DIY Laptop, Keyboard or Mixer Cradle in 10 Easy Steps


Hello all you nomadic tech junkies out there. Today I’m going to be covering how to make a DIY laptop, keyboard or Mixer/Soundboard Cradle without ever even going into a hardware store. 

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So, here’s a simple way to make a cradle for your mixer, recorder, soundboard, laptop, or any other desktop device for which the angle of the component needs to be on an incline in order to more efficiently use the plugs, keys, dials, buttons and so on. This particular cradle can be made without ever entering a hardware store.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Cutting board (slightly larger than the base of your chosen device)
  2. Wood glue (or Gorilla Glue, which I used)
  3. Multi-tool with a file and a saw blade
  4. Wooden plunger or broom handle
  5. Two drywall or picture frame nails
  6. Black marker or sharpie
  7. Small hammer
  8. Duct tape (optional)
  9. Drawer mat (optional)
  10. Two 2-liter bottle caps (optional)

First, you will need to measure the distance that you want to incline the device for appropriate or convenient use. I am making my cradle for a Behringer Xenyx 1202fx Premium 12-Input 2-Bus Mixer (pictured above). For this, I chose to elevate the incline to 2.5 inches (about 6.5 cm). This allows me to better see what levels my dials are set to when I mix the volume and effects inputs to my podcast feed.

  1. Measure and mark the distance for the height of the incline first (this is the line you’ll cut half-way through), then mark another line above that for the thickness of the cutting board (this is the line you will cut all the way through). Then draw a line demarcating the half-way mark so that you don’t cut the first measure too far.

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Note: You’ll probably want to use the rounded edges on either side of the handle (or file them into rounded edges) so that you can easily file down later to make sure that the cradle doesn’t wobble.

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2. Repeat this step for the other leg that will be attached to the cutting board later.

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3. Take a length of the midsection of the handle and cut the exact width of the board – this will become the section that holds your component up and keeps it from sliding off the incline.20170210_221843

4. With a black marker, draw a flat, straight line all the way down this length of the handle. Then measure and delineate about 1cm (about a fingernail width) and draw another line. To make sure you have a straight line, press and hold both the marker and the handle against a desk or flat tabletop surface, and drag the marker along the length of the handle. Measure, roll the handle to the measured mark and repeat.

Once you’ve got the two, evenly spaced lines, mark a checkered area in between them. You will use your file to clear this area out until you don’t see any more black ink – this will mean at the area that you’re filing away will be flat enough to lay evenly along the cutting board.
Note: be sure not to file it too finely, because you’ll need scored surfaces for the glue to catch.

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5. Now that you have all of your necessary pieces, it’s time to start gluing. I glued my legs first and then the bottom bracket/brace. No matter which you choose, you’ll need to drive your nails into the still-rounded edge of the legs. To ensure that you’re driving the nail in straight, take your marker and draw a cross section to guide your aim.

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6. Legs: Take the inner portion of the cut surfaces and make sure that you run a rough file or knife over them to rough them up and to create notches so that the glue will find footholds and make a stronger connection once hardened. You’ll want to also file or scratch the surface of where they will be setting against the surface of the cutting board. Apply some glue over both panes of the cut. Place them on the edges of the cutting board. Nail the nail the rest of the way in, and let it set. Do this for both sides.

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7. Bottom bracket: While that’s drying, start shaving away at the checkered area of the remaining length of the handle. You can do this with the serrated edge of the saw, a file, or even a knife that’s sharp enough to handle it. Once it’s close enough to level to file it, rough it up and flatten it out the rest of the way with the file. Also file the surface area of the cutting board where the flattened rod will be glued.

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8. Once that’s done, your glue should be partially dry on the legs. Flip it over – legs up – put a layer of glue along the rod, slide it under the cutting board and make it level by placing a book under the other side. It’ll need to be level so that you can place a heavy object on it to keep pressure for the drying process.

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9. Let your new cradle sit overnight to ensure a strong hold, and it should look like this.

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10. Additional incline/space: Keeping in mind that most components have heat vents, you’ll want to make sure that there is enough circulation to keep it from overheating. The air vent is located on the upper left section of the back panel on this mixer.

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An easy way to raise the component up another 1.5cm or so, is to place a 2-liter soda bottle cap on the cutting board near the top of the incline. To keep it from sliding around, you can use duct tape and drape the tape over the top of the incline.

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One other option here to keep it from sliding around, is to use a drawer mat. This adds grip and stability, while also offering some area for ventilation as well (though not as much as the bottle caps). they are easy to cut out exact shapes to form-fit to your device.

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That’s it! Enjoy your new cradle for your laptop, keyboard, mixer or whatever else you’re going to use it for.

 

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TGD Bulgaria Short: Snowboarding Kartala


Headed back out to the mountain again – this time to Kartala; just outside of Blagoevgrad.

The mountain itself has few trails, many of which are cut straight out of the trees descending some pretty treacherous terrain. So those are generally visited only by the seasoned boarders/skiers. The whole park, though, isn’t what I’d call a traffic jam of snow sport enthusiasts.

Given the terrain on even the groomed areas, I have to warn visitors that this mountain is not for beginners. Its uneven pitch and frequent, fist-sized rocks make for some challenges to keeping balance. And probably the biggest problem is the hidden boulders. With just a few millimeters of snow coverage, they tend to do some significant damage to the underside of skis and boards.

Other than that, the benefits include:

  1. It’s the cheapest mountain around, at just under $20 for an all-day pass ($12 for half days).
  2. Parking is a breeze as long as you arrive before the half-day mark.
  3. Barring the few, random, winded boarder resting off to the side (okay, actually there are plenty in the middle of the trail, too), there really isn’t a lot of traffic here – even on the weekends.

All in all, it’s definitely worth a visit. Just try to keep your balance and work the straightaways for some epic speed.

Monk on Fire: The Rila Monastery


So, beyond the sense of entitlement religion offers religious leaders around the world, it also works to validate concerns over whether or not it even has a place in our community. After all, we are currently witnessing what entitlement offers groups like ISIS when left unchecked and free to grow.

My visit to the Rila Monastery in Southwest Bulgaria is indicative of something along the same vein.

But first, the pleasant and rewarding intro:

Headed to the Rila Monastery, you’ll go through this neat little stucco’d  town where basically nobody lives. It’s so underpopulated that even the people that own houses here mostly live somewhere else and visit during the holidays or with family. The year-round population mostly works in agriculture, with some in the service of the nearby Rila Monastery.

You’re actually more likely to get into a road delay because of sparring cows than you are from vehicle traffic.

This time of year is really great to visit most Southeastern Bulgarian monasteries, in my opinion, because the mountains are right at the cusp of changing color, and that’s where many, if not most of the monasteries are nestled.

Of Bulgaria’s nearly 100 monastic centers dotted around the country, the Rila Monastery is the largest and most heavily visited. In 2009, nearly a million visitors came to see this location. It’s definitely an interesting sight. And this being among the earlier of my Bulgarian monasteries, I am finding that they seem to have this common thread of all feeling totally rebuilt and slightly unauthentic.

Every monastery that I’ve visited so far has burned to the ground at least once and then been rebuilt many years later. So each time this happens, the construction, while attempted in the preceding style, was still influenced by more recent architectural techniques – and beholden to adhering to updated standards of safety and fire regulations.

Not that that prevented fires, since the diocese can’t seem to keep from burning down their religious monuments with such frequency that one might wonder if blazing monasteries might translate to hearty financial benefit to the church. I am not sure I will get anyone to confirm this longstanding conspiracy theory, but when considering the three facts that, 1) there are plenty of monasteries in neighboring countries that don’t have such a “heated” history of fires, to use a pun, 2) that the number one biggest real estate company in the entire country, the company that owns more hectares per capita of low-wage employees in the entirety of Eastern and Southern Europe, is the Eastern Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, and 3) that this very same church has seen drastic decreases in their membership – and their membership fees, as they might be called, there are definitely some questions of exceedingly coincidental benefactors of disaster restructuring monies to be accounted for.

Each time a monastery burns, Tsars, Presidents and wealthy families are expected to shoulder the burden of paying for reconstruction and restoration of the religious relics. These entities take on the responsibility as something of an achievement or a charitable honor to be a contributing part of the “rebirth” of a historical, national monument. But is it really a charitable action or simply a contribution to a medieval  scam that’s simply worked so well that it’s continued for centuries.

In any case, it is still a visual spectacle to visit. And located in the mountains, it’s also a pretty leisurely way to escape the heat. So in the summer, this place really packs in the crowds. It’s difficult to find parking even now, during the off-peak season, so I can imagine that it’s a better bet to take a tour bus from the city if you’re really interested in making this trip. For reasons that will become apparent shortly, however, I actually have to strongly suggest that you do not visit this particular monastery. More on that soon.

Bulgaria has an interesting history with its religious ties throughout the ages. Bulgaria has always been seen as a European “outsider” by other countries in the continent – which stands true even today. Up until the 7th century, the population was mostly pagan, adhering mostly to Slavic and Thracian traditions.
The Rila Monastery has been something of a refuge for revolutionaries throughout the ages as well. And outside of its 2002 visit with Pope John Paul II, it’s housed such names as Vassil Levski, Gotse Delchev, and Peyo Yavorov.
The asshole:
A free PDF available at BulgariaTravel.org states that Rila Monastery is the largest monastery in Bulgaria. It was built in the tenth century and has kept and preserved the Christian values for over a millennium.

I would definitely agree, given the fact that the 10th century was actually the period of Christianity when Pre-scholastic theology found the church in utter disarray, that it’s kept not only the values, but also the self-aggrandized entitlement of Christianity since it was built. If that century defined the religion in this region, with the fall of the Carolingian Empire and the all-out feudal separation of the Roman and Eastern Orthodoxy from the Church of England, then I can see how it also defined how they recruit their monastic heads – like the one we see here who is literally throwing a tantrum and screaming at my producer in the middle of his own place of worship.

The conundrum in the 10th century, by the way, came about because of petty squabbles over issues like whether or not leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist. Conflict was said to have arisen out of theological disputes of the remotest and most minute differences in interpretative disputes on everything from scripture to original sin, purgatory, and the nature of Hell. In fact, this period was so tumultuous, that it came to be known as the Great Schism, and in 1054 culminated in the Bishop of Rome calling for his own personal jurisdiction over determining the final word to the most controversial questions at the time.

On its masthead website, BulgarianDoicese.org, the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox church states that it wishes to teach by both word and deed, to inspire all to lead a life of Orthodox Christian belief, worship, and service to others. Well, if this is how they teach in deeds, they might want to revamp their stance on what they claim is “service to others.”

Look at this guy go. He really has nothing better to do than to cause a huge stink over getting filmed in a place where he probably ends up in more tourist photos than anyone most people know.

Rila Monastery is located inside of Rila Monastery Nature Park – a national park which, though endowed by the orthodox church, was designated as public lands. Being a professor of journalism with more than two decades of filming under my belt, I made sure to find that out before filming.

Why is that important? Because that makes this public land. And in Bulgaria, anyone standing on public land has no expectation to privacy. By profession or volunteerism, monks who find themselves here are in public domain. So, no, I actually don’t require your permission to film.

The monk ran off to complain to the police officers directing traffic about the incident, claiming in his combative argument with my producer that he would have them order me to erase my footage. As we exited the monastery and walked past the police, they nodded and smiled at me, giving me a hand gesture that assured me not to worry about the monk’s conversation.

As this man, who looks as old as my father, was having a hissy fit about me filming him in an open and public space, a crowd had started to form behind me. I found it quite ironic that most of them were taking pictures and filming this ridiculous charade.

Let’s forget for a moment that this man just walked up, assaulted me and tried to take my camera. He then continued on a tirade that literally lasted enough time for me to describe the last 1,000 years of Orthodox conflict. And here he is perfectly exemplifying the plight. One member of the crowd actually had to approached him and remind him that, while I probably should have asked his permission, this was, after all, a church, and that he should calm down and act like a responsible adult.

Thanks, Mr. Monk. I’m sure the YouTube views that you receive will make your hostility totally worth it.

You can see the outtake of this interaction, with subtitles, on my YouTube channel.

Bulgarian Retro Commie Showroom


Yep. You read that title right. On the way to Rila, in Southwestern Bulgaria, there’s a coffee-fueled passion for collecting communist era relics.

A visit to this place feels a lot like being cast into a whitewashed, concrete room with grayscale machines and being interrogated by the KGB – but with pleasant people offering coffee. It is either the perfect scene for a horror movie, or the burial place of Lenin’s TV double.

And before you say it, guys, yes. I know that the big picture I referenced here was actually not Stalin. Mixing a-roll and b-roll can be problematic sometimes. But thanks to those brainiacs out there for picking up on that and being fastidious, helpful viewers and pointing it out!

To find this place, just head toward Rila. It’s on the main road.

Bulgarian Beef Tongue


Just a quick mean after a visit to the Rila Monastery, Bulgarian beef tongue is something of a staple here. They bread and fry it, and add lemon for an amazing amalgamation of flavors that come together just right. The meat is also very tender, and the breading is thin and crispy. Quite a delicacy.

My Apartment in Bulgaria


Well, I’ve settled in and am working on not one, but three new Travel Geek films. As the next year rolls on, I’ll be filming throughout Bulgaria of course. But at the end of the month, I’ll be headed off to Georgia to gather all the footage for TGD Georgia. I was hoping to hit Armenia while I was there, but it doesn’t look like I’ll have that much time. Oh well, one epic country full of experiences will have to do!

And of course, I’m also frequently traveling to Greece gathering footage for that upcoming film as well.

Nevertheless, I’ll be using my apartment overlooking the city as my charming studio. I made a video of that, just in the event that my readers thought I was lying… okay, I wanted to show off a little. (Note: when I am talking about my “towel closet” it’s actually a “shoe closet.” What can I say, I am not an Ikea guy!)