A Thin Grey Line

October 26th, 2009 by noise

A Thin Grey Line

Attendance at the TCMaker Clothesline and Halloween Costume Contest was pretty light, but we had a good time nonetheless.  The were four total entries in the clothesline race, two racers that had been built ahead of time, one was built from scratch on site out of LEGO and one that wasn’t quite done but made an attempt at running.

Nobody fully completed the course out and back, although Michael and John came very close with similar solutions at opposite ends of the complexity spectrum.  Scott’s racer made it down the cable one way and then failed catastrophically upon contact with the end plate.  It was difficult to judge an actual winner of the contest because a number of factors, so it was decided to reward all participants for making the effort. Prizes were distributed from the box of swag that Mike received from Make: Magazine.

Clothesline Racers

At the very least by the end of the day we were all pretty excited about the concept and started to brainstorm about some fun ideas for future racers.

There were no entrants in the costume contest although as you can see from the group picture above there was a certain level of personal style from some participants that may have qualified.

Please visit the TCMaker flickr pool for more images from the gathering.  Mike has also now uploaded some pictures and video to our new Picasa public gallery.

Thanks to John for the venue, Jude for setup, Michael for the fun idea and to everyone that brought chow.


TCMaker Halloween Contests!

October 19th, 2009 by uptownmaker

Halloween pumpkinTwin Cities Maker is having a couple of Halloween Contests,  Saturday October 24th!

See the forum for the official rules, information on prizes and entry fees. Note that all entrants will receive their choice of a Make: t-shirt or one of the latest two copies of Make: magazine!

The event starts at 2:00 pm and ends (about) 6:00.  The location is 15323 Painters Ln N, Stillwater 55082.

Discernibly Awesome Aluminum Casting

October 19th, 2009 by bobble

Had fun last weekend i though i’d try this again. [See this thread for bobble’s previous progress]

The Setup
Same configuration but had some new tins… ms. bobble got these tall tins used for olives, courtesy of seward coop.

Molding Sand
I’m using silica sand and bentonite clay. It seems that bentonite isn’t very common. Some people will use ground up cat litter because it has some bentonite in it. Fortunately i was able to find a local source – I got bentonite from minnesota clay co. in edina. I got a 25 lb box,  it’s a powder and it is really fine… so fine that it some with a material safety datasheet with warnings about cancer. I worked outside and held my breath to avoid breathing it. don’t remember the exact proportions… i made small batches and just threw them into a pail when they felt right. I got the sand at home depot.

Tourettes By Proxy
my neighbor had the windows open. i heard him yelling, “efff!! EFFF!!! YOU EFFERS!!! NOOOOOooo!!!”. at first i thought he was yelling at his kids then i realized the vikes were playing. i can only handle the vikes so much. go vikes.

anyways, great day to be outside! i was doing double duty — filling the crucible with aluminum and then pausing to fill the foundry with charcoal. i was melting cans and some aluminum pieces a buddy donated. whenever the flames weren’t roaring like a blow torch i’d toss in more charcoals into the foundry. the crucible would occasionally shift inside the foundry. three times i lifted the crucible out and put more charcoals at the bottom of the foundry. after the cans were all melted, i shut off the hair dryer and pulled out the crucible. it felt heavy and i was a little nervous handling it. i tried skimming off more crud with a spoon.

when i first poured the aluminum the sprue filled up quickly. initial thought was the sprue choked and that there’d be some defects. with the remaining molten aluminum i tried making ingots. first poured into an old muffin pan. i also poured some into a tin can. grass was smoldering.

Casting Of Discernible Awesomeness
after about 1/2 hour i dragged ms. bobble outside to see me open the mold. i lifted the cope all i could see was the scorched sand on the drag. YES! i flipped the cope over and the casting was alll filled in, NO DEFECTS!!! OOH RAH!!!

the casting was still hot. picked at it with a tool to dislodge the sand. some sand is bonded to the tips of the hersey kisses which is extra fine by me. makes the points sharper and likely to gouge the hell out of someone’s snowboard or skis. the bottom was flat but has a rough texture. total weight including sprue is 12 ounces.

the muffin pan had melted underneath. uhh… whoops.

i tore open the can that i poured aluminum. bobble make wheel! weighs 9 ounces. on the top of the pour, the aluminum has a rough surface like pumice. the edge and bottom are smooth. there are tiny little holes from hydrogen bubbles i guess.

High Five

here it is again. my only complain is i wish that the surface was a wee bit smoother.


Business Meeting, Wed Oct 14, 7pm

October 12th, 2009 by uptownmaker

tcmaker_meetingTwin Cities Maker is having a business meeting, Wednesday Oct 14 at 7pm.  As usual, our meeting will be in the back room at Common Roots Cafe, 26th and Lyndale, Minneapolis. Topics for discussion:

  • Halloween Event
  • Grants
  • Maker Faire
  • Building the prototyper
  • Financial Update
  • Secretary position, still available!
  • Officer reports
  • AOB

Hope to see you there!

High Fashion Low Voltage

October 8th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Learn about micro controllers and clothing at the same time at the “Science Museum”. The people at the Science Museum in St. Paul worked with Make TV to hold Make:DAY a while back, and I am glad that they are continuing with the maker events. Now if we can only convince them to put their collection of “Questionable Medical Devices” back on display.


Make your fiber art shine! Learn how to integrate working LED lights into clothing, art quilts or other fiber art creations. Using an affordable microcontroller called a “Lilypad”; you can make clothing with an energy of its own. This tiny computer and battery pack can be stitched in to your creations with conductive thread, letting you make soft circuits to control a tiny light show. Beginners are absolutely welcome; no computer programming or sewing experience necessary. Assembly and programming expertise will be available to help you troubleshoot. Class fee includes Lilypad and electronic components; you supply the clothing or fabric you would like to “light up”. Materials fee $125, is include in the class fee. Co-sponsored with the Textile Center.

When: Saturday, October 31, November 7, 14, 21

Time: 9a.m.-noon

Location: Science Museum, Learning Technologies Center
Ages: Adult
Course Code: LAFVL1022
Fee: $269, $257 mbr
Instructor: Janet Groenert; Learning Technology Center Staff

More Information
Anybody know anything about this sponsor the textile center?

Hardware Heaven

October 8th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

This is great, had to share.

Automata iPhone Dock

October 7th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

muju, a local Minnesotan popped up on our forums and shared the iPhone automata that he put together.

 from http://www.freewebs.com/murtazalakdawala/iphone%20dock/IMG_2157.JPG

Forum post . A How to, and Gizmodo post.

TC Maker @ NYC Resistor with Hack Pittsburgh

October 3rd, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

IMG_0713Hack Pittsburgh and TC Maker were both in their idea stage when we ran into each-other at NYC Resistor searching for ideas on how to make this Hyperspace thing happen. Hack Pittsburgh (who was almost names Hacksburgh!) was a bit quicker than TC Maker at acquiring a space but we are both doing well. NYC Resistor is also doing well.


Hack Pittsburgh with Mr. Sobczak of TC Maker inside the NYC Resistor Headquarters

It just so happens that Mr. Sharpe (who is was visiting in NYC) the man responsible for these photos has just started collaborating with MakerBot (an affordable, open source 3D printer that makes things up to 4″x4″x6″) The robot that has some of it roots extending from NYC Resistor both Bre Petis and Zach Hoeken . I will be visiting Maker Bot Industries in the middle of October and I’ll be sure to post pictures.

Here is a picture of Mr. Sharpe playing the bones.

Click Clack

Click Clack

Resistors make me happy!

Resistors make me happy!

TC Maker @ Pumping Station One

October 3rd, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

I was lucky enough to get out to Pumping Station One the hacker space of Chicago early this summer.


This is the main area, yea, PS One has two levels!

The space was still in it’s infancy but it was starting to come together, and most importantly people were there and they were making things and talking and sharing ideas about making things.

It's all about the hops.

It's all about the hops

I attended a brew course in which some of the members of P S one were working out what the their official brew should be, the only consensus was that the brand if there becomes one, should include XKCD’s  Ballmer Peak below:

Apple uses automated schnapps IVs.

Some more pictures:


The hang out/ lounge area.

From the outside

From the outside

Making an electric bike in the back of PSOne

Making an electric bike in the back of PSOne

Under the "second floor".

Under the "second floor".

Hey Pumping Station One how is that brew coming?