The most useless machine

The most useless machine You can find these boxes all over the internet. Some are very cleverly made but they are most of the time over-engineered. This version went back to the time that electronics was just wires and a few switches to get thing done.
The most useless machine in it's most simplest form.

The most useless machine


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 10/10/2013

Mendocino motor

This is my version of a Mendocino motor. As you can see the motor is running in poor light conditons too. For this build i used 2 ring magnets and 5 disk magnets. The solars cells are rated at 0.5V and 330mA. For each coil i used 17 meters of emailled copper wire which resulted in 100 windings per coil.


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 08/10/2013

Aqua clock

Aqua clock This idea was on my table for a long time. Never had time to make it till now. This clock is made from a cheap 50 cent type of clock. I took it apart and removed the hands. Instead i glued two disks on de shafts and made a rim on each one. The bottom disk tells you the hour by counting the number of gold fishes shown behind the vertical line on the glass. The top disk has the minutes shown in air bubbles. I've added a small scrimp glued on a thin nylon wire and attached to the seconds hand on the inside. The scrimp is hopping nicely around the sea bed


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 13/09/2013

Side table

Side table We wanted a nice looking side table to go with the two canadian chairs i made previously. For this i used a glass top that i saved earlier from the garbage bin. As frame i used a large bucked normaly used for mortar. I covered the outside with the same wood as i used for the seats of the chairs. Inside the bucked i placed a few hedra plants to cheer things up.

Side table


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 03/08/2013

Canadian chair

Canadaian chair in pine We love these type of chairs. They are very comfortable to sit in but have also a few drawbacks.
Because my wife and i are reasonable tall most chairs have a seat that is to short for us. And when the seat is long enough for our lenght then they aren't affordable anymore. 500 Euro a chair seemed to be a normal price. Another discussion point is that these chairs are huge meaning they aren't easily stored during wintertime. So here it is how i tackled these three issues.

Canadaian chair folded I found a model on the internet that i liked and scaled that one to fit our needs in seat lenght. Next i adjusted the design to make the chair foldable to reduce storage space during the winter. To check if i had planned things right i first made one in pine. That chair already turned out to be a nice chair. I was nearly completly right with my design. I only had to adjust one pivot hole 3 centimeter down to make the whole chair completly foldable.

Canadaian chair in hardwood My wife too was pleased with the result and ask for a more durable version of the chair. "And, make two of them please! She said."
For the next chair i used hardwood. Overhere we use bankiri wood as affordable hardwood in the garden. It is also suitable for making these chairs. I used the first chair to make a mold on paper. That mold was used to cut the pieces for the second chair. The hardwood version is a much more solid chair then the pine version. More stable, robust and and also more heavy. As a bonus I also made a detachable footstool to go with it.

Canadaian chair with footstool


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 19/07/2013

Spoon lamp

Spoon lamp Actually this one i didn't make but my wife did. But i find the lamp so good looking that i would like to mention it here. I saw an image of this lamp somewhere on the internet and my wife adored it so much that she made one.
The base is a 5 liter plastic waterbottle covered with about 220 cut off spoons. A power saving type lamp is used to prevent heating up when lit.


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 11/06/2013


Birdhouse I had some scrap material left over ready to throw away or.. make something usefull with it.
Guess what i did?


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 03/06/2013

A bat's home

A bat's home Around our house there are a lot of bats flying at dawn. During the day they need a nice shelter. Hopefully this one will provide them a nice cozy home during the day


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 02/06/2013

Garden passage

Garden passage It took me about a year to collect all the materials and building this nice passage in the garden. It's build completely from recycled materials except for the mortar.

Garden passage This passage leads into a scrubwood area in the back of my garden. The path lead you between two large trees and you will walk through a tunnel carved the branches of the trees.

Garden passage The entrance is a small gate with a roof made of 240 wooden roof tiles. Into the roof i made on both sides a birdnest.


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 12/05/2013

Jojo and Hoops

Pape rart - Jojo and Hoops Another piece of paper art. This time it's an automation of Jojo and Hoops. I never heard of them before but i liked the motion it got. Including the small person coming out of the chimney


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 12/05/2013

Paper art - Santa

At the end of the year it's usually time for paperart. I made this nice paper automation of Santa riding his sledge through the air. Many things are moving. Santa is waving and the sledge rocks forward and backwards. Paper art - Santa


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 12/05/2013


CDPhone The old gramophone players always have fascinated me. I am specially very fond of their design, the big flower shaped horn and the sound they make due to this horn. For a very long time i had this idea of making one my own but with a modern twist. CDPhone This twist comes in the form of a CD playing gramophone. I am fully aware that CD's becoming more and more rare and the DVD is taking over the market, that's fine.

I took an old computer CD rom drive (a 16x speed model) and took it apart. I removed all unnecessaryparts and grinded the drive as flat as possible. With grinding it flat i mean it literally. I cut of the side and remove everything with a grinder to the point that if you put the drive underneath of a piece of plywood the top of the CD is just above the top side of the plywood. Then the appropriate switches on the drive where glued in such position that the drive would spin up and start playing music as soon as power was applied to it. I also have taken care of the parking position of the laser reader head so it won't occur.
CDPhone I made the top and bottom part out of plywood. For the sides i used pertinax glued together and strengthen with aluminum strips glued to the inside. I used a lot of glue in this project mostly because i didn't want to have holes in sight.

CDPhone Let's talk about the horn, the most recognizable part of a gramophone. I made one from thick paper. At first i used a normal 90 grams A4 sized paper to make a template. That i used to cut out the 12 segments used for the horn. I glued every thing together in the shape i wanted. This crude shaped horn formed the base of a new template but now with the correct measurements. For the final model i used 210 grams A4 sized paper. The first horn was kept aside so i could do some testing on it with paint, lacquer and other stuff. That way i didn't ruined the horn i wanted to use.

CDPhone Because i use just one horn i can only deliver mono sound. The sound is lacking severely in lower frequencies (no bass) but it sounds right. However i am using a modern CD drive capable of producing stereo sound so why not make that available too. I wired the drive up with some extra wires to an output jack on the back. Added a volume control to it and a track skip button. The whole thing is powered with an external adapter. Any adapter in the range of 15-30V will do.

CDPhone I've taken safety also in consideration. The player is started by moving the arm above the CD, just like a normal record player. But if you want to remove the CD you have to move the arm out of the way and turn up a secure plate that is above the CD but more importantly also above the path the the laser moves at. While this plate is up you can't start the player with the arm because it's blocking it. If you do start the player without inserting a CD then the plate will block the path of the laser so it never can do any harm.


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 09/03/2013

Metal detector

Metal detector The shed needed a cleanup and amongst all the dust and dirt i found this tool again. It's a metal detector that i made about 10 years ago. This metal detector works around a beat frequency oscillator or BFO for short. The performance of this metal detector isn't that great but it is a functional detector. Metal detector This type of detector uses two coils. Both coils are trimmed to the same freqency. One coils is fixed and is used as the detector coil, better known as the disk that is close to the ground. The other coil is adjustable so you can fine tune the two coils. The two frequencies cancel each other out so nothing is heard. Card 2012 When the disk is near a metal object the frequency of that coil will shift a little. If for example the two coils are tuned at 43KHz you hear nothing but because a metal object shifts the frequency of the disk to 42Khz then you got a signal at 43 - 42 = 1Khz which can be heard clearly by the human ear.


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 30/01/2013


I am a big fan of Zelda, a game figure from Nintendo. I have all the game cartridges, CDi's and CD roms however the boardgame was still missing till i found a few pictures of the game. With these pictures and additional information from the internet i re-created the Zelda boardgame. Zelda boardgame


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 25/01/2013

Doing laundry

Doing the laundry is a recurring event. The washing machine and dryer are located on the first floor while our livingroom is at ground level. This means that my wife have to go upstairs from time to time to check of either one is finished yet. Walking those stairs up and down for nothing isn't doing her bad knees good so this would be a great project to automate. Sensor I first made two detectors, one for the washing machine and one for the dryer to detect if they are on and to see if they have finished their program. I keep an eye on their status light indicators with an LDR connected to a circuit that will trigger a DS10 door sensor. This DS10 then signals the status to my domotica system. Although this was working i wasn't pleased with this setup. To many components, to many batteries. I removed the two DS10's and i took one MS13 motion sensor. This sensor can detect motion but has also day/night detection build in. I already had changed the transmitter of this sensor to 433MHz (Europe) from it's original 310MHz used in the US. I removed the PIR sensor and the day/night sensor. Instead if those i connected the two circuits with the LDR's, reduced the batterij count to just one (later i just connected a power adapter) and let my domotica system sorted out which signal was in use for what. Sensor This is what my domotica system can do with this setup. - It will give me an announcement by speech throughout the whole house when the washing machine is finished. - It will do the same for the dryer. Sensor But by including some settings, a clever script and an additional virtual device to track status i can do even more. - When the washing machine is finished then normally the laundry goes into the dryer but if the dryer isn't turned on within 40 minutes then usually it is the case that the laundry is hanging outside to dry. (based on behavior) If that happens then i start to gather extra local area weather data. If this data tells me that there will be rain within 15 minutes then an announcement is made again by speaker. This gives us 15 minutes time to get the laundry inside before the rain comes. Card 2012 But what about the laundry that is hanging to dry? Well i made a new sensor for it based on a comparator chip and (again) a DS10. This sensor is clipped to the wet laundry and a signal is send to my domotica system notifying that the laundry isn't in the dryer and still wet. When the moisture level has reached the preset level then another trigger goes off iand is send to my domotica system and again an announcement by speaker is made. This last step rounds up the whole 'doing the laundry' process and adds me 20 point on the WAF scale.


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 20/01/2013

Chrismas card 2012

As i am doing every year i make one special Chrismas card just for my wife. For last year i made this nice card. Card 2012
Card 2012


  • By: A.A. van Zoelen
  • On: 11/01/2013
Postings in 2012