Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Line Cutter Blade

When scuba diving, it is important to be able to cut your way out of tangles. This is especially true if you are diving in places where people go fishing. It is difficult to see monofilament fishing line underwater. Entanglement is a real hazard.

For this reason, most scuba divers carry a dive knife with them. It is also a good idea to have an easily accessible backup, just in case your normal knife is lost or cannot be reached.

I own a Dive Rite Z-Knife line cutter as a backup.

It is based on the design of a parachute line cutter for cutting away a tangled chute before opening the spare. It has a razor sharp blade, and its shape minimizes the risk of accidentally cutting yourself when using it.

I like it, but there is one disappointing drawback. If you happen to try to cut steel fishing cable, you will only succeed in destroying that sharp little blade. It also has the tendency to rust over time. (Mine lasted a few months before rusting, but only one trip before I tried cutting something it couldn't.)

They don't sell replacement blades.

Or at least not ones that I could find.
These people couldn't find them either.
These people had some ideas, but nothing readily available.

So. Since it appeared that the only option was replacing the whole thing, I had nothing to lose by trying to modify mine.

First, I removed the old blade. It measured 26 mm by 8 mm.

Next, I scoured the internet trying to find an identical replacement. No luck.

Finally I went to the local hardware store and found this. It has a stainless blade (not sure what grade, but we'll see how it lasts), and the blade width of 9 mm is very close to the 8 mm blade I removed.

I broke off a section that consisted of four segments of the blade, and ended up with this piece. It is remarkably close in size to the blade I removed.

Next, I partially pushed in the new blade. It was a little difficult. I could tell that the blade was larger. To fix this, I used the pencil torch from my arsenal. I heated the point of the blade for a few seconds and then used needle-nosed pliers to pull the hot blade into place. This melted away some of the plastic, making room for the different-shaped blade end. It still interfered with the screw hole after the first time, so I pulled it back, reheated, and pushed it a little further. Below you can see the before and after.

Using the needle-nose pliers, it was pretty easy to remove and install the blade at this point. (I took the comparison pictures of the two blades after doing this. That's why the tip of the new blade is discolored in the pictures at the beginning.)

Here you can see the final result. The blade is firmly held in place by the screw.

There was enough left of the box cutter blade to make 3 more of these replacements. We'll see how long they last, but this appears to be much more economical than replacing it each time the blade is damaged or rusts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Planting Guide

Something brilliant was shared with me on Facebook the other day.

It is a guide for which common garden plants should be grown together.

I am posting a version of it here that I cleaned up a bit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Phones

I am eligible for a cell phone upgrade. I currently use an HTC Evo 3D. I have been semi-happy with this phone. The 3D camera and screen is rather fun. It does a good job overall. 

These are my complaints: 
  • It was from a time before NFC, and I want to play with NFC tags
  • The camera does a poor job in low-light. 
  • HTC is not great about rolling out new versions of Android. 
  • No wireless charging option. (Wireless charging is cool!)

Of those complaints, one that bothered me the most was the lack of updates. I thought there was an easy answer to this. The Google Nexus 4
  • It is made by Google. It runs stock Android. Updates will be immediately available. +++
  • It has NFC. +
  • It has built-in wireless charging capability. +
  • It was given a 7 out of 10 repairability score on ifixit.com. This matters to me since I had to replace the digitizer (front glass) on my Evo 3D on three separate occasions. ++
  • Decent technical specs and a very reasonable price. ++
  • It is not available on Sprint, and doesn't look like it will be. There is really no reason to continue. 

Time to look at phones that will actually be available on the carrier I would like to continue using. That may be a better place to start...

The HTC One seems pretty nice. Let's see what it has to offer.
  • It is made by HTC. There is a good chance it can be rooted to allow for more customization. +
  • The camera is especially designed for good performance in low-light. +++
  • It has NFC. +
  • Decent technical specs and a reasonable price. ++
  • Beautiful and durable aluminum construction. +
  • It is made by HTC. Android updates will be slow. And they will stop altogether after about a year. -
  • It was given a 0 out of 10 repairability score on ifixit.com. Non-removable battery. -----
  • No built-in wireless charging capability. -

How about the Samsung Galaxy S4
  • It has NFC. +
  • It was given an 8 out of 10 repairability score on ifixit.com. ++
  • Potential for a replacement back to enable wireless charging. 
  • Decent technical specs but slightly more expensive price. +
  • Wide variety of interesting sensors including gyro, accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, gesture, barometer, temperature, and humidity. +
  • Normal camera compared to the HTC One's low light version. --
  • Plastic construction. 
  • Samsung has a slightly worse update history than HTC. - 

I think I am leaning toward the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it is not perfect. It may be good enough, though. I will have to think on this further, and see what it is like in person as soon as it shows up at the Sprint store. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brake Pads

I ran across this article from the car talk guys. It had good information about different types of brake pads. Just thought I would pass this along in an off-week post.