Drowned my Mouse – Autopsy + Repair

Dead mouse, before autopsy, repair and cleaning

This afternoon I drowned my mouse with a cup of tea and?killed it. The mouse was a Microsoft Wireless 4000 Notebook Optical Mouse which I’ve had for over 2 years and liked a lot… Electronics + tea don’t mix 🙁

As previously promised on Google Buzz, I’m going to “autopsy” the mouse and see if I can revive it, below are the photos (gadget lovers may want to look away).

I’ve killed or nearly killed a few peripherals with tea… the trick to keeping things alive is to disconnect power ASAP after the spill, hopefully before things short out and the magic smoke gets let out.

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Mini Mill & Lathes

Sieg X2 Mini Mill

I’ve been looking for this and can’t find any info online for companies selling mini mills or lathes in South Africa, except oddly enough my posts on this blog. I can find plenty of the big machines but they’re too big and expensive and overkill for what I’m looking for. I’ve noticed that a few of the hits for this site have come from people searching for CNC machines, mini mills and lathes so I guessed that perhaps by writing a post about them and what I’m looking for someone might be able to point me in the direction of a local supplier.

Firstly I guess I should point out that this is a pipe dream, I won’t have the space to set one up till I move into our new place (in a few months time), I’m not sure if I’ll have the money (I now have a house bond to pay) and I’m not sure if I would get approval from the wife to buy an extremely expensive, noisy machine that allows me to turn metals, plastic and other stuff into shavings while probably injuring my self. But those are all minor obstacles and they don’t prevent me from dreaming of one day having a workshop filled with awesome machines.

I’m looking for what is often called a “mini mill” essentially its a small version of the big mills used to machine metal into all kinds of wonderful shapes. My ideal machine would be a table top machine that allowed me to machine metals such as?aluminium, brass, certain types of plastics etc. It’s ok if it couldn’t machine the really hard metals or anything big, I’m not going to be using it to make car engines or parts for the space shuttle replacement but rather it will be used to make small parts for things like hobby engines and parts, parts for things like paint ball or air soft guns, little robotics projects other similar things. While precision is always important its unlikely I’ll need anything machined to extreme tolerances and I’m unlikely to make anything that will be spinning at high rpm’s or anything.

I also would love a small lathe that can turn metals, similar to the mill this would also be used to make small parts things like screw threads, gears etc (I know these kinds of things are hard to do, but I would like to at least give it a try). Again this is for garage/hobby use, I’m not starting up a business machining stuff for people I just want to be able to make those weirdly shaped metal parts that my various crazy project may require.

I’m not looking for a CNC machine as they’re alot easier to build your self and would be a “project” that I could use the mill and lathe for.

While this is all a pipe dream at the moment, I would love to know where in South Africa I could buy these kinds of things and how much they would cost. That way I can determine how much of a “pipe dream” this would really be… if anyone reading this knows where in South Africa I can find that info please leave a comment.

Hacking an Eveready Radio

My wife has a cheap Eveready radio that she bought to listen to Gareth Cliff on 5fm in the mornings in the office. The radio isn’t anything fancy, its a basic radio with a little digital clock on it.

The biggest problem with this radio is that it appears that the battery only lasts a few weeks and they cost R 25.00 a battery… the radio was only about R 45.00 (it didn’t come with a battery though).?The conspiracy theorists in me says the reason it goes through batteries so quickly is because its made (or at least branded by) a battery company.


Yesterday the battery started to die and the wife wanted me to buy another battery for it… Thats when I had a light bulb moment (to quote Oprah) and decided instead of buying another battery I would hack the radio to run off the mains power.

I got approval from the Wife for this project, although it couldn’t cost more than the battery or a new radio.

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Super Secret Project Pt 2

Sketch_upAs I explained in Part 1, I’ve been working on a super secret project (Christmas present for my wife).

Don?t worry my wife hardly ever reads this site so I doubt she?ll read all this and anyway she?s unlikely to puzzle out what I?m up too, but because I don?t want her to know what I?m building I?m going to stick to describing the technology and tools I?m using and show snippets of code but try not give it all away.

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Sewing machines aren’t what they once were.

brotherquattroWhile browsing through the MakeZine blog I came across this sewing machine, the Brother Quattro 6000D. This one impressive machine and I don’t even have any interest in sewing! It’s got high powered lights, an LCD screen and onboard computer. It’s designed for embroidery, sewing, quilting and crafting (hence the “Quattro” name.) It’s also got a very long and impressive Features list.

The ultimate Hair Dressing Kit

Ever had the problem of being unable to find the right “tool” for the job when you’re doing your hair? Umm yea.. I never had that problem either… but if you did have this problem I’ve found the solution.

The Sunbeam Professional 8 in 1 Haircare Pack.


What gets me is that the shop had about 10 of these on the shelf are there really that many people in George that need a whole special kit to do there hair?

Open Source CAD

I’m always desinging something, I admittedly never build anything… or not once I’ve worked out it’s do-able but I enjoy designing weird stuff. Almost all of my designs are scribbles on paper and I never actually make any kind of plans for them. Paper’s cool because it’s simple, you don’t need much to draw something and it’s quick. It does have it’s down sides, things aren’t that straight it’s hard to get the scale right without rulers and possibly the worst part is that when you decide to move something or want to see if perhaps putting a hole through the case would look ok or moving the bathroom next to the kitchen to see if it’s better you need to re-draw everythng because you can’t just move stuff around and theres no undo button.

Which brings us to CAD software, I’m not looking for anything fancy, my needs are simple. I want something thats easy to use and that I can draw any kind of technical drawing. Ideally I want to be able to in the same program do the floor plan for my million dollar mansion or the design for my new tv cabinet or the case for the ultimate HTPC. The problem is that I have a minimum requirement that the program works on Linux and it would be nice if it also ran on MacOSX and Windows and that it shouldn’t cost anything.
And so the search starts for an open source CAD program.
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