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  • DIY Home Security Camera Surveillance System - Part 1

    Have you ever considered the purchase of a good security camera system? If you are like most consumers, there is so much information about the different types of camera systems that it makes it difficult to know where to begin. I can certainly relate to your confusion. I was in your very shoes at one time. However, after implementing my Amcrest system and having more than a year to work with the cameras and software, I can confidently recommend my set-up to anyone who wants the piece of mind that comes with having a reliable, good quality camera system. Read on to see how you can set-up a DIY home security camera system so that you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your family, home and contents have an additional measure of protection and safety. Surveillance System Series Content This article is the first in a series of six articles written to give you all of the necessary information to install a good and reliable camera system while helping to remove any uncertainty associated with purchasing the proper hardware. I upcoming articles I will discuss the different types hardware available in an attempt to answer many of your questions. Simply put, the goal of this series is to help you determine the appropriate system to ensure proper protection of your most valued assists. Allow me now to give you an outline of the content in the upcoming articles Best Cameras for Your Outdoor Surveillance System In the second article I intend to explain why I purchased Power over Ethernet cameras, (referred to as PoE Cameras), and why I highly recommend that you purchase PoE cameras rather than the various wireless cameras that are often promoted as better solutions for your home. Surveillance System Design & Layout In the third article I will talk about the importance of designing and lying out your system to ensure proper camera placement. I will include installation tips and ideas to help you determine the best locations to mount your cameras. Careful planning and proper layout of your cameras is vital in order to achieve maximum coverage of your home’s parameter. While camera placement is important, you also must give consideration to your ability to access your intended mounting points. Easy access these mounting locations will become critical when installing your Ethernet cable runs. With an established layout plan, you can easily determine wire run distances and calculate wire footage and material cost. System Components & Cost In the fourth article of this series I will provide you with a detailed overview of my Amcrest system. I will review the specifications, capabilities and of the Amcrest NVR - Network Video Recorder. I will review the 1080p POE Bullet IP Security Cameras. In addition I will discuss the specific size and cost of the add-on Surveillance Hard Drive. I will show you how you can easily install the hard drive via the instructions provided in the Amcrest quick start guide. I will furnish product links so to that you can investigate the details of my system and consider product reviews. Finally, I will list the various components that I purchased and discuss the total associated costs. System Installation & Setup In the fifth article I will explain how to properly connect and test your cables to ensure a proper connection and broadcast signal. I will give you information and cost on the tools need to assemble and test your cables. I will also demonstrate how easy it can be to make your own cables with the proper tools. System Monitoring In the final article I will demonstrate how to use the Amcrest system to view camera activity either on your PC or Smartphone. I will demonstrate live streams and show you how to search recorded content for specific events. After reading this series I am certain that you will come to the same conclusion that I did; the relatively low cost and minimal effort needed to install a good and reliable camera system is not only a good idea, it is also a very wise investment. The peace of mind I have gained by after installing my Amcrest system is invaluable to me. Thanks for reading this intro segment on Home Video Surveillance. We’ll see you in the next segment! My System Components The following are the components of my current security surveillance system Amcrest NV4108E-HS Amcrest ProHD Outdoor 1080P POE Bullet IP Security Cameras WD Purple 4TB Surveillance Hard Disk Drive Cat5e Ethernet Network LAN Cable 500ft Optional Installation & testing items: Tonor Network Lan Cable Tester (compatible with RJ45 RJ11 RJ12 CAT5 CAT6 ) 5 Port Fast Ethernet Switch TRENDnet 8P Crimp, Cut, and Strip Tool Cat5e RJ45 Connector

  • How to Control SmartThings Devices with Amazon Alexa Commands

    YouTube Video: SmartThings works with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap. When Amazon Alexa is connected to SmartThings devices, you may use voice commands on your Echo Dot and Fire Stick to instruct Alexa to control light bulbs, on/off switches, dimmer switches, thermostats, locks, and to perform various Routines that are configured within SmartThings app. Alexa can also check the status of motion and contact sensors. For the purposes of this article I am assuming that you are SmartThings user and that you have already installed the SmartThings mobile app for your Android or iOS device. If this is not the case you need to download the SmartThings mobile app for your Android or iOS device and create an account -- here is a link below on how to perform SmartThings Hub & Sensor Set-ups This article also assumes that you own one or more Amazon Alexa devices. An Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Echo Plus. If you do not own these devices you may be persuaded to purchase them after watching this video. I’ll leave some Amazon Alexa device links in the description for your consideration. After you set up your Amazon Alexa device(s), you will need to download the Amazon Alexa mobile app form the Apple App Store or the Android Play Store and install it on your iPhone or Android device. Steps to Connect Amazon Alexa Devices with Samsung SmartThings Devices There are 12 steps to Connect Amazon Alexa with SmartThings. For your convenience I will leave these 12 steps as instructions below: Open your Amazon App. Tap the Smart Home menu. The home icon in the bottom right. Scroll to Your "Smart Home Skills" at the bottom. Tap "Enable Smart Home Skills". Enter “SmartThings” in the search field. Tap "Enable" for SmartThings. Log in using your Samsung or SmartThings account. Tap "Log in". Choose your SmartThings Location in the From: menu. Tap "Authorize". (NOTE: You can limit the devices Alexa accesses later in the SmartThings app). Once authorized, the following message appears: “Alexa has been successfully linked with SmartThings.” Tap “done” to begin device discovery. In the previous 12 steps, you gave Amazon Alexa permission to access your SmartThings devices, Scenes, and Routines. Now your Amazon Alexa device needs to “discover” or locate the devices, Scenes and Routines. How Amazon Discovers Your SmartThings Devices After closing the success message in the previous steps, the Alexa app will automatically direct you to discover devices. Tap "Discover Devices". You will see a message “Alexa is discovering devices” A progress bar appears in the Amazon Alexa app while Alexa looks for SmartThings devices and Routines you have authorized access to. This takes about 20 seconds. Wait for device discovery to complete. Click on [X], "Close” When discovery completes, discovered devices will list under "Devices" and Scenes and Routines under Scenes in the Smart Home section of the Amazon Alexa app. You will also see an “Add Group” message advising you that you can Tap the “+” sign to add a group to control multiple devices as once. Now you’re done with setup and ready to use Alexa’s hands-free voice control for your SmartThings devices. You can do things like: “Alexa, turn on/off the Basement Desk Lamp.” “Alexa, set the Front Porch Lights to 90.” (Brightness can be modified on a scale of 0 - 100.) “Alexa, what is the temperature in my home?” “Alexa, what is the temperature in my Garage”; “Garage Back Door” “Alexa, what is the temperature in my Living Room?” “Alexa, is the Living Room Door open?” Other things you can do depending on your device list are "Check if the back door locked" ; "Set kitchen thermostat to 70 degrees” Routines You can also turn on various Routines. Routines are changes to a group of devices that occur whenever you tell Alexa to run routine’s name. For instance, you may set a number of smart devices to open your blinds, turn on several lights, start the coffee pot and give you the morning news briefing when ever you say “Alexa, Run Good Morning” Your Amazon Alexa devices can elevate your SmartThings devices to a whole new level of automation. These devices are relatively inexpensive and quite practical. If you are interested in sourcing price and product information please check out the links in this article or follow the links provide in the description information under my YouTube video. Amazon Device Links * * Fire TV Stick * * Ethernet Adapter for Fire TV Devices * * Echo Dot (2nd Generation) * * Echo Dot (3rd Gen) * * Echo Dot (3rd Gen) bundle w/ Smart Plug * * Echo Plus (2nd Gen) * * Echo Plus (2nd Gen) & Philips Bulb Browse & Shop Amazon for other popular Smart Home Devices! You may also like these ** Website SPECIALS ** - Discount for signing up for Amazon Prime!! - Prime Student Deal | 50 Million Songs | Just $0.99 Per Month - Amazon's Most Popular Gift Ideas (Updated Daily) - Amazon's Hot New Releases (Updated Every Hour) - Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks - Audible Romance Free Trial - Access to 16,000 Woodworking Projects Limited Time Click here to access my YouTube Channel for more great household tips!

  • Make Your SmartPhone a Presence Sensor for SmartThings

    In prior articles I mentioned that the SmartThings App gives you the ability to set-up your Smart devices, either a tablet or smartphone with cellular service, as a presence sensor. You may be wondering how to accomplish this. I’ll take you through the easy steps to setup this functionality in this helpful article. Enable Location Services for your SmartThings App If you already have your SmartThings app installed on your phone but you are not currently using your Smartphones as presence sensors, your first step in to turn on location services for the SmartThings app. To do this: 1. Go to your phone’s settings; 2. Find SmartThings in the list of your installed apps; 3. Click on the SmartThings icon and find “Location” and set Location to “Always” Allow Location Access; Setting up Your Location in the SmartThings App Once location services is enable on then you need to set up your Location in the SmartThings app. The following instructions are specific to setting up your location in the SmartThings Classic app. To Add a Location in the SmartThings Classic app: Tap the More menu (the three stacked lines in the lower right corner) Tap the gear icon beside the Location To choose a different Location, tap the dropdown arrow and then tap the gear icon for the Location Add a Location Name - Tap to edit. Add a Location Picture - Tap to take your own photo or choose one from our library. Tap the map for Location Placement - The red pin should automatically center on your GPS coordinates. If needed, long press to place the pin in a new spot on the map, or tap and hold the pin to drag it. Set the preferred circumference for your Location Geofence - Tap the map. Tap and drag the dot to change the size of the geofence surrounding your home. How to Add a Cellular Phone or Tablet as a Presence Sensor You can enable this feature at any time by following these steps in the SmartThings Classic app: Tap Marketplace (The image beside the 3 stacked lines on the bottom right - looks sort of like a circus tent.) Under Things, tap Sensors Tap Presence Sensors Tap Mobile Phone Tap Connect Now Give your device a name and select an image Tap Done How to view, edit , or remove a mobile device In the SmartThings Classic app: Tap My Home Tap Things or Family Select the device Tap the gear icon Security Related Smart Device Product List: ** SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit ** SmartThings Motion Sensor ** Dome Siren ** Arrival Sensor ** Wireless Smart Security Camera Browse & Shop Amazon for Popular Smart Home Devices! You may also appreciate these ** Website SPECIALS ** - Discount for signing up for Amazon Prime!! - Prime Student Deal | 50 Million Songs | Just $0.99 Per Month - Amazon's Most Popular Gift Ideas (Updated Daily) - Amazon's Hot New Releases (Updated Every Hour) - Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks - Audible Romance Free Trial - Access to 16,000 Woodworking Projects Limited Time Click here to access my YouTube Channel for more great household tips!

  • 12 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Smarter With SmartThings!

    Would you like to make your home smarter? Then SmartThings devices can make it happen. Read on to learn about the 12 ways SmartThings devices have made my home more automated and secure. Smart Things devices are easily paired to a hub that is connected to you home’s WiFi. The hub monitors and manages all compatible Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wifi and Bluetooth LE devices and allows you to control these devices from the SmartThings application (The Free App is installed on your IOS or Android Smartphone). In addition to uniting all your smart products together, the app also helps them to work together in what is known as “routines”. The automation of these devices can make life more convenient and secure. Here are 12 reasons why I feel that installing SmartThings is a fantastic idea. 1 - Automated Security Alarm upon Departure SmartThings is programmed with GPS sensing capability. The SmartThings hub sets a geofence around our property and uses your smartphones or a SmartThings proximity sensor to determine your presence or lack of. As such, the hub can determine when any member of our household arrives or departs from your home. Because of this capability, you can set the alarm to an active state when all family departs from your home. If your home is breached while everyone is away, the alarm will sound and all devices with receive notification of a breach. If you have camera installed, you can then access the cameras to determine if any dubious activity is occurring and notify the authorities. When any member of the family returns home the alarm can be set to automatically disarm prior to your entry into your home. What you need: SmartThings Hub Dome Siren SmartThings Arrival Sensors or personal Smartphones Indoor and/or Outdoor Cameras (optional) 2 - Auto Security Alarm during Evening Hours. My alarm is programmed to auto set to active state in the evening. Furthermore it automatically disarms in the morning. I have a lamp the signals when the alarm is active to remind family members of the need to disarm the alarm prior to opening a door. What you need: SmartThings Hub Dome Siren Z-Wave Door Sensors (one for every exterior door) SmartThings F-Out-US-2 Outlet (to control the lamp) 3 - Determine if the Garage Door is Open & Auto Close the Garage Door Who hasn’t left their home wondering if they forgot to secure the garage door? SmartThings is programmed to check my garage door after the last family member departs from home. If found open, SmartThings closes the door and notifies family members that the home is secured. It also is set to automatically close the door one half hour before sunset. I also have a routing that is set to sense my arrival and auto open the garage door upon my entry into the driveway. What you need: SmartThings Hub GoControl Fixture-Mounted Control Module (Works as a momentary switch, "press button" to open and close the garage door) Garage Door Tilt Sensor (determines if the garage door is open or closed) SmartThings Arrival Sensor or Smartphone 4 - Lights and Chime When Activity is Detected on Porch I have a motion sensor to detect activity on my porch. The sensor is intelligent enough to disfurnish between a small animal (pet friendly) and an actual person. Upon sensing activity, I have a routine that triggers the lamp in our entertainment room to flash and I have our alarm make an audible chime. The lights on the porch are set to come on at 100 percent brightness for three minutes and dim for a couple of minutes before turning off. We can bring up our cameras on our TV or PC to determine who is on our porch. What you need: SmartThings Hub SmartThings Motion Sensor Dome Siren (Chime Mode) GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Lighting Control Light Dimmer Switch SmartThings F-Out-US-2 Outlet 5 - Turn Lights On & Off Automatically Some of my room lights are set to turn on automatically when I enter the room. They can also be auto turned off after a determined delay, once activity stops in any given room. What you need: SmartThings Hub SmartThings Motion Sensor GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Lighting Control Light Dimmer Switch - or - SmartThings F-Out-US-2 Outlet 6 - Auto On/Off Heating Pad Nothing is worse than crawling into a cold bed on a snowy winter night. Not a problem if you heating pad is plugged into a smart switch. The switch can be programmed to turn on 15 minutes before bedtime so that your bed will be warm and toasty when you slip between those sheets. You can also activate the switch with your smartphone or other smart device. What you need: SmartThings Hub SmartThings F-Out-US-2 Outlet 7 - Temperature Sensors in all Door Open/Close Sensors As stated previously is a door is breached while the alarm is armed a notification is sent to smart devices. These sensors can also report the temperature of each door surface. The system can be programmed to automatically notify family members when the temperature exceeds specified perimeters. This could be used to monitor you home for the possibility of a house fire. What you need: SmartThings Hub Z-Wave Door Sensors Smartphone 8 - Auto On/Off Christmas Lights. During the winter season I have my exterior lights turn on automatically at a half hour after twilight and then turn off at midnight. What you need: SmartThings Hub GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Lighting Control Light Dimmer Switch - or - SmartThings F-Out-US-2 Outlet 9 - Chime when Door Sensor is Opened A pleasant chime announces when any individual door is opened. SmartThings can be programmed to announce the opening of any number of doors. Additionally, the chime can be restricted to ring during certain times frames of particular days. What you need: SmartThings Hub Dome Siren (Chime Mode) Smartphone 10 - Family Notifications of Departure & Arrival Since SmartThings has a geofence and presence sensors, the device can notify other family members when another member departs home or arrives safely back home. What you need: SmartThings Hub Smartphones 11 - Alexa Integration for Voice Commands SmartThings can be pared with the Echo and can be used to turn individual devices on or off. I use Alexa to “Close the Garage Door”, “Turn off the light”, “Check the Garage temperature”, “Unlock a Door”, “Arm the Security Alarm” and many others. What you need: SmartThings Hub Amazon Echo Dot Appropriate Z-Wave Connected Devices. 12 - Armed Stay Option If my wife is home and wants an extra measure of security she can select the Armed Stay option which arms the security system while she is at home. What you need: SmartThings Hub Dome Siren Z-Wave Door Sensors There are countless other smart devices that can do household tasks such as turn water valves on or off, control a thermostat or sense if a water leak is beginning in your basement. These devices are easily paired and programmed with the SmartThings app. I feel that purchasing SmartThings is one of the smartest decisions I have made. You can easily begin making you home smart with the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit. It is extremely economical at around $165.00 and it includes everything you need to begin making your home a smart home. This kit will enable you to connect compatible appliances, lights, speakers, locks, cameras, thermostats, sensors, appliances and more. Get started today and feel more secure, all without monthly recurring security service fees! Browse & Shop Amazon for Popular Smart Home Devices!

  • Restoring Oxidized Vinyl Shutters

    There are many articles out there claiming to have the magic solution to removing oxidation from your vinyl window shutters and restoring the color and luster of your shutters so that they look like they did when you had them originally installed. In reality, the secret will not necessarily be found in the products you buy. Read on to find what I discovered to be the secret to success for your vinyl restoration project. In this article I will compare two three methods of restoring window shutters. The three methods I tested is to clean three panels for a side by side comparison of the effectiveness of these methods as compared to the untouched oxidizes panel. The process I use was to clean the three test panels with a solution of Dawn Dish soap, Vinegar and water. The ratio of this solution was 1/4 cup dish soap, one cup of white vinegar to one Gallon of water. After a good scubing of the test panels with good stiff brush, I allowed the solution to soak a while on the panel, but not so long that the solution began to dry. When removing oxidation, it is very important to rinse thoroughly after cleaning or the oxidation will merely redeposit on your panels or siding. After a thorough rinsing, it is important that you allow the panels to dry completely before applying any products to the vinyl. This is to ensure that your do not dilute or otherwise compromise the effectiveness of the topical agent. On my three test panels I compared Rejuvenate Restorer Wipes, Armor All wipes and good ole fashioned elbow grease to discover which method best restores and preserves the vinyl shutters back to their original color and luster. If you are interested in viewing the process and actual result, be sure to click on the following Restoring Oxidized Vinyl Shutters video link. What I discovered after my initial application of these products may surprise you. So I promised that would reveal the secret to success for your vinyl restoration project. After the initial application of these products i was initially displeased with the outcome. Upon further research I discovered that you are to use your finger nail to scratch the surface of your vinyl shutters once you done a proper cleaning. If after scratching on the surface of the shutters, you note a significant color difference between the area scratched and the rest of the panel, then oxidation remains. If this is the case, despite the product that you choose, the color and luster achieve once you apply the product will likely cause you to be less than satisfied. In the video link I provide my solution to effectively removing the oxidation that remained on my panels after cleaning them with a brush. I appears that the brush was effective in removing the dirt, but was ineffective in removing most of the oxidation. In lieu of the brush, I scrubbed each test panel with Scotch Bright Scrubbing pads. This cleaning method proved to be very effective in removing the oxidation that remained on my panels. With my panels properly cleaned, I then applied the Rejuvenate and Armor All wipes to two of the three cleaned panels. The results were vastly different from the outcome of my initial test as you can see in the provided video. So the moral of the story? There is no substitute for good old fashioned elbow grease. The proper scrubbing of the panels made all the difference! By the way... I glad you read through to the end of this article. I am assuming this means that you found this information useful. That being the case, let me encourage you to check out my YouTube Channel, Bud's Odd Jobs, for more interesting content and money saving ideas for the DIY Homeowner. Thanks!

  • The Wonder Winder - A Great Electrical Cord Storage Device!

    Every once in awhile you come across one of those homeowner items that you just cannot imagine doing without. Well the Wonder Winder is one of those items. I was given this item as a gift more than five years ago and it has held-up and performed wonderfully. Allow me tell you how this unit can easily manage your extension cords. Over the years I used various cord retrieval and storage devices. There are certainly cheaper units out there. I have used the floor standing cord reels and the reels that have the center spin handle. The drawback that I experienced with these units is that you need to two or more hands to unreel and retrieve the cord making any task more time consuming and difficult. With the Wonder Winder, you do not have this hassle. This unit is very durable. It is simply designed and it works extremely well. Once you install the unit, you simply thread your extension cord through the top end of the unit and down through and between the pressure paddle and the rubber coated rotating wheel. Once the cord is threaded down through the friction wheel, you simply pull the cord through the device, down though the nylon holding basket. You want to stretch enough length of cord to reach your receptacle and then secure the cord to bottom of the basket with the cord anchor. The Wonder Winder is portable. It is designed to be used both indoors and outdoors. It comes with a reversible handle so it can used right or left handed. The unit holds up to 75-feet of 12/3 cord, 100-feet of 14/3 cord, or up to 150-feet of 16/3 cord. I am using 100 feet of 14/3 cord and I am able to wind the full length up neatly in about 30 seconds. What is nice is I can have my hands full with tools and just grab the end of the cord and head out to start my home project. I do not need to worry about tangling and snags. And when the project is completed I simply wind the cord back to neatly store it for the next project. Retrieving the cord is simple. You just apply light pressure as your turn the rotating crank handle. This action allows you to quickly and easily retrieve your cord and store it neatly in the nylon mesh basket suspended below the unit. No more snags or tangles! Wonder Winder makes two different models: * Model # WW-2D * Model # WW-1 Both models are sold with 2 standard mounts so that you can interchange the device between two different mounting locations. You simply undock the device from one location and quickly connect to a 2nd location. Model WW-1 comes with a fixed base mount. To secure the Wonder Winder to the base you simply push it into the base and turn to lock it into place. With the fixed base mount, the unit does not swivel. Model WW-2D comes with a swivel mount bracket with two mounting plates for easy attachment to a wall, post or other flat surface near an electrical outlet. Again, the 2 mounting plates allow the unit to quickly and easily be moved from one spot to another. I prefer and recommend the swivel mount (Model WW-2D) because it enables the unit to pivot allowing you to extract the cord from an angle without putting lateral pressure on the mounting base. A fixed base unit (Model WW-1) would be fine for a situation where you are always pulling the cord out in a straight run from the unit. I will leave information and reviews links on both units in the video description below. You will find that both are highly rated by those who purchased them. Either unit can be purchased for around $25. I am confident that you will agree that this unit is will worth this price. With the Wonder Winder, you'll never have to waste time untangling and coiling extension cords again. Either unit comes with two twist-lock mounting plates that attach to a wall of your shop, garage, or basement, or outside of your house--anywhere you have an outlet. You can then just move the Wonder Winder from one location to another as you need it. And best yet, it's backed by a 3-year warranty. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and you find home repair and product reviews helpful, be sure to subscribe to my site so that you won’t miss my newly released content. And more importantly, when you need to tackle those various odd jobs around the home, be sure to do them with safety in mind. https://amzn.to/3GY3Li5

  • Great Gift Ideas for the DIY Dad

    It is never too soon to begin thinking about gift for your special Do It Yourself Dad. So as an experienced DIY'er and longtime homeowner, let me offer you 10 great father's day gifts that are certain to please any DIY Dad. #1. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player This is a no brainer for the Tech Dad. He just needs to plug Fire TV Stick into the HDTV and he can start streaming in minutes. Using the Alexa Voice Remote to find and watch more than 190 channels and apps. With the fastest Wi-Fi and most accurate voice search of any streaming media stick, shows and movies start faster and stream smoother than ever. #2. DEWALT DWMT75049 Mechanics Tools Set (192 Piece) This is a great idea for the new and blooming DIY dad. This set offers a 72-tooth gear system is designed for high torque ratcheting and a low profile directional lever helps reduce catch points and for easy one-hand operation. This all precisely fits into a durable molded case for easy storage and tool protection. #3. DEWALT DW088K Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser The laser projects bright crossing horizontal and vertical lines with accuracy within 1/8 of an inch at 30 feet. Its full-time pulse mode allows for use with a detector, maintaining full brightness for visibility while extending the working range of the laser to 165 feet. Ideal for the DIY dad tasked with projects such as installing floor and wall tile or mapping wall layout. #4. DEWALT DCF680N2 8V Max Gyroscopic Screwdriver 2 Battery Kit The motion activation makes it easier for the DIY Dad to tackle all those project around the home. He can drive screws comfortably just by turning his wrist to engage the drive. The adjustable 2-position handle lets him stay comfortable wherever he is working. #5. Cobiz Brightest 4 Modes LED Headlight The Cobiz’ innovative LED lamp is strong enough to guide your Father through the some of the deepest, darkest conditions. It is waterproof and rechargeable and is equipped with four lighting levels up to 6000 lumens. This light will keep Dad's hands free when he is working at night or tinkering in a dark garage. #6. Moongo Universal Socket This is universal wrench adapter attachment for power drills and ratchet wrenches that instantly adjusts to grip hex nuts, hooks, eye and lag screws, bolt heads, and other various shape and size objects. This magic grip is perfect for home improvement and household maintenance. Is is self adjusting from standard 1/4in to 3/4in and metric 7mm to 19mm with over 125 pounds of torque. #7. Blendx Magnetic Wristband Whether your Father is tasked with a DIY home improvement project or a simple fix-it job around the house, this versatile magnetic wristband is the perfect third helping hand to complement his hard working style. #8. AMIR Motion Sensor Lights These stick on anywhere light sticks feature auto-on within 10 feet, auto-off after 12-17 seconds of no motion detected. Since no tools, screws or nuts are required they are the perfect gift to provide Dad with a well deserved break on Father's Day. #9. Smith's 50603 Mower Blade Sharpener This handheld Mower Blade Sharpener is the perfect tool to help Dad keep his mower blades in prime condition. This simple and easy to use sharpener uses a preset carbide blade to quickly put a smooth, sharp edge on your mower blade in just minutes. #10 DEWALT DGL523 Lighted Tool Backpack Bag The DeWalt LED-lighted tool backpack features 48 internal pockets to help keep Dad organized and productive. The tool bag can hold a drill, extension cords, pliers, screwdrivers, wrench sets, drill bits, electrical testers, most any tool can be placed in this lighted heavy-duty tool bag.

  • Should You Lease or Purchase a Cable Modem?

    If you are viewing this article from the comfort of your residence you are likely getting data through a signal from your local ISP (Internet Service Provider). Your internet signal is being translated through a cable modem. Your modem receives the data and a router distributes the data signal to your various home devices. Cable companies typically provide a cable modem for a monthly lease fee. One possible way to save some of your hard earned income is to replace the ISP’s modem with purchased hardware. In this article I will help you explore the pros and cons of a purchased modem. Purchasing a modem comes with the responsibility to troubleshoot any potential connection problems that occur and/or any hardware problems that may result in modem failure. Even though most modem connection issues can easily be resolved by resetting the modem simply by unplugging the modem for a couple of minutes and then restoring power by plugging it back in, if the idea of tackling possible modem issues cause you anxiety and you do not have a go to person that can help your troubleshoot, then you may want to keep your leased modem. However, if you're comfortable with how to reset a modem, then you may want to read on to learn about the benefits of a purchasing a cable modem. Before running off to get your hardware let’s first confirm that your modem is leased. To do this you just take a quick glance at your monthly bill. If you are renting the modem you will see a “modem rental fee” listed on your invoice with an associated monthly price. Next, you will want to put a pencil to paper to determine if the savings will justify the cost of purchasing your own hardware. When my cable modem fee increased from 5 to 10 dollars a month I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. Now instead of paying $120 dollars each year to lease an ISP modem, I paid a one time cost of $48 dollars and some change for an Motorola ARRIS Cable Modem and saved over $70.00 my first year’s cable bill. Actually, over the past four years I have a total savings of over $430.00. That is significant savings that can be used on other home improvement needs! If you decide you want to buy a modem you should call your ISP or check your provider’s website for list of approved modems. When I bought my Motorola SURFboard Model SB6141 Modem, I was purchasing the exact same model that that was installed by my ISP. That way I could be confident that my purchased modem would be compatible with my internet provider. When buying a modem be aware that many ISPs require DOCSIS 3.0 modems for higher speed internet tiers. What is DOCSIS? DOCSIS is an acronym meaning Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. DOCSIS is a telecommunications standard used to provide Internet access via a cable modem. It is important because it is a key element in providing modem manufacturers and network service providers a common method for products to work together in a predictable manner. When compared to DOCSIS 2.0, DOCSIS 3.0 is simply a more recent version of the standard. The most visible difference to users is that DOCSIS 3.0 modems provide the highest possible service speeds. That is why many service providers require DOCSIS 3.0 modems for their higher speed service tiers. With your compatible modem in hand, simply follow your ISP’s instructions for activating your modem. My service provider listed four easy steps that took me less the five minutes to get connected: First, find the modem ID (MAC Address). The MAC address is typically located on the bottom of the modem (usually follows letters “MAC” or “EA”) Next, connect one end of a coaxial cable to a live cable outlet and the other end to the "IN" port of your purchased modem. Now use the phone number associated with your account to identify yourself in the automated system and say, “activate”. Once you are connected with an agent, simply provide him or her with your modem’s MAC address and the agent will add your new modem to your account and activate it for service. So why might you want to keep a leased modem? One reason is that the ISP has installed the appropriate modem for your Internet service plan and speed tier. Therefore if you buy a modem that is not fully compatible or does not have the correct specification you may get less than optimal performance. Another good reason to retain a leased modem is if your service provider plans on upgrading their system any time soon. You want to be sure to ask your provider if any such plans are pending. If you are leasing a modem, when such changes occur you’ll get a new modem when they upgrade their systems. On the other hand, if you have a purchased modem you may need to buy new hardware. Probably the most important reason to lease a modem is for the technical support you receive from your service provider. If something in the interface is not working correctly or the modem stops working the provider will troubleshoot the issue and replace the hardware if necessary. However, if you have purchased your own modem you will need to troubleshoot problems yourself or rely on the modem’s warranty service if your modem fails. So what direction is the best direction? Well that depends. Installing a purchased modem can save you considerable money over the years. Therefore, if you are competent in PC troubleshooting your will likely be much better off buying a modem rather than paying the ever increasing monthly rental charges. However, as stated previously, you must both willing and able to troubleshoot any possible connection problems as your cable company may be quick to blame problems on your purchased hardware. When it comes down to it, you simply need to calculate the savings and determine whether the switch is best for you based on your comfort level. For me, the decision to purchase rather than rent was an easy one to make.

  • Lawn Mower Blade Sharpening Techniques, Tips & Tools

    Here are some great ideas and hints to help you sharpen your lawn mower blades the easy way. In this article I feature a few fantastic tools to help make sharpening blades much easier. One of the initial challenges that you will likely encounter when you attempt to remove your mower blades after of full season of operation is the difficulty of loosening the retaining nuts that hold the blades safely in place. These fasteners are usually very tightly secures and take significant force to loosen. You can achieve the necessary leverage to loosen the nuts by using a breaker bar or torque wrench, however that second issue that you are likely to encounter is that it is likely to be extremely difficult to keep the blades stationary so that you can exert the necessary force needed to loosen the nut. In order to secure the blades to keep them stationary it is necessary to safely block the movement of blades. This can be easily done by securing a piece of wood on the inside of the deck. The block of wood should be large enough to catch and stop the movement of the blade. The wood should be secured by a large c-clamp and you should also use a smaller, protective block of wood on the exterior side of your mower deck to prevent damaging of the painted surface. When securing the wood to your deck keep in mind the old adage "righty tighty, lefty loosey", In other words, you will need to turn the nut to the left, (counterclockwise), in order to loosen the nut. Conversely, you will turn clockwise or to the right when you want to replace and tighten the blades. With the blade secured from movement and with the correctly sized socket and proper leverage, you are now ready to remove the fasteners to release the blades. Although I have not tried this tool, there is also a device listed on Amazon that attaches to your mower and is described as capable of holding a blade in place for faster, safer removal. it is recommended for walk-behind and riding lawn mowers, either single or twin blade models. It is touted by one reviewer as "the most practical and useful thing I've bought to help with my mower." I'll leave a product link below. With the fasteners off, you want to note the position of the blades before removing them from the deck. It is recommended that you mark the down side of the blade as an indicator of the correct side to mount the blade after sharpening. Otherwise you chance mounting the blades upside down. Before sharpening the blades you should visually inspect the blades for fitness of operation. If the blades are bent, are worn or thin, have cracks in them or have chunks of metal missing, then they should be discarded and replaced with new blades. Assuming the blades are is good condition, you should prepare for sharpening by donning some personal protective equipment, (PPE). Proper PPE includes having a sturdy pair of work gloves and protective eyewear. The work gloves protect your hands from possible cuts or burns from metal sparks that may be produced by grinding of the blades. The protective eyewear will shield your eyes from the molten sparks. With your protective gear in place you are now ready to put a nice sharp edge on those blades. Blade sharpening can be made easier and much safer with the proper tools. I know many how recommend a hand or bench grinder for sharpening, however these tools can be dangerous to operate by the inexperienced user. On a bench grinder the mower blade can be accidentally lodged between the grinding wheel and the tool rest. If this happens the grinding wheel could explode causing wheel fragments to be hurled at you at unimaginable force and speed. The same is true of the disk on a handheld grinder if improper angle and force is placed on the grinding disk. A safer solution is a grinding stone drill attachment specifically made for sharpening blades. The blade sharpener that I use and recommend in the Arnold Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener which can be found on Amazon. This fantastic tool fits any 1/4" or 5/8" electric drill, gives you a sharp edge in minutes to ensure clean cut for a healthy lawn. I also recommend that your use a good blade balancer to ensure proper balancing of your blades. Blade balancing is essential for smooth mower operation. More importantly, properly balanced blade will eliminate blade vibration. A vibrating, unbalanced blade can result in premature wear and possible damage to your mower's engine or deck blade spindles. You should begin sharpening once your blade is secured in a proper bench vice. The vice should be capable of holding your blade securely while you use your drill mounted blade sharpening wheel to grind the cutting tip of the mower blade to perfection. Using the Arnold Blade Sharpener, you should place the grinding wheel on the edge of the blade with the plastic disk of the flat side of the blade. Be sure to keep the wheel horizontal and perpendicular to the blade. Just take your time and move the grinding wheel up and down the blade wheel with smooth movement and light even pressure. After grinding both sides of the blade to sharpness, test the blade for balance. If the blade does not rest on a level horizontal plane, you will need to remove additional material from the side of the blade that rest lower on the blade balancer. One you achieve a good edge and the blade is balanced you are ready to mount and start mowing. I trust that you have found this post useful. If so, be sure to check our and sign-up on my website, Bud's Odd Jobs as I will be posting many more helpful time and money saving tips. Additionally you can subscribe to my YouTube channel, Bud's Odd Jobs for helpful videos on many of the topics listed on my site.

  • Attractive & Low Maintenance Landscapes

    Attractive landscaping can add additional value of your home. Knowing how to design, layout and install low maintenance landscaping can save you precious time and money. In this article I will give you ideas, free tips and tool suggestions to assist you in installing edging, landscape cover and plants that will result in an attractive, low maintenance landscape that is likely to add much value to your home. Did you know that proper lawn care and landscaping can differentiate your home from other homes of equal perceived value? Many sites estimate that proper and attractive landscaping can add 10 to 15 percent of additional value of your home. However, if not done properly, maintaining that lovely landscape can require too much time and money. You want to be able to enjoy your floral and plant beds, not become a slave to them. The answer, low maintenance landscaping! Read on to learn about the tools, tricks and tips for installing plastic edging to achieve attractive, low cost and time saving landscapes. Materials Needed In preparation of your project you will require the following landscaping materials: Plastic Edging 25 Yr Landscape Barrier Cloth Landscaping Stakes Brick Nuggets Plastic Planting Pots Having the necessary tools to prepare your landscape beds is essential to your success. To ensure that you are able to properly prepare your beds I recommend the following tools. Garden Hose Hand Trowel Garden Hoe Garden Rake Edging Tool Long Handled Sod Plugger (Also called a bulb planter) Wheel Barrow or Utility Wagon Garden Gloves I also recommend the following tools for the cutting of plastic landscape edging and the trimming of barrier cloth. Rubber Mallet Utility Knife Tin Snips or Pruning Shears Wide Blade Putty Knife Knee Pads Cardboard (as a surface to cut barrier cloth) Layout the Design The easiest way to layout a functional design with gradual and uniform curves is to use a fairly rigid garden hose to form the proposed lines of the edging. Laying a garden hose does two things for you; first it allows you to visualize your design before excavating your lawn, and second the hose can be used to mark and guide you in cutting perimeter line of your bed. Another thing to consider when laying out your intended design is the size of the plants, bushes, etc. that you plan to use to fill the landscaped area. Obviously, the larger the plants or bushes, the larger the area needed to accommodate them. Finally, you must consider the cost of covering the surface area of your bed. Be aware that the larger the design, the more costly it will be for the surface materials that you plan to use as a decorative cover. Once you are content with the design it is time to cut in the edging trench. If you intend to incorporate curves into your landscape designs you need to make certain that the curves in your design are functional, subtle and uniform. To ensure that the curves in you layout are functional, consider the type of mower that you have and whether it will be capable of following the radius of your design. If the radiuses are too tight you will have a tough time following the curves as you attempt to mow against the edging. Personally, I make my radiuses fairly tight around landscaped shrubs and trees because I use a lawn tractor with four wheel steering which allows me to easily follow a fairly curvy design. If you do not have this type of mower you should consider making your curves more subtle. Cutting in the Trench Using the garden hose as a guide, carefully begin cutting in the edging trench. The depth of the trench should be about four to five inches, depending of the depth of your edging. The trench should be cut as perfectly vertical as possible on the outside edge. A good edging tool makes cutting the trench much easier and the tool will help you maintain the edging going forward. Once a horizontal outside edge is cut in, place an angled cut on the inside portion of the horizontal cut toward the bottom front edge and remove any sod within the bed. You are now ready to insert the edging. Place the edging in the prepared trench and secure the edging against the outside edge using plastic edging stakes. You should drive on edging stakes using a good rubber mallet. They should be driven were two sections of edging are joined and approximately every four to five feet depending on the number of curves in you edging design. If you need to join sections of edging you will want to cut the top and bottom portions of the leading edge of the plastic edging using a utility knife or tin snips. This is necessary so that the joining sections can be overlapped creating a solid weed barrier. Now secure together the two sections of edging with the provided connector pin. With the edging is place, it is now time to backfill the edging. Backfill the Edging Rake the some loose soil to create a sloping surface toward the outer perimeter of the prepared bed. Make sure you tightly pack the loose soil against the inside edge of the entire length of the installed edging. The packed soil helps the edging stay firmly in place. When the soil is firmly packed, you should have about two inches of space below the top of the inside surface of the edging. Install Barrier Cloth When buying barrier cloth, be certain that you purchase a thick and sturdy premium cloth rated for at least 25 years or greater. If you by purchase a thinner cloth it will be necessary to double up the layers to ensure proper protection from weeds. Roll out the barrier cloth ensuring that you overlap each additional row about three to four inches. Also, ensure that you extend the cloth at least 4 inches beyond the farthest section of the outside plastic edging. This excess is important to ensure you have ample coverage. The cloth tends to pull away from the edging when you place the weight of the brick nuggets on the cloth surface. Once the barrier cloth is in place, you will need to lay cardboard under any portion of the barrier cloth that extends outside the landscaped bed. We need to trim any excess cloth that extends far beyond the bed’s plastic edging perimeter. Using the utility knife, cut any excess barrier cloth using the cardboard as a cutting surface. You should cut the cloth about four inches out past the outside edge of the edging layout. Once the barrier cloth is trimmed, you are ready to cover the cloth with brick nuggets, stone or lava rocks. Fill with Brick Nugget Landscape Cover Medium I incorporate brick nuggets into my landscaping. A rule of thumb, you want to lay about 2 to 3 inches of cover material on top of your barrier cloth. Be sure to check the coverage instructions on the bag of your selected landscaping cover material. I have found that you will always require about one third more material then that which you had initially planned. The moral of the story, don’t skimp on the brick nuggets. Once I have adequately filled the area, I pack the nuggets firmly in the sloped area next to the edging. This provides additional lateral support to the edging. Packing gives the edging some structural integrity for the weight of the mower for when you edge your grass against the landscape perimeter. As a finishing touch, I use my wide blade putty knife to neatly tuck the excess barrier cloth down between the nuggets and the inside of the edging. This helps discourage any weed growth into the bed and gives the edge a clean and tidy finish. Planting One key to ensuring your landscapes stay care and maintenance free is incorporating perennials plantings into your design. There are many strong, attractive perennials to choose from for your landscape, including: Forsythia, Asters, Texas Ranger, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, Hostas, Hardy Hibiscus, Purple Coneflower, Peonies, Russian Sage, Siberian Iris and Hardy Lilies. One of the more predominate perennials that I use in my designs is Hostas. Hostas are low maintenance, shade-tolerant and will thrive in almost every soil type. Additionally, hostas can be divided to expand the plantings in your landscape. There is about a four-week window during September to October to divide and plant your hostas. You should allow at least three or four weeks for the hostas to become established before the soil freezes solid. I use incorporate several varieties of hostas for color variation. I typically alternate these colors when placing the plants into the landscape design. To discourage uncontrolled spreading of my hostas and other perennials I pot my perennials in containers. To incorporate my containers into my landscape design I follow these four easy steps: Position the containers proportionally on your landscape ensuring that your plants are correctly proportionally spaced. Brush away the brick nuggets from the area of the intended planting and use a utility knife to cut an “x” in your barrier cloth. Fold back the barrier cloth to expose the soil. Use a long handled sod plugger to make a receiving hole that is large enough for the container. Prior to placing the container into the hole. remove the bottom of the container with a utility knife Finally, place the planting into the landscape, backfill with soil, reposition the barrier cloth and brick nuggets around the new planting, and water the plant. Low maintenance landscaping simplifies your life and gives you more time to do things you really love. Try some of these landscaping methods and plants for easy gardening. You are certain to increase the value of your home and you’ll have much more free time to spend with family and friends. Whatever in on your list of your home project endeavors; I wish you safety and success! Here are links to additional videos in this series: - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 2) - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 3) - Repairing Plastic Edging - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 4) - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 5)

  • 7 Essential Tools for Easier Oil Changes

    The purpose of this article is to review the tools that are essential to help make the job of changing oil much easier. In this article I feature a few oil changing tools that I find useful and functional as a do-it-yourselfer. The seven tools that are essential to any oil change include a proper funnel, a bright an effective work light, oil catch pan, a good socket wrench set, a functional pair of filter pliers, a good maintenance creeper and a properly sized set of vehicle ramps. Without these tools in the proper type, size and form, the task of changing oil can be very difficult. A large capacity oil funnel and a bright utility light are self explanatory. You cannot perform that task without a bright, low profile work light and an you cannot ensure the accurate placement of oil without a proper funnel. When it comes to oil drain pans I highly recommend the FloTool 16-Quart Drain Container featured in the video and also in the link provided below, (see link for price and reviews). This pan is wonderful and has made my oil changes far easier. It is particularly helpful in reducing cleanup as the basin is designed to drain the oil into a contained compartment. This fantastic design greatly simplify the task of filling recycle containers with the used oil when the job is finished. The Kobalt Socket Set is great for this and other tight spaced jobs as the sockets are designed to attach inside the wrench. This design results in making the combined depth of the socket and wrench much more shallow than a standard wrench. Additionally, these sockets are designed to fit both standard and metric bolts so you do not need to invest in both types of sets. A good maintenance creeper is essential to making the job more effortless. You should look for a crawler that rolls easily and has sufficient padding. In the video below, I feature a homemade crawler that does the job nicely. Finally, proper vehicle ramps are essential to provide the necessary clearance to properly access the oil pan plug and oil filter. One thing to be mindful of when selecting a ramp is to ensure that your car's spoiler will not get damaged when you attempt to drive up the ramps. You can purchase low profile ramps or you can adopt the solution that I featured in the video that turned my higher profile ramps into a functional and effective solution. I feature these items in the follow video and provide some additional valuable tips for helping to ensure that your oil change is done efficiently and and with minimal frustration. Amazon reviews and price information for Tools I used in the above video: - FloTool 16-Quart Drain Container - Kobalt 38 pc Xtreme Access Socket Set

  • Maintenance Free Gutters & Downspouts

    Regular cleaning and maintenance of your gutters and downspouts is essential to preserve the value of your home. If this water conveyance system gets clogged, the rain water coming from your roof is no longer routed safely away from the foundation of your home. This can result in numerous issues including foundation damage and water seepage into your basement or crawlspace. However, if you are like me, I have found few things more dreadful than the annual ritual of cleaning out those nasty gutters. The decaying leaves make a smelly mess on both you and your landscaping. Not to mention the fact that you risk life and limb when traversing up and down that slippery wet ladder as you struggle with the lawn hose to attempt to blast out those decaying debris. Hiring someone to clean your gutters for you is possible solution. However, depending on the size and height of your home the cost of this solution could run between $50 to $250 a year. Well about five years ago I stumbled across a very practical and effective solution that I want to take a moment share with you. To be totally honest, at first I was very skeptical about the durability and effectiveness of this solution. I simply was not confident that the product would stand the test of time and do the job as described. However my initial impressions were wrong. The solution? Gutter guards. These DIY gutter guards are an easy to install and are an economical solution. They are snap-in, white plastic filter guards. They are 3 foot in length and six inches in width. They are designed to easily snap in between the front lip of the gutter and the under edge of the shingles on your home’s eve. They are made to create a smooth transitional surface from your roof surface to effectively shed leaves and other debris while allowing filtered rain water into the gutter and downspout structure to be safely conveyed away from your home’s foundation. To determine the number of panels needed, I first measured the length of each section of spouting and record each length. Next I added the various lengths together to get total footage needed. Keep in mind that you will need to measure and cut several of the three foot panels so that you have the proper length at the end of each spouting run. This is necessary to make a clean/flush finished end. As such, you may want to purchase extra product to compensate for possible spoilage. I am pleased to recommend this solution as it has eliminated my need to clean out my gutters for more than five years. This is all because I took a chance on an inexpensive solution that turned out to be an excellent time saving idea. If you are tired of doing this annual odd job, you may want to check out the following affiliate link here. This link will give you additional information and product reviews about this practical time saving solution. Buy the way… If cleaning out gutters or installing gutter guards are on the list projects that you intend to do, be sure that you follow sound ladder safety practices. Allow me offer a few important and practical safety tips that can ensure that you have a safe and successful project. Inspect the ladder for any defects that may make the ladder unsafe. Make certain that you place your ladder on a firm and level surface. Check the ladder cleats to ensure they are in good condition. The ladder should be safely positioned one foot out (horizontally) from the mounting surface for every four feet of rise (vertical height) to the working surface. You must have three points of contact on a ladder at all times. This means that you should use a tool belt and other method to convey materials to upper work surfaces so that your hands are free to climb safely. You should be sure to wear non-slip shoes and also be mindful of power lines. You can insert a length of 2 X 4 stud into the section of gutter assuming you need to position the ladder against the gutter for support. This will help protect the gutter from collapsing from the lateral force created by the combined weight of you and the ladder. Whatever your list of your home project endeavors; I wish you safety and success! And should you decided to implement this time saving idea, may you never have to clean your home gutters again! See this product featured in the following video: Again, I highly recommend this product as it has proven to be effective and time saving idea. If you are tired of doing this annual chore, be sure to click here for more product information.

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