Who makes Barracuda garbage disposals?

Barracuda is a private-label brand of garbage disposal you can find at Menards home improvement stores. They are usually the least expensive disposal on Menards’ shelf. But who makes Barracuda garbage disposals?

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Get more transformer outputs by using a grounding bus bar

Train transformers have one pair of screws for each output, which is generally enough for a simple layout, but once you have more than one accessory or building with lights in it, you’ll find it’s difficult to attach all of the wires to the transformer posts.

You can get more on the cheap by repurposing ground bus bars, intended for circuit breaker panels, available at hardware stores and home improvement stores. Read more

Using PC ATX power supplies on a train layout

PC power supplies are exceptionally cheap and plentiful these days. If you’ve noticed and wondered whether you can use PC ATX power supplies on a train layout, wonder no more. You can.

Thanks to the miracle of mass production, even the cheapest, nastiest PC power supply gives far more power output per dollar than any train transformer. So if the lights and accessories on your electric train layout can run on 12 volts DC, which is a fairly good bet, you can get a lot of wattage for very little money by repurposing an inexpensive ATX power supply, whether new or secondhand. And on a wattage-per-dollar basis, they’re about twice as cost-effective as outdoor lighting transformers, which are another popular option for hobbyists.

All it takes to use these cost-effective ATX power supplies is a bit of rewiring.

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Using a computer power cord on a garbage disposal

When I replace garbage disposals, I prefer to use a power cord rather than hardwire them straight into the wall. The thing is, I don’t like paying $12 for the official power cord, which is chintzy looking and, frankly, looks under spec’ed. Instead, I prefer to use a computer power cord on a garbage disposal.

The label on a 1/3 HP Insinkerator Badger says it’s rated for 5.8 amps at 125 volts. I found a computer power cord in my stash that was rated for 10 amps at 125 volts. It’s overkill, but when it comes to electricity, overkill is good. Best of all, it let me repurpose something I’d already paid for and was probably never going to use.

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Use this file to find out how much your antivirus is protecting you

Unlike some security professionals, I still regard antivirus as a necessity. It doesn’t catch advanced threats, and everything it does catch can be caught through other methods, but it is the most cost- and labor-effective way to catch the best-known, least sophisticated attacks. If you put a $100,000 incident responder to work hunting ordinary viruses, you’ll waste a lot of money on salary and quickly lose that incident responder to another company offering more interesting work.

Of course, there’s a great deal of discussion in the mainstream computer magazines about which antivirus is the best. I don’t agree with their methodology though–they might as well be looking for the longest 8-foot 2×4 at the home improvement store. Yes, you can probably find some variance if you get out a micrometer, but what have you accomplished?

SANS has a good real-world test to see how much protection your antivirus software is really giving you.

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Plywood floors for a hardwood look at around $1 per sqft

A comment over at Lifehacker got me thinking about plywood as flooring, which led me to a blog post at Quarry Orchard. The author is one of many people who have had success making floors out of strips cut from ordinary 4×8 sheets of plywood, the variety that sell for around $14 at home improvement stores.

I’d be a bit concerned about durability but there’s a lot to like about the idea as well.

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Loose brick repair with epoxy

My home inspector told me about an easy, inexpensive and nearly permanent repair: Loose brick repair with epoxy. It works really well if you need to fix a loose brick in something like a fireplace or a retaining wall. Epoxy is a effective loose brick adhesive.

Epoxy works because it’s stronger than cement. And while it’s not economical to use epoxy for mortar instead of cement, in small quantities it’s cheap enough, and much quicker.

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How to build a simple, inexpensive train table

Building a train table doesn’t have to be a difficult or expensive proposition, but I realized this week I’ve never talked about how to go about doing it. Here’s how to build a simple, inexpensive train table.

I built my tables in an evening with a knowledgeable friend helping me, at a time when I knew little or nothing about tools and hardware. With the plans I’ll outline, someone with little or no knowledge could replicate those efforts in a couple of hours with no more tools than a saw, a drill, and a vehicle large enough to haul the materials.

Costs will vary, but this 4×8 table I’m describing would cost about $32 to build, using materials from your nearest home improvement center. If you’re lucky enough to live near a locally owned lumberyard, you could source materials from there as well, and probably get better quality. Read more

How to light the underside of your train table

There are few things worse than fumbling around in the dark under a train layout. So I mounted a ceiling-mount light socket underneath my train table to create a work light so that I could see when I’m working on my wiring. It’s another one of my 15-minute projects, one that pays dividends by making future 15-minute sessions more productive.

I did most of the work with stuff I had on hand. If you want to duplicate my project, you’ll be able to get everything you need at your nearest hardware or home improvement store, and the materials will cost less than $10. I provided Amazon links for everything, so you can see what these items are. Some people know what a wire nut is before they know how to read, and some people may be well into adulthood before they undertake any kind of electrical project. Yes, this is an electrical project. As long as you check and double-check all your connections and don’t plug it into an outlet until after it’s done, it’s safe. Respect electricity, and you’ll find there’s less reason to be afraid of it.

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