Category Archives: Around the House

All things DIY

DIY Solar Filters for Binoculars

Did you know that you can do star-gazing during the day? Our own star, sun, in-fact provides the most spectacular star-gazing experience you can ever do with its full glory, color and true spherical appearance.  You need the right equipment though to do it safely.


solar disk

Your options are to get a telescope with a special solar filter or just use regular binoculars fitted with DIY solar filters. The more powerful the binoculars, the better. This article will demonstrate how to build a Do It Yourself solar filter that perfectly fits your binoculars. For this project I will use Bushnell 10×50 binoculars and will provide cut-out templates for its size, but any pair of binoculars should work – just make your own template and print it out. (You can use something like youidraw.com to create vector drawings free without software download).

Materials & tools required:


Bushnell 10×50 binoculars (or any binoculars you already have)
Black Polymer Solar filter sheet
Thin cardboard sheet
Scissors or Utility/Razor knife
Clear, gift wrapping tape
Printer (to print out template)
Filter cut out template (pdf)
PVC coupling or pipe 2.5 inch diameter (or diameter that is larger than your binoculars large input lenses)

Step 1.
Print out the Filter cut out template at 100% size (un-check any options to scale, fit-to-page, etc. in your printer dialog window).

template preview

Step 2.
Cut out the templates and use template A to draw two circles on the polymer sheet with pencil. Use template B to draw doughnut shapes on thin cardboard sheet.
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Step 3.
Carefully cut-out the drawings you have made with sharp scissors (Tip: keep protective cards on polymer sheet while cutting).

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Polymer sheet cut-out
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Cardboard cut-out

Step 4.
Prepare the cylinders. I happened to have a couple of wide media core ends available that were a just a perfect (loose) fit to my binoculars, but you can also use a 2.5in or size that fits your binocular lens PVC pipe or coupling (your local hardware store should have many different ones you can choose from) .

I sawed the core ends to form two pipes with tapered ends.

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Step 5.
Drop he polymer circle sheets into the pipes. Then slide the cardboard “doughnuts” on top for them to hold the polymer filters circles. If your pipes do not narrow on the inside, simply glue or tape the cardboard “doughnuts” that we cut out earlier to one side of the pipe. Then cut out two more cardboard “doughnuts”. Slide the polymer filters and finally slide the cardboard “doughnuts” on top  to hold the polymer filters. Tape the cardboard “doughnuts” from the inside as shown below.


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Step 6.
Add some friction grips. For this I used foam packing peanuts. Cut three thin pieces of packing peanuts for each lens (6 total), to the thickness that can pack the gap between the binocular and the solar filter just tightly enough to hold them securely. Tape the foam pieces in 120 degree interval as shown below.

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Step 7.
Now carefully slide both lenses onto the binoculars and make sure they are snug and won’t fall off. If the lenses are too loose, replace the foams with thicker ones. Be sure that the lenses are securely sitting and won’t fall out during use – you don’t want to look at the sun with unprotected binoculars!!!! It will most certainly blind you instantly.

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Step 8.
You are done. Please use extreme caution when looking at the sun with filters.  The way I do is I put binoculars with solar filters on closely to my eyes first, fully lowered and away from the sun. Then raise the binoculars toward the sun. When I am done observing, I keep the binoculars close to my eyes, lower the binoculars pointing well-away or opposite from the sun and only then take the binoculars off. This way I avoid accidentally looking at the sun without the eye protection.

solar image

DISCLAIMER: You assume all risks for any solar filter build. Extreme caution is required when observing the sun. Do not allow children to use binoculars as they may not be aware of safety issues. Read all instructions and safety information by the polymer sheet manufacturer and fully educate yourself on solar observation safety before proceeding with making your own solar filter or performing a solar observation. The above instructions are for my own record only and I disclaim any responsibility of any harm, permanent blindness or any type of injury any solar observation may cause you.

Installation of Mounting Bracket for Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Condensing Unit

So, I am in the process of installing a new ductless mini split Pioneer air conditioner, similar to this one. One of the steps involved was to set-up these mounting brackets to the exterior of concrete foundation wall, where the condenser will be secured. Unfortunately the mounting brackets came without any installation instructions so it took a bit of figuring out. Took about an hour and it was a pretty easy job.

Tools I needed:


hammer drill
Masonry drill bit 1/2 inch size
Socket wrench with deep 17mm socket (or possibly 11/16in would have also worked)
Socket wrench 9/16 inch
Wrench 9/16 inch

1. I unpacked the brackets and laid them out. The kit included the mounting brackets, masonry/concrete expansion anchors, rubber pads, bolts nuts and washers.

Mounting Bracket for Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Condensing Unit 2P
Mounting Bracket for Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Condensing Unit 2P (For 9000 and 12000 BTU Condensers)

2. I measured the required distances from the side walls and any other objects as per condenser manufacturer’s instructions (mine was at least 12 inches away from the walls or obstructions). Then I put first bracket against the wall and mark the hole openings on the concrete.  Measured the distance between the mounting “feet” of my condenser (mine was 18 inches across).  Using a level, I drew two horizontal lines from markings I just made on the wall and marked the holes for the second bracket (18 inches away). Finally I drilled the holes using hammer drill and 1/2 masonry bit.


3. After holes were drilled, I Inserted concrete anchors in them, put up the brackets against it and tightened with provided washers and bolts using 17mm deep socket wrench (11/16 inch should have also worked but I only had metric with deep sockets).  I tightened all bolts gradually before finally tightening them firmly. Level placed across the two brackets helped to ensure  they were both plumb and level.

4. Next I secured the brackets in open position using provided bolts, plastic and metal washers (to prevent rusting bolts against metal washers) and nuts. I needed a 9/16 inch wrench for that

5. Next, using included longer bolts and washers I put rubber paddings – for now held by friction only.

6. While aligning properly, I carefully placed the condenser on the rubber pads with bolts protruding through the holes, placed metal washers, then plastic washers and finally tightened with bolts using 9/16 inch wrench, while holding the bolts with 9/16 inch socket wrench .

This part of the installation was complete and I was ready for next phase.


Office Chair Pneumatic Gas Lift Cylinder Repair

If you have an office chair that won’t stay up anymore you have a few options for a fix. You can replace it with a new cylinder  for around $20 or so, or if you always maintain your chair at the same height level (like I do), you can permanently fix your cylinder at next to no cost and relatively low DIY difficulty level.

Here is the material and tools list to get the job done in about 15 minutes:

  • 4″ long 1-1/2″ diameter PVC pipe – (look in your basement, garage, ask a friend, or get from a local hardware store for pennies)
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • Either a hacksaw or a PVC pipe cutter

Step 1.

Remove the retaining clip by pushing it from the side with a screwdriver tip and slide out the chair base with wheels.

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Step 2. Measure and cut the PVC pipe to a desired length with a hacksaw or a pipe cutter and slide it onto the cylinder.


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Step 3. Put the smaller diameter plastic cylinder skirt (if included with your chair) in a reverse direction so that it covers up the PVC pipe. Slide the larger diameter plastic skirt in a normal direction to cover up the base of the cylinder.

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0172241e6948b080528eda9ae835ccfc3157d29adfStep 4.  Slide the wheel base back onto the cylinder and fasten it with the retaining clip.

 

017a4d9b4d31ea920fe461400fd2c49939aa4f542bDone! Your office chair will no longer adjust in height, but you will have a working chair with fixed height, as a permanent, or as a temporary fix, until your new cylinder arrives.