Building Things with Lean Pipe

Sometimes you just want to build something quickly and easily. Maybe you just need a basic structure for your actual project, or perhaps you want to be able to easily modify the design. Maybe you don’t have access to many fancy tools to build a solid, lightweight structure. Another possibility is that you want to be able to break down your structure and move it at a later date. In cases like these, you might want to consider using lean pipe.

Lean pipe is kind of like K’NEX for adults. It’s made up of metal pipe and specialized fittings. If you’ve ever worked with PVC pipe before then this may sound familiar. The difference is lean pipe is stronger and designed specifically for building sturdy structures. The fixtures designed for use with lean pipe are much easier to work with than PVC pipe. With PVC pipe, it seems like you never have the exact right fitting and you have to build your own adapters, quickly increasing the cost of the design.

A typical lean pipe fitting will either slide over the end of a section of pipe, or wrap around it somewhere in the middle. An adjustment screw can then be tightened to clamp the fitting in place around the sections of pipe. The video below does a good job demonstrating the different possibilities with fittings. The primary issue with this material is that you might not be able to find it at your local hardware store. Luckily, a quick Internet search will turn up a number of online purchasing options.

So what can you build with this stuff? Cody has been building himself computer desks with an industrial look. He first starts out with the frame design. This is the part that’s made from the lean pipe. Once the frame is completed he just needs to work on the wood surfaces. All he really needs to do is cut the wood to shape and then finish it to look nice. It then lays in place and can be bolted down for extra security. Continue reading “Building Things with Lean Pipe”

Oil feed retrofit for a CNC mill starting to come together


Here is the first real fruit of [Joel’s] labor on his oiling system for a CNC mill. Regular readers will remember hearing about his quest to go from a manual mill to a CNC version. As part of the overhaul he decided to add a system that can dispense oil to the different wear parts on the machine. We first looked in on the project when he showed off the pipe bender he built for the task. Now that he has that at his disposal he was able to route tubing to many of the parts.

The system starts with a central brass manifold which is pictured in the foreground. Each pipe was bent and cut to reach its destination with a minimum of wasted space. After a test fit showed good results he brazed the pieces together using silver solder. Each of the ball nuts have been drilled out so that oil will be injected onto the threads of the ball rod. Three input ports on the manifold will eventually let [Joel] connect the oil injection system via flexible tubing.

Manpowered PVC Rollercoaster

Swing sets and jungle gyms are good enough for your average back yard. But if you want to go extreme you need to build your own backyard roller coaster.

This impressive offering uses PVC pipe for the rails. At its tallest it stands 12 feet, using pressure treated 4×4 lumber as the supports. Pressure treated spacers span the tracks, with the uprights — which are cemented in place — in the center.

You can get a better look at it in the video after the break. This is a parent-powered system. Strap you kid in and then use a stick to push the car up to the top of the hill. We just love it that before the kart has made it back to the start the child is already screaming “again daddy”!

It doesn’t look quite as fast as the metal back yard roller coaster we saw some time ago. But we do wonder how they bent the PVC pipes and whether they’re strong enough to pass the test of time (especially being exposed to the sunlight)? Continue reading “Manpowered PVC Rollercoaster”

RC PVC bot

This hunk of PVC pipe is radio controlled. The wheels on the ends provide the locomotion, but it wouldn’t be going anywhere if it weren’t for that little tail strapped to the center of the tube.

When the motors are turning the body of the bot needs something to push against. In this case the tail hits the ground and keeps the chassis from spinning. We have seen attempts to go without a tail by using lopsided wheels to provide angular momentum, but this method is much more reliable.

The control for the bot is scrapped from a toy RC car. Once hooked up to the gearhead motors it’s ready to roll. The real difficulty of the build came in fitting everything into the pipe. A frame was built from a few disks used as mounting platforms which were separated by threaded rod. See it making its way around a gravel road in the clip after the break.

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Computing with the command line

Here’s something we thought we would never see: computing with just pipes, /dev/zero, and /dev/null.

As a thought experiment, [Linus] imagined a null byte represented an electron. /dev/zero would have an infinite supply of electrons and /dev/null would make a wonderful positive power supply. With a very short program (named mosfet.c), [Linus] can use Linux pipes to control the flow of electrons between /zero and /null. [Linus] used mosfet.c with a very short shell script to create a NAND gate. From there all bets were off. He ended up creating a D flip-flop4-bit adder and a counter.

From a bit of cursory research, Linux has a maximum pipe capacity of 1,048,576 bytes and the maximum number of PIDs is 4,194,304 (correct us if we’re wrong). [Linus]  can theoretically build some of the classic CPUs of the 70s and 80s with his pipe logic. An Intel 486 is just out of reach, though. If you give someone a NAND or a NOR they’ll eventually build a computer; we thought we’d never see this, though.

Wiimote controlled Ruben’s tube

While we could be content following our “kiddie d-day” as [Caleb Kraft] suggested. We know you can’t continue such an awesome Friday without trying to blow yourself up first.

This Wiimote Rubens’ tube caught our eye. A PVC Aluminum irrigation pipe is drilled with holes and propane is pumped through. A speaker on one end creates changes in pressure and a neat light show follows suit. [ScaryBunnyMan] went further though, with a collection of software and a Wii Remote he “plays god” controlling the music, and thus, the fire. Check out a fun video after the split.

[Via Make]

Continue reading “Wiimote controlled Ruben’s tube”