Quick Look: Shop-Vac® Micro Wet-Dry: An Itty Bitty Vacuum

Disclosure: Post includes Amazon Affiliate and direct product links.

Continuing our trend of sucking, we picked up new under-desk vacuums and have to say–this is our current under-desk vacuum of choice, and includes a mounting plate that lets us stick it just about everywhere.

It’s not a full-power vacuum like our Rigid vac (which we’ll review, and was briefly mentioned in our Print: Vacuum Dust Collector for Wall Drilling post) but for our main desks (e.g., computers, some soldering, and an inappropriate amount of sanding), it’s pretty great.

It’s a one-gallon, 1HP, 1.25″ hose (but as noted below, it has a long taper, so some accessories might not fit without tweaking) and takes a filter bag if you’re not using it for wet stuff.

ShopVac Micro

It’s small, so very small. It ships with a bag installed–so while it’s totally a wet/dry vacuum, go ahead and remove that bag before resolving your Pepsi Syndrome with this little guy.

It ships with only flat and crevice tools, which is mostly-okay, although a few more tools would have been nice. We’ve also hooked it up to a number of micro-vacuum attachments with a 3d-printed adapter (yup, we’ll post about that as well) and sort-of works out-of-the-box with the afore-mentioned vacuum dust collector attachment–but the stock hose tapers from ~1.21″ to >1.25″ so it’s a bit floppy. We’ll have to modify the attachment to have a longer hose attachment area (or just cut the stock hose). It’s powerful enough to stick the DC attachment to the wall even with the non-fitting host diameter, so it’s more than sufficient for our desk vacuum needs.

(In fairness, when we’ve discussed this with other folks, they’re unsure why a desk needs a dedicated vacuum. IT’S OBVIOUS, OKAY????)

There’s also a convenient handle that folds on top–it’s not a nice flat surface like the Rigid (boo, we like things that stack) but it’s handy. The only thing we find lacking are mount points for the tools on the vacuum itself: there’s a bracket that (apparently?) is meant to mount on the wall next to the vacuum–we might repurpose it and stick it on to the vacuum itself, or just print something we can epoxy on the side so we don’t have to screw into the canister.

At ~$34 on Amazon we grabbed four, two of which are already mounted and in consistent use. It’s micro, it’s a vacuum, it’s really convenient. It became even more convenient with a quick remote switch so all we do is grab the hose and start sucking.

Product Links

Print: Vacuum Dust Collector for Wall Drilling

Rounded version of dust collector

Disclosures: This is one of our designs; the STL is available on Thingiverse. There’s also Amazon Affiliate and direct links to the Rigid “toolbox style” vacuum mentioned because it has quickly taken over our “Oh we always need a vacuum right here” needs: we have one under our main work desk and one under the pallet rack where our 3D printers and one of our CNC machines live.

We had to do a bunch of drilling into the wall in an area that was already populated with furniture. The solution? Spend hours designing and tweaking a 3D-printed dust collector. The design went through two major iterations: an angle-y one, and a roundier one.

Design Process

We do most of our print designs in Fusion 360. For the most part, a great app (but often crashes on coils) and for relatively simple stuff like this, perfectly adequate. The plethora of online resources for learning and using make it hard to beat for the pro-am maker.

More angled vacuum dust collection attachment
First, angled version

The original design (more angled version) worked great, but wouldn’t stick to the wall by itself. Why was the air path not an oval? Not sure–that’s just how it started out. Why was sticking to the wall by itself valuable? When working solo it’s actually convenient when drilling into wall studs; when just plowing through drywall you don’t need two hands on the drill anyway.

Rounded version of dust collector
More-rounded version; sticks to the wall!

We corrected most of the airflow problems by un-boxing the air path to the collection inlet and de-complicating some of the geometry where the main dust collection hole is.

One issue we ran in to (and why there’s such an aggressive taper) is that keeping the drill from bumping into the DC attachment we had to rotate one or the other or both. While it definitely has an impact on airflow, it also means we don’t have to get all wrist-twisty to complete even deep holes.

What’s Next?

We’ll put up some designs for other hose diameters (notably a 1 7/8″ one for our new Rigid “toolbox style” vacuum, which we’re loving!) and we’re likely going to further widen and smooth out the main airflow path into the hose so it’ll be even suckier.

We’ll also be doing quick reviews of both our Ryobi One+ (18V) tools and cute little Milwaukee M12 (12V) tools, which we’ve started using for almost all of our work: they’re perfectly adequate for most “utility” drilling, lighter, and smaller than the Ryobis.

Why did we start messing with the Milwaukee M12 series? We specifically wanted something small, light, and versatile–and they had an M12-powered inspection scope. That started the buying spree, and now we’ve duplicated many of our Ryobis with the smaller M12 form factor, and couldn’t be happier. But we’ll keep using both.

Resources

Quick Look: DFRobot Beetle BLE

Beetle BLE Front

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate and direct product links.

We have several projects that have low pin counts and require some form of connectivity. We found the DFRobot Beetle BLE to be a great fit for those projects (some of the builds will be documented; we’ll update this post as the build posts are updated).

A (tiny!) Arduino Uno-alike with on-board BLE, perfect for low pin count projects that require BLE connectivity.

Basic Features

It’s basically an Uno with a reduced pin count, so you get the expected functionality, just less of it:

  • ATmega328@16MHz
  • Digital: 4
  • Analog: 4
  • PWM: 2
  • UART: 1
  • I2C: 1
  • Micro USB: 1
  • ~ 29mm x 33mm

There are also dual ICSP interfaces (unpopulated), one for the 328P, and one for the CC2540 BLE chip.

The docs state it’ll take up to 8V (although we’ve only ever used USB or a reasonable 5V supply).

The I2C (SCL/SCA) and UART (TX/RX) pins are also broken out on the bottom of the board as pads: you’ll need to tweak your normal dev process if you plan on utilizing that functionality.

The Play Bluno app (iOS, Android) app allows interaction with the board, but any reasonable Arduino/BLE app should work.

Using The Beetle BLE

It shows up as an Uno–doesn’t get much easier than that! Under OS X the port shows up as a USB modem as you’d expect, with the additional “Arduino/Genuino Uno” tag. Since it’s an Uno, all default Uno sketches (that respect the Beetle BLE’s limited IO) should work right out of the box.

What is it not for?

  • IO-heavy projects
  • WiFi
  • Forget standard headers and breadboarding 🙁
  • Trivially mounting: it’s an odd shape (wearables, anyone?)
  • TODO 3D Printed Simple Mount

What’s Next?

We’re writing up a complete review with some tips for getting started and simple starter apps. We’re also using the board to power a tracked smart car chassis–both the chassis and build project will have their own posts.

Competition

There are a lot of similar boards these days, our favorites are products from the Adafruit Feather line:

Those are larger boards with a full complement of IO, and a wide variety of add-ons (“Feather Wings” in Adafruit-speak). For demanding projects they’re probably a better choice. (Quick and full reviews coming, naturally.) They’re also more expensive (by about $10-15), so if you don’t need the additional power for a specific project, the Beetle BLE is a great little board.

Reference Links

Product Links

What’s Coming?

We’re going to kick the blog off with a few microcontroller reviews followed by some quick projects powered by those boards, and a few tool reviews.

We have an awful lot of things in the pipeline that we’ll try to push out at soon as we can: some woodworking projects for the office and home, some craft projects, and some EBTKS (Everything But The Kitchen Sink) projects that combine pretty much everything we know how to do here (and a few things we’re still figuring out).

In the meantime, you can peruse our 3D designs at Thingiverse (with an unhealthy focus on pen holders, but there are workshop and electronics projects as well) and stay tuned: there’s tons to come.