Category Archives: Projects

Home Made Vegetable Oil Lamp:

Home made vegetable oil lamp: Judyofthewoods.netJudy of the Woods has instructions for these fantastic looking vegetable oil lamps.

Judy used wire, wick, vegetable oil, a container and hand tools to make these oil lamps.

She lists some advantages of oil lamps:

  1. very cheap to run – can even burn used cooking oil
  2. the fumes are less toxic than those of paraffin candles or mineral oil lamps
  3. the production of renewable vegetable oil is less harmful to the environment than petroleum based products (including paraffin candles)
  4. for the extreme survivalist, vegetable oil is easier to store in bulk, or can even be produced on the home farm
  5. due to the wider base, more stable than candles, and the flame of any burning wick falling into the oil will be extinguished
  6. odour free when using olive oil

I’ve made many beeswax candles over the years and love the smell, but they are a lot of work to make. These sound like they are easy to make and look great.

Scythe, wooden tools and making adjustments

I purchase a scythe from Lehman’s and found it a bit awkward. I ordinarily don’t have problems with tools from Lehman’s so I thought I just needed to learn to use the tool. After reading this page on snath making at I realized that it was the tool that needed to change, not me.

The snath is the wooden handle of the scythe. Being made of wood, it should be very easy to change or duplicate.

According to, the grip where you put your hand should be about 2 inches above where you hips bend. The grip on the Lehman’s snath was much higher than this and angled away from the blade. I took the snath apart and made a new piece to connect the grip to the snath. In the photo on the right, the piece on the left is the original. The one in the middle is my first prototype, made from plywood and the last was made from oak. Click on the image for a better view. You can’t see it in the picture, but the tenon on Lehman’s piece was only cut on one side. The new one I cut from Oak was cut on both. This should make it sturdier, and help it last longer.

Because of the curve, the grip was now placed forward by about 4 inches. This made all the difference. The scythe was easier to balance and it was easier to keep the blade parallel to the ground. If you click the image below, you can see how everything goes together.

I love wooden tools because they are so easy to change and improve.

Car Stereo AUX In – Low Pass Filter

Low pass filter from WikipediaThe AUX in Jack I added to my car stereo works great with one exception, when the CD player isn’t playing you can hear static, or whatever the radio is tuned to.

I’m not the only one with this problem, but I’m having trouble finding the other sites…
What I want is to allow the voltage from the RF module to the AMP, without the Audio signal making it to the AMP. I want a low pass filter.

I started with an article on Low-pass filters on Wikipedia. The human hearing range is about 20Hz to about 20,000Hz. I want signals lower than 20Hz to pass and higher frequencies blocked. The Wikipedia article gives a formula, but not the units for the calculation.

I found this website, which I used to calculate values of 150 Ohms and 47,000 nano Farads.

I grew up working with micro Farads, not nano Farads, so I did a little bit of searching and turned up this webpage, which indicates that a nano Farad is 1/1000th of a micro Farad. So 47,000 nano Farads (nF) is 47 micro Farads (uF).

150 Ohms and 47 uF are pretty standard values and should be easy to find. I should only need one resistor and one capacitor, per channel, making this an extremely easy project. Once the filter is made, I’ll post the results


If you raise chickens you will quickly learn that you need an isolation space for chickens that are sick, injured or are just too aggressive.

Originally, we put together spaces as needed using straw bales and chicken wire.

We needed our isolation space often enough that I decided to make something permanent.

The henitentiary has two separate spaces. Each about 2 feet by 4 feet, complete with roost.

It is constructed from about (10) 8 foot 2x4s, chicken wire, hinges and latches.

6 of the 2x4s were cut into 4 foot lengths. Two 4 foot by 4 foot squares were constructed (top and bottom), which were then connected together with 4 foot 2x4s.

First, two 8 foot 2x4s were cut in half the long way to make the doors, roost and the board that forms the bottom of the door opening.

One 4 foot 2×4 divides the front into two halves and is used for the door latches.

Build the doors next, so you can fit them into the opening at the front. The doors need 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch clearance on each side. The doors are constructed with lap joints. Click here to look at photos of lap joints being constructed.

At this point, I installed the chicken wire from the inside and added a middle piece between the two sides. I just stapled it to the wood and wired it together. Note that the floor is open.

The boards for the roost were installed and finally the roost. I had to cut holes into the chicken wire to get the roost through.

I keep it inside a building, so it doesn’t need a roof or sides. In the Winter, I attach foam insulation, to hold in warmth.

In-Car CD Player Holder

180px-cd-ph-in-car.JPGI put together plans for a new project, an In-Car CD Player Holder. It was put together using what I had on hand. Most of the dimensions are not critical. The holder rests between the passenger seat and the center console. There is a tight enough fit that the seat holds it in place. The top could be made a different shape to accommodate an MP3 player, Pocket PC or just about any small device.

Plant Light Update

Seeds were started this weekend. The gardening goddess spent Sunday planting seeds in the flats while I turned soil in the garden.

We are starting the garden a bit late this year. We’ve already missed planting onions. According to the gardening goddess, they should have been in pots and under the plant light by the end of February.

The plant light received a few updates this year. First, we installed new light fixtures (last years lights are now hanging in my pole barn).

I added dowel to hang the lights from. Since the chain wraps over the dowel, it is easy to adjust the height of the lights. Last year, we ran a chain from one site to the other and hang the lights from that. It was a chore to raise and lower the lights. There is the added benefit of being able to slide the lights to one side to water the plants. Also, dowel, being solid, holds the light fixtures more securely.

I just drilled a 3/8 inch hole into each pole and inserted the dowel then attached the stand to the sand and water table.

The sand and water table plans are here, and here is a link to last years plant light assembly.

Feeding the chickens that feed me.

This weekend’s project was a new chicken feeder. This is our fourth feeder design. The chickens think it’s our best.

The first feeders were made 3/4 inch pine, screwed together to form a V. Boards were screwed onto the ends to form legs. These were too low to the ground and the chickens got yard dirt into them. Because of the V and being made of wood, they were hard to clean.

The second feeders were made from PVC tube with wooden end caps and wooden legs. These worked well until the wood cracked. They were too low to the ground also.

Since the home made feeders weren’t working out, we purchased 4 feeders from the feed store. They were plastic with snap on lids. The lids have holes to allow the chickens access to the food, while keeping their feet out of the food. The chickens tipped these over and had trouble eating through the lids.

I screwed the plastic feeders onto two by fours, attached feet and left the lids off. This worked pretty good until it started to snow. Then the chickens wouldn’t go out, so we moved the feeders inside.

The plastic feeders weren’t tall enough to keep straw out of them and they took up a lot of room in the chicken house.

We needed something that had enough room for all the birds, was up high to keep straw out and didn’t take up a lot of room.

I made two 42 inch troughs from 3 inch schedule 30 PVC. The PVC is cut in half, as are the end caps. The end caps are held on with #10-32 stainless steel bolts and stop nuts. I made wood hangers from 3/4 plywood. The troughs are screwed into the wood hangers. The wood hangers hook into screw eyes, attached to the wall.

When cutting and drilling the PVC, I made sure to shop-vac everything. I didn’t want any of the PVC shavings ending up in the chicken house. Chickens will eat anything!

This design gives 7 feet of feed space. The troughs are 10 inches off the ground and since they are attached to the wall, it leaves plenty of floor space for the chickens. With the hook and screw-eye setup, they are easy to remove and clean.

I eat two eggs for breakfast and so does my wife. My children don’t care for eggs, but love pancakes and waffles (which take eggs). The chickens have been providing my family with our first meal of the day for a few years now. I am glad to be feeding them.

Cool bicycle Persistance of Vision project

As an introduction to computers, the kids and I have been building the SpokePOV. The kids have been into bicycle projects this summer, so this is a great crossover project.

The Spoke POV is a project I first saw on There is a kit available from

Photo of completed project from

We are using green LEDs and hope ours will be this cool!

We ordered the kit with the extra ROM so we animate the images. We picked up some 96/4 tin/silver solder from Radio Shack. It is lead free, so I don’t mind the kids using it.

The SpokePOV uses an ATMEL ATtiny2313 microcontroller and and has two rows of 30 LEDs. The LEDs blink out a pattern as the wheel spins that the eye perceives as a complete picture (follow the above links for action photos). There is a hall-effect sensor, so the processor can sense the wheel rotation and calculate how fast it is spinning, to create the proper pattern.

So far, we have a completed circuit board. There is a Windows program to create the images and download to the Spoke POV. We’re having a bit of trouble with that.