DIY Your Life!




Introduction: DIY Your Life!

If you are a real DIYer, you probably think that a standard way of life is never really adapted to your needs. There is a French proverb that says "Vous n'etes jamais mieux servis que par vous meme"(If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.) and this is the exact reason why I choose to live in a custom environment. In this Instructables, I'll show you my apartment and many small projects I made to improve my life and to reduce pollution.

- If you need "an object", first consider modifying something you already got!
- Why buy new when you can make better ?

Here is a summary of what I will show you:

- Who am I?
- My robots
- My room - made for projects (sleeping is only an added value!)
- Led reading lamp
- Bedroom illumination CFL lamp
- Camera tripod
- Hookah
- Skype Cell
- Laptop reparation
- Remote control amelioration
- Composite video cable from a banana wire
- Battery charger: from AA only to AA / AAA
- TV antenna
- Plants + shelf
- Plant light
- Alarm clock

As you will see, I'm a hardcore DIYer. I can't live without a project! I hope you will like what I have to show you and that you will vote for me. An Epilog would be so useful! Your second best choice is to vote for my friend Jerome Demers Desktop energy seed lamp or for Simon St-Hilaire's description of our robot BOTUS so I could have access to a machine :)

Note: As you will notice, I'm presenting many projects but I'm not explaining in details how they are achieved. If you are interested by something, just ask your questions in the Comments. If there is enough interest for a project, I will make a detailed Instructable about it.

Step 1: Who Am I?

First of all, who am I?

I'm from Quebec, Canada. I was born in St-Pascal de Kamouraska, an immense city (4000 habitants!) I have always been a curious child, always asking questions, always trying to understand how stuff works, why we are doing it that way, etc. My mother was playing "The Game of Silence" with me to get some rest!

When I wasn't playing Lego, I was building small projects in the basement of our house. My favourite place to go was the local hardware shop. I started to ask them for impossible stuff at about 8 years old (and 8 years later I was working there). It seems that I was a little messy when I was working so my dad banned me from the basement. I then installed my small lab in my tree house...

When I was about 15 or 16 I started to concentrate my projects on robots and I learned electronics, then C programming. I built a small workshop in the basement. I wasn't really successful and most of my project were never ended, except maybe my vacuum cleaning robot (pictures later).

After I finished my High School, I went to La Pocatiere to study Technologie Physique. It gave me access to a complete machine shop and many electronics instruments. I met people there that became my friends and my project partners. With the support of my school, I participated twice to Eurobot OPEN.

I'm now studying Electrical Engineering at Universite de Sherbrooke and I'm doing more projects than ever! I am developing products for Nova Biomatique Inc. (Plug'n'Grow), I helped a FIRST team, I do robots for my school projects and I always tinker. You will see some of these projects in the next pages.

Step 2: My Robots

My main interest has always been robotics. For me it's the perfect domain to learn a lot about many subjects (electronics, mechanics, software, even psychology!) without ever seeing an end to innovation. Through the years, I have built a lot of robots. Some were minimalist, others were pretty complex. Here is a short summary:


The ASA (Aspirateur Semi-Autonome) serie. With my good friend Louis Landry-Michaud we built 3 vacuum cleaning robots for a local science fair (Expo-Sciences Bell). The first one was horrible and poorly working, but we won in our school. The second one was better looking and it worked! We won public prize and Ecole Polytechnique prize at the regional competition. The third one was never ended...




My two biggest projects ever were built for Eurobot. Created in 1998, Eurobot is an international amateur robotics contest open to teams of young people, organised either in student projects or in independent clubs. Eurobot takes place in Europe but also welcomes countries from all over the world.

Eurobot 2007
Eurobot 2008

A video or our qualification routine:


My first EE term team project in Electrical Engineering, a robot that can reproduce the colour of the ground. This project was never completely finished, notice the bad deplacements, but we still managed to receive a mention for innovation for our "Color Matching" feature.

Cam�l�o le robot cam�l�on



My second term of Engineering team project, an exploration robot, BOTUS:

Simon St-Hilaire's Instructable on our BOTUS Project


Step 3: My Room - Made for Projects (sleeping Is Only an Added Value!)

As I am living in an apartment, I don't have a lot of space to build a large workshop. The only place where I can put my tools and my project is in my bedroom. As you can see in the pictures, it's packed with a lot of electronic stuff!

Step 4: Led Reading Lamp


- 31 10mm Warm White LEDs
- Perfboard
- Power supply from an old camera
- Switch

Step 5: Bedroom Illumination CFL Lamp

This is my bedroom/workshop illumination setup.


- LEGO container
- Metal threaded rod
- Some nuts
- Metallic wire
- Electric wire + lamp sockets
- 3 CFL

Step 6: Camera Tripod

A PanaVise with a PCB claw head is a great tool to assemble and tests circuit boards. But, what do you do when you want to picture that board or film this robot and you don't have a tripod? You can make a new head for the PanaVise!

Step 7: Hookah

This is my homemade hookah, used to smoke shisha (hookah tobacco). I'm not a cigarette smoker at all, but in some occasions smoking shisha with friends is interesting.

Note: Shisha is legal, since it is only flavored tobacco.

It's made almost entirely from recycled parts:

- 1 empty bottle of beer
- 1 "Puppy Slush" container
- 1 Masson jar
- 1 hose caddy's wheel
- Some aquarium tubing
- 2 wood dowels
- Silicone + aluminum tape

Step 8: Skype Cell

I had a cheap malfunctioning headset and a broken cellphone (cracked screen) and I needed a reliable solution to make calls with Skype... so I combined two ready-for-trash items in a good SkypeCell!

All the details are there: SkypeCell

Step 9: Laptop Reparation

My first laptop, an Acer Travelmate 4652, wasn't tough at all... After about two years of abusive usage, the two hinges broke down. I decided to recycle it as a media center.


- Old laptop
- Audio and video cables
- Duct Tape
- Ubuntu

Step 10: Remote Control Amelioration

I have a lot of AA batteries, but very few AAA. When the batteries of my remote control died, I decided to mod is so it could accept AA cells. I simply soldered a battery adapter on the existing connector and I hot glued it to the case. Simple but useful!

Step 11: Composite Video Cable From a Banana Wire

Saturday, 10PM. With a couple of friends we want to watch a good movie. But... where is the RCA cable that will allow us to plug the laptop to the TV??? All the shops are closed, there is only one solution: DIY!

See what you can do with 2 banana wires and 5 min on the pictures! (And it works great!)

Step 12: Battery Charger: From AA Only to AA / AAA

I have a small Energizer battery charger that supports 4 AA cells. However, I needed to charge AAA cells so I found a quick fix. By using a standoff, I was able to charge my AAA cells without modifying the original charger!

Step 13: TV Antenna

My roommate and I are not big TV fans but we like to stay informed. We made a simple antenna that allows us, even if we live in a basement, to have a nice TV reception of the local news channel.

Step 14: Plants

Aside from electronics, I also like to grow plants of all kind. In the photos you can see the automated system I built to grow tomatoes and cucumbers.

Step 15: This Alarm Clock Was Simply Too Bright

When I bought this blue display alarm clock, I didn't know it was that bright... it may be interesting in a store but I don't like my alarm clock to illuminate my entire room. Why not make it dimmer?


- Opening the case
- Finding the current limiting resistors
- Changing them
- Closing the case

Finding the current limiting resistors is the only tricky part of this hack. I searched for the biggest resistors on the board. There were 2 0.5W 22 ohms near the display and they were hot. All the other resistors were 0.25W. I took a chance and I decided to replace them with higher values ones.

Tip: I needed about 44ohms @ 1/2W and I only had 0.25W resistors. I parallelled a 75 and a 100 ohms to make a 0.5W 42 ohm one.

Step 16: Thanks and Credits

In many of my project I wasn't alone. I would like to say a special thankyou to all the team members I had and have:

ASA Robots:
Louis Landry-Michaud

Eurobot 2007:
Pierre-Luc Bacon and Sebastien Belanger

Eurobot 2007:
Pierre-Luc Bacon, Sebastien Belanger, Stephan Couture, Jonathan Dube

Cameleon robot:
Team P8: Eugene Morin, Simon St-Hilaire, Louis-Philippe Brault, Alexandre Bolduc, Louis-Philip St-Martin, Sebastien Gagnon and Vincent Chouinard

BOTUS robot:
Eugene Morin, Simon St-Hilaire, Louis-Philippe Brault, Alexandre Bolduc, Sebastien Gagnon, Simon Marcoux, Guillaume Plourde and Vincent Chouinard

Step 17: Conclusion

If you read up to this point, I hope you liked it...

Here are a few projects that I plan to do:

- "Auto-Learning" Color Sensor
- Climate controller for my car
- Eurobot (2010 or 2011)
- Outdoor rover (BOTUS v2)
- etc...

Don't you think an Epilog would be useful?

Earthjustice United States of Efficiency Contest

Participated in the
Earthjustice United States of Efficiency Contest

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Participated in the
Epilog Challenge

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    you life is a project then. I had gocarts built in wood with hand tools design is interesting if you read ben frankloins autobiography it show he read many books. then he had stay up all night and read because the book was due back next day. He started the liabrary system now we have two weeks to get the books back. He also started the postal system in the united states well he payed his dues serving as an apprintise printing was hand stamping and he didnt get to that stage for years. Never let them drag you down I tghink you can acheive something in your life through your projects the more you know the more you find out there alot more to learn. Internet opens avenues to creative thinking. Media learning is changing the way out kids learn from example book videos games and by example like on here the right place to learn is the right place to learn where it may be.


    12 years ago on Step 4

    How do you use this type of PCB (how do you connect components in it) ? I'm really stuck with this question; I'm not asking you to make an instructable (although that would be the ideal thing), I just need help with my issue of not knowing how to connect components on the PCB shown in the images of the l.e.d. reading lamp.


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 4

    If you look at the second photo you can see how the components are connected at the back. A rather neat job, too. A higher resolution image would be nice, though. And I'm not sure if those crossovers on the lower right side are touching or not. I'd have used insulated wire if not, but that's just my preference.
    Actually, a top-down photo would be nice too, if possible


    11 years ago on Step 14

     Hey, I like the setup. How did you get your coffee plant? Did you buy it somewhere or grow it yourself? I saw you had some baby coffee did you grow them? Using green coffee beans?


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, the shelf in step 3 is bowing under the weight of the boxes on top of it! I have to agree with knife141.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Hehe. I did try to make it right by adding the central support but it wasn't enough... Semiconductors are heavier than we could think :)


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I loved your posting, many interesting ideas and wonderful creations. to support that shelf try attaching a 1 x 2 piece of lumber or some aluminum angle parallel to the shelf at the front end to add lateral rigidity. I do this all the time with my shop shelves.
    Keep up the good work.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Yea. I just got a gallon bag of random resistors from a friend, and it weights about 15 pounds. I really wish I had a desk like that to, because I tend to work on the floor of my bedroom. I'll probably have serious back problems before i'm 25. =)

    Charles IV
    Charles IV

    12 years ago on Introduction

    I have made a couple of hookah lamps like you have there, but when I tried using a wine bottle as a bowl, the heat from the burning shisha shattered the bowl. Any suggestions?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Hello!  I used a beer bottle.  I've been using this hookah for 3 years without any problem.  Cutting the bottle was the hard part, but once it was done everything was perfect!


    12 years ago on Step 14

    ha i also like "growing plants", your a bloody talented kid im at the stage you proberly were at 15, i had always taken things apart since i was really young to see how they worked, i soon learn't what a capacitor does haha, but yeah my parents threw all my electronics bits away because they were "broken", and discouraged me from developing into a successful guy like you, im now 25 and am trying to learn how to build a cnc machine driver and i have to say its crazy how little i know, i moved out at 16 (sick of having my life ruled) but had to work work work, but i recently lost my job and now i have my room in my own house, so time to start teaching myself as an adult! XD VARDY


    Cool room :) some more info on the Skype phone would have been good =) i have the same rechargeable batteries.. eBay? hehe


    12 years ago on Introduction

    the young photo of you "Nobody could predict I would void warranties!" you do look pretty evil and cynical in it actually haha


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe for step 15 you could have used a potentiometer so that you could adjust brightness...i might do this to my alarm clock some time ;)