I had some great boardgames limited to 5 or less players, whereas I often had more folks wanting to play so I made expansion packs for many of them (they're not for sale, but you can get details and tips on making your own here). I also had some fun replacing pieces and painting them.
Following on the success of my mattress topper (2015), I made some hybrid pillows as I wasn't a fan of any ready bought ones (some were nicely soft but no support, others lots of support but stiff). These were created with 3 densities of foam sewn together for stability, to build up support under the neck but still keep softness where it was needed.
The Brick mattress I got was harder than the store model and so was the one free replacement they allow. Not wanting to take more chances on them, I bought my next one from Sleep Country, but to get some sleep until it arrived, I made a topper for the (hard-as-a) Brick one. It used a gradual change in foam density to smooth out pressure points but still provide support where needed. It relieved the pressure on my arm, and the white circles show how my spine alignment improved too. In the end, the Sleep Country mattress was great so I didn't need a topper anymore (their mattress was also made of multi-density foam) but it was great to have it until it arrived.
This extender made the toilet roll easier to reach and gave a place for a spare roll for when then original runs out. Made from an old soldering iron handle, washers & a metal tube.
This mount adaptor for my iPhone was made out of an old cassette tape case.
I needed a cheap way of integrating video and sound in my Aliens Motion Tracker prop, so I combined a flashing LED & reed relay (to make a 2 Hz timer) with a keychain LCD viewer, DPST switch and Hallmark sound recorder. Total cost $25 (sound board, LCD, components).
Flying shark with frikin' laser strapped to its head. Ok, I didn't come up with the laser/shark idea, or make it flying but I did figure out how to lighten it enough to put them together. Mwuhaha!
Following on the success of my 2002 LED bulb, I created a set of drop in replacement bulbs (left 2) for some 12v lighted switches. They drop the consumption from 2 W to 0.2 W. Though available commercially now, they only took a few minutes to build and were free as I already had the parts to spare.
I did just a minor redesign here: the plastic gear on this ice cream scoop got stripped so I replaced it with a larger metal one for better torque and durability and widened the gearing range to maintain the blade travel. Works great now even on colder/harder ice creams.
This water resistant MP3 player case was made from an old Sport Walkman. I removed the guts and added an earphone plug inside so you can connect to any mp3 player/phone that fits. It uses the water resistant headphones that came with the Walkman on the outside. It was successfully tested with swims at 3 foot depth (pool) and clips nicely to your bathing suit. You don't have access to buttons but press play with a long playlist before you go into the water and you won't need them. You can also put cash, car keys/clicker and credit cards in there when you're off to the beach. Also protects from sand/mud/etc in other harsh climates. The iPod shuffle is also modified - it's glued to retractable headphones. These minimize cord tangle issues: making it easy to put into the case, reducing cable hazzard when jogging (you can clip it to your collar and retract the cable to less than a foot), etc.
This playstation was made for my nephew. Hooked up to the oversized buttons and switches (he loves those) are: a plasma globe, a disco ball with LED light, a lightning plasma display and blinking LEDs. The trackball is linked to plastic fiber optics which carry light to the cardinal points on the lightning display in the same direction that it's being spun. The lightning display is sound activated, so it turns on when he taps on the glass, activates the disco ball globe or giggles. The front strip has various optical illusion plastics & shiny metal foils, as well as a liquid crystal strip that changes colour with touch, so you can see your finger or hand print after you touch it.
This battery booster allows the use of rechargeable batteries with devices that work better with disposable battery voltages. A thin double-sided contact is inserted in a battery compartment along with the regular battery allotment to boost voltage with an extra external cell (extra 1.2v) to make up for the difference between NiMH rechargeables (4 x 1.2v = 4.8v) and alkaline/lithium (4 x 1.5v = 6v) cells. The boost improved flash recharge time by about 30%.
The Raccoon Repeller was created to discourage a family of racoons from staying under a cottage. A constant barrage of loud human voices under their nest prevents them from sleeping and encourages the parents to move the family to a home outside. This is friendlier than trapping, where the kids are left behind and die and the parents are often killed in the new neighbourhood they are moved to by other predators/competition. To run for days uninterripted and in an isolated location, battery power was increased from 1 to 3 AA for the MP3 and from 4 to 12 for the speakers. The setup was protected with a metal grill to prevent sabotage.
Built a dock based on the old design. No real enhancement, just a rebuild.
This old laptop was turned into a digital photo frame by flipping the display around. A frame and border were added for aesthetics. New hinges allowed it to fold flat for wall hanging or open up for placement on a desk. The trackpad on the back allowed navigation and the USB slot a place to upload new pictures.
This Rollerblade-to-Skate conversion was built to see if rollerblades could be used as skates with a simple replacement part instead of having to have a pair for each. The blade was purchased from a skate store, remodelled and reinforced with a metal plate to adapt it to the rollerblade requirements. Test skating with it was pleasant and without incident but did have a slightly different feel due to the extra height involved in this model (due to use of standard skate blade). Subsequent design with a single piece of metal as both blade and adapator reduced this height difference, but some will always be present to avoid hitting the brake or rollerblade edges.
This LED Bulb was created for a flashlight for my climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I needed something efficient, rain, snow and shock-resistant and that could be attached to my hat as a headlamp. Since they weren't available back then, I built my own LED bulb for use in a scuba flashlight case. The bulb consists of three white LEDs and resistors. The bulb consumed one quarter the power of the original bulb and lasted for more than 20hrs on 4 NiMH AA cells. Currently it lasts 40hrs on NiMH, due to advances in battery capacity, or 100+hrs on Lithium. It sheds as much uniform light as the underwater bulb, but lacks the focused center beam and is therefore only effective up to 6m (20ft). This was fine for hiking/camping use, but isn't good enough for scuba so I switch back to the halogen bulb for night scuba dives.
Alex, Paymon and I made this charity collection box for an ECF fundraising drive. It had two places you could add coins. In one, the coin spun round in a slow spiral to the center of the yellow cone. In the other the collection mechanism flipped it into a brief spin before accepting it. In either case, once accepted, it triggered a voice recording and fiber optic light display show. It was decorated with pictures made by kids of some of the other fundraisers.
This Paintball Gun (Automag) was improved and made more compact. It was shortened in length by moving the CO2 tank forward and under the trigger. The upward tilt helped ensure that liquid CO2 never reached the regulator (in the original horizontal design, it would sometimes). The paintball feed tube was titled over from up-right to up-left to slim the width and emulate a "powerfeed" system. An IR LED detector was placed in the feed tube and connected to a motor in the hopper. Any stoppages resulted in stirring of the tank until the balls refilled the tube, ensuring a steady supply. A holder (old paintball tube) was mounted on the bottle holder to store a squeegee to clear any barrel splatter. The mask had camo netting and a mini fan added to draw air away from the face. This provided both a cooling effect, and more importantly, fogging prevention.
Alan and I built this High Speed Rechargeable NiCd Cell Charger. It had the ability to charge up to 4 AA cells in 15 minutes. Unlike most chargers, it also had the ability to charge just one cell if desired. The interface between the charging system and the computer was achieved with an 8 analog channel and 16 digital channel A/D converter. The sampling rate was only about 5 Hz but that was all that was required. The charger also had sophisticated programming to overcome early life failures (and failures due to misuse) and get seemingly dead/dieing NiCd cells restored to a longer life. Two methods of achieving this were through flash removal of whiskers and by deep discharge (to the voltage knee) of cells with memory effects. It incorporated an easy to use graphical interface with a Star Trek like format.
I built this bunkbed/desk combination to save space in a bachelor apartment while at university. The right side was a workbench for projects, the left side was a study area and the top was a computer console that could lower out of the way to make more desk space. The top level had a bed and cubby holes for storing clothes. Perforated beaverboard on the back wall allowed hanging of tools / posters. The entire thing was easy for one person to assemble/disassemble and very stable once the chain tensioners were added. The A-frame design gave it more of a futuristic look, but it was also able to be used in the conventional H-frame design.
This Winter Bike project was a fun way to prove a winter obstacle course I was designing for high school science olympics could be completed with a human-powered vehicle. I added a rear axle and tires to an old bike to give it good traction through snow banks. In shallow snow, it rides like a regular tricycle. In deep snow, the front tire digs in enough to guide like a rudder. The best turning radius was about 1.5 m using all available gears for mechanical advantage. Steep snowy hills were a challenge but by using both feet, the bike could be kickstarted to travel a dozen cms at a time then held until the next kick with the handbrakes. It was the only vehicle able to complete the course but folks had fun and judging was made on best distance travelled.