Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Get Your Apps Back after an iOS 5 Update

Photo by John Karakatsanic via Flickr
I took the plunge and updated my iPad 2 to iOS 5 today. It took about 3 hours which included a few setup steps, updating over half my apps, and getting the apps reinstalled on the iPad.

It seems like there ought to be a better way, but all your purchased apps are erased from the iPad during the process. Depending on how your settings are in iTunes, you may or not get them back after your first re-synch. Mine weren't there. A quick web search was not very helpful and found basically two suggestions: (1) re-synch the iPad; and (2) re-download your purchased apps one at a time from the app store.

A lot of the comments at the places I visited seemed to harsh on Apple because people couldn't get their apps back. Lots of complaints but no solutions. I had the same problem. My apps did not reinstall when I synched either, but I have been using Apple stuff long enough to know that this really ought to work pretty easily. The solution was simple.

These steps apply to Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and iTunes 10.5. All you have to do is:
  1. Plug your iPad into your computer.
  2. If iTunes does not launch automatically (because you do not have it set to), launch it.
  3. Click on the iPad icon on the left side panel in iTunes.
  4. Click the Apps tab at the top of the iPad screen.
  5. Take a moment or two to rearrange your apps on the iPad springboard as needed.
  6. Check the Synch box (mine wasn't checked).
  7. Synch the iPad and all the apps will be reinstalled on your iPad.
Now that wasn't so hard was it?  Maybe some people really do have a problem getting their apps back after a major update. But, I'll bet they just don't have their settings right in iTunes. Let me know if this helped you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Repairing a Worn Vacuum Cleaner Rotary Brush Mount

Figure 1. Removing the damaged brush end retainer
We have this old vacuum cleaner that was formerly used by the custodial staff at the Broadmoor Hotel. And no, we didn't steal it, it was purchased fair and square at one of the auctions that the hotel holds every so often. It has done a good job for many years and I'm guessing the thing must be around 20 years old by now. It still sucks up crud, so what the heck—keep using it.

Unfortunately, it started making a humongous racket and leaving dark marks on the floor. After checking it out, it appeared the marks were made by the belt coming in contact with the floor and that was happening because one of the end retaining brackets for the rotary brush was damaged allowing the brush to wobble around and get out of position.

We like this machine and didn't want to get rid of it so I devised a fix. I imagine that similar problems develop on just about all makes of upright vacuums, so why not share my way of fixing it?

Vacuum Brush Mount Repair Procedure

Step 1. Remove the vacuum cleaner bottom cover, unhook the belt from the drive mechanism, and pull out the rotary brush.

Step 2. Figure 1 shows one of the end brackets that keeps the brush in position. The damaged part on the right side is removed using a chisel. It was supposed to be a mirror image of the left side, but it was all torn up and not keeping the brush end in place.

Figure 2. Rough cutting an aluminum retainer piece
Step 3. Fabricate a retainer piece out of aluminum stock by cutting it to size with a hacksaw and dressing it to final shape with a file (Figure 2). The retainer does not have to be fancy. I chose aluminum because it was handy, easy to work, and durable enough to last awhile. Wood or plastic would also do the job but wouldn't likely make for as long lasting a repair.

Step 4. After testing the retainer position and fit, drill a hole through the side of the vacuum (Figure 3), large enough in diameter to pass through whatever screw is to be used to fasten the retainer to the vacuum. I think it was a 10-32 machine screw in this case.

Figure 3. Drilling a mounting hole in the vacuum
Step 5. Holding the retainer in place, make a mark through the hole in the side of the vacuum to locate the place where the fastening screw will enter the retainer.

Step 6. Center punch the spot for the through hole on the retainer and drill a hole large enough to pass through whatever screw is to be used (Figure 4).

Step 7. Attach the retainer in position using a screw and a nut, but do not tighten it up all the way. If there is enough room, use a lock washer.

Step 8. Check the fit of the rotary brush and adjust the final position and alignment of the retainer for a snug fit. You should still be able to slide the end of the brush into the mount without difficulty.

Figure 4. Drilling a through hole in the retainer
Step 9. Tighten the nut on the mounting screw, and reassemble the machine. In this case, the brush ends held bearings that needed to be adjusted slightly before re-installation. This was done by simply tightening a screw on one end of the brush.

This vacuum is back in action and working great. It runs smooth and quiet and no more black marks are randomly applied to the floors. I foresee many more years of service for this machine. Not bad for a half hour of work using only parts and materials that were already on hand (See Figure 5 for how the part looks when finished).

Figure 5. The retainer in place doing its job

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

30 Days of Creativity - #28-#30

Rebuilding an Old Craftsman Lathe

Continuing on the theme of "machinery rebuilding" that I started with the minor overhaul of a vise yesterday, I decided it was high time to do something with an old (1940's or 50's maybe?) Craftsman model 109 lathe. I purchased it along with two wood lathes from a guy somewhere in Colorado Springs about 10 years ago. I knew it wasn't the greatest of metal working machines, but I hoped it would be good enough for small hobby jobs that did not require the ultimate in precision.

Just like the vise I rebuilt yesterday, this machine tool had been in storage in a musty shed for years and was covered with a thin but damaging coat of fine rust. I decided to take apart everything but the spindle, remove the rust, hone the mating surfaces, lubricate it and put it back together. I spent several hours a day on it for three days (again with the help of less than thrilled offspring).

Figure 1. Craftsman Model 109 lathe, cleaned up and ready for action
Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of it before the overhaul operation, but figure 1 shows what it looked like after I was done. Not bad. It works. It has proven impossible to get a good adjustment on the gibs because both the bed and cross-slide ways are worn unevenly. But, I can get it to work pretty well over any limited range of a few inches.

Using the 4-jaw chuck that it came with I was able to machine a brass test button to within about .005 inches of an arbitrary target diameter. I assume I could do a little better with practice.

I even used the lathe to turn a body blank for a scratch built rocket made out of a willow branch. I still don't have a good way to make large enough, accurately centered holes in the ends of the body for creating spaces for motor mounting and to pack a parachute, so that project is on hold until I invent some appropriate method or get access to a different machine.

I have entertained the idea of buying a 3-jaw self-centering chuck for this lathe, but I think I might just sell it and use the money to buy a Sherline or something.

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30 Days of Creativity - #27

Rebuilding  a Vise

Again, maybe it's a stretch but today I rebuilt a vice that I have owned for many years. It was originally purchased from Harbor Freight Tools. A lot of their stuff is not very good, but this is an excellent vise. It had fallen into a state of disrepair after being stored in a damp shed for a long time. It was rusted to the point where it could not be operated. What a waste to have such a handy tool doing nothing!

Figure 1. Refurbished heavy duty vise
So, I took it apart and sanded off the rust and cleaned the lead screw. Actually I had my daughters help do certain parts of it. They have at times expressed some interest in studying science or engineering so I figured any kind of mechanical training and experience can't hurt.

After reassembling it with the addition of copious amounts of lubricant, it seemed to work pretty well. Several cycles of its full range with the addition of more lubricant (I am fond of Slick 50) seemed to do the trick and I have used this tool to great advantage many times since (see Figure 1).

A few days later I needed to hold some material firmly but gently, so I fashioned some soft jaws out of pine scraps I had laying around. They aren't pretty but they get the job done.

It's good to have this vise back mounted on the workbench instead of sitting on a dusty, damp floor in an outdoor shed.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

30 Days of Creativity - #26

Fixing Up a "Vintage" Stereo

My daughter bought a Wards portable stereo record player at an estate sale for $20. It is very similar to the 1964 GE 300 pictured at, so I m guessing it is from the same era. We tested it and it played pretty well. Talk about fun! Hearing some of my old albums after decades (yes decades) was just fantastic.

Figure 1. Circa 1960's Wards Airline Stereophonic Record player
There is a problem. Every so often one of the channels cuts out. Sometimes it's the left, sometimes it's the right—only when playing records. The radio never has this problem. Besides that, there were some cosmetic issues.

I was able to do the following:

(1) Replaced a stripped screw in the top handle so it can actually be carried by the handle now.
(2) Glued some loose grill cloth back in place on one of the speakers.
(3) Made new foot (one was missing) out of a new rubber foot. Sawed the new foot to the proper height using a hack saw.
(4) Glued on a piece of the vinyl covered chip board that had been knocked loose from one corner.
(5) Opened the electronics bay and sprayed some electronics cleaner into the pots and switches on the outside chance that dirt was causing the intermittent channel signal loss.

Figure 2. It's solid state man!
Figures 1 and 2 show this unit after those repairs. It still cuts out once in awhile. Quickly flipping between the radio and phono modes using the front panel switch will sometimes jolt it back into normal operation. One of these days I will delve deeper into the electronics. I still think there is a good a chance a more thorough cleaning will solve the problem.

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30 Days of Creativity - #21-25

Cigar Box Guitar

Figure 1. Cigar box instrument as it was.
I brought home a cigar box guitar that needed some improvements. A friend had started it and roughly finished it, and he decided to give me a shot it. It was an unelectrified, three string instrument with a very high action suitable for slide playing (Figure 1).

I worked on it over a five-day period, and accomplished the following:

(1) Made a new nut from a piece of 1/4-inch steel rod. Filed string grooves into the rod with a jeweler's file.
(2) Reshaped and sanded the neck and headstock to make it smoother and look a little better.
(3) Reshaped the sound hole to make it look a little better.
(4) Reshaped and stabilized the steel the bridge by reinforcing it with a brass backing plate.
(5) Machined a slot in the neck to hold a pickup. I purchased the pickup used from a local music store.
(6) Installed and tested pickup. It didn't work. Further investigation revealed a broken wire inside it. I couldn't fix it so I returned it and they gave me another one. It worked.
(7) Improved the string holes in the back of the neck by using three identical nuts (the previous nuts didn't match) held in place with super glue.
(8) Made a backing plate for the tuners from  thin piece of walnut. The headstock was a little too thin to properly fasten the tuners in place. Even when tightened all the way they were loose.
(9) Stained the neck.
(10) Painted the body brown since it was kind of torn up looking and did not have an attractive cigar box look.
(11) Assembled it and strung it up.

Figure 2 shows how it looked in a state of disassembly. You can see the pickup slot in the neck. Due to the through-body design of the neck this was the only way to mount the pickup. The pickup was a used single coil (made in China).

The string holes were supported in the back with steel nuts inserted and glued into the wood. The groove between the string holes and the pickup hole is where the bridge was installed. The saddle is held in place by string tension only. It works!

This is how it turned out:

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

30 Days of Creativity - #20


When me and Colin were working on "Rotgut Highway" the other day, I had a kernal of an idea for an intro. I made recording of it (much later) with GarageBand using an acoustic guitar played through an M-Audio Audio Buddy preamp sent to the audio-in jack on an iMac. I added a drum beat just for effect.

Here it is:

It's not much but like I said, it's only an intro.

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