Archive for March 2013

Upgrading an Old Tool

This is my workbench where I spend a lot of time when it is not nice outside.

My Workbench

My old DC power supply is something I use often. I believe it dates from the late 40’s or early 50’s. The cables that feed the power out, as you can see are very old. The insulation was real rubber covered with varnished cotton. Age has turned the rubber to a crumbly mess and the cotton outer has become very brittle.

This is not a good situation even at 15 volts. I have been putting this project off for a long time. It was one of those little jobs that are easy to forget about. It popped into my mind the other day, when I ran across some nice flexible wire when I was digging for something else.


This should have been a real quick and easy project. Unfortunately one of the lugs I found was old and tarnished. This took a bit of cleaning to get the solder to bond. They are normally tinned and easy to solder to, but this one clip was different. I polished it down to the copper and used flux to get the job done. I soldered all the connections. Experience has taught me that a intermittent or high resistance connection can cause a lot of lost time.
The second lug worked like it was supposed to. The logical thing would have been to toss the first one but I wanted matching lugs of this size.
You can see I found a nice set of alligator clips with rubber covers. The wire cables and the clamps were the right colour. Handy to be able to tell the polarity at a glance.

Soldering the Clips

Almost Finished

Finished, Good for another 30 years

The job turned out nice and I had a fun doing it. The new leads are much more flexible and the insulating covers on the clips make them a lot easier to use.
Another good part is that I put stuff that was tucked away to good use.

Spending time in the Minnesota Spring

I can tell we are moving into spring but it still more comfortable inside as you can see by the picture below. The sun is nice but the snow is deep. It is slowly melting away but there is enough that the access around the farm yard is still difficult.

I spend my time in my shop cleaning up and going through the stuff that has collected in the back corners. I ran across this old toy reed organ. I opened it up to see the inside, It is amazing how things have changed. Instead of a chip that generates almost perfect tones, this uses reeds and a small fan to blow air over them. The simple electric circuit is just a battery holder, switch and a small electric motor to run the fan. I played with it some but I used my power supply instead of batteries. Interesting too, is that it is made in Italy not China. I don’t know the age but I had a note stuck to the box, telling me to check it out dated 1988. The quality of sound is not very good but it does look neat. Today I just can’t put it in the garbage. Another day maybe or I might be able to think of a clever use for it.