How LED Light Bulbs Are Made

One-hundred-and-thirty years ago, Thomas Edison completed the first successful sustained test of the incandescent light bulb. With some incremental improvements along the way, Edison’s basic technology has lit the world ever since. This is about to change. We are on the cusp of a semiconductor-based lighting revolution that will ultimately replace Edison’s bulbs with a far more energy-efficient lighting solution. Solid state LED lighting will eventually replace almost all of the hundreds of billions of incandescent and fluorescent lights in use around the world today. In fact, as a step along this path, President Obama last June unveiled new, stricter lighting standards that will support the phasing out of incandescent bulbs (which already are banned in parts of Europe).

To understand just how revolutionary LED light bulbs are as well as why they are still expensive, it is instructive to look at how they are manufactured and to compare this to the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs. This article explores how incandescent light bulbs are made and then contrasts that process with a description of the typical manufacturing process for LED light bulbs.

So, let’s begin by taking a look at how traditional incandescent light bulbs are manufactured. You will find that this is a classic example of an automated industrial process refined in over a century of experience.

While individual incandescent light bulb types differ in size and wattage, all of them have the three basic parts: the filament, the bulb, and the base. The filament is made of tungsten. While very fragile, tungsten filaments can withstand temperatures of 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit and above. The connecting or lead-in wires are typically made of nickel-iron wire. This wire is dipped into a borax solution to make the wire more adherent to glass. The bulb itself is made of glass and contains a mixture of gases, usually argon and nitrogen, which increase the life of the filament. Air is pumped out of the bulb and replaced with the gases. A standardized base holds the entire assembly in place. The base is known as the “Edison screw base.” Aluminum is used on the outside and glass used to insulate the inside of the base.

Originally produced by hand, light bulb manufacturing is now almost entirely automated. First, the filament is manufactured using a process known as drawing, in which tungsten is mixed with a binder material and pulled through a die (a shaped orifice) into a fine wire. Next, the wire is wound around a metal bar called a mandrel in order to mold it into its proper coiled shape, and then it is heated in a process known as annealing, softening the wire and makes its structure more uniform. The mandrel is then dissolved in acid.

Second, the coiled filament is attached to the lead-in wires. The lead-in wires have hooks at their ends which are either pressed over the end of the filament or, in larger bulbs, spot-welded.

Third, the glass bulbs or casings are produced using a ribbon machine. After heating in a furnace, a continuous ribbon of glass moves along a conveyor belt. Precisely aligned air nozzles blow the glass through holes in the conveyor belt into molds, creating the casings. A ribbon machine moving at top speed can produce more than 50,000 bulbs per hour. After the casings are blown, they are cooled and then cut off of the ribbon machine. Next, the inside of the bulb is coated with silica to remove the glare caused by a glowing, uncovered filament. The label and wattage are then stamped onto the outside top of each casing.

Fourth, the base of the bulb is also constructed using molds. It is made with indentations in the shape of a screw so that it can easily fit into the socket of a light fixture.

Fifth, once the filament, base, and bulb are made, they are fitted together by machines. First, the filament is mounted to the stem assembly, with its ends clamped to the two lead-in wires. Next, the air inside the bulb is evacuated, and the casing is filled with the argon and nitrogen mixture.

Finally, the base and the bulb are sealed. The base slides onto the end of the glass bulb such that no other material is needed to keep them together. Instead, their conforming shapes allow the two pieces to be held together snugly, with the lead-in wires touching the aluminum base to ensure proper electrical contact. After testing, bulbs are placed in their packages and shipped to consumers.

Light bulbs are tested for both lamp life and strength. In order to provide quick results, selected bulbs are screwed into life test racks and lit at levels far exceeding normal. This provides an accurate measure of how long the bulb will last under normal conditions. Testing is performed at all manufacturing plants as well as at some independent testing facilities. The average life of the typical household bulb is 750 to 1,000 hours, depending on wattage.

LED light bulbs are built around solid-state semiconductor devices, so the manufacturing process most closely resembles that used to make electronic products like PC mother boards.

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a solid state electrical circuit that generates light by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material. LED technology has been around since the late 1960s, but for the first 40 years LEDs were primarily used in electronics devices to replace miniature light bulbs. Within the last decade, advances in the technology finally boosted light output high enough for LEDs to begin to seriously compete with incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. As with many technologies, as the cost of production falls each successive LED generation also improves in light quality, output per watt, and heat management.

The computer industry is well suited to manufacture LED lighting. The process isn’t a whole lot different than making a computer motherboard. The companies making the LEDs themselves are generally not in the lighting business, or it is a minor part of their business. They tend to be semiconductor houses that are happy cranking out their product, which is why prices on high-output LEDs has fallen so much in the last 15 years.

LED bulbs themselves are expensive in part because it takes a number of LEDs to get wide-area illumination instead of a narrow beam, and the assembly cost adds to the overall price. In addition, assemblies consisting of arrays of LEDs create more opportunities for product defects.

An LED light consists of four essential components: an LED circuit board, a heatsink, a power supply, and a shell. The lights start out as bare printed circuit boards (PCB) and high luminance LED elements arrive from separate factories which specialize in making those components. LED elements themselves create a bit of heat, so the PCB used in lighting fixtures is special. Instead of the standard non-conductive sandwich of epoxy and fiberglass, the circuit board is laid out on a thin sheet of aluminum which acts as a heatsink.

The aluminum PCB used in LED lighting is coated with a non-conducting material and conductive copper trace lines to form the circuit board. Solder paste is then applied in the right places and then Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines place the tiny LED elements, driver ICs, and other components onto the board at ultra high speeds.

The round shape of a traditional light bulb means that most LED printed circuit boards are circular, so for ease of handling several of the smaller circular PCBs are combined into one larger rectangular PCB that automated SMT machinery can handle. Think of it like a cupcake tray moving from one machine to the next along a conveyor belt, then at the end the individual cupcakes are snapped free from the tray.

Let’s take a look at the manufacturing steps for a typical LED light bulb meant to replace a standard incandescent bulb with an Edison Screw. You will see that it is a very different process from the highly automated processes used to manufacture our familiar incandescent bulbs. And, despite what you might imagine, people are still very much a necessary part of manufacturing process, and not just for testing and Quality Assurance either.

Once the larger sheets of LED circuit boards have passed through a solder reflow oven (a hot air furnace that melts the solder paste), they are broken up into the individual small circuit boards and power wires manually soldered on.

The small power supply housed in the body of the light bulb goes through a similar process, or may be delivered complete from another factory. In either case, the manufacturing steps are the same; first the PCB passes through SMT lines, then it goes to a manual dual in-line package (DIP) assembly line where a long row of factory workers add one component at a time. DIP refers to the two parallel rows of leads projecting from the sides of the package. DIP components include all integrated chips and chip sockets.

While LED lights burn several times longer than incandescent or CFLs and require less than half the energy, they need some form of passive heatsink keep the high-power LEDs from overheating. The LED circuit board, which is made from 1.6-2mm thick aluminum, will conduct the heat from the dozen or so LED elements to the metal heatsink frame and thus keep temperatures in check. Aluminum-backed PCBs are sometimes called “metal core printed circuit boards,” and though made of a conductive material the white coating is electrically isolating. The aluminum PCB is screwed in place within the heatsink which forms the lower half of the LED light bulb.

After this, the power connector board is fixed in place with adhesive. The small power supply converts 120/240V AC mains power to a lower voltage (12V or 24V), it fits in the cavity behind the aluminum PCB.

Shell assembly consists of locking the shell in place with screws. A plastic shell covers the power supply and connects with the metal heatsink and LED circuit board. Ventilation holes are included to allow hot air to escape. Wiring assembly for plug socket requires soldering wires to the bulb socket. Then shell is attached.

Next, the completed LED light is sent to burn-in testing and quality control. The burn-in test typically lasts for 30 minutes. The completed LED light bulb is then powered up to see if it is working properly and burned in for 30 minutes. There is also a high-voltage leakage and breakdown test and power consumption and power factor test. Samples from the production run are tested for high-voltage leaks, power consumption, and power factor (efficiency).

The finished bulbs pass through one final crimping step as the metal socket base is crimped in place, are bar-coded and identified with lot numbers. External safety labels are applied and the bulb is inked with information, such as brand and model number. Finally, all that’s left is to fix on the clear plastic LED cover which is glued in place.

After a final check to make sure all the different parts of the LED light are tight, then it is packed into individual boxes, and bulbs are shipped out.

So, if you have wondered why LED light bulbs are so expensive today, this explanation of how they are manufactured and how that compares to the manufacture of traditional light bulbs should help. However, it also reveals why the cost will fall pretty dramatically over the next few years. Just as the cost of manufacturing other semiconductor-based products has fallen dramatically due to standardization, automation and other key steps along the manufacturing learning curve, the same inexorable forces will drive down the costs of LED light bulb production.

DSLR Astrophotography Tutorial

A Look Ahead To The Higher Levels Of Astrophotography

If you are hooked, you are going to want to shoot deep-sky objects like galaxies and nebulae and use more advanced techniques. With a telescope, and a camera with a lens (not your basic digital camera) you will be able to shoot the Moon, including close-ups of the craters!

This will require learning about attaching your camera to a telescope that has a motorized   mounting  that tracks the stars. Your camera will ride “piggyback” on top of the scope. If you have a DSLR camera, you will remove the camera lens hook it up directly to your telescope. The telescope becomes the camera lens.

There are a few pieces of equipment you will need in order to progress at this level

  • You will need a telescope on an equatorial mount to track the stars so you can use the long exposures required for these faint objects.
  • You can also use a computerized altazimuth mount to shoot brighter deep-sky objects.
  • You really need something like a German-equatorial  mounting  with motor drives on both axes to do any kind of serious long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography.

If your telescope only has an altazimuth  mounting  that you use for tracking the stars as well as compensating for the Earth’s rotation, then your timing for exposures will be limited to no more than 30 seconds. Any exposure that goes beyond 30 seconds will suffer from “field rotation”. The stars end up rotating around the center of the frame, and so will look pretty odd. To shoot pictures of the night sky that have over 30 second exposures you must use an equatorial  mounting  that whose polar alignment is accurate.

Advanced astrophotography levels will show you how to shoot Raw file-format images and separate dark, flat-field and bias support frames. These are used to calibrate and improve light images.

Yamaha P95

The Yamaha P95 electric piano is an extremely popular model from the Yamaha digital piano range – a range of products with a proud reputation of excellence in sound. This article is intended as a high level review for those interested in this particular digital piano. I will look at some of the features that make the Yamaha P95 as popular as it is.

Attention to detail

The ultimate experience for the majority of piano players would have to be playing a Grand Piano. Some of us never get the opportunity but it is an experience to aspire to. In the meantime, we can make do with the far more accessible option of playing an electronic piano designed to sound like a Grand Piano and, importantly, feel like a Grand Piano to play. The Yamaha P95 achieves this just as well, if not better than any other models in a similar price bracket and indeed better than some electric pianos that are more expensive.

The Yamaha P95 does this via its 88 full-sized, weighted keys featuring Graded Hammer action. The Graded Hammer action actually makes the keys have different resistances depending on whether they produce a low or high sound. In a genuine piano the low keys are connected to big thick heavy strings and the high keys to much smaller finer strings. This means low notes have a subtly heavier resistance compared to high notes and this is what the Graded Hammer action within the Yamaha P95 simulates very well. The result is a better playing experience and a much better platform for learning to play the piano. You can even adjust the sensitivity of this resistance for a more personal experience.

An electric piano could feel as smooth as a velvet glove but if the sound is no good then it would be all for naught. Thankfully this is not a problem for the Yamaha P95, it simulates the sound of an acoustic piano very well and the speakers are powerful enough to deliver that sound without distortion. This Yamaha digital piano only comes with a small selection of alternate sounds but includes two types of acoustic piano along with eight other sounds including pipe organ and choir.

Additional features and benefits

With the key details of playing sound and feel covered, Yamaha then went and included a couple of extra useful features in this electric piano which effectively puts the icing on the cake. People owning a Yamaha P95 appreciate the 50 tracks pre-programmed into the keyboard to let them see how good the keyboard can sound and maybe inspire them to learn new pieces. There is also the ability to record your performances for review and there is an in-built metronome so as to get your timing just right.

More than these features though, users remark how user-friendly and intuitive this Yamaha digital piano is to play and this means there will be little need to constantly refer to the Yamaha P95 manual. The other excellent thing about this keyboard is that it is very lightweight and thus portable. Whether you need to take it to gigs or friends homes, there is every likelihood you will be able to support the weight of this keyboard in one hand.

Some small oversights

No Yamaha P95 review would be complete without mentioning a couple of things that could be improved upon. One of those things is that this electric piano does not have USB ports to connect to a computer. However with a midi-adapter you can overcome this limitation. The other aspect which causes some comment is that there are other keyboards that come with more ‘bells and whistles’. These keyboards tend to be more expensive though,or lack the attention to detail around simulating the piano’s touch and feel.

Conclusion

At the end of the day this keyboard is a quality one with a good price point. If you are seeking Yamaha attention to detail that won’t break the bank then the Yamaha P95 is definitely worth the investment.

How to Make an Outdoor Fire Pit

A fire pit can add dimension and value to your home. Fire pits are very nice in the winter as well as the summer.

There are kits available that allow you to simply put one together and away you go. However, I find that learning how to make an outdoor fire pit is the most cost effective way to go.

The first thing you want to do is consider what you want the fire pit to look like. Think about color, height, width, location and material needed.

You want to be away from any structures or things that could catch fire for obvious reasons, so location is the first thing to decide on. For material, most rock or do-it-yourself cement should suffice.

As these things go, always check with your local authorities for ordinances and regulations regarding fire pits in your area concerning where they can be placed and how big they can be. You want to be within the law with this. If you need building permits or neighbor’s permission, get it so you are in line and legal so you don’t run into problems later on.

With that out of the way, you can map out your location and begin. Here is an idea for a basic, in-ground fire pit that is approximately 24″ inside diameter and 10″ deep.

What You Need

You will need 2 or 3 bags of quick drying cement like Sakrete or the like, enough firebrick or stone to line it with, some quick mortar, a trowel, a 2×4 piece of lumber, a small piece of dowel wood, a can of spray paint (any color will do), some regular gravel and some string.

1) First, find the center of your fire pit’s location and mark it with the dowel wood. Now attach a 12″ piece of string to the dowel with a can of spray paint at the end. Using the string as a guide, paint a 24″ circle. Then do the same thing with a piece of string 24″ long.

2) Dig out between the paint lines 10″ deep and you have a trench that is 48″ in diameter at the largest point with a trench that measures 12″ wide by 10″ deep all around. This is your base.

3) Now add the gravel to the trench and tamp it down so it’s firm. Then mix your cement and fill the trench to the top all the way around. Level this off with the 2×4 and smooth out with the trowel. Allow to set for at least two days, possibly up to a week so it has cured properly.

4) You will dig out the inside of the pit to so it is 2 to 3″ higher than the sides, which will 7 or 8″ and lay some more gravel in the bottom.

5) Then mix up your mortar and lay the firebrick so the bottom is completely covered. You may want to lay a second layer of brick. That’s up to you entirely.

6) Allow the mortar to dry for a couple of days and you have an in-ground fire pit ready to go.

This is only one style among many, so look around and see what you want and go for it!

How to Repair Concrete Patio

If your patio is made of concrete you should know that time after time repairing or partial fixing of the concrete might be required. Although the material is solid and durable, sooner or later it becomes a subject to repair. Most often unfavorable weather conditions do badly warp the concrete. The article provides instructions on how to repair concrete patio if it has a crack, is damaged or flaked. We hope you will find all the necessary information here.

Dealing with Cracks

Things you will need: epoxy tubes, acid cleaning agent, concrete mix, and caulk gun.

Instructions:

Step 1. Get down to repairing works when the weather is not: hot, windy. The overcast sky on a cool brisk day would be the best choice. The thing is – the mixture should be able to dry as slowly as possible.

Step 2. Thoroughly examine the surface to figure out how much injectable epoxy will be required to fix the existing cracks.

Step 3. Buy the right size of epoxy tube and the caulk gun.

Step 4. With an acid cleaner cleanse the whole spot. This chemical will let the new portion of cement get better fixed on the old one.

Step 5. With the epoxy tube inserted in the caulk gun inject it into all cracks on the cement surface. Let epoxy dry.

Step 6. Smoothly apply the concrete mixture evenly on the surface. Allow to dry before use.

Dealing with Damages

Rain (water) may easily worsen the existing damages on the cracked concrete patio.

Instructions:

Step 1. Using stone chisel remove all loose pieces.

Step 2. With a grinder (plus abrasive masonry) widen narrow cracks for better filling.

Step 3. Cleanse the spot; use a shop vacuum for holes / cracks.

Step 4. Sprinkle the place with water; remove excess.

Step 5. Remove the grout container tip, the cut should be a bit smaller than the crack width. Fill the crack with the grout.

Step 6. If the crack is up to 0.5″ (or 12 mm), apply the grout in layers letting each dry completely.

Note: You may use resurfacer for filling small cracks after the repair. Use pourable crack filler for deep small cracks.

Dealing with Flakes

In the freezing weather moisture may easily add flakes to the concrete patio. Begin repairing the patio only when sure it won’t rain during the next 3-4 days.

Instructions:

Step 1. Remove loose pieces, cleanse the spot.

Step 2. Use pressure washer (available in rental centers) to clear away tiny particles. Let the surface be damp but remove excess water.

Step 3. Make the concrete mixture as per instructions. Apply the concrete to the holes using a small   trowel  or large putty knife. Remove excess.

Step 4. Let the patch dry completely (15 – 20 hours).

Step 5. When all flaked spots are patched and dry apply the “skim coat” over the whole concrete area; use paint roller.

Note: You may walk on the surface after 48 hours, and move heavy objects after 72.

We have almost fully equipped you with the necessary instructions and useful tips on how to repair concrete patio. God luck with the repair!

Buyer’s Guide to Buying a Staircase

Despite being a major traffic thoroughfare, when it comes to design and decoration,  staircases  are one of the most frequently overlooked areas of a home,’ says Hugo Tugman, architectural expert from Architect Your Home. ‘As it’s often the first thing people see when they walk through your front door, your  staircase’s  visual impact can reflect upon the entire property.’

From spirals to spindles, glass to granite, there’s plenty of scope for statement making, but homeowners looking to transform their space are often unaware of the possibilities. The key to sorting out the design of your home is to understand your options and the impact building regulations may have.

Replacing your stairs

‘First and foremost, stairs need to fulfil their primary function of getting you from one level to the next,’ says Mark Dyson of Enclosure Architects. Once this need is fulfilled, you can really go to town on the aesthetics and create something that gives a really great first impression.’

In terms of renovation, replacing a  staircase  is akin to knocking down a structural wall. But if your stairs are badly positioned, oppressive, or hinder light flow through the house, then it’s worth considering, as a new flight can make all the difference.

Always consult an architect or a specialist company, as it’s critical that a new  staircase  fits in both proportionally and stylistically. ‘A  staircase  is always interfacing with another area of the house, so there are lots of elements to consider,’ says Richard McLane, co-director of  staircase  specialist Bisca. ‘The middle section of the  staircase  can be quite straightforward, but the connections to rest of the building should be seamless.’

Remember also that plans must comply with building regulations, specifically the Approved Document K or Protection, Falling and Impact, and in particular section K1, which deals with stairs, ladders and ramps. You can download it free from  staircases .org/regulations.htm

Before you start

Prepare for dust and disruption and remember that, unless you have a second  staircase , you won’t be able to access the upper levels while work is going on.

A standard, straight  staircase  kit can cost as little as £250, but bespoke designs start at around £3,000. This could rise to £25,000 plus for a bespoke one with real wow factor. Issues such as access can up the final figure further (installing a  staircase  on the sixth floor will be more pricey than on lower levels, for example).

How much space you have will dictate what you can do, and unless you live in a modern building, it’s difficult to go outside of these limits. If you are lucky enough to have more space, it may be possible to reorganise it to make better use of the available inches.

‘Ideally, a  staircase  should be at least 80cm wide,’ says Mark Dyson. The head room (the height between the level of a tread and the structure immediately above it) needs to be at least 2m, and the maximum pitch for a domestic flight is 42 degrees. Straight flights are limited to 36 consecutive steps. If there are more than 36, the flight should make a change of direction of at least 30 degrees.

Flights should have a handrail on at least one side if they are less than 1m wide, and on both sides if they are wider. The minimum height for a rail is 90cm, and there is no need for one beside the bottom two steps. Spindles should be no more than 10cm apart.

There is a huge scope for different building materials, from glass structures that appear to float and modern steel  staircases  in bright, matt or brushed finishes, through to oak or teak. Consider combining materials and think about what will work best in your interior. ‘The trend now is heading towards a more timeless look and I would recommend quality materials and simple details,’ says Richard McLane. ‘You can’t change a  staircase  even as often as a kitchen, and it’s such a major part of the house that it should transcend fashion.’

Easy updates

If your budget won’t stretch to a whole new  staircase , there are some simple updates you can do that are quicker and cheaper.

Consider removing the understairs cupboard to give a more open-plan feel.

Replace solid risers with glass to allow light to filter through to the space below.

Swap solid balustrades or dated spindles for a more modern equivalent. Sheet glass creates a minimal look and allows light to flow more freely. Or choose a beautiful wooden balustrade for timeless style.

Carpeted stairs

If you prefer carpet to bare wood or glass, make sure you buy one that’s suitable for stairs. ‘It’s imperative you choose a quality, hard-wearing carpet – 80 per cent wool to 20 per cent nylon,’ says Rupert Anton, marketing director of The Carpet Foundation. ‘Avoid loop-pile carpets as they “grin” (open up when bent) and are more slippery.’ Use a good underlay over both tread and riser and fit the carpet so the pile runs down the stairs. It’s also possible to use a strip of carpet as a runner. Look at Ryalux, which does carpet to your width. For runners, see Roger Oates or The Carpet Library’s Hartley runners, which are reversible so last twice as long.

Cantilevered stairs

A cantilevered  staircase  can look stunning, but is also a feat of engineering, with most of the weight of the treads supported by one wall. You need a balustrade to comply with UK building regulations, but glass is unobtrusive and will still give that ‘weightlessness’ look. These  staircases  should always be designed and built by a specialist.

Straight stairs

Straight doesn’t have to equal dull, and it’s possible to modernise less than lovely stairs with cladding, such as timber, tile or stone. Many modern homes have stairs built in concrete, which is ideal for resurfacing. If you’re updating a less sturdy  staircase , make sure it’s sound by cladding with marine plywood before affixing any sort of tiles, otherwise they might crack. ‘You can re-clad a  staircase  in oak for about £500-£1,000, depending on the balustrade you choose,’ says Vanessa Garrett, director of Broadleaf Timber. ‘This is a much more accessible solution if you don’t have a huge budget, would rather not embark on big structural changes or are limited by space.’

Alternate stairs

‘Ninety per cent of new  staircases  are constructed to create access to a loft conversion,’ says Mark Dyson. ‘The pitch of the roof can make constructing a flight difficult and, if this is the case, alternate-tread stairs can be the answer. These have one tread for the left foot and another for the right, and mean the angle of the stairs can be tighter, increased from 42 to 65 degrees.’ Consider who will need to use them, as they are trickier to negotiate than standard stairs. It can also be hard to move furniture up and down them.

Spiral and helical  staircases 

Spiral  staircases  wind around a central pole and have a handrail on the outer side only. Helical stairs do not have a central pole and there is a handrail on both sides. If a spiral  staircase  is being used to access a single room, it must be at least 1500mm in diameter. But if the spiral goes up to more than one room, it is classed as a main  staircase  and needs to be at least 1900mm. ‘Bear in mind that the opening in which your spiral fits needs to be 100mm wider than the spiral itself,’ says Sally Noseda, director of Oakleaf Industries. Many spiral  staircases  are available in kit form from about £800, but only go up to 1600mm wide. A bespoke spiral would start at £3,000. It can be difficult to get furniture up and down, so move large items in before you install the stairs.

Curved and Straight Stairway Lifts

In order to provide easy access for the physically disabled and the elderly to the different floors of your home or office, stairway lifts are ideal options. With the rapid development in technology, a range of curved and straight stairway lifts are made available by leading manufacturers in the field.

The Configuration of Stairways Is No More a Problem

The important feature of curved stair lifts is they can be customized to any desired size and shape so as to adapt to the curves and landings of straight as well as curved stairways. Curved stair lifts can be mounted on either side of the stairways and these take more time to be installed – that is, about four to twelve weeks. The setting-up charges are also a bit on the higher side, as the amount is calculated on the basis of the number of bends, the length of the stairway, flexure angles and labor charges.

Straight stair lifts provide fast access between floors. If required, these can be easily repositioned to another location. As these are less intricate, the installation of straight stair lifts is simple and can be completed within two to three hours. These are more economic too. The folding feature in straight stairway lifts enables them to be kept folded when the lift is not in use, so that others can use the stairway.

The safety measures incorporated in curved and straight stairway lifts are exceptional and include obstruction sensors, swivel seat, swing away arms and many other controls. The various models can be operated using AC or DC power.

Think before You Buy

Before buying curved and straight stairway lifts, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding about the various models and their prices. Awareness regarding the top manufacturers and dealers will be helpful, if you want to avail of the best services. The foremost names in the industry include Savaria Concord, Bruno and ThyssenKrupp Access, providing guaranteed products through their dealers. Curved and straight stairway lifts, besides being genuine aids for the mobility challenged individuals also add to the value of your residence or office.

Gutter, Soffit and Fascia Cleaning

If there was ever a job that needed a scaffold tower, this is it!

What Are Soffits and Fascias?

Right, stick your head out the window and gaze toward the heavens. Do you see the box your guttering is attached to going around the bottom of the roof? The soffit is the underside of the box, and the fascias are the boards at the corners of the eaves. Attached to the soffits and fascias is your guttering. Guttering catches rainwater from the roof and takes it down to the ground and drains, so you don’t get soaking wet whenever you walk out of your home.

Scaffold towers make what could be one heck of a job into something far more manageable. Make sure you hire a scaffold tower for a week or so. If you have a two-storey house, you should hire a 5.2-metre tower. With colour-coded braces that click in, wheels and stabilisers, and toe-boards that all magic together within an hour you can be having a face-off with your fascias before you can say ‘Ladders are rubbish’.

Take Care of Your Gutters

Cleaning your guttering regularly from a scaffold tower will give your roof a fighting chance of holding off the rot, your house dry and your walls clear of the evils of water. Once a year get up there and rake away the debris of the year’s seasons. Always rake away from your downpipe, so you don’t block it with more nests and leaves. You can get a specially designed rake that suits your guttering perfectly, which makes your job even simpler.

Why not rig up a pulley system on your scaffold tower to pass down the debris to your second-in-command on the ground… your scaffold tower negates the need for a bucket dangling on the top rung.

Check your guttering carefully for breaks or deformities, lock in place any slipped guttering or brackets, make sure your downpipe joins are all in order. When there is more than a couple of things to fix, it’s better to just replace everything – especially if you have to replace the soffits and fascias: the little champions of the guttering world.

Fascias and Soffits

The fascias’ job is to secure the guttering to make sure that the rainwater drains properly from the roof. Overhanging the walls are the soffits, which should have ventilation holes according to modern building standards. The holes keep the roof aired so the wood isn’t damaged by damp.

Damage can include: water blown or splashed from the gutter rots timber fascias – something you’d be unlikely to see from your earlier peek out of the window. Even if you have recently painted your house there’s a large chance you won’t have painted above the gutters – just below – which opens the fascia up to the risk of rot. DON’T whatever you do just stick a plastic cap on the exposed or rotting fascia; while it may look nicer in the short term, all you’d do is encourage the rot to spread.

Old wooden fascias and soffits, and guttering made of anything but plastic means you are in serious need of a trip to the DIY shop! The most common option for updating roof boundaries is to use white, black or brown UPVC, simply because it is easy to look after: simply a wipe with a cloth and UPVC cleaner.

Of course getting a carpenter to build you new fascias and soffits is also an option, but you’ll have to maintain it carefully and yearly painting to make sure it doesn’t rot. Although some people try to patch-up their failing soffits, fascias and gutters, professionals consider the best approach is really to update it completely, whether you use wood or UPVC.

Laminate Flooring Installation

Laminate flooring is a growing part of the flooring market. Its multiple purposes, durability, quality finish and its economical cost has made in the most popular choice for flooring among do-it-yourselfers and contractors as an excellent option for attractive and inexpensive new flooring. Today, laminate flooring comes in many different types of finishes resembling natural wood or stained hardwood floors.

Is It Always The Right Choice?

While laminate is an excellent choice for flooring in your home, there are still a few things to keep in mind before you decide on it. A laminate floor is durable, very resistant to damage and scratches as well as easy and inexpensive to install but there are a few minor things you should know before you start removing your old floor and installing laminate. First to give you an idea of the durability and almost destruction proof quality of laminate flooring, think of it like this. It is essentially made of the same material used on kitchen counter tops that survive daily use and able to be cleaned with a simple wipe. Laminate flooring is installed as a floating floor and while most people find it easy to walk on because of its ‘give’ factor, some may find it to sound a bit hollow. Like real wood, laminate flooring can still be scratched and dented although not as easily as real wood.

Too much moisture will also damage your laminate floors as would too much moisture on your real wood floors. To accommodate shrinkage and expansion in laminate floors, installation for laminate is the same as hardwood. Your need to consider the width of the baseboard used in order not too have any spaces on the floor. The larger the area, the wider the baseboard needed as larger areas will expand and contract more than smaller areas. A good rule of thumb when considering laminate for your home is to keep the humidity level in your home between 40% and 50% so the floor doesn’t expand and contract much.

Proper Installation Of Laminate?

Laminate can be installed over existing ceramic tiles, vinyl or hardwood. Although laminate flooring has been marketed as the ultimate do-it-yourself project requiring minimal expertise, like all things it is not entirely a no-brainer. In order to get the job done properly and have the floor be long lasting and problem free essentially, some things need to be considered before installing the floor. First of all, laminate is based on the “click” system, but for the click system to work the floor upon which the laminate will be installed must generally be level overall or the click system will fail over time. Hiring an expert flooring installer may be worthwhile in the long term to avoid any such problems. In certain installations, a vapor barrier is required or a premium foam underlayment can be purchased. while proper measurement and cutting equates to minimal waste and lower costs. Proper tools and planning are also required to map out floor vents and how much to leave for undercut door jams.

“You Get What You Pay For”

Like most things in life, “you get what you pay for”. Generally, the cheaper the laminate floor, the cheaper the product itself and the cheaper the locking system is. As a result, a cheaper laminate may not withstand the wear and tear of everyday traffic. With laminate, not only is it better to buy domestic product but follow up with warranties and manufacturers is easier too. This is not always the case with imported, inferior foreign laminate flooring.

Good Finish – Vital For Antiques

The antique Amish made furniture can never be “antique” in the real sense of the term. Time may make it old but as an old wine, Amish furniture betters with age. Good antique furniture that is coated with lasting finish will make for a better looking and durable article.

Antiques show your sense of appreciating the traditional values and if blended with modern makeover, it shows a person’s balanced approach to lifestyle. More than a style statement, a home with antique furniture reflects a balanced mindset of its residents.

Normally, antique furniture does not require much maintenance due to its unique architecture and content. Made with solid wood, and if handled with due care, the antiques will only demand periodic touching up so as to maintain their grace and elegance. To beautify and protect the wood, the antique furniture was, historically, finished with labor intensive but durable processes. A good finish on solid wooden furniture would last for a considerably longer duration of time making the antique furniture maintenance-friendly and long lasting.

The basic steps involved in finishing are the first coat, the build coat and the top coat. All these steps, and necessarily in this order, are common to all furniture finishing. The first coat seals and evens out differences in porosity and density. The build or body coats are the part of a finish that provide moisture resistance, durability and longevity to the coating. The top coat gives the desired aesthetic sheen, but the total look and character of the finish comes from the work put into the Base & Build coats.

Wax finish on wood is the most simple and effective mode of prolonging the life of your old furniture. A simple wax finishing gives the wood a soft and satiny look. This is the most preferred mode of finishing the wooden furniture. A major advantage of wax finish is its easy restorability. And the disadvantage is that it can stain easily, even by water.

Oil finishing is also a popular process and has been in use since time immemorial. Oil finishing is easy to apply with simple brushes. The oil seeps into the wood to give it a nice sheen. You may have to use lots of coats to get the desired sheen but its simple application makes oil one of the preferred finishing tools.

Another useful finishing mode is the traditional lacquer finish. Lacquer finish has all the qualities of a preferred finishing technique but sometimes, hazardous chemicals and solvents are used in the classical lacquer. This makes lacquer finishing a little unpopular these days. The modern artisans have developed water and alcohol based lacquer to provide safe and smooth finish to your favorite antique furniture.

Varnish finishing is rarely used on the antique furniture these days due to special skills required to attain perfection.

Plenty of options are available for the right finish for your precious antique furniture. The factors that must be taken into consideration before opting for either are the cost, durability and grace. Consult the experts in this regard since every antique furniture piece requires individual attention and no generalizations can be made as to what is the best finishing option for antique furniture. Antique Amish handcrafted furniture always remains in demand. Modern furniture is good, but it is the antique furniture that commands the greatest respect. And if you have antique furniture at home, nothing compares!

Treatment For Premature Ejaculation – 4 Great Tips to Prevent Rapid Orgasm

Premature ejaculation is a condition which can make a person feel less of a man. The good news is that there are many ways, some better than others, in which a person can receive treatment for premature ejaculation. Let’s take a look at just 4 great remedies in this article.

Distraction

If you think about how long you are going to last in the bedroom and you want to last as long as possible then this has a mental effect of automatically giving you premature ejaculation. One way to avoid this is to distract yourself.

Maybe you’ve tried this in the past but I have a much better method for you now. Try a mental exercise such as adding up all the even numbers between 2 and 50 – what is the total?

It is best to use this when you and your partner do not have eye contact, such as during receipt of oral sex.

Thicker Condom

This is an easy way to get a few extra minutes in the bedroom.

If you are already using condoms for protection then why not use the thickest condom that you can buy? You will still be able to enjoy sex but it will take the “edge” off your sensitivity and you can last longer than usual.

Drugs

These are really only considered to be a last resort treatment for premature ejaculation.

Doctors discovered that antidepressants can stop a man from ejaculating early. This is because his anxiety about his bedroom performance is diminished.

The major problem I have with this method is that it is like trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer. It is seriously overkill.

If you have a healthy mind and you are not depressed and your only problem is with premature ejaculation, then why take these powerful mind altering drugs?

Natural Muscle Workouts

By far, this must be perhaps the greatest treatment for premature ejaculation that exists.

This is not a quick fix cure but you can expect to see results after about 3 to 4 weeks. What happens is that you do some easy daily workouts of your PC muscle, a muscle located in the groin area.

By developing this muscle, you will be able to gain full ejaculatory control and only ejaculate when you want to.

No longer do you need to be worried about when you might ejaculate because you will literally be able to choose when you want to, in only 3 weeks from starting.

The other major advantage is that this method is a permanent cure, unlike all the others which are only temporary fixes.

Roof Inspections

Roof inspections are important to have done periodically for numerous reasons. One reason is to prevent leaks before they become out of control. Another is to make sure your roof is in good standing order after a storm or severe weather, otherwise you might be due for a replacement thanks to your insurance company. There are a few different factors to consider while inspecting a roof, and a few different things to look at.

One important time to have a roof inspection done on your home is after a severe storm has hit. Often times heavy rain, hail, and high powered winds will damage numerous shingles on your roof. Another thing that can happen without you noticing is over time continual rain can wear away the singles that are on your roof. During a full roof inspection you will have your shingles inspected, check for any areas that have the potential to leak, and check the overall condition of your roof.

So how often should people really have their roof inspected? A moderate number would be around twice a year. This should be more than enough to take care of your roof. The only time you should break your regularly schedule inspection times is due to an emergency or potential damage that has been caused by a natural disaster.

The main thing a roof inspection can lead to is repair. If there is only light damage and just a few shingles here and there that are no longer doing their job they can be replaced easily. If you have a severely damaged roof that will take extensive amounts of repair your best option might be to have your entire roof completely replaced. This will involve repairing any wood, wrapping the roof again, and putting on fresh shingles to give you that full protection from the elements while at home.

If the damage has been done to your roof by a storm of any sort you can file a claim through your insurance company to have your roof repaired or replaced. Your roofing contractor can actually make your claim for you and help you through the process by negotiating with your insurance company. This saves you the trouble of having to call your insurance company and it will only cost you your deductible in the end. It is very common that people are unaware that their roof has damage on it so calling in for an inspection is a smart thing to do.

Printable Coloring Pages

Think of the coloring pages that you do not have to buy for your child. Yes, it is possible if you want to go online search a little for the long list of sites that are offering free online coloring. No more hassle to select the shop, go there and try finding the favorite cartoon character of your child. One, the favorite animated characters are not always available for sale. Sometimes you have to visit more than one shop to find the coloring book of your child’s choice. Being a parent you have to find time to buy all the coloring stuff but if you go online there is a treasure of coloring sites that await you. You just have to get them printed

These sites are easy to find on the internet and they provide the child with a chance to explore his creativity. He is all by himself to experiment and learn. The shapes and colors will keep him busy and his mind occupied in making the best use of colors and drawings. Once the drawings are printed he can take them along to his room or to some other part of the house that pleases him.

The online coloring stuff with printable option might be the best of its kind as the child does not have to finish his coloring in one go, he can wait and try his hand whenever he wants to. Or he can get the prints once he is done with the artwork online. What pleases you more? The child who is happy and busy or the one who is always complaining of not getting the stuff he wants to color. Of course the latter option can be the choice.

With the advent of computer, internet and printer it is easy to access online printable coloring pages. To keep the kids engaged go ahead purchase the printer, have internet connection and search for online printable coloring pages. This is an effective way to encourage the parents to build the good habits in the kids. Easy way to get the targets in educational terms that give them the coloring material that triggers the creativity of kids. Coloring encourages the expressions and causes to perceive everything. This may cause the flow of knowledge in an effective way. Printable pages are the main source with the child can express his ideas, thoughts and perceptions in artistic way. This will bring amusement to you when you see how your kid has given the look to the printable coloring pages. Coloring experience is primarily the educational activity. Skills like hand and eye coordination, idea of colors and picture understanding is developed with printable color pages. So coloring pages are more than the fun. When child go for online search he will be well informed with technology world and its benefits. With the thematic printable pages you can give concept to your kid in each and every aspect related to life and also build knowledge base of each event like Christmas, birthday etc. It keep involve the children’s in a valuable way and it is the cause of comfort for the parents that their kids are learning something effective and purposeful. That has good impacts on growing skills of kids.

So let the child learn from his own experience what makes him more excited. The shapes, animals or faces. He can also do some online learning too by printing the stuff. So at the end of the day of you are not working and want to unwind, better, put on the computer find the best site and let the child experiment with whatever he wants to.

Acrylic Portrait Painting – Learning to Paint

Painting people takes practice. Painting people or portraits in acrylics or watercolors is done by painting in layers. While you are building these layers, you may be tempted to give up too soon. As long as the features are placed correctly, painting portraits in acrylic or watercolor just takes layers and patience.

How to get the person’s feature correctly drawn.

Getting the person’s features correctly is the most important first step in portrait painting. I suggest using the grid methods to do this. In this example, you are painting from a photo or picture. Use a pencil and lightly draw a grid with equal squares on the painting surface. Use another grid and place over the photo. The grid you use over the photo will likely be a much smaller one. On your canvas, within each square draw the lines of what you see. If you want even more accuracy, you can draw smaller squares within squares. When your drawing is accurate, you can erase the grid lines.

How to get the foundation of the portrait started.

Step number two is the foundation. The foundation involves using a thinned layer of paint for the person’s skin tone. The consistence of this paint should be like watercolor. This is the under painting. Dilute the flesh colored paint with water and establish the entire skin area. You will add layer upon layer until you have built your shadows or highlights. The way that you do this is to reduce the amount of water that you add or just use the paint full strength. You should be able to see the pencil lines of the facial features. Now, use a darker flesh color and paint in the facial feature lines. Think of this stage as painting in the lines like a coloring book. After you paint in the features of the eyes, eyebrows, nose, nostrils and mouth you can work on the final layers of the finished painting.

Final layers and details in a portrait.

It is the final layers of the painting that bring it to life. Study your reference photo and notice where the shadows are. Layer by layer add the shadows. Because you are painting a portrait, don’t be afraid to add red, and even blue to mimic flesh color. Add some highlights to make features appear to protrude. For example, notice on the nose, there is usually very bright highlights. To indicate the roundness of cheeks, chins and the center of the forehead, use a few layers of whitened flesh color to add these very important highlights. The last bit may be a touch of pure white.

The last thing to do in a portrait should be your final pure white highlights. Usually a person’s lips are moist and have a touch of pure white. There is almost always a touch of pure white in a persons’ eye where the light is reflecting. Remember painting people takes practice. Painting people or portraits in acrylics is done by painting in layers. Don’t get frustrated if your first few portraits aren’t what you expected. You will more than likely need to practice and practice. Have fun and enjoy learning to paint.

A Guide to Construction Essentials: Gantry

If your business is into planning and organising events or engages in construction activities for companies, not only do you need to have adequate and skilled manpower, but you also need to have the right tools, equipment and a good gantry system. Combined together and executed skilfully, they can ensure success of your events and make your clients happy and satisfied. However, these equipment and gantries can be too expensive to buy and maintain. Good news is that you do not need to buy them. Instead, you can simply hire gantries for your events and construction projects. It will help you save lots of money instead of purchasing it!

What is a Gantry?

A gantry is an overhead assembly and serves multiple uses. It is primarily installed to provide protection to workers, pedestrians and the public against construction debris and falling objects from the building or construction site. However, the use of gantry in many applications other than at construction sites has also become popular. Gantries are versatile. They can easily be adapted, customized, adjusted and used in other applications. It can be used to provide an elevated platform for a variety of events of any sizes such as sporting events (e.g. marathon) and corporate events where the objective is to provide a highly visible presence and also to launch promotional campaigns. Gantries come in different sizes and designs, and they can be put up easily at different heights and widths in any locations.

Types of Gantries

There are many types of gantries you could choose from depending on your needs and purpose. Below are some of the more popular ones:

  • Gantry crane. Gantry crane is ideal for heavy-duty and industrial load needs. It is a special type of crane used for heavy-duty lifting. It is the toughest type of crane capable of lifting heavy loads. The gantry crane is commonly used at shipyards or construction sites to lift heavy stuff.
  • Tower gantry. As the name implies, this is a tower structure usually made of stainless steel at both sides which makes it very solid and sturdy. It is perfect for sporting events such as fun runs, cycling, marathons, etc. It can be erected at different heights and weights depending on the purpose of the event.
  • Lightweight gantry. This type of gantry is very light and easy to set-up. It is also affordable and works well for events that have a limited budget. It can also be set-up at different heights and widths, up to a maximum clearance and width of three meters (3m) and six point four (6.4) meters, respectively.