Laser level tripod made from recycled parts


[msuzuki777] is a self-proclaimed “Lazy Old Geek” with way too much free time on his hands. He recently picked up a laser cross and figured that he would use some of that time to make a laser tripod for various projects around the house.

He pulled out an old camera tripod, and modified an unused CD jewel case so that it could be screwed onto the traditional camera mount. He added three bolts to the platform, on which he mounted another CD case, letting him adjust both the laser platform as well as the tripod.

He put together a simple power supply for the laser, and then mounted it on a pair of CDs sandwiched on top of one another. The CD platform was then popped onto the guts of an old CD player, allowing him to spin his laser pointer in any direction without having to re-level it.

The laser cross tripod certainly looks a bit complicated, but [msuzuki777] says it works a treat, allowing him to easily hang pictures and the like. He also mentions that he wants to throw an Arduino at it to automate the leveling process, which is something we’d love to see.

DIY table saw cuts through anything, leaves no room for mistakes


Students in the BASTLI lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich had been stuck using underpowered and unreliable saws for quite some time. The saws often got stuck while cutting through PCBs and were generally a drag to use. When group member [Mario Mauerer] came across a big and powerful brushless motor in his basement, he decided it was time to upgrade the lab’s cutting tools.

Along with fellow student [Lukas Schrittwieser] he built a test rig to see how powerful the motor really was, and satisfied with the results, the pair set off to build their own table saw. The enclosure was wrapped up pretty quickly, leaving the pair to source a power supply. Rather than purchase one, they built a 700w monster switching PSU to power their saw.

As you can see in the video below the saw chews through most things with the greatest of ease, but the students added a “boost button” to the saw just in case they need to run it at full tilt.

While we can’t exactly overlook the lack of finger and eye protection in their demonstration, it does look like a great little tool to have around.

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Salvaged coil magnetizes tools on demand


When working in hard to reach areas, magnetized tools can mean the difference between wrapping things up quickly and spending way too much time blindly grasping for dropped screws. [Damir] wrote in to share a handy little contraption he built which allows him to magnetize and demagnetize his tools as needed.

While rubbing a magnet against the tip of a screwdriver will impart a weak and temporary magnetic field, he felt that a stronger more permanently magnetized tool was far more useful. It is pretty well known that subjecting metal to a direct current magnetic field will magnetize the item, and an alternating magnetic field will demagnetize the same object. [Damir’s] wand will perform either task with the simple flip of a switch.

He salvaged the motor coil from a broken washing machine and mounted it in a project box, along with a single-pole changeover switch. A small diode is used to perform rectification on the AC input, providing the DC current required for magnetizing his tools.

Every once in awhile we find the need for magnetized tools, so we think this would be great to have around the workshop.

Check out a quick video demo of the magnetizing wand after the jump.

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Building a one-ton linear servo


A while back, [Windell] from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories wrote up an article for Make Magazine detailing how he built a one-ton, servo-controlled scissor jack for under $100. He dropped us a line to let us know that the project details have been released for free at Make Projects, so we stopped by to take a look.

The project starts out by pulling apart an electronic scissor jack to get access to the solder pads for the up and down buttons. Once wires are added there, a servo is the next victim. [Windell] recommends using an old servo with a busted motor, but you can use a good one just the same. The servo’s pots are replaced with 10 turn pots, and then wired up to a controller board, to which the jack is also connected. Then, to provide feedback to the servo, a string is looped around the top of the jack, which is used to turn the pots added in the previous step.

[Windell] says that the setup works quite well, though we imagine the duty cycle might be a bit short before adjustments are required. Regardless, it’s a quick way to get a heavy load lifted with servo precision.

DIY high voltage electric field detector


Who needs a Fluke high voltage detector when you’ve got one of these things?

Actually, we still recommend a professional high voltage detector for serious work, but you’ve got to like this electric field detector that [Alessandro] recently put together.

The detector works by using a JFET to detect the high impedance electric fields that are generated by high voltage lines. The JFET amplifies the signal while dropping the impedance in order to drive a pair of NPN transistors which are used as a threshold amplifier. Once the voltage hits 3V, an LED is lit, indicating the presence of high voltage near the detector’s probe. A wire-wrapped resistor does double-duty serving as the probe while providing a high impedance path to ground, ensuring that stray charge does not accumulate on the JFET’s gate, causing false readings.

It’s a neat project, and something that can be constructed in no time, making it perfect for beginner electronics classes.

Keep reading to see a quick video of the HV detector in action.

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PC casemod-inspired benchtop PSU


[Will] had a cheap power supply sitting around, and decided to turn it into a full-featured benchtop PSU. Inspired by some of the other benchtop supplies we have featured in the past, he decided that he wanted his PSU to be more than just a simple-looking box sitting on his work bench. Taking some cues from PC case modding, he put together a unit that is not only very useful, but also quite sharp looking.

The frame of the case was crafted from aluminum angle, while all of the other flat surfaces were made using black polycarbonate. He installed the standard 12v, 3.3v, and 5v terminals you would expect from any benchtop PSU, complete with an LCD display showing the voltages provided by each rail as measured by an Arduino stationed inside the case. Additionally, he installed a variable terminal capable of providing 1.3v-30v, along with its own LCD display. The most unique feature is the multimeter embedded in the front of the case, which makes it virtually impossible to lose.

The case is finished off as you might expect, if you have seen any of his previous work. It features LED lighting on the inside, large fans on either side of the case for optimal air flow, and a pair of machined aluminum handles.

Be sure to check out the quick video below of the PSU being powered on.

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Hacking strippers to do your bidding


[Alex] knows his strippers.

By his estimation, he has stripped millions of wires over the years, and he has seen his fair share of wire strippers come and go. That cheap set of wire strippers you have with the graduated holes, or that adjustable stripper you squeeze as you pull the wire through? They just stress the insulation as well as the wires you are trying to strip – he says you might as well just use them in your tackle box.

His favorite style of wire stripper is the automatic kind that grip the wire, then cut and remove the insulation just by squeezing the handles. His issue with this particular tool is that it’s difficult to get a uniform length of stripped wire when working in volume.

Since [Alex] needs uniformity in his line of work, he modified a set of automatic wire strippers to include an adjustable wire stop. He determines the length of wire he needs, adds or removes some washers from his wire stop, and off he goes. It’s a very simple yet very useful hack, depending on your application. We bet it is probably one of the most accurate ways to get uniform length, this side of a fully automatic wire stripper.