Category Archives: DIY Dad

do it yourself (diy) projects, home improvement, how to’s

I Can See Clearly Now

I’ve gone digital. No, I have not been digitalized. As far as I know, my body is still 97% analog. I’m talking about digital TV. Some of my shows use to come in a little fuzzy. Now they come in sharp. It’s a big deal you know. Everyone should be able to see all the imperfections of their favorite actors and actresses.

Digital TV requires a stronger signal than analog so I had to replace my rabbit ear antenna with a real antenna. You know, one of those metal thing you stick on your roof — like in the old days before there was cable TV, Madonna, or pit bulls with lipstick. I ordered and installed the ClearStream2 antenna (made by Antennas Direct). The antenna is awesome. Now I can pickup 23 stations off the air. I feel like I’m stealing from the cable company. And just like cable TV, I don’t watch most of the channels I’m now getting.

I was too cheap to pay an extra $20 for the antenna mount and mast. Instead, I constructed my own with scrap pvc pipe from my old sprinkler system. If you don’t have pvc tubing lying around, you can buy it at Home Depot. The cost of the pvc pipe, 90° connector, pvc cement, and fasteners is only a few dollars.

Installation Tips

  • Use AntennaWeb to determine which direction to point your antenna
    A compass would be helpful, but not needed. If you don’t have a compass, you can either use the AntennaWeb map to get an idea where to point your antenna or climb up on your roof and look for the transmission towers.

  • You don’t need to mount the antenna on your roof
    In general, the higher you mount your antenna, the stronger the signal. However, I’ve noticed that there was only a slight improvement from the roof (30′ up) compared to where I originally tested my pvc antenna mast (10′ off the ground). You can mount the antenna lower if you don’t have any obstructions between the transmitting towers and the antenna.

This concludes my manly post. No daddies were harmed during the writing of this incredibly manly post. However, one daddy almost cried like a little girl when he was trying to get back on the ladder from the roof.

ClearStream2 antenna

Update: 2009.09.27

A big wind storm blew my antenna in a different direction. As a result, I had to add a pvc T-connector and secure the pvc pipe in two directions. See photos below.

Before with two fasteners in one direction
antenna secured with pvc pipe in one direction

After with four fasteners in two directions
antenna secured with pvc pipe in two directions

My Deck is Sponsored by Oregon State University

My school’s colors are orange and black. So is my deck. How cool is that? An orange and black deck. Everyone should have one.

Oregon State themed deck - Go Beavers!

I wish I could say that an Oregon State themed deck was my intent from the start, but it wasn’t. I looked at the stain chart at Home Depot and picked bright tamra. In the sample, it was a nice brown color. But on my deck, it was orange.

I almost stopped staining after only a few minutes. A normal person would have stopped, but not me. My itty bitty brain told me it would be OK because the paint will get darker after it has dried. So I went ahead and stained the entire deck. After I was done, the deck was still orange. Next day, orange. A week later, orange. In my sleep, orange.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think orange is an unusual color for a deck. Kinda like having a normal kid (I wonder what’s that like). I thought about striping the stain and starting over with another color. But that’s just too much work. Yeah I know, I’m lazy. Instead, I decided I should just go with it. So I painted the posts, fascia, and stairs black. I didn’t want it to be completely black so I wiped the paint with a rag within a minute after brushing it on. Wiping the wet paint allowed the cherrytone color of the wood to bleed through a little.

So there you have, the story behind my orange and black deck. For those of you who want an Oregon State themed deck (who wouldn’t?), I used Behr Solid Color Stain (bright tamra) and Behr Exterior Flat Paint (beluga). An orange and black deck also works well for those of you who like to celebrate Halloween year round, which would be everyone.

Helpful tip: Use roller a to stain the deck. A pad leaves over-lap marks and a brush takes too long for a large deck.

Clap On, Clap Off

indoor digital wall switch timer for outdoor lights

If you replaced your normal outdoor bulbs with Halloween bulbs, you will discover something annoying. You have to remember to turn on the outdoor lights at night and turn them off before you go to bed. Here’s a simple tip: install a timer switch for your outdoor lights. I don’t mean one of those timer you plug into an outlet. I’m talking about a timer that replaces your light switch (see photo).

The timer isn’t just for Halloween and Christmas lights. You can also use the timer to control your lights when you are out for the evening or out of town. We actually got our timer to light up the porch to discourage pranksters. We live in a fairly good neighborhood, but had problems once or twice at night. Ever since we turned on our porch lights, we have not had any more pranksters.

princess m as a toddler in an oregon state beavers cheer leader outfit

The timer is very easy to install, just remove the old switch and replace it with the timer. You only need to connect two wires and you don’t need to figure out which wire is the hot wire and which one is the common (unless you have a three way switch). This is very important: don’t forget to turn off the power at the fuse box first. Otherwise your hair could look like the one in the photo on the right.

I purchased my digital timer for $20 at Home Depot. I saw another one for a dollar less. You don’t want that one. It has a rotary knob for setting the time and for programming the switch. If you have to change one item, you have to reset everything. Very annoying — especially since the sun sets and raises at a different time every day. Eventually you will have to change the on and off time, which means you have to re-setup everything again. The digital timer lets you set each item separately. You can even set it to automatically adjust the sunset/sunrise time.

Note: the timer does not work well with fluorescent bulbs.

Captain America Shield

Captain America Shield (frisbee)I was at Target the other day and somehow I ended up in the Halloween section. I noticed they had a Captain America costume for kids, but I don’t think it came with a shield. If your kid has his heart set on being Captain America this Halloween, you can make him a shield to complete the look. Take at look at the two shields I made this summer.

I made the first shield with an old frisbee-like toy. It had a velcro pad on one side for catching tennis balls. I popped off the rim and removed the velcro pad. Then I removed the straps (the black items you see in the photo). I used leftover latex paint to paint the pattern. I free-handed it, but I should have masked the pattern I wanted because it was hard for me to paint the circular pattern smoothly. It didn’t really matter because Spiderboy loves the shield. He even slept with it every night for a week.

After the paint dried, I put back the rim and black straps. If you use a frisbee, you can either cut a couple of slits to make your shield handle or use a glue gun to attach straps or a plastic handle.

Captain America Shield (front)I made the second shield with a broken plant saucer. The saucer was clear so I spray painted it with red Rust-Oleum gloss enamel. The glossy enamel gives the shield a real nice sheen. After letting it dried for a couple of days, I masked off the outer shield with newspaper. Then I spray painted the inner circle blue. For the white ring, I masked off the outer red ring with newspaper and the inner red/blue rings with a circular cardboard cutout. The cardboard didn’t produce a good seal so some of the white paint bled onto the red paint. It’s not too noticeable, but if you don’t want any paint overlap, then go to a craft store and purchase some masking material. (Note: Wait as long as possible before masking. I actually peeled off a small section of the paint when I removed the painter’s tape.)

Captain America Shield (back)I made the star out of a white envelope box and glued it onto the shield. You can also paint the star on, but I didn’t want to mask the shield again. I made the handle by hot gluing a frisbee-like toy (see first shield) to the back of the shield.

The second shield I made looks really sharp and I was worried Spiderboy might claim it for his own. But he likes his shield better. I think it’s because his shield is smaller and easier to play with it. So far Spiderboy has only taken my shield a few times.

Halloween Curtains

I bought a couple of Halloween table cloths at Dollar Tree. My thinking was that we could use them for our Halloween party. A few days later I found them in our bathroom (along with spider web all over our mirror). My wife turned the table cloths into shower curtains. She used safety pins to wrap the top of the table cloths around the curtain rod. This hack will also work for window curtains. You can pinned the table cloth around the window rod or on the existing curtains if you don’t want to take them down. So if you are looking for Halloween curtains, just buy a couple of cheap table cloths and pin them up. My wife is so clever.

Note: We don’t shower in the downstairs bathroom so I’m not sure how waterproof the table cloths are.

Halloween Curtains from table cloths

Fairy Room for Princess M

We play musical chairs with the rooms in our house. Princess M’s current room was the exercise room. Before that, the exercise room was a guest room that was never used. For some reason, the outlaws prefer to sleep on the couch downstairs. Spiderboy’s new room was Princess M’s old room, which was a nursery before that.

Before we moved Princess M into her new room (about a year ago), I put in track lighting. The browntone fixture looks like a bird with giant wings. The lamp shades have a warm orange-red glow when the lights are on. Yes, I know track lighting is normally mounted on the ceiling, but it was easier for me to run wires from a switch-conntrolled outlet to its current spot. If I mounted it on the ceiling, I would have to drill holes through multiple ceiling joists and I would have a lot of patching to do afterwards. BTW, if you’re going to mount track lighting to a wall, be sure to attach the track supports to wall studs. Wall anchors in drywall will not support the track light.

After a coat of creamy yellow paint, my wife decorated the room with fairies, butterflies, flowers, and dragonflies. The wall art are actually “wallies” purchased at Target. I don’t think Target actually sells them anymore. The last time I saw them, Target had them on clearance in their home improvement section. You could probably find them online by doing a search for wallies. Unlike the Spiderman wall stickers, the fairy wallies required using a wet towel to apply to the wall. If you have a choice, I would suggest the peel and stick kind. They are a lot easier to apply.

We didn’t know what to do with the space above the track light, so we placed my wife’s doll collection up there. Mommy Forever started collecting dolls when we first started dating. Most men make women swoon, but not me. Go on a date with me and you’ll start collecting dolls too. I have that kind of affect on women. Back to the dolls, as you can see in the first photo, one of the doll is missing. That’s the drawback to putting stuff up there — you have to get a ladder if something falls off.

Princess M loves her fairy room. But after we finished the Spiderman room, Princess M said she wants me to paint her room pink and purple. Spiderboy’s room has two colors and she wants two colors too. Create a Spiderman room and Spiderboy wants a Nemo room. Create a fairy room and Princess M wants a pink and purple room. Why do I even bother?

track lighting

fairy room

fairy wallies

dragonfly wallies

Spiderman Room for Spiderboy

[8/2/07 Update: I wrote this post almost a year ago, but I’m still get hits on it. Based on people’s comments, I decide to update it a little.]

Spiderman theme roomLook at Spiderboy’s new room. It use to be the nursery, but it’s his room now. I painted the walls grenadine red (S-G-180D) and cerulean blue (560B-7D). I used Behr paint purchased at Home Depot. You can usually get paint on sale during holidays like Labor Day, President’s Day, Memorial Weekend, July 4th, and a few other holidays. Actually, if I had to do it all over again, I would either buy cheaper paint (I normally prefer to use a high quality paint so I don’t have to paint again down the road) or paint the room in a neutral color. The reason? Spiderboy will eventually out-grow this room, which means I have to repaint the room again unless I used a neutral color. In fact, a day after I showed him his new room, Spiderboy said he wants me to return his Spiderman room. He wants a Nemo room now.

[Update: If you are going to use the Behr grenadine red, you will most likely need to prime the walls first. I didn’t use primer and after two coats, I could still see where the roller overlapped. Ideally, you should use red primer, but there’s usually only enough room in the can to tint the primer pink. You might also need to use primer for the cerulean blue. I can see overlaps after one coat of the blue. I had enough leftover blue to apply a second coat if I wanted to, but the overlap wasn’t as noticeable as the red. After you stick on the border and wall stickers, the overlaps are even less noticeable.]

spider web for Spiderman roomThe wall border ($10 for 15′ roll) and stickers ($12) were purchased at Sears. I only needed three sets because of the window and closet. Don’t get real wall paper border unless you want to keep the border forever. They are too hard to remove. Instead use the peel and stick kind. They are removable, repositionable, don’t need glue, and won’t peel off the paint. The border sticks fairly well. However, a few of the wall stickers have started to come off. But all you have to do is press down on them again.

[Update: If you have little toddlers in the house, you should place the wall stickers out of their reach. Our little monkey has been peeling them off and crumpling them up in her hand.]

Mommy Forever actually painted the spider and web. I used a laser level to help her draw the straight lines. She did all the rest herself — including the Spiderman head above the closet. Mommy Forever is the artist in the family. I’m just the geek sexy stud.

Spiderman comforter and pillowWe also purchased a Spiderman comforter ($27) and pillow ($13) for him at K-mart. They didn’t have any twin sheet sets in stock. Currently, there’s only two retailers in my area that carry Spiderman bed sets.

Now that I have the room mostly completed, Spiderboy wants a Spiderman lamp. Apparently, he doesn’t think the Tweety lamp (from the old nursery) belongs in his Spiderman room. Of course, no one sells the Spiderman lamp anymore. Unless I go online, the lamp will have to wait until Spiderman 3 comes out next May.

[Update: You can get the Spiderman lamp, bed set, wall stickers, and borders at Target now. The lamp is in the same area as the bed set, but the border and wall stickers are located in the home improvement section.]