Make It

This page is a repository of DIY solutions that I've come up with over the years to solve general problems using as little money as possible.

Tern GSD Hitch

The Tern GSD does not come with a factory-installed trailer hitch. Given that the bike has 200kg capacity, it clearly would be useful for hauling trailer loads such as I've done with a regular bike. So I went about working to creat a solution.

Tern Hitch Version 1 Rendering

I started out with 3D cad working on a computer model for a prototype. The first version was not quite strong enough for the 100+ kilograms that were sometimes hauled with the bike and trailer. So more rienforcement was necessary.

One of the main requirements of the design was that it accomodate two different trailer connections. One for a higher trailer with 20in wheels and one for a large capacity trailer with 16in wheels.

Tern Hitch Version 2 Rendering

I built a second version which attached to one of the frame bolts. This model required more precision in order to line up with the bolt and multiple frame tubes. You can get construction drawings (here).

Constructed Hitch

The final design had enough connection points that it could stand up to the forces of a fully loaded trailer and a bike that sometimes fell over. The hitch gets used every week and it's held up through rain, snow and various mishaps.

Rain Barrel Stand

I started the rain barrel stand by collecting larger sized lumber from construction waste and old fence posts. There have been a surprising amount of 2x6 material thrown in the discard bin which remains useful for projects like this.

Rainbarrel stand posts

Once all the heavy lumber was laid out then I leveled the ground and set a series of flat stones at each corner and midway in the long dimension. I double-checked that these were level with each other before setting the four vertical posts. Each post had temporary diagonal braces to keep it straight until the deck could be built.

Rainbarrel deck framing

Here the deck pieces are being set in place. You can clearly see the 4x4 pieces on the bottom supporting the posts and the floor structure which is made from a flat 2x4 along with a 2x6 edger to connect the individual 'joists.'

Frame bracing

Once the main structure was finished, then I put in diagonal bracaing to rienforce the corner connections. On top of the floor structure I laid flat boards in the long direction and strips of plywood in the short direction to make sure that there were no large gaps. The surface of the floor was going to be a repurposed strip of roofing and I didn't want it to sag, since any depressions would allow water to collect.

Floor deck

Here you can see the floor deck more clearly. As much as possible I used solid wood because it would survive the wet/dry cycles where plywood couldn't. It turned out to be of little concern because the roofing material does a great job of keeping the space below nice and dry. The whole deck was sloped away from the house so that excess water would run away from the foundation. This has the added effect of making sure that the front barrels have the most water.

Completed rainbarrel stand

Here you can see the completed stand with the barrels on top. I had six barrels connected together which held 300 gallons for a total weight of 1135kg (2500lbs). I later added a pre-filter at the bottom of the downspout to keep debris from the gutters from building up in the barrels.

Completed rainbarrel stand

I used old flexible tubing to connect the rainbarrels in place. I only had to buy a few elbow connectors for the project. I then used some plumbing tape between the tube and connector and a set-screw to keep the tubing in place. To protect the plastic from sunlight I wrapped each one in a length of bicycle tube which does a great job. More recently I bought flexible hose (often used under sinks) for a screw-on connector that has a built-in rubber seal.

Building a Wifi Antenna

A few years ago I was without internet. But luckily there was an open wifi source 100 meters away. I went about researching how to access this source from my house. Thankfully there's a highly skilled radio frequency expert named Andrew McNeil. He posts dozens of videos laying out the whole process of constructing different antennas.

Yagi antenna rendering

I started out with 3D cad working on a high gain yagi antenna. This multi-element design was expected to pull in a signal from pretty far away.

Part of this process involved drilling a series of holes precisely along a length of oak. The spacing between each set of three is based on the wavelength of the 2.4Ghz frequency. Then I pushed the parasitic elements into place through each hole. (link)

Yagi antenna elements

What makes the antenna so effective is the 3 elements on top of each other rather then just one. The angle here is open to interpretation, as long as there's enough space on the spine for connecting everything. But because the wires do flare up and down, some blocks of wood were added to keep each set of parasitic elements in the same plane. The picture here shows the wood spine with the parasitic elements and the looped driven element held within the holes that I drilled.

Yagi antenna

Once all the copper wires were cut and bent into place, I had to figure a way to point the antenna at the wifi source. I used a small tripod and built a custom mount for that. Once it was done, this antenna could pull a signal from about 40 meters away. But this wasn't strong enough for my needs.

Bi-Quad yagi antenna

So the next step was to construct a longer range biQuad yagi antenna which is the first antenna Prof. McNeil tested that looks to work at distances beyond 70 meters. One key to constructing an antenna was to use non-conducting materials. It's important that the antenna's structure doesn't interfere with the signal amplification. The first version was made of plywood because I was testing it indoors.

Bi-Quad panel

But this one was expected to be out in the elements and so I used a sturdy plastic to hold the plates at the right distance (Prof. McNeil used printed PCBs). I used copper tape to create the exact pattern and put electrical tape to insulate the overlapping path.

SMA cable connector

Another challenge with this was to solder the copper elements to the very tiny wires of the SMA connector. (link) This takes patience and a good magnifying stand. Once I completed the antenna, I found that it pulled in a wifi signal from a full 150 meters away. If you would like to try this one, feel free to download the biquad dimensions here. The drawing is based on the pdf which Professor McNeil's provides on his channel.

LED Stove Light

I first started this design while working on the Tiny House kitchen. Later I adopted the same design for a different space to light up one specific part of the stove for cooking.

Image frm TinyHouse

The light panels were meant to be attached with a glue that wasn't very strong. Since they didn't have any physical mounting hardware and there was no space around the part to put a screw, I designed a connector that would sit in the thin gap between light points.

Image frm TinyHouse

In order to get the right size piece, I cut some angle-steel and ran a small dremel wheel to cut out the material so it would have enough mass holding the light and two tabs for screw holes. This picture shows the cut pattern.

Finished stove light

With the mounting brackets finished, I wired the light to a rocker switch and then to a 9V transformer. It lights just one burner perfectly.