Coat Locker

Coat Locker

We needed a solution to the mess of coats hanging in our entry way. After touring some newly built homes my wife and I decided that a coat locker was the answer.

I drew up some rough plans and got started.  I milled all the joints with a table saw dado set, they’re glued, I pre-drilled countersunk holes, and screwed everything together with 2″ wood screws.

I built the top and bottom separately to make it easier for me to handle during the install.

I decided to use beadboard for the back to pay homage to the farmhouse style from which the mudroom locker is derived.

The bench top is pine, stained with dark mahogany, and sealed with three coats of polyurethane which I sanded with 220 grit between coats. The sweetheart of the project.

I removed the existing baseboard before installation in order to give the piece a built-in look.

I used pocket hole joinery to marry the top and base.

After I got it installed I ripped down pine 1x boards for trim and added crown molding, which I pre-planned to align with the top of the door trim.

Finally I installed the baseboard, base shoe, and hooks.

I hadn’t built a piece of furniture since high school shop class so it was a fun challenge. My plans were basically napkin-drawing fidelity. If I had it to do over again I would take the time to use Sketchup or at least drafting-level fidelity drawings because it would have saved some head scratching time in the garage where it was really cold most of the time. It came out nice and it should serve its purpose well for years to come.

Lakefront at LOTO Android App

I designed, user tested, built, and published an Android app in the Google Play Store.

After a few seasons of boating at Lake of the Ozarks (LOTO) and listening to other boaters my wife and I realized there was a need for something to help people find their way around the expansive 1100 mile shoreline.  Google Maps is great (I’m a Level 5 Local Guide and a Map Maker for Google Maps) but many of the businesses at The Lake change so quickly that Maps is very often out of date.  Maps also lacks a way to display the mile marker system that is vital for navigating waterways.

So far the app has over 750 installs and the Google Map that powers the app has over 20,000 views.

I did some rapid lo-fi wireframing in Balsamiq Mockups and used interactive wireframes to validate my concepts with some potential users.

This was intended to be a mobile app from the outset so Balsamiq was not the ideal tool for user testing since there aren’t any mobile PDF viewers that do a good job of handling the hotspots in PDFs that Balsamiq creates.  Marvel was brand new at the time and this was a great reason for me to learn to use it.

When I moved into Marvel I went into higher fidelity: Check out the Interactive Marvel Mockup

I used the Marvel mockup to iterate and facilitate quite a few conversations until I felt confident I had something useful and fun to use.

Here’s an overview of the interactive mockup: Marvel Mockup Overview

 

I built the app using Cordova, a Google Maps API, and a KML map that I created and keep updated.

The current version of the app is not too far off from the concepts.  This is a recording of the actual app: Lakefront at LOTO Overview

I put together a little responsive website to give an overview of what the app does.

I promote the app on Craigslist, MidwestBoatParty.com, and a t-shirt.  I also created a logo for the boat racing team Wax on Wax Off Offshore Racing and in trade they are sporting the app’s logo on the boat which is campaigned around the country.

race boat

I’m proud of the fact that I was able to do the entire thing from end to end; concept, design, build, promote.  Of course, nothing is ever done and I have plans to move to a different mapping API so that I can create a more elegant user experience.

Deck

I designed, engineered, and built a second story deck for my house.  I spent a lot of time researching building codes, considering safety, and thinking about how to physically pull off some of the steps without help.

To help wrap my head around the project I needed to visualize the final product.  I learned to use Sketchup to create a 3D model.  The wood-colored portion was existing and the white is the new addition.

The model proved to be very helpful to me in figuring out how to tie the two together and deal with a head clearance challenge above the existing staircase.

I started in late October so I was not able to work on it much in the evenings due to lack of light.

While looking at pictures along the way I decided to put the decking on an angle and frame it.  I routed the ends of each deck board so it has a nice finished look.

Construction ended up taking about 6 weekends of 10ish hour days.  I rented a cement mixer and a ladder, and I got to buy a sawzall.  Other than that I had all the tools to do the job.

We’ve since gotten a new propane firepit and furniture set.  I’m currently toying with some accent lighting and will eventually under deck it and add flood lights for the yard.  It’s been a great addition to the house.

Raspberry Pi Project

The power supply for the media center PC that I’d been using for the past few years quit.  I’d been wanting to check out XBMC because everyone raves about the great experience. This was a good time to consider building a machine with enough umph to meet the XBMC specs.  After doing a little research I found that I could run a version of XBMC on a Raspberry Pi which would cost little more than a new power supply for my ancient machine.  The path forward was clear.

Overview:
It’s a 16GB 3.0 stick, Raspbmc is running the Bello skin, the files are coming over WiFi, I’m using Yatse Remote to control it, and it’s packaged in a case I cut out of plexiglass and put together with some cool looking hardware.

The pieces:
pi pieces

Finished product:
pi

Pretty impressive hardware and learning a little about 10 Foot UI was a lot of fun.

Shipping Crate Shelf

I saw this shipping crate that an 80″ Smart Board came in laying by the garbage at my office.  When I looked at it I instantly saw shelf components.  We needed something in our unfinished basement for camping gear so I guess that was a subconscious contribution to my imagination.

I took this thing home, chopped it up and made it so.

Pretty stout storage shelf for free and it’s proven to be useful.

Support Our Troops Poker Run

I wanted to help promote this event so I started by editing together some footage I had on DVDs from past years.  I ended up with a short action packed teaser.

I went on to create a Squarespace website to share information about the event.  The Support Our Troops Poker Run site went live in November 2014 and had over 20,000 views by January 2015.  It evolved from being a simple schedule into being the place for attendees to go for rules, registration, and a place to promote the sponsors.

In order to promote the site and the event I created a 1/3 page ad that ran in LO Profile Magazine, a large-format , pearl-coated finish publication.

magazine ad

The event draws over 200 attendees and it has raised well over $100,000 to date for the charities.

In this project, I created the user’s entire journey from finding out about the run in a magazine to registering for it online and then using a mobile app (Lakefront at LOTO) to facilitate participation.  It was a fun and successful creation for sure and it made me realize that taking the time to really think through the end to end experience of something like this is a lot of fun.

Garden Box

A friend at work gave me the idea to use cedar pickets as a really economical way to build a garden box.
I ran and spent all of $12 on lumber.

At this point I just wanted to see how cheap I could do it.  The 2×2 was on the 70% off rack so it cost next to nothing otherwise I would have used something stronger.
Chopped everything up.

I already had some stain so decided to add some flare.

I thought caps on top of each upright would give them a nice substantial look.  What I initially imagined would look good didn’t work out so well functionally.  The sides seemed like they would bow as soon as I filled it with dirt.

I sturdied it up with a rail around the top.

I got mulch from our community compost and mixed it with some garden soil and topsoil.


I had not previously grown a garden because I didn’t think I would want to take the time to stand out in the heat and water it every day.  Harbor Freight has great prices on hose manifolds so I UX’d the irrigation then buried the system.  At the flick of a single switch each plant gets direct water that’s throttled by valves on the manifolds.

Midwest Boat Party

I’m now the administrator of the 2nd largest powerboating community in the states:  MidwestBoatParty.com

The site is running vBulletin, a slew of hacks, Esvon Classifieds, and Revive Adserver.  I got ahold of it after a bad attack and the whole thing was down.  I’ve managed to get everything updated and running for now but it feels like a house of cards.  Eventually I would like to re-architect the entire thing or consider a hosted alternative, if there is such a thing. The very active 20,000 member user base is an unmatched wealth of knowledge. The engaging discussions the users have on these forums are much more in depth and thoughtful than anything I see on Facebook or other modern social media outlets.

Lake Ozarks Marine

The first WordPress site I created was for a boat broker who barely had an existing web presence.  LakeOzarksMarine.com started generating leads for the broker within three days of going live.  The company has since been sold and the site is gone.  It was a simplistic style featuring some photos that I ‘shopped up and a used car sales plugin that I’d modified and styled up to work well for boats.

Perceptive Software HQ Construction Timelapse

I used a stack of Perceptive Software’s technology to capture and index screenshots from a webcam watching the construction at our new headquarters over the course of a year.  The result is kind of neat.

I wrote an Autohotkey script to grab the images, drop them in Paint, then save them to a folder
Perceptive Content Import Agent watched the folder for new content
New images were moved, index, and stored using an Agent Application Plan
I QA’d the process using Viewpoint LearnMode Application Plans and Pretreive
After construction was complete Output Agent dumped the images back into a conventional format
I used Movie Maker to compile and edit the content into the video above