38) Replaced the Battery in My Mini-Helicopter #NewThingEveryDay

Transplanting a mini helicopter battery

I bought a little 5 oz helicopter a few years ago. I played with it for about a month then it just sat in the drawer. Every few months I’d take it out and play with it once, then one day I put it in the drawer and never took it out again. That is until my daughter begged me to fly it a few months ago.

So I put it on the charger. When it was done I brought it out to the family room and was going to set it up for her to fly. I got it in the air and was in the process of trimming the rotors so it wouldn’t spin, when it started dropping. The battery died after 30 seconds of use. I put it on the charger and tried again. This time I couldn’t even get it more than 2 inches off the table before dying right away. I figured the battery must be dead.

I put it on my list to find a new battery and replace the bad one. I only paid $25 for the helicopter, but I figured I could find a battery somewhere for much cheaper. Then I forgot about it until a few days ago.

I found a two helicopter set at Savers for $5. They didn’t have a controller, but I figured since they had a manufactured in 2014 sticker on the bottom, the batteries had to be good. I got home and charged one. Sure enough it charged, but it didn’t respond to my controller. That was okay, I was planning on transplanting the battery into my helicopter anyway since mine was in much better shape (these two were beat up like they belonged to a 6 year old.)

I took the donor helicopter cab off to get to the battery, it was just a matter of removing 3 tiny screws. Once I had access, I desoldered the battery and removed it. Then I opened up the other helicopter and removed the bad battery. This battery was harder to remove because the positive lead for two of the motors were also soldered to the same pad as the battery.

To get every wire soldered into place, I ended up stripping insulation off all the wires that connected to the one positive pad and twisting them together, there was no other way to keep all three wires on the pad. Once this delicate operation was done I tried to see if the helicopter would respond. The lights came on, but it wouldn’t respond to the controls. On a whim, I decided to charge the battery again. Once it was charged the helicopter worked, sort of.

This time the helicopter would only fly about 2 inches off the table, but it didn’t die. I played with it for 5 minutes and the helicopter was still responding (when the battery dies, the helicopter just goes dead.) Now I’m not sure what to do. Maybe the rotor motors have gone bad. Maybe this battery was also bad, but in a different way. I put it back on the charger and I’m waiting to see what happens when I try it again.


37) Ate at Popeyes #NewThingEveryDay

Popeyes Store Front

I was in Coon Rapids around lunchtime picking up some supplies, so I decided to try Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. I’d heard of this chain before, but it just recently came to the area. I knew they sold fried chicken, but that was about it.

I got inside and saw they had a shrimp basket for $5, sans beverage. If a place serves shrimp, that’s probably what I’m going to eat. I was surprised that after I ordered the meal, the cashier asked if I wanted a drink with the meal. She said if you bought it without a drink it was only $5. I can’t think of a fast food place that would have even asked me that. They would just have assumed I was getting a drink with a meal. I like this cashier.

I happened that I already had a pop with me from visiting Menards earlier, so I said: “sure, I’ll have the meal without the drink.” I got my second surprise because I assumed that the biscuit was the side that came with the meal, but it turns out I got a choice of a side too. Mashed potatoes it was.

Butterfly shrimp meal

I got the meal to go because my pop was in the truck and I wanted to finish listening to a podcast. I opened the box and found I got way more than the 8 shrimp I was supposed to get — another bonus. I opened the sauce and dipped a shrimp into it and found the sauce to be spicy, spicier than Taco Bell fire sauce. I like hot, but I am constantly disappointing at food most Minnesota restaurants consider hot.

All in all the shrimp was okay, the mashed potatoes were actually pretty good, and the biscuit was dry — it needed butter. Actually not bad for a $5 fast food meal. I’d definitely go there over McDonalds or Burger King, but since Popeyes is just a block away from Dinos Gyros, my favorite fast food place around, it’ll probably be a while before I get back there.

36) Make 3D Printer Print Parts for Itself #NewThingEveryDay

3D Printed Strain Relief

So far I’ve got my 3D printer working okay. I’m still having issues with it not infilling enough, but it works well enough to print most things. Doing research into how to use my printer, I found that the extruder wires can break from moving too much. The extruder is on the X-axis which is constantly moving back and forth. The same guy Kezat, who printed the setting up guide I used, created a 3D printed stain relief to fix the problem.

I had already tied all the wires for the extruder (temp, stepper, and heater) together because they where so unruly, why not make a better a better connection to the printer so the wires wouldn’t bend at the connection points? Also I just find the concept of using the 3D printer to make parts for itself so cool. A machine that can build itself!

35) Making Socket Organizers More Visible #NewThingEveryDay


I have these Craftsman socket holders in my big toolbox where it is difficult to see the writing because it is just raised grey on grey. I remembered a post on SawDust Girl where one of the contributors used white paint to fill in the markings on a Kreg jig to make them more visible. Now the markings on my socket organizer are raised instead of recessed but I thought maybe I could do something similar.

My first test was to paint the background white and wipe the paint off the markings. This turned out to be quite fussy for several reasons. I didn’t want to paint the entire organizers so I had to tape off areas I didn’t want painted. Once it was taped off and I applied the paint, it took me a while to figure out how to wipe the paint off consistently without disturbing the background paint. I finally found that wrapping a paper towel over the tip of my index finger gave me enough control, but I still had to move the paper towel every few markings or I just started pushing paint around rather than removing it. Also to get decent coverage I had to apply to coats.

I wasn’t satisfied with this method, it took way too long for one panel and I had 5 more to go, so I tried another method. This time I just applied paint to the raised markings with a fine brush. This turned out to be much faster and provide a higher contrast than the first method. It also took a while to figure out how much paint to load on the brush. Too much and I got paint in the middle of closed numbers and the sides of curved numbers which made the markings less readable. I finally dialed in the amount of paint to load and this Imperial panel went faster. It looked so good I could have stopped at one coat, but I decided to go for two coats.

Imperial Test in Drawer

Now I just need to remove the paint from the metric panel so I can redo it the second way and then paint four other panels.

34) Organized My Nut Drivers with a Length of Wire #NewThingEveryDay

5 - Both Sets of Nut Drivers Neatly Organized

I have a set of 14 Imperial and Metric nut drivers sitting in my tool chest that defy organization. After I line them up and put them in order, a few weeks of opening and closing the drawer results in a disorganized pile again.

I grabbed some 10 gauge copper wire I had left over from another project and all the nut drivers and brought them into my shop. I looked for a piece of scrap wood a little narrower than the handles are long. Then I wrapped the wire around the wood to make the coiled holder. When I test fit the drivers, the coil worked better than I had expected! Since this holder was finished, I trimmed off the extra wire.

See more details at my workshop blog…

33) Filled a Finish Can with Marbles (to Get Rid of the Air) #NewThingEveryDay

Finish can filled back up with marbles

While I was talking to the guy at Woodcraft about how to make a better bathroom cup, I also talked to him about why I had such bad luck with General Finishes Arm-R-Seal in the past. One thing he said I could try was to make sure I got all the air out of the can after I used it. Either I could buy some Bloxygen or I could fill up the can with marbles until I got rid of all the air. So after I finished using the Arm-R-Seal for the bathroom cup, to preserve the finish, I needed to remove the air.

So today I went to the dollar store and grabbed a $1 bag of marbles. I didn’t trust that they would be clean, so before I dropped them into the finish I washed them with soap and water and dried them. Then I opened the can and proceeded to drop marbles in until the finish level came up to the lip. I really didn’t find a good way to drop the marbles into the can without some finish plopping back out of the can. Maybe I cold have rolled them down a paint stick.

If you look closely at the above picture you can see some round shapes on the bottom of the can.

32) Succesfully Printed an Object Using My New 3D Printer #NewThingEveryDay

Calgary Make Medallion

I bought a OneUp 3D printer a few weeks ago to assemble with my daughter. She lost interest because she really didn’t understand what part of the machine she was building, frankly neither did I, I was just following the instructions. So I just completed assembling the 3D printer myself. That’s pretty much where the instructions ended, no explanation of loading the filament, setting up the printer or actually making your first print.

After stubling around for a while I found a good forum post where a guy name Kezat had detailed notes about setting up the printer and printing objects. Once I got the printer setup properly I download a simple medallion from Thingiverse and got the printer to start printing it after several false starts, including having the extruder bury itself in the print bed.

It’s not the best print, and I need to adjust the printer to make the filament flow faster, but it’s a successful start!

OneUp 3d Printer assembled

31) I Repaired a RC Car with ThermoPlastic #NewThingEveryDay

Thermoplastic Repair on RC car

The other day I noticed a few properties of Thermoplastic that would make it a great way to repair broken parts. First it sticks to everything pretty tenaciously. Second when it’s cooled, it’s pretty rigid.

Last year we broke the steering arm one the many cheap New Bright RC cars I have for my kids to use. They’re perfect for them to learn driving skills, because I paid between $15-$20 for each of them. So when one breaks I just use it for parts for the next one. I didn’t have any replacement parts for this particular model, so I hadn’t repaired it yet.

First I glued the steering arm back together with Super Glue

First I glued the broken steering arm back together with super glue. I knew this wouldn’t hold up to any kind of abuse, so I used the thermoplastic to reinforce the joint.

Reinforced joints with Thermoplastic

I also figured that while I was at it, I’d reinforce the other bend of the steering arm. I heated up a cup of water, dropped some thermopastic pellets into the cup and waited for them to turn clear. Then I just molded the plastic over the bends in the steering arm. When I was satisfied with the job, I ran the steering arm under cold water and replaced it on the car.

I fixed the broken steering arm, but unfortunately there’s still a problem with the steering mechanism and the wheels aren’t turning as far as they should. I made sure my new fixes weren’t binding, but there just seems to be something wrong with the electronics. Maybe I’ll look at it another day.

30) I Ate at Uncle Louie’s Cafe in Duluth #NewThingEveryDay

Uncle Louis cafe

My wife and I went up to Duluth today to grab a buffet cabinet from my mom’s house. I’ve been dreading this for almost a year since she said I could have it. I thought it was really, really heavy and I wasn’t sure how we were going to get it our of her house and into the back of my truck.

It turns out my worries were unfounded. The reason it was so heavy was because my mom had it filled to the brim with paper. Once she and my step-dad cleaned it out, it was easy for two people to lift. After we got the buffet loaded into the truck ,we started chatting a while and decided to go out to lunch before my wife and I went back down to the Twin Cities. My Step-dad said let’s go to Uncle Loui’s.

Uncle Loui’s Cafe, not to be confused with the old Louie’s Cafe, is on East 4th Street near the old Twins Bar and St. Mary’s. It’s a little hole in the wall restaurant with a lot of character and known well to the locals and the college kids, so it’s hard to get in on Saturday and Sunday. They are known for their generous portions, breakfast, which they serve all day, and their gyros, well at least to my step-dad.

I had the gyros sandwich of course and they were made with real lamb, unlike some of the restaurants that claim to serve gyros in the Twin Cities. The lamb was good, but I usually like mine a little spicier — this is Duluth we’re talking about where ketchup is too spicy. I definitely enjoyed lunch today and would recommend Uncle Loui’s to anyone who wants to get away from the touristy side of Duluth.

29) My Daughter and I Played with Thermoplastic #NewThingEveryDay

Thermo Plastic Shot

A while ago I was in Radio Shack (before they closed all their stores) and I found Thermoplastic on sale: $5 for 300g. It looked like a great price so I grabbed the only box they had left. At the time I had no idea what I would do with it, and frankly I still don’t.

My daughter and I were bored tonight. So I went down to my shop to see if there was anything we could play with and I spotted the thermoplastic. My daughter is usually more creative than I am so I though I would heat it up and let her play with it.

Little Molded Dog

All you need to do to mold the plastic is heat it up to 140°F, which you can do by heating a cup of water in the microwave and then dumping a bunch of the pellets in the water. The pellets are ready to mold when they turn clear. So I grabbed a spoon and scooped them out. While the water is hot enough to burn you, the plastic is comfortable enough to work with. It also is a little sticky, not only will the pellets start sticking to themselves in the cup of water, but they will stick to the side of the cup and the spoon too.

Remelting Thermoplastic

At this point you can mold it into whatever shape you wish. I molded a dog and my daughter molded a marshmallow (which she doesn’t want shown). When the plastic turns cloudy it starts to get hard. At this point you can heat it up again and try again if you’re not satisfied with the shape. When you are done you can either wait for the plastic to cool or you can run it under cold water. You can melt and form the plastic many times if you wish. I would imagine that the plastic would start to get dirty colored if you weren’t careful.

New Lego Head

I also tried molding a wolf head for a LEGO mini figure. It is pretty crude, but i’m pretty happy for a first try. I did discover that I should have used a releasing agent though because the thermoplastic is stuck to the mini figure body and I can’t get it off.

Another experiment I’d like to try is coloring the plastic, I’ll have to research tat one a bit before I try it.