Add interactivity to the items that you make with the Arduino microprossessor

ArduinoTravis Good, editor at Make magazine, writes about bringing his self-constructed items to life. “It used to be, when you wanted to put smarts into something, you had to use a computer,” Good said. These days, he notes, you use a microcontroller. The favorite one among amateur makers is an Italian brand: Arduino.

This open source microprocessor makes objects interactive. It takes input from the environment (temperature, the presence of light or movement) and then responds by flipping a switch, turning on a relay, or lighting a sign. The Arduino board is inexpensive, costing less than $50. It can run on Mac OS, Windows or Linux. It is simple for beginners to learn how to program, yet its code is extensible and can be expanded through C++ libraries. It has become such a standard in maker circles than any microprocessor is now referred to as an “Arduino.”



A plumber reveals his toilet clearing secrets

The Art of Manliness“Rod from Roto-Rooter” dumps his plumber’s secrets for unclogging a toilet. First, he emphasizes, avoid disaster by removing the top off the tank and pressing the flapper down to keep the bowl from overflowing. Then he suggests heating the rubber plunger with hot water to make it more pliable. Finally, he reveals his magic weapon: pouring hot water into the clog along with some dishwasher soap. Rod also offers tips for keeping a toilet clog free, including cleaning the water jets around the rim to maintain a strong flush.
How to Unclog a Toilet Like a Plumber

Get modern cleaning tips from The Kitchn

The KitchnThe Kitchn, a daughter blog of Apartment Therapy (, was founded in 2006 by Maxwell and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan. Visit this site to get ideas for cooking, sure, but also find tips for cleaning and organizing your cooking space. The Housekeeping and Cleaning section ( offers advice for the modern kitchen, including techniques for sanitizing sponges and cutting boards. Follow The Kitchn on Twitter (@thekitchn), Facebook and Pinterest (
The Kitchn: Life in the Kitchen

Lowes teaches how to swap a faucet

How to Replace a FaucetWhen he was about seven, my son, mistaking himself for a gymnast and the bathroom sink for a pommel horse, propelled his full weight into the air and down upon the edge of this delicate wall-mounted basin. We heard a crack. The drainpipe of the pedestal washstand snapped in two.

This should have been easy enough to fix. Yet, this Fix-It Chick decided that perhaps she should replace the entire faucet instead of just the pipe. “Can I install this myself?” I asked the plumbing supply salesman. “Sure,” he assured me. “Just follow the directions.”

The old faucet came out and the new one went in just fine. Granted, it took me all day to do the job. Finally, in the evening, I slowly opened the water valves to test my handiwork. Liquid jets spurted from every joint! No one told me that I needed a special tool called a “basin wrench” to tighten the hard-to-reach connectors up under the sink.

Did I learn about the basin wrench from the plumber who charged $200 to tighten my screws the next day? No. I got that information after the fact off of the Web, from sites designed to help us all repair and maintain our homes.

Lowe’s Home Improvement offers a library of instructions and videos for home repair and improvement. This particular page details the use of the mysterious basin wrench and assures us that the faucet swap should take no more than an hour. (I couldn’t even get the water turned off in that amount of time.)

Home Improvement Projects and Plans: Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics Home ImprovementPopular Mechanics, a magazine famous for catering to the serious amateur, throws something to the less apt among us with its home improvement tips. Browse their advice for interior and exterior enhancements, gardening, plumbing, energy efficiency, and home security.

RepairClinic helps you fix your own appliances.

Repair ClinicThe agitator dogs on my 17-year-old Whirlpool washing machine are shot. I turn to Repair Clinic to order a replacement part and even get advice about how to install it myself. Or maybe to figure out that I shouldn’t repair it myself but call a professional instead!

Repair Clinic

Brian and Paul show us how to fix it on Handyguys Podcast.

Handyguys PodcastVrmm, vrrrm! Brian and Paul, handy guys, offer advice for keeping the home in top shape. Learn about electrical issues, plumbing, and nailguns, among many other things, from their articles and podcasts. They even discuss their favorite DIY books! Ask your personal home maintenance question on their site. Brian and Paul may address your problem in their next podcast, which you can get via email, RSS feed, iTunes, or Twitter.