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Nov 18,2007

Yesterday we posted the series on unpacking the Eureka Capture+. Today, we'll show you how to put the vacuum cleaner together.  The entire process is very simple.  All that is needed is a Phillips screwdriver.

The handle is the first piece to be attached.  It slides into the base and is secured by two screws in the back.  Just make sure things have snapped into place before attaching the screws.

The next piece is the holder (grey) for the power cord.  Note that there is a tab at the bottom of the holder.  Make sure the tab has been set into the back of the base before attaching the screws.

Once the handle and the power cord bracket have been attached, the remaining accessories can be placed into the various slots and compartments.  The small brush has a storage space under the handle.  The extension tubes should be stowed in the back next to the clear vacuum hose.

The PowerPaw has an integrated storage compartment in the front of the vacuum.  Place the end in first and push the top into the handle until it snaps into place.

With the unit assembled and all the accessories in their places, we are now ready to spend the rest of the week cleaning the office.  The first job we'll tackle are the sofas.  It is amazing how much hair the interns shed around this place!  With the Eureka Capture+ around, maybe we can start wearing black again. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Nov 17,2007(WeekendEdition)

Many of you are busy cleaning and vacuuming before the guests arrive for your Thanksgiving celebration.  We are not hosting any events this year, but we still like to tidy up a bit just because we are such neat freaks around here :-)

In mid-October, we got in the Eureka Capture+ bagless vacuum unit.  This vacuum is designed for the home market, but is surprisingly heavy-duty.  It comes with all of the usual accessories for stairs, sofa, floors, and carpets.  The unit is shiped partially assembled for more efficient packing.

The vacuum base was heavier than we anticipated.  To get it out of the box, we found it easier to lay it flat and pull the unit out. 

We will go through the features when we do the FirstUse report.  However, there is one feature we thought worth mentioning as we have not see it in any other vacuum cleaners to date.

The Eureka Capture+ has an integrated duster with a self-cleaning option.  The duster is stored on the side of the unit in its own housing.  There is a lever on the bottom which when activated, will automatically clean the brush.  Very clever!  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Nov 7,2007

Some readers wrote that they are having trouble seeing Comet Holmes where they live because of all the light pollution from street lamps and other urban light sources.  Others were complaining that it gets really cold just standing around at night.  

We can't help with the first problem (bb gun... cough, laser...cough cough), but we can pass along this "how-to" to help readers stay warmer when performing their nocturnal heavenly observatory activities.

Barry Armstead of Australia built this wonderful observatory in his backyard from locally available parts and a keen eye on budget, usability, and practicality.  This project will "WowUs" any day of the week! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 22,2007

Yesterday we posted a FirstUse of the eVo and AutoLock screen from LumenLab.  A few readers asked us to post more details on the eVo and the telescoping mount and we realized we had not yet done a FirstLook yet...so here it is :-)

The projector was designed by LumenLab and manufactured in China.  The combination has resulted in a good overall design and an inexpensive unit.   This does come at some cost (plastic feel, imperfect fit), but we think LumenLab made the right calls where it counts (good optics, multi-resolution support, cheap replacement bulbs).

We also like the multi-input, keystone correction, and onboard controls.  The eVo comes with a remote, some spare fuses, and a lens cap. 

LumenLab offers an incredibly priced telescoping ceiling mount.  This is an all steel mount which will enable the projector to be securely mounted.  Adjusting it precisely may take a bit of patience as there are quite a few bolts to tighten.

There are four matching anchor points at the bottom of the eVo projector for the mount.  We don't have any plans at present to permanently mount this projector as we'll still need it for our multi-touch project.  However, we are at a point in the project where we may need a projector with a shorter throw.  If we do get another projector, we'll definitely permanently mount the eVo in our media room.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 21,2007

The LumenLab eVo projector has been in-house and in-use for many months now.  Most of this time we had been using it for our multi-touch project.  Since the Red Sox won last night, we decided to project tonight's game on the big screen so everyone can gather and watch. This meant it was finally time to mount the 90" screen we purchased along with the projector.

The LumenLab screen came well packed and pre-assembled.  All we had to do was mount it to the ceiling and attach it with some hooks.  We managed to get it set up in about 30 minutes.  The part that took the most time was finding the studs in the ceiling!

The project was going smoothly until we pulled down the screen.  No matter what we did, the screen would not stay deployed.  This is supposed to be an "auto-lock" screen.  Upon closer inspection, we noticed that the left end of the screen had a crack.  This may or may not be the cause, but still a problem either way.

Since there was no time to take things apart, we decided on a more "practical" solution. Two 8 lb dumbbells were employed to anchor the screen open until we have a chance to contact LumenLabs and see what can be done :-)

The final task was setting up the LumenLab eVo projector.   We might decide that projector would be better mounted on the ceiling at  later date.  For now, we'll just use a cart to hold it. The projector has a built-in keystone correction dial to compensate for the tilt.  Now that we have the 90" screen up, the 60" monitor does not seem so big any more!  We are now set for tonight's game. 

The image projected by the eVo is not bright enough for daytime use, but it is fine as a home theater projector in a darkened room.  The three images were take at three different times during the day (mid-afternoon, late afternoon, sun down). 

We did not have time to reconfigure the 7-channel surround sound, but it should be good enough for tonight's game.  Go Sox!!! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 16,2007

HEPA filtration and related technology is important around the RainyDayMagazine office.  Why?  It's because some of our interns have this annoying habit of shedding fur and dander when they "work."

There are two choices (bag or bagless) when it comes to choosing vacuum cleaners with HEPA filtration.  Each has their advantages and drawbacks.  We have both technologies in-house and will be comparing them side by side to see which we like better.

For the bagless approach, we just got in the new cyclonic Eureka Capture+ vacuum cleaner.  We'll be comparing the Eureka to the Oreck XL 21 paired with the new Arm & Hammer Odor Elimnating vacuum bags.

Arm & Hammer is leveraging the "odor elimination" association most people have with baking soda and applying it to vacuum bags.  It is a clever move as it is another "consumable" that helps Arm & Hammer extend their brand's reach.

We ran into a little snag when we tried installing the Arm & Hammer bags, we realized that the ones we got were not for the model of Oreck XL!  Bummer :-(  We'll get the right version and try again soon.  In the meantime, we'll take the Eureka unit out of the box and put it together.  You KNOW we'll have pictures of that :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Aug 13,2007

We went to Sears yesterday afternoon and checked out over a dozen different toolchests.  Most were on sale because of the tax-free weekend here in Massachusetts. The least expensive one was $89 on sale (orig. $129).  We didn't buy any because earlier on Sunday we found a toolchest on Craigslist, took a drive out to North Reading, and purchased it from Alastair for $50. 

We have never heard of the Popular Mechanics line, but it appeared to be constructed well enough that we didn't see much risk in spending the $50.  A quick Google search later showed Walmart had purchased the rights to use the PM name for a line of tools back in 1992.  Walmart has since discontinued that line.

The unit we purchased is in great condition.   It has a few dings here and there, but nothing that would interfere with its operation.  The drawers slide smoothly, the wheels roll well, and the baked red enamel finish cleaned up nicely with a quick wipe.

The top chest has a lid and four drawers. The bottom cabinet has two large drawers and a bulk storage area.  The glides extend out when fully pulled to better support the drawers.  Two of the wheels swivel and lock.

Both the top and bottom drawers can be secured using the locking bars.  The top bar slips through an opening and is secured when the lid is locked.  The bottom cabinet is locked by a longer bar which spans the front.

The unit is not professional grade: the thin sheet metal used for the drawers and sides will dent if you fling your tools at or into the tool chest.  However, it has sufficient storage space for the tools needed by the average home mechanic.  We definitely think this Popular Mechanics unit was a great purchase for the price :-) 

Even though Walmart does not sell this model anymore, a similar one may be had at Sears.   You may not be as lucky as us, but check your local Craigslist... you never know!   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

Aug 12,2007

Many readers have asked us if we wouldn't mind doing a review or two on tool cabinets.  Since we like to sort and store our tools in portable cases, we had been putting it off.  Not because we weren't interested, but because we were too busy.  We were, however, intrigued by some of the links sent to us, especially by the really nice-looking stainless steel cabinets. 

Judging by the links we've received, there is a HUGE selection of tool cabinets out there.  The price range from $150 for basic sheet metal chest to over $2000 for a heavy gauge, brushed stainless steel unit with ball bearing glides. 

After some discussion, we decided it would be interesting to do a review series on tool cabinets.  We are going to look at four different price points ($50- $199, $200-499, $500-$999, $1000+), examine their features, and pick one which we think is the best value in its price range.  We will also pick THE one which we think the best value overall (price, feature, looks).  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

June 25,2007

While wandering around the Home Depot yesterday, we came upon a sale of Solar-Powered Landscaping Lights.  We remembered reading with interest an article about making "sunlight catchers" with the guts of these lights and some glass canning jars, so we picked up a box.

The project seemed pretty simple...the hardest part was finding jars which would fit the solar circuits.  The circuit itself is very straight forward : a solar panel, an LED, and a rechargeable battery.  There is an optical sensor which detects when it is dark and switches from charging the battery to powering the LED.

Depending on the type of container used, the cap may need some trimming.  We used a pair of metal snips, but a Dremel works just as well for cutting things to the right size.

The glass canning jar we, um, borrowed, from the RainyDayKitchen was a bit too small for the solar panel housing, so we trimmed the housing to fit.  We had to do a little altering to the defuser as well. 

Since there were four solar units in the package, we rounded up a few other containters to see how things would look in variously shaped jars.  The assembled units were placed outside for the rest of the afternoon to catch some rays.

Everyone waited around for the sun to set.  We were all eager to see if when lit, our sunlight catchers would be bright enough to be useful, or at least pretty.  We were not disappointed! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

June 24,2007

Some of the wood on the front steps needed to be replaced. We got a quote of $389.00 from the contractor last week for fixing the front steps, painting not included.  Well, we knew that wasn't going to make it past the folks who sign the checks.

A quick look at the boards and it was clear not all of them needed to be replaced.  We decided to replace just the ones which were rotten or loose and give everything a fresh coat of paint.  It should be a pretty simple repair project... something perfect for a Sunday morning.

We gathered the tools from the RainyDayWorkshop, picked up the necessary boards at Home Depot, and got to work this morning. 

Getting the damaged boards off was not as simple as we first thought.  While the boards were damaged, the nails were still holding fast.  We finally decided to break up the boards and just yanked them out.  That worked just fine... sometimes hitting things with a hammer IS what's needed.

The easiest way to make sure the cut is the right size is to mark it while it is in place.  Make sure to check that the other end is flush with other planks, mark it, and cut it.  It'll be perfect every time.

So, for about $20 and an hour or so of effort, we had the Front Porch Repair Project pretty much done.  Of course, the steps still need to be scraped and painted.  We'll wait until Monday when the interns are back before tackling that task :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

June 4,2007

Which tool is unlike all the other tools?  No, this isn't one of the SAT or IQ questions :-)  If you said the "silver tube on the right", then you are correct.  That little tube is the business end of the Bit Dr., a new offering from Loggerhead Tools.

We have been big fans of stuff from Loggerhead Tools ever since we checked out their Bionic Wrench.  They have released a few different tools based on their patented six-sided grip.  This new pocket-sized tool call the Bit Dr XR is Loggerhead Tools first venture outside of that design, but it is just as ingenious.

The Bit Dr. is composed of three main pieces and a collection of bits. The shafts are attached and held in place to each other by internal magnets, making adjusting the tool really simple.  The Bit Dr also has a built-in racheting mechanism.  We'll have a video of racheting mechanism in action in the FirstUse review.  It shows much clearer what a clever a design it is.

There are two different heads on each bit.  The magnets in the various drivers makes it a snap to change.  The driver may be positioned at the most convenient angle for the task at hand.

We have had this Bit Dr. for a little while and it has come in handy quite a few times already.  It is a great little tool to toss in the car's glove compartment or in the toolbox.  You may find that it is the first item you reach for when you need to fasten or loosen something.

Here is another RainyDayPuzzler for June: How many different driver heads are there on the Loggerhead Bit Dr?  If you can count, you can win...either count carefully or go find the answer at the source (hint, hint).  When you are done counting, send you answer to us with the subject line "I don't have that many fingers and toes".  We'll pick a winner from the heap of correct answers this Friday and set you up with a Bit Dr RX of your very own.- Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

June 1,2007

The Dremel MultiVise is perfect as a "third hand" in a lot of different DIY tasks.  We had a cracked saya (scabbard) and needed a way to hold it while performing the repairs.

The Dremel MultiVise, with its rubber grips and adjustible hold position, was the perfect tool for the job.  The rubber grips held the saya securely without marring the finish. 

The adjustible angle enabled the piece to be held at the exact position for the repair. Check out the detailed FirstLook of the MultVise we did back in March for its other features.

Because we were able to have both hands free, we were able to apply the glue at precisely where it was needed without making things worse or making a mess.

Once the glue had been applied, we positioned the scabbard in an angle such that gravity closed the gap.  When done, we were able to just leave the repaired piece in the MultiVise to dry... very convenient. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

It is the start of another month...which means time for a new RainyDayPuzzler!  June is the time when many of us finally get around to fixing some of the things we have to fix around our home and office.  It is also the time we tend to review tools.

We have reviewed some of these tools from LoggerheadTools in the past.  This month's puzzler is to figure out which we have NOT.  If you are a frequent reader of RainyDayRenovation (hint, hint)... this should be easy.   If not, then you may have to work a little harder.

Anyway, if you know, send us an email with the subject "I can fix it with this" and the link to the new item(s) from LoggerheadTools.  We'll pick from the pool of correct answers at the end of the month and send you one of the tools shown.- Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


April 19,2007

One of the great joys of woodworking is making stuff you can use.  It is even better when one is good enough to make the tools to make woodworking more enjoyable.

A solid workbench is an important tool for a woodworker.  There are many good benches available for sale.  A well made one can cost several hundreds to thousands of dollars.  However, nothing compares to the satisfaction of making your own.  If you have ever considered such a project, then you need to check out WorkbenchDesign.

The site is perfect reading for a rainy day. There is plenty of info on designs, materials, constructions, etc...  We spent an entire evening looking around on the site.  At the end, we were ready to drop everything and go start a workbench project! - Wan Chi Lau


April 10,2007

We were quite intriqued to see how the X-Paste dispenser would fare after a few weeks of use.  It took exactly one month for us to empty the first tube.  When we say "empty", we meant every last bit of toothpaste was extracted from the tube.

Here are close-up shots of the pump, level, and tip after four weeks of use.  It was a lot cleaner than we would have thought, given the amount of use.

We were amazed with the pump's ability to get out all of the toothpaste out of the tube using such a simple design.  There is not much that can go wrong with this device...which is exactly what good design is supposed to achieve.  To see how the X-Paste works, check out the video from our FirstLook/FirstUse review back in March. 

Our impressions of the X-Paste dispenser after four weeks of using it InTheWild is that it is a well-engineered product which exceeded our expectations.  Get one and enjoy it. - Wan Chi Lau

April 3,2007

It has been a few months since the MeowMe SleepyPod showed up at the RainyDayMagazine office.  Since its arrival, it has seen a lot of use, especially during morning and afternoon nap times.  Many of you have asked us how the SleepyPod held up, so we thought Spring would be a good time for the InTheWild follow up.

While one of our furry interns likes the SleepyPod for its "play" value, the other likes it for its primary intended use...a cozy and protected napping spot.

A good test of the comfortable-ility of a napping spot is whether an intern abandons it when...another staff member...disturbs him/her (by perhaps sticking a finger in one of their ears) when he/she is all curled up in it.  Clearly, with the SleepyPod, Buffy has decided that nothing is going to disturb her mid-morning nap- Wan Chi Lau

March 26,2007

The folks at Dremel Tools have added a very handy accessory to their line with the MultiVise.  This MultiVise is perfect for working with piece where a "third hand" would be handy. 

The ball joint and the clamp assembly are made with heavy-duty molded plastic and casted metal alloy.  This very sturdy and well constructed vise is designed for hobby use and not for a production environment.

The jaws slide to fit with the push of a button and the screw handle twists to tighten the grip on the work piece.  The rubber pads are removable.  We can see that it would not be difficult to make other slide-on grippers for this MultiVise. 

The "dovetail" channel allows for various accessories such as a light, magnifier, and future attachments. 

The swivel base assembly will grip onto a surface as thick as 2 1/2".  Rotation and tilt angle adjustments may be done with a simple twist of the base nut.  A notch in the socket will keep the stem from moving when at maximum side tilt.

Here are a few different viewes of the MultiVise assembled and in various tilt angles.  We found the positions easy to set and quite solidly held.  In our next look, we'll show how the MultiVise may be used as a Dremel tool holder.  - Wan Chi Lau


March 10,2007

Squeezing toothpaste from the tube is now a thing of the past... if you have the XPaste dispenser.  When some of our readers told about this device, we were a little skeptical as to its usefulness.  However, enough of you out there asked us about it that we decided to check it out.

The XPaste dispenser consists of a stainless steel slide cover, a toothpaste holder, an integrated pump, and a suction mount.  The dispenser is not powered by any electrical motor nor does it require batteries to operate.  It is entirely mechanical. 

The XPaste dispenser may be mounted temporarily using the suction cups or permanently using screws.  We opted for the suction cup method since we have a large mirror in our rest room.

The dispenser cap can be removed and placed on the tube, but we found it was just as easy to push the tube into the cap and twist.  We are eager to see if this device will indeed get all of the toothpaste out of the tube.  BTW, after playing with it for a while, we still have no idea how it work... feel free to clue us in if you do :-) 

Mounting the dispenser on the mirror was very easy.  The suction cups are very high quality and grabbed on without any problem.  The instruction did say the cups will not work on painted surfaces or across grout lines.

Now that we have had a chance to check the XPaste over, we are no longer skeptics.  The XPaste dispenser does exactly what it claims... it dispenses exactly the desired amount of toothpaste with a push of the lever.  It is true not everyone "needs" the XPaste dispenser, but we think everyone will LOVE it once they "have" it! - Wan Chi Lau


March 6,2007(TechTuesday)

There is a constant flow of gear vying for space in our review schedule.  Whenever we all take a few days off, things tend to get backed up quickly.  This SpringBreak was no exception.  We spent the morning sorting through the items and shooting a few quick shots to give you an idea of what we'll be covering this month.

It is almost time to get ready for Spring Cleaning.  The Method people have something new called the oMop.  It can get the floors so clean that you'll literally be able to eat off it. 

Don't know how many days ago that jar of sauce has been in the refrigerator?  Now there is a timer which will track it for you.   It is the DaysAgo counter.  It can count up to 99 days...after which you can just send the jar to the folks over at FearFactor. - Wan Chi Lau


March 5,2007

We have an iSight pointed at the ColdHeat cat bed.  They love to hangout there because it is heated. Once in a while we would fire up iChat and see what they are up to.  The interns are very attentive when we call in... that "look" is them saying "ah, it wasn't me :-)"

Buffy and Eliot have been running the office while we've been on SpringBreak.  We don't have enough cameras to cover everywhere yet, so it'll be interesting to see the state of the office upon our return. - Wan Chi Lau


January 9,2007

A few months back, we had a brief preview of the Immix from Loggerhead Tools.  The Immix is a great little multi-function gadget and a nice complement to our standard pocket multi-tool.

The Immix is a smaller version of the LoggerHeadTool BionicGrip.  It has the same patented mechanism which allows the head to tighten around different size nuts and bolts.  The Immix now has the added ability to fasten screws (phillips, slotted, hex).  The various bits are cleverly attached to the inner part of the handle. 

The Gerber Multi-tool also has similar capbilities...just not as many size options as the Immix.  Each units came with a sturdy pouch made of cordura nylon with velcro closure and integrated belt loop. 

The Gerber multi-tool and the LoggerHead Immix both fit well in the hand.  They are bigger than typical pocket knifes, but are small and light enough to be looped on to the belt.  Still, we usually just toss them into the backpack.

In the next installment of this series, we'll take a look how the two tools compare on different everyday tasks.  Who knows, maybe you will also end up deciding that you need both :-) - Wan Chi Lau


January 7,2007(WeekendEdition)

The ColdHeat Constant Companion Pet Bed is a comfy place for your cat or small dog to curl up in and relax.  You pets will like the soft micro-suede covering and the supportive foam.  You will like the quality construction and the great looks!

We like the choices ColdHeat made for this product.  The colors are warm and materials soft to the touch. The suede cover is not just a durable surface, it also serves to further even out the heat from super thin thermal coils underneath.

The controls are in the back of the removeable cushion.  There is a handle on the side of the cushion for ease of transport when used outside of the padded frame.

The rechargeable battery pack is housed on the side of the cushion.  BTW, some of you may recognize this power pack as the same as that from another ColdHeat product.  For heating up the bed, there are three power options available: regular AC, battery, Auto. 

We made a spot for the Constant Companion in one of the offices.   Buffy found it and has moved herself in there as well.  As we had said on Friday, the only rating our "reviewers" give for a product such as this one is either "paws up" or "paws down" :-)  Judging from Buffy's reaction...it appears to be a strong "paws up" endorsement! - Wan Chi Lau


January 5,2007

Our girl Buffy has been taking her naps on the Constant Companions Heated Pet Bed by ColdHeat.  That's right...ColdHeat.  The same folks that created the cordless soldering gun, the cool looking FreeStyle glue gun, and the cordless Heated Seat.  

The one thing about our feline interns, you just can't get them to do things they don't want.  So when you seen our interns actually using the products shown here on RainyDayMagazine...you know the products have passed the test :-)

There is a lot more to this pet bed then just comfy cushions.  We'll have more this weekend...assuming we can get Buffy off the bed so we can get some shots.  For now, feel free to check the specs out here. - Wan Chi Lau


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