where the DVD would normally sit), and generally cleaned it up and made it fit.  I added velcro closures on the sides, a small bit of foam inside one edge for a snug fit, and a fabric mat (the stuff you get in between keyboard & screen in the packaging of a new laptop) to prevent the back from getting scratched.  I used velcro ties from an old server, threaded through grooves melted into the case with a soldering iron.

Also added are a couple of cutouts for charger and headphones, and (not shown) a small finger hole so the power button can be pressed in the case.

It's not perfect, but still very much functional and cost nothing.

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Update - made a few changes:  gaffer tape to neaten up the top & bottom and cover up gaps, a small hole to access the power button (circled), and more sturdy fixings for the velcro closures (also circled).  As the hot-glue doesn't stick to smooth plastic very well it started to come away, I basically made plastic rivets.  I melted a hole through velcro and case, then found a straw from an air duster (you could also use a WD40 straw.  Using the soldering iron, I melted the straw into a mushroom-shaped end, passed it through the hole, trimmed it off and melted the other end flat inside.  

Shure SM58 microphone repair

Tuesday 04 December 2012 at 10:53 am

In the hope that the magic of Google’s indexing helps the next person who has this query:

Shure SM58 microphone XLR connector replacement.  The little screw that holds it into the body has a LEFT-HANDED THREAD! Discovered this by accident when I had to replace mine.

Book-based tablet case MK2

Friday 02 November 2012 at 7:00 pm

OK, so I've upgraded my tablet from the crappest tablet in the world (see here), to a slightly less crap one.  It's still the cheapest of the cheap (a NATPC M009S off eBay - it's got dual-core processor, 16GB NAND, 1GB RAM and a 1024*600 screen, running Jelly Bean, all for £65), but it's smaller than the old one, and so needs a new case.  

I really couldn't face all that palaver with cutting out pages again, so found this book - of 1962 vintage - which was the perfect size, and used the foam packaging which came in the new tablet's box, glued around the edges.  Extra little cube at the lower right enables me to press the power button and use it without taking it out of the book.

Plus it's just about perfectly pretentious enough to be reading Brecht (in the original German, naturally), when I'm sitting having my lunch.  "You reading Leben des Galilei there, Daniel?"  "Yeah, that's right."  I don't even speak German, tee hee.

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Send Ctrl+Alt+Del with Windows On-screen keyboard

Friday 21 September 2012 at 1:05 pm

I was asked by a student with limited mobility how he could use the Windows On-screen Keyboard (accessed by Windows+U from the login screen) to send the Ctrl+Alt+Del login keystroke.

No amount of Googling revealed the answer, I tried amending our Group Policy for Secure Attention Sequence (SAS), but nothing worked.

I stumbled upon the answer - use Ctrl + AltGr + Del.  The AltGr is to the right of the spacebar.  Login prompt then appears.

Belton Church's Organ

Monday 23 July 2012 at 2:00 pm

As an atheist, as far as I'm concerned a church is a big pile of stones which uses up valuable land, gets in the way and causes old people who only drive on a Sunday to veer dangerously along my road.  However, some people seem to like it and have ideas about 'tradition' and that sort of thing.  And yes, I suppose some of the architecture is quite nice.

What does get me riled is when the right-on vicar (who, as an aside, is constantly begging for cash for the church whilst driving a brand-new convertible) of the local church starts ripping out pews and internal fittings and replacing them with plastic chairs for that 'community centre' feel (even though the village already has at least one community building).  The other day I walked via the churchyard to the local shop to see this dumped unceremoniously outside the front door of the church.

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It's the remains of a pipe organ, and whilst I'm sure the argument would be that it was broken and beyond economic repair, it doesn't quite seem 'right' or respectful to simply dump an old instrument like that in plain view.  It insults the eye, the congregation and the craft of the maker of what was once a beautiful instrument, however misguided and peculiar the beliefs of those who venture inside the medieval building.  Give it a decent burial, a ceremonial pyre or at least hire a skip.

Expect to see parishioners' corpses dumped outside in a pile soon.  I should probably write and complain to the incredible publication that is the Village Voice but they'd probably just spell my name wrong and get all the apostrophes in the wrong place.  You can if you want.

<Edit> A fortnight later, it's still there.

David Guetta's Sexy Chick

Monday 23 July 2012 at 1:53 pm

When trying to find the words to describe a girl without being disrespectful, may I suggest that any comparison to the neighbourhood whore, however favourable, is not the best place to start.

Book-case for tablet/e-reader

Saturday 23 June 2012 at 1:29 pm

I am the (proud) owner of the world's crappiest Android tablet, a Scroll 7" with resistive screen.  Most of it doesn't work, since I rooted it and stripped out all but the most basic of its functions to try and increase battery life.  I now use it for 2 things - reading ebooks and occasionally watching movies (ripped from DVD to AVI format) in bed.  I'd considered a Kindle but the lack of a backlight makes it useless for bedtime reading.

So what better case for an ebook reader than an actual book?  There are lots of different instructions on the internet, so I basically followed one like this on instructables, using some good-quality PVA glue (diluted) and a makeshift clamp/press made from 2 blocks of timber and some nuts & bolts.  Basically keep a few pages at the front, protect the front cover and these pages with plastic & masking tape, then brush the PVA mixture into the page edges.  Clamp and leave to dry.  Then get a nice sharp blade - I used a Stanley knife with a new blade - and cut out your rectangle.  I did try drilling out the corners for a smooth finish but it made more mess than it saved.

Once cut to size (I had to allow a cutout for the side buttons and a finger recess for pulling the tablet out), brush on more PVA, clamp and dry.  With good-quality PVA it dries really nice & solid, so much so that I could sand the inside to fit using a Dremel-type mini drum sander.  To finish you can put back some of the first pages you retained and carefully cut out the aperture to give a nice finish.

Of course, when you have the world's crappiest tablet there's not a huge amount of point in trying to protect it, but I'd always wanted to do a hollow book project.  Plus it was a really dull book!

Pics:



UPDATE - I've got a new, smaller tablet with a new book-case project.  Here.

Home-made camera stabilising handle

Friday 22 June 2012 at 8:11 pm

Here's the latest knocked-up-in-my-shed invention...

My son, a keen photographer, particularly of BMX and skateboarding folk (linky here), wanted one of these: 

so of course ol' dad said "I've got an old bit of lawnmower handle that looks like that, I'll make one for ya."  So the prototype looked like this:

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Which the darling boy described as 'The council estate of camera mounts'.  Charming.  So then I found some bits of discarded broken tripod in my work's AV department and tarted it up a bit:

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Design details are: The main bit is a piece of lawnmower handle - it already had one bend in it so I had to add another to make the C-shape.  I have no pipe bender which is why it kinked!

Handle is off a broken tripod - the hole was far too wide so I had to fabricate plastic washers to glue in, with some pipe lagging in the void bit.  I then glued on an endcap

Tripod head - this luckily fitted straight on, and gives the angle adjustment that the shop-bought one lacks!

The final tarting-up was a layer of gaffer tape, for decoration really.  In fact it looks a bit rubbish so I might find something else, or maybe paint it.

I've tried, filming my 2-year old running around the house and the balance is pretty good.  Angle adjustment is useful too.  Maybe when I give it to the boy he'll do amazing things with it!