posts tagged with the keyword ‘repair’



So I got this Vivitar 285 flash last year, and it’s been working great, except for one thing… the little plastic foot is no match for the weight of this thing. Eventually, it broke. Argh… To be expected though.

I found a replacement metal foot on ebay for $6.99, and I watched some YouTube video that explained replacing it. Here’s the thing though… after I watched a damn advertisement, and then a 9 minute video showing how to do the replacement, I decided that I’d help people of the future by presenting the same info in a good old no-nonsense way, with words and pictures!

Broken Foot

So here is our broken foot. Thin, old, cheap plastic. No good! Grab a tiny screwdriver and remove the foot. Don’t lose the screws, they are tiny! (Also, you will need them later!)

Remove Foot

Here is the broken one still attached, next to the new one. On the original unit, there are 4 wires. Two of them (white and green) go to the test button. You don’t need these! You just need the black and red wires. The button on the new one will work just fine with only the black and red attached.

New Foot

The black and red wires are short, so don’t cut them, you need to desolder them. If you don’t have a good soldering iron, and some soldering wick and a solder sucker, find someone who does. (Maybe your local hackerspace?) I did cut the white and green ones, and put a tiny amount of tape over the ends, just to be totally safe.


Solder the black and red wires in place securely. It appears I put the black on in the center. I’m not sure that it matters, but YMMV and I make no guarantees. (See where I put the screws? Right where they belong, because they are so damn small I was afraid of losing them!) Also, don’t put the foot on backwards, as that would be stupid. (Disclaimer: I’m not even sure you can put it on backwards. I just like disclaimers.)

New Foot

With the soldering done, put the foot in place, put the screws in, and put the batteries back in (you did take them out before you started, right!?) and test it!

OK, there’s your short guide to replacing the hotshoe foot for a Vivitar 285 camera flash. Hopefully you read this in less time than it took me to watch that 9 minute long YouTube video.

(And yeah, the fact that this is a post about photography that has terrible photos is not lost on me. Apologies…)


Fixed Outlet

When the wife left the house yesterday she asked me to fix the outlet cover in the bedroom as it was loose and plugging things in was proving difficult. She said that she would have done it but was afraid of getting electrocuted.

I was about to tighten up the plate, but I noticed that the entire outlet was loose. No problem! I just removed the cover and tightened up the screws… Problem! The outlet box was too far into the wall, and my first attempt at pulling it out resulted in a nice jolt and the box not moving. (She didn’t warn me not to electrocute myself, but maybe she should have.) My guess is that whoever put the outlet in didn’t do it right, and just figured that putting things in loose and calling it a day was easier that fixing it and doing it right the first time.

Plastic Spacers

I thought about using some washers, but I would have actually had to find some washers, and they would have needed to be the right size, and I would have needed to have enough of them… and if you’ve seen my workshop, you’d know this is not an easy task.

I could have 3D printed some spacers! But like my last repair involving plastic, it would have been overkill for this task and would have taken way to much time.

So my solution involved taking some plastic anchors and snipping them to the right length. I have enough anchors that I could repair a dozen outlets in the house and still have a bunch left over. (Let’s hope I don’t have to do that, by the way.)


A year ago I saw a post on the Sector67 site that talked about upcycling the plastic from laundry jugs. After seeing the post I thought about how many of these jugs we end up tossing in the recycling bin, and if there were any ways I could make good use of them.

Laundry Jug
Empty Laundry Jug

Here’s a typical laundry jug, and as you can see I cut out a nice (mostly) flat piece from the side.

Cutting the plastic with an X-ACTO blade

I wanted to cut a small piece into a rectangle to match a missing piece from a window blind, and using an X-ACTO knife and steel ruler are the perfect choice for such things.

(Somehow we’ve lost/misplaced these window blind parts, or they weren’t here when we moved in. I thought briefly about 3D printing a replacement, but cutting a piece from plastic I’ve already got seemed like a better option.)

New vs. Original

My replacement is not an exact match, but I’ve cut it a bit taller to provide some friction so it will stay in place. For the simple purpose it will serve, it should do just fine.

Holder in Place
Original and New

Here’s the original piece, and my replacement piece. Both are holding the blinds into the bracket reasonably well.

I’ll often just cut out the flat sides of laundry jugs and keep them in a stack and then recycle the rest of the jug. They’re handy to have around when you need one.

We’ve talked about building an injection molding machine at Milwaukee Makerspace (Mold-o-rama anyone?) so if that happens, I may have a few more uses for these plastic jugs.

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