COVID19 Stay Home Projects

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With the order to stay-home stay-safe, I’ve been busy keeping myself busy. These are my COVID19 Stay Home Projects:

  1. Modified my extension table to hold my spare router creating an AWESOME router table.
  2. “Repaired” my son’s Playstation.
  3. Built a practice gymnastics bar.
  4. Rebuilt the treadmill.
  5. Built a “couch desk”.
  6. Turned the fire pit into a fire table.
  7. Built a sweet bike ramp.
  8. Turned the fire table back into a fire pit.
  9. Cleaned rust off of the basketball post and repainted it.

Router Table

The extension table on my new SawStop table saw is a heavy duty particle board with a smooth/hard laminate. Having to make several dado cuts for my recent basement bathroom vanity I thought this would be a good time to modify the table.

I already had a small router table built from scrapwood, great for creating molding but no use for dados. Taking the scrapwood table apart I used it to mark all my holes on the extension table. I simply drilled for the mounting screws and made the large hole for the bit. The screw holes were then countersunk so they weren’t sticking up. With that I mounted the router. To finish it off I used a magnetic hook to hold the power cord when not in use.

It works fantastic, using the fence I’m able to make repeat cuts easily. I’ve also used a piece of scrap against the fence for notching the edge of a panel. The only thing I have planned to improve this further is dust collection, it really builds up and can cause the board to lift if it’s long enough.

PlayStation Repair

We were struggling with this thing not turning on, or shutting off after a short time. We unplugged it, tried different outlets/wires etc. Some things seemed to fix it but only briefly. After almost a week of dealing with this my son declared “it’s broken”. These were the magic words.

If it’s already broke, you won’t mind me taking it apart. I watched a little bit of a couple different tear down videos on YouTube, just enough to get the case off without snapping the plastic.

My suspicion was that it was either overheating or the hard drive was loose from being moved and possibly dropped by Junior.

With the case off I immediately spotted the built up dust on the cooling fan. I decided to dig further. The fan pulls in outside air and blows it across the motherboard and through the power supply. If the fan is that dusty, what does the rest of it look like?

I pulled the power supply out and took it out of the housing. Dust caked all over. I took everything out to the garage and hit it all with the air compressor, the cloud of dust that came out of the fan was equally impressive and gross. Some of the dust built up on the power supply components wouldn’t come loose with the air so I used Q-tips and rubbing alcohol to get them sparkly clean.

With everything cleaned up I watched a second video on how to get to the hard drive. I pulled that out and checked all the leads, everything looked clean so I firmly re-seated the drive and locked it in place.

Before reassembling everything I took a picture of the scattered parts and sent it to Junior with the caption “uh oh”. Love messing with the kiddos.

I put it all back together and plugged it in. My son eagerly watched as it blinked to life and worked perfectly. Then to his great disappointment I grabbed the controller and told him since I fixed it I get to play Call of Duty for an hour. I only lasted a few minutes….I really need more practice.

Gymnastics Bar

Another quick project, made from more scrap plywood and a solid oak closet rod. After taking some measurements and getting some input from the gymnast, I cut up the plywood and glued/screwed it all together. I even glued some scrap rubber flooring to the bases. We had to balance the height off her tumble track and her ability to do a handstand on this without smacking an ankle on a joist.

Rebuilt the Treadmill

We were lucky to be home this past Monday, my wife and I were up and working while the kids were still asleep. Fairly early in the AM. We heard a very loud zapping sound, if you’ve ever heard someone welding, it was like that. It was clearly coming from the basement and stopped before I was able to get down there. I was greeted by a haze of smoke wafting through the basement. After hunting for a while I eventually found that the treadmill was the source.

After unplugging the treadmill I opened up some of the basement windows and had a fan running to clear out the smell.

Once I finished working for the day, I dug out the owners manual to review the warranty and find the tech support number. I found that the manual explicitly requires owners to clean out the motor housing every other week in order to keep the warranty valid. Apparently 6 years of dust and rubber from the worn tread can lead to electrical shorts. Not a great design in my opinion. After a couple days of shopping for new treadmills (we do use it several times a week) I recalled that I’d been sent a box full of spare parts when this treadmill didn’t work initially.

Having long weekends during the work from home order, I decided to take apart the treadmill and see how badly it was damaged. The box of parts included a new controller and some wiring…maybe I could get it working again. If not, it needed to come apart to get up the stairs anyway.

After a couple hours of dismantling and cleaning each component, I started putting it all back together. I cut out burnt sections of wiring, and wrapped other wires with electrical tape where the casing was just a little crispy. By early afternoon Thursday I plugged it in and I clicked the on switch. Beep! It worked perfectly. That effort saved us $1,300.

We plan to unplug the treadmill after each use and I will set reminders to clean out the housing every other week. Don’t need another close call.

Couch Desk

While working from home, my wife prefers the comfort of the couch. This leaves her looking down at her laptop, which is sitting on her….well, lap. She’s had neck issues on and off, this was starting to re-aggravate them. I set out on a secret mission to surprise her with a desk thingy that would fit on the couch and allow her to work with better posture.

Taking some measurements of the couch and guessing at some others I quickly drew up the concept.

The larger, left side would be hinged so that it could raise/lower as needed. The right side is fixed for a mouse, coffee mug, glass of wine, whatever.

I cut out enough to make two of these knowing my daughter would want her own. The second would be slightly shorter and have a single piece, fixed top.

After assembling, I tested the height, it works great. I applied some dark walnut stain and several coats of clear gloss. We’re waiting for it to stop stinking before it gets put into action.

Turned the Fire Pit Into a Fire Table

We’ve had this propane fire pit for quite a while. We bought it to go on the old wooden deck. Wood fires can get too hot for a wood deck so this allowed us to have a fire without worry. With the new composite deck I’ve been concerned that even this thing will get too hot underneath. Nobody likes droopy, saggy, melted deck boards.

Using entirely scrap wood and leftover deck boards, I constructed a table that will hide the propane tank and match the deck. The one big problem is it’s VERY heavy.

Need to get some aluminum to wrap the edges with, but I’m not in a hurry for that.

The Bike Ramp

My daughter and some of the neighbor’s kids have been riding bikes a lot. Normal riding was getting boring so we spiced it up for them a little. I made a small teeter totter for them to ride over, some rumble strips and, of course….a HUGE jump. Unfortunately I only got video of the jump in action, none of the other obstacles. But check out that SWEET AIR!!! She was very disappointed seeing the video, “It felt like I was a lot higher than that”.

Return of the Fire Pit

With the continued stay-at-home order and improving, we’ve had more frequent mostly-safe-social-distance-gatherings in the driveway. The neighbors end up bringing some chairs over and we hang out until it’s time for the kids to go inside. As it cools down in the evening, Mrs. EndlessToDoList has requested the fire table is pulled out. That thing weighs up around 400lbs or more. This has resulted in my failure to comply with a warming fire more than once. Result? The fire table has come apart (at least temporarily). Failure NO MORE!

Basketball Post Cleanup

This was actually on the list for last summer and was never started. I’d purchased the rust proof/eliminating spray paint but just never got around to cleaning up the post. Yesterday I finally got around to putting the wire wheel on the angle grinder and cleaned up the post. After running the wire wheel for a while I switched to the sanding disc, it cleaned up the bare metal nicely. A couple coats with the spray paint and I was done in under an hour!

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Husband, Dad, Engineer and Saw Dust Aficionado
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