QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
Tag search results for do-it-yourself Page 2 of 10


My desk at $WORK is small, with a large monitor taking up a lot of the space. And it is a motorized sit/stand desk with no real options for drawers or shelves. But I want to keep some small amounts of desk things in drawers. So I designed a small set to fit the space.

Short enough to fit under the monitor, with something on top of it, legs tall enough to have computer cables run underneath it, big enough to hold a note pad and paper clips, made of thin wood to not take up more space than necessary.

I made the drawers out of wood I had on hand. The drawers are a little crude. I mitered the edges of four sides and the bottom and glued them together with some square profile pieces reinforcing all of the joins. In retrospect I should have used triangle profile and neater joins for the reinforcing bits. I glued some button plugs on for pulls.

Those completed, I purchased some 3mm thick plywood for the case. Then Covid-19 hit.

My monitor is still on my desk at work, but I'm never in the office anymore. My home desk has ample shelves around it, and room to attach a drawer to the underside, if I wanted.

So the project went on hold.

But recently I returned to it.

chiseling a dado

For the sides, I measured, scored with a box cutter, then chiseled out dados for each of the horizontal pieces (top, middle, bottom). The chisel is a tungsten carbide one I made myself following how-to-guides by Patrick Sullivan on youtube.

loose fit together

I started with the bottom shelf, then loose fit the pieces together, put a drawer on it and measured for the middle, then did it again for the top. Here's the project at that stage.

clamped for glue

For the glue-up, I clamped a piece of scrap to my work table, then clamped the box between more scrap to that piece. Towards the end of the project I decided it would look good to have cork sides, for a micro pin board. I glued those on similarly.


Here it is completed, on my home desk. At home, I run the cables out of the left side of the computer, at $WORK, the right. Just what's better for the power location. It fits a post-it pad and some dice on top. The smallest pins I could find are map tacks, but they are still a bit long for the shallow cork. I waxed the bottoms and sides of the drawers for smoother operation. Otherwise, the wood is unfinished.

whirr-click-click-click whirr-click-click-click-click

Justine Haupt has built a very impressive rotary cellphone for herself. It's stunning. Impressive. Clever.

And not at all what I want in a phone.

For years I avoided getting a "smart" phone and made do with the low-end of the market. A Nokia slab. An Audiovox flip phone that would not die, but was carrier locked. A Samsung flip phone that I could use on the "family plan".

I never found the phone I really wanted. I still haven't seen it. But I did find a phone that I found really cool. And I got that.

What I want from a phone is basically extreme rugged construction plus fully open source, and upon seeing Ms Haupt's work I feel I should also add in "and gives me a decent Unix shell". I experimented with a Firefox Phone as a wifi-only device. It was okay software-wise, but clearly needed more work. Hardware-wise, that was junk. At the time I had that, I also hadn't realized the sheer joy of a portable Unix.

I haven't tried Pinephone or Librem. I do have another product from Pine64 and the Venn diagram of rugged and Pine64 appears to be two non-overlapping circles. To them low price trumps rugged everyday. I can see where their coming from, but it is not going in my pocket — it will be destroyed.

Librem is more interesting. They clearly don't care about weight or price, so there's a chance it's got some ruggedness. The price is still too dear for me to buy as a play-with-whim, but I'm interested.

So what did I get? I got a Cat. Specifically an S60, with the built-in FLIR thermal camera. And then about two years later replaced it with an S61, which has built-in FLIR thermal camera, a volatile organtic chemical (VOC) sensor, and a laser tape measure. I don't use the tape measure much, but I do track air quality with it. My big complaint is VOCs are only part of air quality: there's particulate matter (notably from wildfire smoke) and ozone, which I find fairly unpleasant. But I've often wondered about how high the ozone has to be before I notice.

And on those Cat Phones, I've installed Termux. I love being able to compile and run new software on my phone, even if I don't actually develop much on the device. I've mostly written shell and Perl scripts on the go, but I did get trn4 working, which involved some C hacking. One of the trickiest parts of getting the heir of Larry Wall's rn news reader running was the very deep assumption Wall made in thinking /bin/sh will always exist, even if the features it has may very. Termux has sh, but it's in a different directory... There were a few other issues like passwd files not existing, but they were easy fixes in the C. That code is very rugged against missing things on the system and is, eg, fully prepared to deal with getpwent() doing something useless. I just had to make it not call getpwent() at all.

But yeah, a rugged always connected Unix (and Linux is fine, but not the only thing I'd accept) device, probably with an okay camera, that maybe could also take calls that fits in my pocket. That's what I want. A rugged device that makes phone calls and not much else, no, cool as it is, no.

Build a "Square Incher" Microkite

Plans for a mylar kite with with a surface area of about one and a half square inches (on each side). Perfect for a kite to fly in the breeze of your computer power-supply fan. (I used mylar from potato chip bag for mine.)

dead link: http://www.vientocero.com/kpb/planos/micropln/micropln.html

Mechanical Television in Colour

This hobbiest has recreated a mechanical television (a moving light is rapidly turned on and off by radio signal to create an image), put a pair of eye holes in for stereoscopic images, added spinning RGB filters to add color, and built a mechanical camera too.

dead link: http://www.radiocraft.co.uk/3dcolour.htm