Green, Frosted, and Illuminated

I love integrating light into my projects. Especially when it’s subtle and inconspicuous. I love the reaction of my audience when they are admiring a completed project and believe they have taken it all in, and then I reveal something unexpected. Something that is simple but exciting. This is my art.
My most recent project was a complete remodel of our bathroom. I knew I wanted to go crazy with tile. I installed tile halfway up the walls, and to the ceiling (and including the ceiling) of the tub/shower, and along the floor. This will look really nice. However, I needed a wow factor in the tile. I decided to integrate an accent line of tile parallel to the floor around the room.
When evaluating the accent line, I chose a 6″ frosted green tile as the focus piece.
I wanted the tiles to glow. The frosted tile was perfect for this.
View of the shower tile

Check out the accent tile!

I quickly moved on to the LED selection. I tried a bright white LED strip. This looked just ok. It lit up the tile just fine, but the bright white light washed out the color of the tile. I moved on to a warm white LED strip. This was perfect.
Warm White LEDs

Warm White LEDsBright White LEDs

One advantage that the particular Bright White LED strip had over the Warm White LED strip is the water proofing.  The Bright White strip I ordered came in a sealed housing.  The Warm White strip was completely exposed.  Since this was going to find residency in a shower, which can experience a bit of humidity from time to time, I needed a water proofed version.  The Warm White was available in a water proofed version.  However, the up charge for this jacket made it cost prohibitive.
I ended up ordering large clear electrical shrink tube.

Shrink Tube

Shrink Tube

Before installation, I would insert the LED strip into this shrink tube and by means of a heat gun (high powered hair dryer), the shrink tube would conform to the shape of the LEDs.  This extra step saved me a ton of dough.
I did some experimenting with the setup before settling on this design.
Trying out the look

Trying out the look

Testing the Look

Testing the Look

Success!  It looks great!

Except for one thing….you may notice from these pictures…the excessive height of the glass tiles in relation to the porcelain tiles.  I didn’t like that one bit.  So on a cold and snowy January day, I spent an hour out in my driveway trimming a 1/4 inch off of each tile.  To save my fingers, I had to swap out the water with fresh hot water every 15 mins.  Eventually, I finished, and the look was exactly what I was going for.

Trimming the glass tiles

Trimming the glass tiles

Phase I was to install the glass tiles and everything below.  This gave me space above the green tiles to install the LEDs.  In order to achieve the “glow” I was looking for, I decided to mount the LEDs above the tiles and point it down into the glass.  If I had installed the lights behind the tile, I would see the little LED light through the glass.

After wrapping the LEDs with the shrink, the width of the strip became too large.  The strip needed to be hidden in the grout line between the glass and the porcelain tile.  In order to make this happen, I utilized a rotozip to create a channel just above the glass tiles.  This allowed the circuit board of the strip to live within the wall and the LEDs to sit just outside of the wall.
Next, I needed to figure out a way to keep the LED strip in place.  I used screws and large washers to keep the strip in place.

After finishing the rest of the tile and the grout, here is the final product.  Let me know if you like it!

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HOW TO: Change blower motor for ’05 Pontiac Vibe

My wife’s 2005 Ponitac Vibe would occasionally refuse to control the cabin temperature. We could feel a little bit of coldness (or hotness) near the vents on a really hot (or cold) day. The symptoms ended up pointing to the blower motor. I did some research and it appears that this is a fairly common component to wear out. Additionally, there is a resistor that controls the speed of the motor that fails over time. So I decided to take on this project to save some serious labor bucks. In the spirit of sharing knowledge, I took pictures while replacing these parts so anyone else taking on this project will have a simple document to guide them.

Here is a picture of the new blower, drain tube, and grommet:

and here is the resistor (still covered in bubble wrap):

The first step is to remove the ground connection from the battery:

Next, remove the glove box.  The globe box just sits in a grove in the dash so it basically just lifts right out after removing this screw:

With the glove box out, the next step is to remove the control box that’s located under the blower motor.  Once this box is out of the way, we can lower the blower motor out of it’s home.

To remove the controller, take out these two screws (there is a third screw but that is actually tied to a guide that pops out with the controller frame).

After removing these screws, we’ll pull out the black plastic retaining plugs from the bottom of the dash (see arrows above).

They look like this:

Remove the wiring harnesses from the controller:

You should be able to just wiggle it loose now.  Notice the guide piece I mentioned earlier:

After the controller is out of the way you’ll have full access to the blower motor.  Disconnect the drain plug and the wiring.  All that remains are the three 5.5mm screws holding the motor up.  Remove those and lower out the motor.

Since we’re replacing the motor, we might as well replace the resistor too.  It is a wear part after all.  The location is shown in one of the pictures above.  Unclip the wiring and remove the two 5.5mm screws.  The rear screw is pretty painful to reach.  I ended up using a 7/32 socket to back it out.  This is a prime use case for a universal socket joint.  It wasn’t difficult enough to warrant running to the hardware store to pick up another tool so I just patiently backed it out with the tools at hand.

Once the two screws have been removed, the resistor will lower out.

Now we’re ready to put everything back together.

Screw the new resistor in and connect the wiring harness.

Screw the new blower motor in, connect the wiring harness, and attach the new drain tube.

Remount the controller and attach the wiring harness.

Since I was in here, I also replaced the in cabin air filter (it was pretty clogged and may have contributed to the premature motor failure).

Attach the ground wire to the battery and test out your work.

This is a pretty simple and straight forward project.  DIY and save yourself some cash.

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