Dangerous power adapter

From the this-is-a-terrible-idea-but-I’m-going-to-do-it-anyway department:

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I’m in Zürich this week visiting the Disney Research lab and I forgot to bring plug adapters for my Macbook. No problem, this is why I carry thick vague copper wire in my bag and check a multitool in my luggage.

Please don’t try this at home. Or in a hotel.

Cool Tools Interview

Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly at the super excellent Cool Tools site recently interviewed me for their terrific Cool Tools Show podcast. We talked about some tool-like I recommend, including a coffee roaster, and gym rings. Stay tuned for the bonus, unexpected tool question at the end.

As Mark said,

Over at Cool Tools we interviewed my good friend John Edgar Park, who is one of the most interesting people I know. When he is not combing the streets for street sweeper blades to turn into picklocks, or practicing impossible yoga positions, or roasting his own coffee, he’s doing secret things at the research wing of Disney Imagineering. Kevin Kelly and I asked him to tell us about some of his favorite tools, which you can learn about in this episode of the Cool Tools Show, and by reading the show notes (Why not subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode?)

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Make a Light-up Magic Wand

The elementary school variety show producer (yes, producer — we take this seriously!) asked if I could build some lighted magic wand props for one of the acts. “Heck yes!,” I said. I love building props.

Here’s how I built them:

  1. Start with an LED flashlight for the end cap switch, handle, and battery holder. Doing these things from scratch can be a pain. $5 lights worked great, you may be able to go cheaper.
  2. Remove the bulb, solder in leads and wires to extend the length, solder on a nice, fat 10mm LED.
  3. Use three street sweeper blades to form the wand structure, zip tie and tape them to the barrel.
  4. Heat shrink tubing to hold the LED nicely to the sweeper blade tips.
  5. Wrap the wand in masking paper. Glue the paper on, being sure to wrinkle and crease it like gnarled wood.
  6. Stain with wood stain, paint it, dry brush lighter colors at the peaks to increase the read on stage to the audience. Polyurethane the paper.

Here’s a visual guide to my method. UPDATE: The wands survived dress rehearsal and three performances! See bottom of this post for a photo of the young wizards in action.

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Turning a TV set into a bookcase

A friend was moving and thought I may have a use for this broken TV set. Here’s how I turned it into a book shelf.

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I pulled off the back, removed the amplifier and CRT.

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After removing the “gold tone” trim, these retention clips needed to be pulled to free the glass. The bezel is such a gorgeous brown, cream, and patina green. Here Beatrix and I appear on TV.

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I framed it with some 1″ square strips of white oak I had left over from a catapult project, and used some hardware to mount a panel of wood. I pulled that panel from the dumpster at Walt Disney Animation Studios when they were remodeling one of the production pods a few years ago.

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Here’s the finished piece. I left the tuning mechanism in place so you can twist the giant knob on the right and change the number front and center.

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Steel Side Chair Steal

Got this today for ten dollars: a 1964 steel side chair made by the Harter Corporation in Sturgis, Michigan. It was property of Lockheed-California a division of Lockheed Aircraft here in Burbank.

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I tested out stripping the paint and love the way it looks, so I plan to strip it down to brushed metal and then maybe protect it with clear coat or oil.

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