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  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:05 am on May 31, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Die, element jeweler, Fisher, Keychain, , Manufacturing, , , Space Pen, ,   

    What’s On Yer Keychain 

    Stuff that I carry on my keychain, left to right:
    1) Bottle opener. I don’t drink much beer, but a lot of tasty diet drinks sold in NYC bodegas come in non-snap-off cup glass bottles.
    2) Red Photon Light 3 from Thinkgeek. It came really handy during the NYC Blackout of 2003. (See my photos here and here. If you know somebody who can use those for a newspaper or a magazine article, please let me know.)
    3) A 20x 5 element jeweler’s loupe that I bought in a store on 47th street. I don’t get that much use out of it, but it’s petty cool.
    4) A Husky brand 4 way pocket screwdriver.
    5) A Levenger single sheet cutter. This is one of the most useful little gadgets eve. A tiny ceramic shard on the end of the plastic holder cuts through a single sheet of newspaper. Awesome for clipping newspaper articles, taking out chunks of notes and trimming paper. With a bit more pressure it works on slightly thicker paper, like that in Moleskine notebooks. Also good for taking off cellophane from CDs and trimming gift paper. It’s next to impossible to cut yourself with one. The only gripe is had to notch up the case to make it easy to take the cutter out of it.
    6) A Fisher Space Pen epoxied to a little ring. This way I always have a pen to take down notes.

    Single sheet cutter in action from Levenger’s website:

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:21 am on August 30, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aerospace screws, consumer device, , , , , I store, , Manufacturing, metal ones, , , , , , plastic vs. metal motherboard standoffs, , soft metal, Tamperproof Screw Company, , , Torx   

    WML : Screw You, Computer Hardware Manufacturers! 

    Continuing with the screw theme, let me share with you another piece of fastener lore that I’ve learned over the year. As any person who ever cut her hands on ragged edges of cheaply made computer cases knows, when you buy a filthy overpriced little baggy of computer screws there’s a weird and confusing variety inside.

    Here are the most common, left to right: chassi screw, cd-rom screw, floppy screw and hard disk screw. Now here’s the confusing part – The hex headed chassi screw is a bit bigger than the very similar cd rom screw. But the soft metal of computer components makes it possible to use it to fasten everything – floppy drives, cd roms, hard disks. It is the most useful screw of the four. I get the feeling that the hard drive screw is just a tad bigger, which makes it almost as useful, but it will get stuck if you try to attach a floppy drive with it. The cd rom screw and the floppy screws are next to useless – without knowing the proper type of screw to use, most people already embiggened the holes with chassis screws, and the little cd rom screws end up pretending to go in, but then falling out. They end up filling up all the useful space in the little box where I store my accumulation of computer screws.

    Since I mostly buy cases with motherboards already mounted in them, I am not going to delve into the whole plastic vs. metal motherboard standoffs. I’ll just mention that the metal ones sometimes cause shorts by themselves, and plastic ones are sometimes not strong enough to prevent shorts from flexing. There, I said it. Now I’ll merrily continue my screw rant.

    But at least the computer screw weirdness makes peoples life harder not on purpose. But some fancy pants computer (cough Hpaq cough) and consumer device (cough TIVO cough) manufacturers use torx screws and tamper proof torx screws. For that exact reason I own a whole bunch of torx screwdrivers. That is a bit sneaky.

    But not as sneaky as the hardcore tamper proof screws made by Tamperproof Screw Company of New York:

    Snake Eyes®, which I see a lot in elevator button panels, Tri-Wing® that I hear is used in GameboyTM devices, OpsitTM, which is which is built to make mockery of the holy mantra of “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey” – it tightens conterclockwise (just like MTA lightbulbs). Тhere are other weird things like philips or torx screws with a pin in the middle and one way screws.

    Also there seem to be a whole bunch of Pozidriv screws around. I think that the last cam out fiasco that I had was caused by me trying to use a Pozidriv bit on a Philips screw or the other way around. It’s very hard to tell them apart. Luckily I had screw drill out set similar to this one. It works ok on easy cases, but for every screw that I remove with it there seem to be a couple where I end up just completely breaking down the head of the screw leaving the rest under surface.

    Wow, it looks like Philips screw company has special aerospace screws, like this wicked looking ACR Torq-Set. I would be way cool to get a box of those.

    This is just like one of my favorite Russian sayings – “Ð?а каждую хитрую жопу еÑ?Ñ‚ÑŒ хуй Ñ? винтом. Ð?а каждый хуй Ñ? винтом найдётÑ?Ñ? жопа Ñ? лабиринтом”.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 6:40 am on August 30, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Fasteners Are Engineer, few tools, Hex key, Manufacturing, , One Good Turn, period-correct Craftsman, , , , , , , web search   

    WML : Fasteners Are Engineer’s Best Friend 

    While we are on the subject of screws, here’s another thing that I learned about fasteners. As any know-it-all who pays attention to things like that I looked up why screws with what we called cross-shaped screws in the USSR are called Philips screws in the US (I wonder what they call them in other countries) are called so. Of course the answer was one web search away in the Straight Dope Classic Why did this guy Phillips think we needed a new type of screw?

    I also purchased One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw used at Amazon. I learned that the screw and the screwdriver is a rather recent invention, interestigly enough one of the very few tools not known to the ancient Chinese.

    Useless trivia aside, I hate both slotted and Phillips screws. Of course I would not even think of using slotted screws for anything other than period-correct Craftsman style or Art Deco hardware such as cabinet pulls or outlet covers. But the common Phillips screws, with their falling off from the bit (even the magnetic one) and stripping (not the good bachelor party kind) drive me absolutely nuts.

    The solution? I bought a couple of boxes of hybrid Phillips/square screws from Rockler. You can use the regular Philips driver, or you can use a special square one. The benefit of a square bit is that the screw does not fall of the bit and does not strip easily. The kit also includes a bottle of suggestively named Rockler Screw-Lube. The paper box is rather sucky and unusable – the partitions lift up and the screws mix.

     
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