posts tagged with the keyword ‘repair’


Glue Gun Repair

I spent some time after class in the Physical Computing Lab repairing the hot glue guns. During class students told me that the triggers didn’t seem to work, and they had to push the glue into the gun by hand to get anything out the hot-end.

I removed all the screws (about 8 of them) and opened one up and it’s a lot of plastic inside, besides the hot bits. There’s a plastic piece that snapped, due to (I’m assuming) pulling the trigger too hard. It’s a poor design, but I was able to repair it by drilling holes in the two pieces and adding some wire through the holes and twisting it tight. This was enough to pull the pieces close together. (I contemplated using cyanoacrylate, but didn’t have any, and wasn’t convinced it would work.)

Glue Gun Repair

Two of the guns were in good condition, except for the snapped piece of plastic, but the third one must have been repaired before, because the rubber retaining ring and a tiny spring were missing, and the larger spring had been replaced by a not-quite correct replacement spring. The third one (once assembled) didn’t do a very good job of pushing the glue forward. I may have to try further repairs, but at least we have two working better now.

Glue Gun Repair

The other issue, which may have cause some of the problems, is a “HIGH/LOW” switch on the handle. When I held the gun, I ended up switching it to LOW. If someone had been using it on HIGH and accidentally switched it to LOW, they might have kept pressing hard on the trigger while the temperature dropped, and snapped the plastic bit inside.

Glue Gun Repair

I added some tape to the switches so they don’t get accidentally set to LOW. We only have high temperature glue anyway…

Glue Gun Repair

The third gun, which doesn’t work very well, got labeled “Not Great” so we remember which one is the crappy one., which can still be used, as long as you don’t mind (possibly) pushing the glue forward with your hand.

Glue Gun Repair

Reminder: Hot Glue is Hot!


Beam Emitter

Since we move into our house nearly 18 months ago we’ve been dealing with the super-annoying “sometimes it works” garage door opener. Or perhaps “garage door closer” is more accurate. In the olden days garage doors just closed, and if you got crushed it was your own damn fault. Somewhere along the way (in the name of “safety”) manufacturers added “External Entrapment Protection Systems”, which are typically an infrared emitter and an electric eye that sees the beam from the emitter. When the beam is interrupted (like when a stupid child runs under the closing garage door) the door reverses and does not close. No child crushed, no harsh lessons in being careless learned.

Look, I’m not in favor of crushing children, but with the sun shining directly at our garage opening, 75% of the morning we’d leave the house we couldn’t use the remote to close the garage door. I didn’t want to completely disable the sensors, as it would probably get us sued if a child did get crushed. Also, I’m all for safety. (Really. I am. Tell the insurance company that.)

My first attempt at a fix was adding a gaff tape flag to the electric eye. This did almost nothing. I did find that blocking the sun with my car and/or body sometimes worked. So imagine that when I pulled the car out of the garage I had to get out and stand in front of the door (very close to it, in fact, almost close enough to be hit by the door) and try to block the sun. Sometimes it worked, and often it did not. When it didn’t work we’d have to go into the garage, use the manual release to shut the door, lock it, and then reverse the whole procedure when returning home. #PITA

Eventually I added a button (duh!) to attempt to manually override the sensor. Sometimes it worked, other times it did not. Occasionally it would get 90% closed, then open again. Argh! Reflecting light? I don’t know…

Electric Eye

Supposedly you can added some tubes, but I never got around to that. The garage not closing when you leave is just annoying enough to aggravate you, but not annoying enough to spend real time trying to fix it.

The new solution (which is working well so far) involves extending the electric eye a bit further in from the door, and angling it to point at the emitter. Some scrap wood and zip ties pulls it all together quite nicely.

New Garage Beam Layout

Here’s our new set-up. Granted, there is a bit more room where something could get crushed, but it probably won’t be me, because now I don’t need to stand Centimeters from the door as it’s closing.


Car Repair

Disclaimer: I’m not really much of a car guy. I mean, I own a car, but I’ve never been into repair and maintenance of them. Probably because when I was in high school there were “gearheads” (people totally into cars) and I just didn’t get it. I’ve mostly considered cars as a means to get from point A to point B. I’m more concerned about being able to haul things than I am about doing it in some super-powerful manner or even looking going doing it.

While I’m still not really into “regular” cars, I’ve had a good time being involved with the Power Racing Series, where we modify children’s toys and race them. Milwaukee has had a team since the start, and I’ve been involved for three seasons now. It really is a combination of serious fun and serious engineering, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that repairing a car body by drilling holes in the plastic and connecting pieces with zip ties is the right way to do it.

Zip Ties

Yup, totally serious. That’s how I repaired my wife’s car this past weekend. Drilled holes, connecting pieces with zip ties. Done. (And yeah, this isn’t the first time I’ve repaired this car with zip ties!)



I (somewhat) jokingly posted something the other day about how my wife asked me to 3D print something, and was totally serious this time and not sarcastic about it. To be fair, she’s heard me say “I’ll just 3D print one!” about 100 times this summer, and was probably sick of it, but when you live in the future, it’s pretty damn exciting.

Or story begins back in 2009 when we moved into our current house. The light above the front door was just a bare bulb, with nothing around it. I’m assuming there was a glass ball at one point, and it must have broke, or been stolen, or dematerialized. No matter, we can fix it.

3D Printed Part

While at Home Depot the wife found a cheapie plastic majigger that would fit over the light bulb, so we bought it. This is also when she suggested I could “make it work” and thus, I agreed.

I ended up using OpenSCAD to design a simple ring that would press-fit the new piece, and have the needed holes to fix the fixture… and adapter, if you will.

It fits!

It worked! As you may notice, there are no mounting holes. I often don’t bother making holes in the objects I print because I’ve got a drill press, and it makes much more precise holes than the RepRaster 5000 can. (And just to be clear, the clear piece is not what I printed. I printed the black piece. Got it?)

Holes for screws

Here’s the piece after I drilled the holes and secure it into the fixture with two small bolts. Sadly the small bolts are a little long, and stick out the top, but hey, it’s still an improvement.


So now on the front of the house is this lovely cheapie plastic majigger instead of just a bare light bulb. Home Improvements FTW!

This is one more thing where I really don’t know how I could have done this as elegantly without a 3D printer. Using open source software I designed the needed adapter and then printed it out using open source hardware, and the total cost of materials (ABS plastic) was probably less than 50 cents. As I said… living in the future and all that.


Last year my youngest daughter took up the trumpet, and shortly after she started she managed to get the mouthpiece stuck. This is pretty common, from what people in the know tell me. The problem is, the school used to have a mouthpiece removing tool, but it either broke, or it no longer has it, which means I had to take it in to the music store, get a loaner, wait for the repair, and then go pick it up and return the loaner… Hassle!

Pictured below is what a mouthpiece puller looks like. There’s also a more tooly/clampy version, which is the only kind I had seen at the time.

Mouthpiece Puller

The commercial version is $40 USD, and while taking her trumpet in for repairs is a pain, it’s free since we are on a rental agreement (for now anyway.)

After she got the mouthpiece stuck a second time (!?!?) I wondered if I could make my own tool, and it turns out I could.

DIY Mouthpiece Remover

It actually looks very similar to the commercial version above, even though I didn’t see that one until I started writing this post. I was using screws between wood for another project that needed an adjustable platform, and I borrowed the concept for this.

I originally put calipers on the mouthpiece to get the right size, and then drilled holes into the two pieces of scrap bamboo I had. At that point the project sat dormant, waiting for the mouthpiece to get stuck again… which it did a few days ago.

I ended up making some very inelegant rough cuts into the bamboo with my jigsaw, and got it so the thing would slide into place semi-tightly, and then started turning the wing-nuts to apply pressure and force the mouthpiece off. It was tricky! I didn’t want to apply too much (I am not a professional band instrument fixer!) but when I thought it was all the way, I tried twisting it slightly. I don’t think twisting it works at all, and in fact I think it’s the wrong thing to do, because of the possibility of damaging the instrument. (Again, I am not a professional!) So with just a little more turning of the wing-nuts, it popped off!

DIY Trumpet  Mouthpiece Puller

I was quite pleased, as this meant I didn’t have to make two trips to the music store, and my daughter would have a trumpet she could put back into the case again.

Two more things… If I designed a trumpet case, I’d add some sort of special door to the side so you can put the damn thing in the case when the mouthpiece is stuck. I know this might encourage people to not take out the mouthpiece, but it’s no fun carrying around a trumpet with a stuck mouthpiece and the case it won’t fit into.

The other thing… Every school that has a band program should have one of these. Heck, if there are at least 3 other kids playing trumpet, I’d see if they could all pony up $10 each to supply the school with one. Even if a band director couldn’t remove it every time, it would be a good first line of defense.

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