I made a phone belt case

I printed some parts, sewed some leather onto the parts, hit it with a hammer a few times, and voila! Total Awesomesauce!

I recently picked up a Galaxy SIII because my EVO 3d starting to get a wiggy touch screen.  My brother in law gave me a BodyGlove case for it. One of the crazy tough ones – you know, HUGE!  I can’t find a belt clip case that fits it. I’ve tried.  This thing won’t fit into most cases the wrong way. Did I mention it was rather large?

So, I decided to make one.

With a solar panel.

The openscad source file is on my github, but you can preview the stl at https://github.com/creuzerm/openscad-projects/blob/master/CellPhoneCaseSide.stl It is shaped for the phone case and has holes in it to sew the leather onto.

I have a solar charger battery pack that I incorporated into the case. There is a vinyl window for the solar panel. The charger doesn’t so much charge the phone as give me an additional half an hour of talk time. It’s a nice to have item in a pinch. It’s also a flashlight.

So I guess you can say I have a phone case for my phone case with a built in solar powered flashlight.

Seems absurd when I think about it that way.

So I won’t.

In album Phone Case

This is the finished phone case sitting on a table. I think I actually like it.

Measuring and laying out the leather and my 3d  printed ends. You can see the holes in the red ends for sewing them to the leather.

Most of the case will be double layered to protect the phone from the metal fasteners on the outside of the case.

Some duct tape to help hold pieces while assembling the case.

The hole with the piece of vinyl is for a solar charger for the phone.

The belt loop clip is rivited on with most of it on the inside and the clip outside. The hole for the clip is punched on either end and then slit. Hopefully this will keep the leather from tearing.

The window is stitched in. The magnetic latch is attached.

This is the inside. The duct tape area will be the future bottom inside of the phone case.

The small gap is deep down inside the case and isn’t visible when completed.

The red plastic 3d printed ends are sewn into place. This will form the case around the phone.

Sewing these on with a harness needle. Each spot needs to be punched with an awl. The eye of the needle is just a smidgen too big, I kept crushing it and breaking the needles.  At a nearly buck a needle, this is irritating.

The case ended up being pretty floppy. So it needed some reinforcing.  This plastic tray from the last time I spent a week in the hospital with one of my girls is perfect. Soft, strong, bendy plastic that cuts with a scissors. Sometimes it’s good to keep ‘trash’ like this.

The case isn’t finished, so I can slip the plastic pieces in. It firmed the case up very nicely. Makes it from an utter disappointment to a ‘meh’ project.

Tandy was having an end of the year sale, so I bought a snap set kit so I don’t smash the daylights out of the rivets and snaps anymore. The metal ‘Anvil’ with the bowls for the snap heads is what I was interested in, it would be the hardest part for me to make on my own.

The right tools makes the job SO much nicer. One of the other things I bought was glovers needles. I broke about 8 of the harness needles I was using for the first half of the project. The glovers needles went through my leather without needing to punch holes first.

These snap sets aren’t the right tools for what I was doing. But they are SO much better than what I had before. The washer is an adapter for the mag-snap. I didn’t deform the snaps horribly this time.

The space for the solar charger is defined by the rivets and the larger mag-snap. The window was made bigger by about a quarter of an inch  – rip the old window out, make a new one. The Binder clips are to hold the shape while I start sewing the edges.

The solar charger can slip out of the case as needed. The cable for the charger is also stored in this spot, down towards the end. It actually works quite nice in there.

The glossyness to the leather is from an application of neatsfoot oil.

You can see the curves to the printed parts here. This enforces that the phone can go into the case with the screen facing in so it’s less likely to get damaged.

The phone case slips down into the belt case just about perfectly. The curve of the 3d printed pieces matches the curve of the phone case.

The case is rather large on my belt. A buddy keeps telling me “Nice purse”, but I don’t care.

It turned out pretty well for my first mixed-material leatherworking project. (I started my moccasins after I started this, but finished them first. < http://mike.creuzer.com/2013/11/i-caught-the-bug-and-decided-to-make-my-own-moccasins.html >)

I am just getting into backpacking and the concept of "Ultralight'

 I've done a lot of camping in the past, so I have all the heavy stuff. I've a limited budget, so most of my stuff is DIY or cheap bargain gear.

I am currently getting a hammock setup. I've some photos of my mis-adventures in my back yard.

In album Hammock Camping Tweaks

I like this setup. Easy up, easy down. pretty functional in the weather too.

I’ve even tested space blankets.

The little ones LOVE the hammock. It’s a lot of fun to hang out in.

I’ve done extensive research on sleeping gear.

I’ve spent the night in the woods with nothing more than a space blanket & really big mosquitoes. It sucked.

This is my older tent. It’s Huge. And Heavy – 47lbs. I could park a car inside if I could figure out how to get it through the door.

I own a couple of large tents. The kids love this one, it has a doggy door and play tunnel on the back side.

I’ve made my own under-quilts for hammocks. This one is a mylar space blanket and green bubble wrap. I’ve used it on single degree nights with a wool blanket on top of me in the hammock. I was cold, but I made it the night.

I’ve made and weighed my home made gear. This is a large tarp made out of window insulation film and duct tape. This tarp is my main shelter now when I go out.

I made a bathtub floor for sleeping on the ground if I was so inclined.

Space Blanket tarp made from 2 cheap blankets taped together and duct tape tie-outs. When used right, it can make the difference between a cold night and a really cold night.

Half a dozen tent stakes.

I’ve even weighed the bag. It was free, I will use it until I find something lighter for cheaper.

Under 4 lbs. for this shelter. Not great, but much better than the 47 lbs tent I hiked a mile into the woods once…

Taken during a ‘Blue Moon’. A clear roof means you can star gaze and stay dry. I turned on the flash so you can see the tarp.

Dryer vent heat shedder

I can’t call this a heat exchanger, as it doesn’t exchange any heat. It just sheds some of the heat from the dryer duct into the room. I am trying to keep some of the heat I paid to create, in the house, where I tend to hang out when it’s cold outside.

I know I’d get better return on the money I spent by feeding the dryer outside air, but I wanted to give this a try. A friend gave me the heat sinks, so I wanted to see if I could find a noble use for them. I love DIY projects anyhow. I kinda liken it to a homemade energy themed work of art.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a 25k word novelette. (Hey, technically these stereoscopic photos are 2 photos each, so they count double. Just cross your eyes to get your word-count’s worth.).

The parts needed for my dryer heat exchanger
The parts needed for my dryer heat exchanger. I spent $56 at the hardware store last night to get the bulk of it. The heat sinks a friend gave me, because they had my name on the boxes “FREE”.
A friend of mine gave me boxes of new, unused computer heat sinks.
A friend of mine gave me boxes of new, unused computer heat sinks.

I currently have 20 of these heat sinks. I fiddled around with them for a while to see how many I can fit on my duct, and I came up with 74. Two rows of 15 down the long, wide face with 14 spaced in between and a row of 15 down each side.

Laying out the heat sinks on my ductwork to see how many I would need total
Laying out the heat sinks on my ductwork to see how many I would need total.

I figured I’d start with the 20 I have, and see if it does anything for me at all before I mangle that many heat sinks.

The center row of heat sinks is spun 45 degrees so they fit better
The center row of heat sinks is spun 45 degrees so they fit better. I have them upside down to keep the goo from getting everywhere.

I rather like this dense arrangement. I’ve knocked all the cooling fans loose for now. I may re-install some of them. Possibly just down the center row maybe? A larger box fan running off the dryer’s timer may work better in the end.

2 hours measureing and marking to get the layout I wanted
2 hours measuring and marking to get the layout I wanted.
Took me a while to figure out the best way to drill the holes
Took me a while to figure out the best way to drill the holes.

I ended up drilling all the holes with a drill bit from the back side where I had my layout marks. I then de-burred the holes from the front, pushing hard, so I dimpled each hole. This flexed the metal so that the screws would tighten the sheet metal up to the heat sink.

positioning the heat sinks and holding them while screwing them on was tricky
Positioning the heat sinks and holding them while screwing them on was tricky. Duct tape for Duct work FTW!

The screws I used where some pan head self tapping sheet metal screws. Ended up not needing the self tapping feature as I had to pre-drill all the holes to keep the metal bits from preventing the heat sinks from coming up tight to the metal. Live and learn. I just ran them between the fins on the heat sink. They seem to hold tight. I hope that if I ever disassemble this thing, I can reuse the heat-sinks in the future. Maybe. Please?

The heatsinks came with some thermal paste, but I added extra for good measure
The heatsinks came with some thermal paste, but I added extra for good measure

It’s actually surprising how heavy the assembled unit is. A lot of light weight parts makes for a heavy finished product.

20 heat sinks screwed to some ducting. how silly is that?
20 heat sinks screwed to some ducting. how silly is that?

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a risk when doing something like this, so the whole contraption is sealed up tight. I’d feel really bad if I killed myself trying to save a buck.

This fancy tape was the most expensive part to buy! What do you mean, I can't use duct tape on duct work?
This fancy tape was the most expensive part to buy! What do you mean, I can’t use duct tape on duct work?
The screws are all sealed with silicone sealer good for 400 degrees
The screws are all sealed with silicone sealer good for 400 degrees

I tried to keep the inside of the duct as smooth as possible to not collect any lint and cause a fire hazard. I am hoping the shallow screw heads will create just enough turbulence to keep mixing the hotter air with what’s already shed some heat to the walls.

Ready to wire up and mount on the wall!
Ready to wire up and mount on the wall!


Now I just need to add 2 stainless steel housed thermistors so I can monitor the air intake and exit temperatures. If I see a temperature difference, that means it’s working. I can use a 55 gallon plastic bag to figure out the air flow of the dryer. Some magical maths will tell me how much heat I am dumping into the house vs throwing out with the wash-water (clever, eh?). If I get any good results at all, I will try to collect enough heat sinks over time to finish this project.

54 more heatsinks needed. New price for these appear to range between $10 and $100 (Seriously?!?). Glad I am not damaging the heat sinks too bad, but the dollar value of this project kinda makes me a little sad.



DIY homemade bookshelf risers for 2 levels of books

I have been kicking an idea around for a while. I am not sure if I saw it somewhere, read about it, found in instructable for it or what, but I have been wanting to make some bookshelf risers. So, if this is your idea, let me know. I will give credit where credit is due. Read about the next version – New Book Shelf Shelves.

Bookshelf risers – you know, bleachers for your books.

Normal bookshelves are 10 inches deep, and paperback novels are 4 inches deep. So the shelves are deep enough for 2 and a half rows of books. The shelves are also usually much taller then paperbacks as well.

In comes my riser idea. it’s a subshelf, that sits on a regular shelf, that is behind the first, outer row of books. It lifts the 2nd row of books up high enough that you can read the spines of the back row of books.

My mess of books
My mess of books

This is my current mess of books. The shelves are full (or at least would be), and I have 4 boxes of books waiting to be put on the shelves.

So, like any good DIYer, I made some.
With cardboard…
…and duct tape.

But, would a normal riser be good enough for me? NO. I need to make it more complicated. I want mine lighted. You know, so you can see the books in the back.

I just happened to pick up a good number of white LED Christmas tree light sets for real cheap tonight. So, of course, I want to use these. I mean, how cool is that, white LED lit bookshelves?

Poking the lights through the cardboard
Poking the lights through the cardboard

I just punched holes into the cardboard with a ball point pen. I took the crystal bulb lens dohicky off, shoved the plug through the hole, and pluged the light/lens back in depending on what popped off when I pulled hard.

I made the homemade shelf risers using a couple of books as measuring gages. I figured how tall I wanted the riser, how deep, etc. using the books on the shelf, then used the books on the cardboard when I was scoring the folds and cutting the ends. I wanted it L shaped so that the lights could be low, and face up, and so he wire was inside. The ends got to be pretty complicated to cut & fold together. It’s kinda a big jigsaw puzzle. Way too much cardboard in that small area – like 7 layers of cardboard all wanting to be on the same layer. So I kinda had to squish the ends flat to shove the whole thing into the shelf.

Homemade cardboard bookshelf riser installed. Look at the pretty lights!
Homemade cardboard bookshelf riser installed. Look at the pretty lights!

Here you can see the homemade cardboard rinky-dink subshelf installed. The lights point up. The top tips forward. Such a mess. I like in anyhow.

A row of books on the cardboard bookshelf riser so you can see how it looks.
A row of books on the riser so you can see how it looks.

You can push the front row of books back, and there is enough room for the lights to light up behind them.

Here you can see what the cardboard bookshelf riser looks like.
Looks good, doesn’t it? The orange thing is a portable power inverter because there isn’t an outlet nearby.

Here are both rows of books shelved. It’s pretty cool how you can see all the books now isn’t it?


Books with the lights out
Books with the lights out

Books with the lights out.

Comparing 2 rows of books both on and off the bookshelf risers
Comparing 2 rows of books both on and off the bookshelf risers

Here I have a photo with 2 rows of books on the top shelf, the outer row only 3/4 full. The lower shelf has the missing books from the top row. You can see how much better you can see all the books.

I am loving it!

One riser assembled, one cut and ready to assemble.
One riser assembled, one cut and ready to assemble.

So, what do you do when you spend an hour trying to figure out how to make a homemade funky shape out of cardboard, and you find yourself needing to make a 2nd? You take the first one apart, copy it, and put it back together again. The 2nd one goes so terribly much faster it’s not even funny.

Lights in a bookshelf
Lights in a bookshelf

It took a bit of doing to get 1 string of lights to work on 2 different shelves. I had to fiddle around a bit with the lights before I got them right. I had installed the lights starting on the wrong side on the top unit at first. It needs to start on the left, go to the right, so the lower one can go from right to left as the electrical outlet is to the left of the shelf.

Shelved my books back onto the shelf showing the bookshelf riser
Shelved my books back onto the shelf showing the bookshelf riser

Ah, isn’t it wonderful? I added nearly half again the usable shelf space on the bookshelf by dedicating 2 shelves to just small paperbacks and using my risers. I have the books I have read in the back, on the risers. I have some that i have read in the front too. All in all, I am quite happy with this set up.

But the coolest thing is…

back-lit bookshelf risers at night.
back-lit bookshelf risers at night.

Is this not the coolest thing you have ever seen? Ok, so it isn’t, but it is pretty cool anyhow. Probably one of the more unique bookshelf setups around. Guaranteed it’s the neatest one purchased 100% from Walmart. You just gotta know how to make their cheap crap into nice, cheap crap.

Speaking of crappy situations. The outlet is a switched outlet. So the bookshelf lights can only be on when the main light is on. How annoying is that? I have lights that will cost a penny to run round the clock for a year, and I can’t use them that way. Oh well, probably for the better. At least you can read the books in the back row because they are not all in shadow.


Read about the next version – New Book Shelf Shelves