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December 8,2011- RDGG:Tools tips...

Yesterday's gift guide brought about a discussion at the office about giving and getting presents. Giving tools as presents can be tricky: how do you know if what you're giving is what they need, what they want, or is any good? We can't help you with the first two, but we can offer some guidance on the last one.

While the no-name socket set may have 250-pieces and cost half as much, it is not Craftsman. How do you decide which set is right for your giftee? What happens if a piece breaks or fails? With the 150-piece Craftsman Mechanics tool set every piece is guaranteed for life... [more] - 2011 RainyDayGiftGuide: Tool Tips


December 7,2011- RainyDayProject GiftGuide...

Have a DIY-er to shop for on your Holiday list this year? We have looked at a lot of cool DIY-related things (CNC machine, kinetic sculpture plans, etc...) this year, and all of them would make great gifts. However, we decided to think about what would be cool to put into our recently acquired Craftsman Project Center. The interns have come up with some fun recommendations for you!

The top of their "fun list" is the miracle fix-it clay called Sugru. We have been going crazy with the stuff ever since we got some in house. One warning...hacking with Sugru is very addictive. Once you start, pretty much everything you have looks like it could use some Sugru. Next on the list is an item called the ShopBoss. It is a multi-purpose tool from Fiskars and available exclusively at Walmart. It is a pair of snips on steroids. The ShopBoss can... [more] - 2011 RainyDayGiftGuide: Project tools


November 17,2011- Craftsman Project Center...

Five years ago we purchased a rolling toolchest to house our growing collection of tools. A few years later, we went with a more industrial unit because we needed a bigger one. When the interns wanted their own tool cabinet, we looked around to see what would be appropriate. What we found (on Craigslist, of course) was a rolling Craftsman Project Center which is a hybrid between a tool cabinet and a workbench...perfect!

The Craftsman Project Center is a five-drawer rolling cart with a reversible medium-density fiberboard (MDF) work surface. Underneath the removable work surface are moulded wells for tools, screws, and misc bits. Next to the work surface is a holster for an electric drill. The cart also has a... [more] - Craftsman Project Center


November 8, 2011- Ceiling Tile Installation...

Recently we got a call from one of our editors in New York asking if we would be interested in coming down for a RainyDayRenovation project. Apparently, the tiles of the ceiling in one of the rooms in their house had started to fall. The project would be to put up a new ceiling using similar tiles. The renovation looked simple enough so we said "Sure. The interns would be happy to help...provided that the materials are supplied and the interns get fed." The RainyDayInterns go to great lengths to get out of the office, especially if there is a possibility of free food!

It looked like the he ceiling tiles had started to fall because an insufficient number of staples had been used to secure each panel. The pressed-fiberboard tiles had been up for a few decades, and because of their age had begun to buckle. Since they were only suspended by just one or two staples, the tiles could no longer support their own weight and started to fall. Once one tile gave way, its started a... [more] -Armstrong Ceiling Install


October 21, 2011- Unpacking an LCD TV...

One would think getting a TV out of the box would be no big thing, but a large screen LCD TV is kind of unwieldy. While not very heavy, thethe LCD TV panel is wide and thin. How do you get it out without either throwing out your back or risk dropping the TV? The last thing you want to do is to crack the screen getting it out of the box!

We could cut open the box, but what if there is something wrong with the TV and we had to ship it back? We could wait until there were more people around to help, but that would require patience. After waiting all day for... [more] - Unpacking an LCD TV


October 19, 2011- Jura Z7 Grinder Cleaning...

Yesterday we posted the first part of the teardown of our Jura Z7 coffee machine. Today, we will show how to take apart the grinder, clean it, and put it back together. The steps were pretty simple, but we have a few observations and tips which may make it easier for those interested in putting thier own things back together.

The grinder is calibrated by technicians at the factory. Since we have no idea of how to do that, the first tip is to MARK the alignment of the grinder pieces before taking anything apart. Once you are certain that you can realign the pieces to their former positions, then have at it. The top of the grinder is held in place by three tabs. Lifting the tabs will free the plastic chute from the... [more] - Jura Z7 Grinder Cleaning


October 18, 2011- Jura Z7 Grinder Teardown...

The Jura Z7 coffer maker has been in daily use since last October. While we loved our Z5, the newer Z7 unit is a lot quieter both in its grinding and coffee-making operations. It also has a lot of subtle improvements which make it more of a pleasure to use. Recently, someone (who shall remain nameless) poured water into the coffee grinder instead of the water tank, causing the grinder to stop working (in the nameless person's defense, it was because the nameless person hadn't had any coffee yet). Actually, the grinder still spun, but no coffee was coming out. We suspected that things were all gummed up inside. Blowing air into the grinder did not have any affect. A teardown to see what was going on would seem to be our only option. OK, it probably was NOT the only option, but it was the one that we could not pass up!!!

Some owners may be squeemish about possibly "bricking" their $3000 coffee maker and would have sent it back to Jura for them to deal with the problem. Readers of this magazine know that that is not how we roll. We cleared off a work surface, got out the tools, and ripped (gently) right into the guts of the unit. A word of caution, this teardown is fairly complex. We are not going to post every single step, but only the most relevant ones. You know your own skill level, so... [more] - Jura Z7 Grinder Teardown


October 17, 2011- IKEA Jansjo LED Lamp...

We love IKEA. We love their whole approach to doing business. We love going to their stores. We love their products. We love their prices. We even love eating there. A few years ago, we did a brief article on a solar-powered LED lamp we found at IKEA. The lamp is still in use, but the power doesn't last long enough for our needs. This weekend, while strolling through IKEA, we came upon an LED lamp that may be exactly what we have been searching for: bright, configurable, inexpensive.

The lamp is the Jansjo, and comes in a few different colors. There is even a stainless steel version. Like all IKEA products, the lamp is flat-packed and some assembly is required. The process is simple and required no more than a few minutes to put together. The steps are... [more] - IKEA Jansjo LED Lamp


October 11, 2011- Paradise City Northampton

The weather this weekend could not have been more perfect for a road trip. We took full advantage of it and drove 100 miles out to Northamptom for the Paradise City Art Festival. We have been to the Marlboro PCAF a number of times and so thought we knew what to expect. We were happily mistaken.

What we found was a show that was about three times as large. As expected, the show was extremely well organized (free parking, fast moving ticket lines, etc...) and the vendors were all very... [more] - Paradise City Northampton


October 7, 2011- Paradise City Fall 2011

Normally, we head up to Maine for Columbus Day, but this year we'll be in town for the holiday weekend. Instead, we are going to take a drive out the Northampton and check out the Paradise City Arts Festival.

We have been to a few PCAFs (2004. 2006, Spring 2010, Winter 2010) over the years, but they have all been the Marlboro show. The buzz is that the Northampton one is bigger. Our friend Mark Del Guidice will be exhibiting at the show. We have not seen Mark recently and are eager to check out his new work. If you have time this weekend and are looking for something interesting to do, go check out the Paradise Arts Festival. It should be a great show! [Permalink] - Paradise City Fall 2011


September 26, 2011- We need a TV ...quick!

Our Sony Bravia large screen LCD TV is on the fritz. While we are happy to report that Sony is stepping up and sending a tech out to take a look, it means that we have to go elsewhere for watching football over the weekend. It then dawned on us: we already had all the pieces in-house to put something together for watching the games—a large monitor, the Elgato TV Tuner Stick, and the ClearStream Micron antenna.

The setup was simple: attach the Micron antenna to the Elgato Tuner Stick, insert the Stick into a free USB port on the laptop, and install the EyeTV 3.0 software. The 21" Apple Cinema Display already hooked up to the laptop would be the main screen. While it wasn't as nice as kicking back and watching the Patriots on the 46" Sony Bravia, it was... [more] - EyeTV Hybrid Tuner Stick


September 21, 2011- Sony Bravia LCD Repair...

When our Sony Bravia LCD TV developed a permanent case of "double-vision", we realized that we had nothing to lose by taking a peek at the guts to see if we could find what was wrong with it. If we were lucky, we might even be able to fix the problem for good. Our guess was that one of the edge connectors of the LCD panel had somehow gotten loose. If we could locate the bad connector, perhaps we could find a way to tighten things up. Of course, it was a completely wild-ass guess. Still, the only way to know is to take the Sony apart and look at the connectors.

Removing the metal frame of the LCD panel to expose the edge connectors can only be done from the front. In order to have access to the frame, we had to remove the rear housing and the front frame. Both were held in place by screws in the back and there were a lot of them. Once we located... [more] - Sony Bravia LCD Repair


September 20, 2011- Sony Bravia Tear-down...

Many of you purchased an LCD TV when the US switched over to digital broadcast. You may have purchased a large-screen unit thinking that it was something you would own for some time. It was a reasonable decision. LCD panels are large, unwieldy, and expensive. It is something that you set up once and not think about after that. Unfortunately, reports of LCD panel failing after just a year or two of use are starting to accumulate. Fixing the problem is not a simple task. Getting the screens to a repair shop for a diagnosis is a logistical nightmare. The older screens are heavy so you need another person to help carry it. Anything bigger than 40" will likely not fit into the back seat of a car. The problem is compounded by the fact that replacing the panel is often more expensive than just buying a new TV. It is not surprising that many people are reluctant to engage with the circularity of a manufacturer's customer service and the often fruitless task of taking the TV to a repair shop.

One of the most often reported failures, at least with Sony's Bravia line, is the series of lines reaching from left to right that develop across the screen. There may also be ghosting, flickering, and other artifacts which make the picture unwatchable. The problem will sometimes disappear after the TV has warmed up, but most reports indicate that it takes progressively longer to self-correct over time. Some have noted that tapping or flexing the... [more] - Sony Bravia Teardown


September 19, 2011- LCD TV Problems...

Twenty years ago, if you spent a $1000 on a TV, you would expect it to last twenty years. To the TV manufacturer's credit, many of them lasted even longer. Eventually, a component (capacitors most likely) would fail and the unit would head to the landfill. TV broadcasts in the USA went fully digital on June 12, 2009. In the two years since, LCD TV sales have exploded (3 million in 2009, 26 million in 2010), their sizes increased, and their prices dropped. In 2009, 40" panels cost a little over $1000; 46" and 55" LCD panels were running between $2000-$3000 dollars. Prices have since dropped to almost half that. Many households, when they upgraded their analog sets to digital, spent a little extra and got the larger panels.

However, all is not rosy in the high-def world of flat panel TVs. While companies like Sony, Samsung, and Visio are battling it out on the specs front with ever brighter LED-backlighting, ever higher screen refresh rates, and ever increasing screen sizes, reports are starting to come in from customers about... [more] - LCD TV Display Problems


September 8, 2011- Sugru Hacks...

If you don't know what Sugru is, check out our FirstLook post. If you have ever looked at something and thought "if only...," then this stuff was created for you! The stuff was created by people-who-love-to-hack for people-who-want-to-hack, even if they don't know it...yet.

Sugru comes in a few basic colors and can be combined to create lots of different shades. The stuff feels like putty. It can be moulded, shaped, and worked just like putty. It will cure in about 24 hours. Once cured, the stuff is... [more] - Sugru Hacks


September 7, 2011- NextBolt NX3 Installation...

A deadbolt is standard equipment for most doors. They offer reasonably good security for the price, lasts for a long time, and require very little maintenance. The one drawback with locks,though, is that you need a key unlock them. If someone here loses a key, we have to get a new tumbler and update the keys for everybody. The NextBolt biometrically controlled lock is going to change all of that. It will not only increase security, it will make things more convenient for everyone.

The way our front office door is configured, we need a key to both come in and go out. As we never leave it unlocked, anyone who wants to leave has to have their keys with them. No one remembers why it was set up that way, but we have gotten used to it and don't think twice about this little quirk. The arrangement does have the benefit that no one ever... [more] - NextBolt NX3 Installation


September 6, 2011- Door Lock Kit...

DIY projects are always simple right up to the point when you actually start them. This was the case with our NextBolt Biometric lock installation. Apparently, there are two standard hole sizes (1-1/2" , 2-1/8") for deadbolts. The project would have been a quick "remove/replace" job were it not for the fact that our door had the smaller opening and the NextBolt required the larger one. Obviously, this was not a showstopper, but it did mean a trip to Home Depot and the addition of a new tool to our collection.

There are many ways to turn a 1-1/2" hole into a 2-1/8" one. In this case, the difficult part is to make the hole perpendicular to the door so things will align properly. Also, making a hole is easy if you are just drilling a new one, but it is more difficult to enlarge a pre-existing hole as there is nothing to center the drill bit and nothing for it to bite into to get started. In order to drill the hole properly, a jig is needed to align and hold the hole-cutter. The most robust-looking rig at Home Depot is this one from DeWALT. We felt it was better to... [more] - DeWALT Door Lock Kit


August 29, 2011- Sugru FirstLook...

We battened down all the hatches this past weekend and managed to weather Hurricane Irene without incident. Rainy days are good for watching TV or doing projects. We spent two days watching back to back episodes of the BBC series MI-5. If we had gotten off our butts and looked at some of the stuff which came on Friday, we would have seen that we had received a shipment of Sugru. If we had, how we spent our weekend might have taken a completely different turn.

The name Sugru is an Irish word "sugradh" for "play", but what is Sugru? The better question is not what is it (silicone elastomer), but what you can do with it. According to the instructions, Sugru is designed to... [more] - Sugru FirstLook


August 26, 2011- NextBolt NX3...

Last Summer we renovated the front entrance of the RainyDayMagazine office. This year we hired painters and did the outside of the entire unit. As part of the refresh, we are looking at upgrading the security around the place. Even though there are video cameras and somebody is in the office 24/7, we still keep the doors locked. We are in the city after all.

The security review revealed to us that the biggest bang for our buck is upgrading the access control to our office. The interns did some research on the various options and made a recommendation: biometrically-controlled deadbolt. We will no longer need to give keys out to everyone or have to change the locks when a key has been lost. All we need is to add their fingerprints to the lock's database and delete it when... [more] - NextBolt NX3 FirstLook


August 16, 2011- Solar House Number: Update...

Five years ago we did a RainyDayProject where we installed a solar-powered LED-lit house numbers at both our Boston and NY offices. A few readers asked how they have held up over the years. We thought it was a reasonable request so we decided to post an update.

While the aluminum numbers still look great, some of the protective clear plastic on the solar cells have not fared as well. Both the #2 and #35 panels were installed out in the open. The difference is the #2 panel was not in direct sunlight most of the time. The effects of constant sun exposure is clear. The #35 panels yellowed and cracked much more severly as a result of five years of direct sunlight. To their credit, all of the LEDs still... [more] - MatterInc: Solar House Number InTheWild Update


August 12, 2011- BlueChick: Final Assembly...

Today we will finish up the assembly of the BlueChick v4.2 CNC machine. The only tasks left are: mounting the X-axis motor and installing the two drive chains.

The motor for the X-axis is housed inside the gantry. Those with larg(er) fingers may have some trouble getting the screws and nuts in the back to connect. The space for mounting it was a bit tight, but manageable. Note how we... [more] - BlueChick Assembly Completed


August 11, 2011- BlueChick: Motor Mounts...

For the past three days we have been discussing the assembly of the frame and axes of the BlueChick v4.2 CNC machine. Now that most of the structure has been assembled, we now shift our focus to the installation of the motors and the associated drive mechanisms.

The next order of business in the build was to install the holder for the router. The holder for the BlueChick was designed specifically for the Porter Cable 892 series router. That specific router was chosen because of its straight cylindrical housing, which enables the use of two rings for a rigid mounting. The rings are mounted on a plate which travels... [more] - BlueChick Motor Mounts


August 10, 2011- BlueChick: Z-Axis Assembly..

We have been building the BlueChick V4.2 CNC machine this week. Yesterday, we looked at the assembly of the X/Y-axis. Today, we will go over the assembly of the Z-axis. The Z-axis assembly was a bit more complicated than the other pieces up to this point. It is more complex because it is the piece which must hold the router, slide the router back and forth on the Y-axis, in additition to allowing the router to travel up and down in the Z-direction.

While this piece is more complex due to having more components, the individual items mounted on it were not any more complicated. The sequence of... [more] - BlueChick Z Axis Assembly


August 9, 2011- BlueChick: XY-Axis Assembly..

Yesterday was the start of the series on assembling the BlueChick v4.2 CNC machine. We gave some suggestions on the general assembly process and showed how to assemble the deck for the machine. Today, we'll talk a bit about our experience with putting together and installing the X and Y axis.

V-groove bearings are specialized bearings found in many linear motion systems. They generally ride on a rail or track. The BlueChick design pair the V-groove bearings with hardened aluminum rails for moving the gantry along the X-axis (the main deck). The sequence in the image above is typical of that used for mounting the bearing onto the frame. The item to note is... [more] - BlueChick XY Axis Assembly


August 8, 2011- BlueChick: Deck Assembly..

Last week we gave a quick FirstLook of the BlueChick v4.2 CNC kit. Today we'll walk through the assembly of the deck portion of the build. There is an excellent video on how to put the deck together so we won't go into detail on the process. What we will do is to give readers some of our observations on the process and provide some suggestions which may make the task easier.

The first tip is to make sure you have plenty of room to work. While this may sound obvious, it may not be if you have never put together a kit this large. We used a (dining room) table which was twice the size of the CNC machine. We find it best to lay out all of the pieces so they can be accessibled. We also find that sorting the parts based on similarity (screw pile, washer pile, etc...) will help quite a bit when trying to find what is needed. It is also helpful if the table is not up against a wall so one can walk around it during the assembly process. The final suggestion is, if... [more] - BlueChick Deck Assembly


August 5, 2011- BlueChick Unpacking..

After doing our research on DIY CNC kits, we decided that the BlueChick V4.2 was the one which best fit our needs. The complete kit ncludes: frame, hardware (screws, cross dowels, etc...), mechanical components (gears, bearings, etc...), and electronics (motors, driver boards, etc...). Purchasers of the kit need to provide: computer, cable/wires, and a Porter Cable 892 series router. When assembled, the BlueChick v4.2 CNC machine will have a routing area of 12"x36" with 3" of Z-axis travel. It should be more than sufficient for us to cut all of the pieces required to make the various Boyer kinetic sculptures.

The kit came in three separate shipments and took about a week for it all to arrive. That is actually fast, considering they don't cut the frame until an actual order has been placed. The frame is, of course, cut using a CNC machine. We unpacked everything and laid it out so we could... [more] - BlueChick Unpacking


August 4, 2011- DIY CNC...

When we decided on two of Clayton Boyer's clock plans in June we thought they were going to be our only RainyDayProjects for this Winter. However, when we saw Clayton's latest kinetic sculpture, we knew we had to add one more to the project list. This outrageously ingenious creation is called Space Time Continuum. Three projects are a lot and we realized that we may need some help if we wanted to get them all completed before next Spring.

As most experienced project managers know, there are only three "levers" one can manipulate when managing a project: time, quality, and resources. One can always extend the deadline, or not be as exacting in the work before calling it "done," or add more "hands" to the team. As the first two are not something we are willing to change at this time, the only option to adjust is adding some resources. We expect that cutting out the wooden gears and such will be a... [more] - DIY CNC


August 2, 2011- Sjobergs Workbench...

We found this SJÖBERGS workbench for sale on--where else--Craigslist. Those who know workbenches know the name SJÖBERGS. This Swedish company has been making top-quality workbenches for over 80 years. Their workbenches are prized by woodworkers the world over. The one up for sale was a much older design. In fact, SJÖBERGS no longer produces this particular model.

After a bit of negotiation, we got the price down to something we could afford, sealed the deal, and arranged a time for pick up. As the bench was in Lakeville (about 40 minutes south of Boston), getting it back to the office required some help. Fortunately, one of our writers, Jay, was able to lend a hand. Transporting it was made a lot easier because we were able to... [more] - SjobergsWorkbench


July 15, 2011- SoWa Open Market...

We have been fans of the SoWa Open Market since we first attended their Holiday show back in 2004. It has been great to watch them grow and get better year over year. This year the organizers of SoWa has added a few more offerings (Farmers Market, Food Trucks) in addition to the collection of "not your average" vendors.

The SoWa Farmers Market offers a variety of locally grown produce and specialty food products from the New England area. The addition of these vendors not only create a more enjoyable shopping experience, they also contribute to a... [more]- SoWa Open Market


July 11, 2011- Greenway Open Market...

The Greenway Open Market is a new weekly open-air arts and crafts market along the new and lovely Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston (which used to be a double-decker major highway until they dismanteled it and put it underground). This past Saturday was opening day, and it could not have been a more beautiful one.

We have not been to the Greenway area in a while and were pleasantly surprised by what has been done. It is an awesome series of public spaces connected by parks, walkways, and gardens. Every Saturday during the Summer there will be vendors all along the Wharf District Parks... [more]- Greenway Open Market


July 7, 2011- JawSaw Maintenance...

We had some old tires lying around that had been destroyed by the rim eating potholes of last winter. So we fashioned these into an easy on platform to drag across longer branches we wanted to cut with the JawSaw. This would not have worked well for a normal chain saw but the JawSaw kept our branches stable and the logs we created dropped into the open tire center. That made it easy to grab and stack them later. Now we don't feel so bad about the damage done to those tires.

After cutting for a while you should check the JawSaw for three things: lube level, chain tension and finally saw dust/debris build up. All three are easily accomplished with the saw disconnected from the power source. We also tested how easy it was to get the chain on and off the guide bar when it needs to be replaced. The clear plastic lube level window on the stock makes it easy to... [more]- JawSaw Maintenance


July 6, 2011- JawSaw FirstUse...

Like many parts of the country we have had our fair share of wind and rain. As a result we have a significant pile of limbs and branches piled up on what could be prime gardening patches. Our trusty gasoline powered chainsaw is not the ideal tool for turning this bramble into the kindling we'll need next fall. There are any number of literal pitfalls in turning trees into firewood and we encourage you to consult our favorite treatise on the subject, It offers a number of options for felling and bucking, the latter being the traditional term for cutting limbs into firewood. Bucking's main problem is that even short bar chain saws impart a fair amount of kickback when they first bite into the log. Moreover many times the limb itself is unsteady and subject to moving as the cut is made. Small limbs particularly can buck and rock. Enter the saw buck which uses crossed member X's along its frame to hold unruly limbs in place or lift up large logs for cross cutting. So prevalent were sawbucks in the 1850's that $10 bills became known as "sawbucks" in reference to the Roman numeral X residing on the ten dollar bill's face.

Well, it's 2011 and we've been looking for a mo' better way to easily prune or turn small limbs into logs or kindling. It is time-consuming to position limbs on and off a saw buck. If you could minimize the erratic dance between saw and limb, it would be far easier to walk up to the bramble above and... [more]- JawSaw FirstUse


June 28, 2011- Clayton Boyer: Clock designer...

After we did the FirstLook of the Rockwell BladeRunner, the interns brainstormed about what would be a good FirstUse project to throw at it. One day the interns rushed in, very excited, and exclaimed that they had found the perfect project to test out the BladeRunner: they had discovered the wooden clocks of Clayton Boyer.

Interns...they are so enthusiastic. We didn't have the heart to tell them that we were well aware of Mr. Boyer and his amazing wooden clock designs, moreover that we had already saved some room in this Winter's RainyDayProjects schedule to build some of the clocks. However, as we had not... [more]- Clayton Boyer: Clock Designer


June 23, 2011- Splitting Irises...

The best thing about having a perennial garden is hardly ever having to do any work on it while enjoying its beauty year after year. The second best thing about a perennial garden is that the plants multiply by themselves. One can either use them to expand the garden or compost them to return the nutrients back to the soil. About five years ago, we split and moved some irises from one part of the garden to another. Since that time, they have grown a lot and once again become quite crowded.

When we decided to not plant a vegetable garden this year and take down the raised-bed, we thought it would also be a good opportunity to divide up the irises. We would move them into the spot vacated by the vegetables. The nice soil is already there and the space would give them a lot more... [more]- Splitting Irises


June 1, 2011- RDG: June...

Gardening has a lot of similarity with software development. There are a lot of ways to go about it and some of it works better than others. Take planting perennials vs annuals for instance. Planting perennials, like writing reusable code, takes a bit more planning and can cost more upfront. The payoff is that you don't have to do the same thing over and over again. Annuals are like demo code, they look great, can be done quickly, but are often a one shot deal.

The RainyDayGarden folks here plant mostly perennials, because while they love seeing the blooms and the colors, they don't really enjoy the associated physical tasks (digging, weeding, etc...) as much as the more hardcore gardeners. Another benefit of planting perennials is the ability to... [more]- RDG: June


May 13, 2011- Brimfield Antique Show...

Every few years we make the drive from Boston to the giant, outdoor, practically the whole town, antique show out in Brimfield. We go, not because we are big antiquers, but because we love the idea of poking around in other people's attics.

The awesome thing about the Brimfield Antique Show is its hallmark organized chaos. We have been to the show a few times and have realized that long-time vendors are situated in approximately the same location year after year. Other than that, it is just one big jumbo. If you are looking for something specific, somebody at this show probably has it, but... [more]- Brimfield Antique Show


May 12, 2011- Philips Wake-up Light...

Waking up well is as important as sleeping well, especially if you have to wake up before first light. Research has shown that light is an essential signal which can boost both mood and energy levels. For folks who must get out of be before sunrise, the lack of morning light can make getting up difficult. While getting the right amount of sleep is still required, technology has made waking up a lot more pleasant.

In March, we posted a FirstLook of the Wake-up Light from Philips. The idea behind the Wake-up light is to gradual, 30-minute, increase in the intensity of the light from the lamp prior to the desired wake up time. At the preset time, the Wake-up Light will activate one of two pleasant sounds (birds chirping, beep) or the FM radio. So instead of being jarred awake by a... [more]- Philips Wake-up Light FirstUse


Apr 25, 2011- WORX: Jaw Saw...

This Winter was a tough one in New England. The ice storms brought down a LOT of branches. Now that Spring is finally here, it is time to deal with the mess, prune and trim things before they start to bloom, and clean up what has fallen to the ground. A hand saw will get the job done, but a chainsaw will make short work of the task. Chainsaws are excellent tools in the hands of a properly trained user. However, the handling and use of a chainsaw can be intimidating for many. WORX recognized this and created the safer JawSaw specifically for us weekend gardeners.

The JawSaw takes the basic design of a light-duty chainsaw and made it safer for the occasional user. The cutting action is still the same as that of a normal chainsaw, but the angle in which the chain makes contact with the limb will always be optimal. Also, instead of an exposed and openly rotating cutting chain, the chain and bar are wrapped in a U-shaped "jaw." The "jaw" acts both as a... [more]- WORX: Jaw Saw FirstLook


Apr 1, 2011- Not Quite Spring...

It's the first day of April (yes, April Fool's Day) and yesterday's forecast of snow in New England actually came true. Bostonians woke up to a few inches of the white stuff covering everything in sight. This freak storm made a mess of things for those commuting to work. Instead of fighting the traffic, the RainyDayCrew decided the weekend should just start a bit earlier and called it a day.

Before things got too sloppy, we thought we took a few shots of the RainyDayGardenin order to have a record of the storm when we look back a year from now. The snow was the slushy kind that... [more]- Not Quite Spring...


Mar 31, 2011- Spring? ...

It's the last day of March and many more green things have started to poke out of the ground. The irides and crocuses are happily warming themselves in the sun. We don't remember planting them, but are delighted that they have found a home in the RainyDayGarden.

The best thing about a perennial garden is that just a little bit of work is all that is needed to keep things blooming year after year. We have been working on it for over ten years. Plant a little here one year. Move some stuff over there another year. Split them when they... [more]- Spring?


Mar 28, 2011- Philips Wake-up Light...

Some people wake up to the sun; others wake up whenever they please. Most of us wake up when the alarm clock goes off. However, research is starting to come out that being jolted out of a deep sleep may not be the best for one's health. Fortunately, research also shows that exposure to the right type of light can help align our daily rhythms and can make us feel more energetic.

The National Sleep Foundation has chosen the Philips Wake up Light as its Official Light Therapy Product in recognition of the benefits it provide in helping people wake-up better. The Wake-up Light works by... [more]- Philips Wake-up Light FirstLook


Mar 23, 2011- Fab@Home...

Love making stuff? Need a special part? Want it NOW? These are just a few of the reasons why Fab@Home is the gathering place for DIY-ers the world over. What began as a project for a couple of Cornellians back in 2006 has turned into a global hangout for those who likes to get their hands dirty.

The heart of the Fab@Home movement is the computer numerical control (CNC) machine. A CNC device is a computer controller that reads instructions and drives a machine tool which can "make" things with precision and repeatability. CNC machines used to be available only at large manufacturing facilities (auto, aerospace, etc...). Today, CNC machines are affordable for small businesses and shops, but are still out of reach for the... [more]- fab@home


Mar 21, 2011- First Day of Spring...

Spring has finally arrived, and not a moment too soon. With a record-breaking amount of snow in January, we, like everyone else in New England, are ready to see some green. Even though the temperature was in the 30s this weekend and might even snow today, we noticed some bulbs starting to poke through the soil.

Knowing that clean up would be more difficult once the plants got bigger, we sent the interns out and they did a first-pass cleanup of the RainyDayGarden. Once the garden was cleared of the... [more]- First Day of Spring


Feb 28, 2011- Rockwell BladeRunner...

The Rockwell BladeRunner arrived at the RainyDayMagazine office at the end of 2010. We have finally had a chance to take a FirstLook at the machine. The BladeRunner is a new kind of saw: it combines the features of a jig saw, scroll saw, and band saw. For DIY-ers with limited workshop space, this Rockwell BladeRunner may be the perfect solution.

The first thing we noticed was the weight of the machine. The saw is surprisingly light for its size. One of the reasons is that the base is made of a synthetic material. The other is that the platform, normally made of steel, is instead made of a lightweight alloy. To make the surface more durable, it is covered with... [more]- Rockwell BladeRunner FirstLook


Feb 1, 2011- Digital Foci Moments 8...

Digital photo frames are finding their place in more and more homes. We mentioned a few of them in the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide. Both the Ceiva and Kodak frames were reviewed in detail last year. Sharp-eyed readers noticed that the Digital Foci Moments 8 was a new mention and asked for a more detailed RainyDay review. Today, we are happy to comply with a FirstLook of this full-feature photo frame.

The Digital Foci Moments 8 is a high resolution (800x600) digital photo frame which also contains a pair of quality stereo speakers. It is the stereo speakers which distinguish this photo frame from the Cieva and Kodak units. While the Digital Foci Moments 8, unlike the Ceiva and Kodak photo frames, is not email-enabled, it distinguishes itself from the others with the ability to handle more than just still images. The Moment 8 frame is able to play both... [more]- Digital Foci Moments8 FirstLook


Jan 13, 2011- Sears Craftsman Socket set...

A week ago we wrote about our surprisingly pleasant DieHard battery experience at our local Sears automotive store. We now follow up with a story of an even better experience at the main Sears store.

Our tale starts with a Holiday present (of a brand exclusive to Sears, exactly which is not relevant) given to us from an out-of-state relative, for which we were not supplied the receipt. Unfortunately for us, the item, cool as it was, was not something for which we would have use. We were hoping we could exchange it for something more useful to us at Sears. However, after a few email exchanges with Sears online support, we were told that, in the absence of a receipt:

"...We do not have an exchange process. Please arrange with the person who gave you the (item) to have them return for credit. The suggestion would be for you to go to the Sears store with that person and pick out another item. I know this is not an ideal solution, but appears to be the only option that you have..."

Undaunted, we took the item to the Sears store in Dedham, Mass. A pepper-haired gentleman in his late 50s greeted us at the tools department and asked if he could be of assistance. We explained our situation and asked if an exchange was possible. Without hesitation, he said... [more]- Sears Craftsman Socket Set


Jan 4, 2011- Bear WiFi Extender...

We have an older, Intel-based Mac Mini that has had WiFi problems for years. It was unclear when it started having issues, but we have determined to our satisfaction that the cause was temperature-based. It appears that Apple has since solved the problem in later models (by adding a second WiFi antenna into the design), but that is of no help to us. We first "fixed" it using a fan, then later with some temperature-controlling software. Neither solutions worked when the Mini's temperature got too high for the internal fan to handle. Now that we are using the Mini as a media server, we wanted to solve the WiFi issue once and for all.

We found an elegant and 100% effective solution from BearExtender. The BearExtender n3 is a simple plug-and-play USB device that... [more]-Bear WiFi Extender


Jan 3, 2011- Bird Houses...

Ever wonder what to do with those leftover samples from painting projects? We were reluctant to toss them as many of them were at least half full. While strolling thought a craft store, we saw some unfinished bird houses and had an idea. Why not decorate them using the left-over paints?

The key to painting these unfinished bird houses is to first prime everything. The primer we was what we used on the front porch. It was oil-based. We didn't want to have to worry about... [more]-Bird Houses




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