Party time — the laser cutter has returned!

November 7th, 2014 by danbackslide

rejoicingLet the dancing begin, for I am happy to report that the laser cutter is back in service! The flow sensor has been replaced with a brand new unit which doesn’t spray water all over the floor. And as a bonus, the e-stop switch has also been fixed, so feel free to push the Big Red Button (though not too hard, for it is new, and we want it to feel welcome).

Everybody say thanks to Jude when you see him — he was the guy who crawled into the laser cutter cabinet to replace the flow sensor.

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The laser is down. Please do not panic. [EVEN MORE UPDATED]

October 25th, 2014 by danbackslide

UPDATE 11/5/2014: Unfortunately the parts were delayed a bit, but I just got a shipping notification. Delivery is scheduled for Friday 11/7. We’ll get everything installed as soon as we can!

UPDATE 10/3system-down1/2014: Full Spectrum Laser has just received a shipment of flow sensors. They will be testing them this afternoon, then they will send out the parts either later today or (more likely) Monday. Shipping is via two-day air, so I’m expecting to get them sometime on Wednesday 11/5.The calendar will be updated to block out the time until then. Thanks for being patient, folks!

Original post:

Sadly, it is my duty to report that the laser cutter is down until further notice. The coolant flow sensor is leaking from its body. We will be contacting the manufacturer on Monday morning to get a new flow sensor (good thing we paid for the extended warranty). This post will be updated as soon as we have an ETA on the repair parts.

Project updates, macro and micro

August 2nd, 2014 by danbackslide

Time for a couple of updates:

The lobby is closed for now

The floor in the lobby was painted and sealed on Friday. The sealer will need at least the weekend to cure, and possibly longer than that. So, until further notice, the front door is locked and the lobby is off limits. Don’t even think about trying to go in there! You can get into the shop through the yellow metal shop door, or the dock door if it’s open.

To stave off your curiosity, here are a couple of teaser pics (taken before the floor was painted):

Scanning Electron Awesomescope!

This morning I met up with the SEM’s former caretaker, and he fixed a couple of mistakes we made while setting it up. Then he showed me how it works. So we now have a functioning scanning electron microscope!

That said, please don’t try to run the SEM without first being shown how it works. It’s a complex scientific instrument, easy to break if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ll will be working out the training details, and there may be a SEM party somewhere in the near future.

Here are a few photos for you to drool over in the meantime:

Science! Is Afoot

July 16th, 2014 by danbackslide

A while back I was contacted by Bede Willenbring, a research chemist at H.B. Fuller. He was getting some new equipment for their lab, and wondered if we were interested in getting a scanning electron microscope.

A Scanning. Electron. Microscope!
Stereoscan_260_panel
Obviously the correct answer in this situation is “Yes sir, please, sir!” Arrangements were made, and just a few hours ago we rolled a Cambridge Stereoscan 260 into its new home.

stereoscan_260_overview

As I write this, McSteve is working on getting it hooked up to the 20-amp circuit in the classroom. We’re hoping that by later this evening we can get Cammie (for that is her name) powered up. After that? No idea, really. If you know how a SEM works, why not swing by? (Mr Willenbring has offered to give us a hand with it once we have power, but more brains are always better!)

I want to extend a huge thank you to Mr Willenbring and H.B. Fuller for making this possible. For great science!

Shapeoko: It’s alive!

June 27th, 2014 by danbackslide

Thanks to the folks who helped put our Shapeoko CNC together. Last Saturday evening, Mark and Pete helped me assemble the hardware. Then on Wednesday, Bill put the belts on, and Jim and Adam ran the wiring and hooked up the electronics. We ran the “Hello World” test with a pencil jury-rigged in place of the rotary tool. Success!

Now it’s time to dial it in and start getting some experience on it. CNC people, let me know if you want to play with it. Not a CNC person? Hang tight while the Shapeoko gets calibrated, then we’ll start turning other loose on it.

Time to make a Shapeoko!

June 20th, 2014 by danbackslide

shapeoko-kitIf you haven’t heard yet, the kind folks at Inventables have donated a Shapeoko desktop CNC kit to Twin Cities Maker. The kit arrived Thursday afternoon — time to put it together!

We’ll be starting out at 5pm tomorrow, Saturday 6/21. If you’re interested in helping out, please come on by. There will be something for everyone to do. Of course if you just want to hang out, that’s cool too. The more the merrier!

The Hackmobile is coming to Minne-Faire

May 28th, 2014 by danbackslide

hackmobile

If you’ll remember, back in November and December we were bugging you all to vote for TCMaker’s entry in the Ford/Make: Ultimate Maker Vehicle Challenge. You might also remember that we won. (If you don’t remember — WE WON!)

What you might not know is that Ford has actually built out a Transit Connect based on our design. And now some exciting news: We found out yesterday that, barring any last-minute issues, the Hackmobile is coming to Minne-Faire.

So there’s one more reason to come see us this weekend. As if you needed another reason, what with all the awesome we have lined up. The fun starts at 11AM on Saturday and Sunday — we hope to see you!

You can see some more photos of the Hackmobile on Ford’s Media Center website, and on Make’s blog.

Minne-Faire V: The Poster of Awesomeness

May 3rd, 2014 by danbackslide

minne-faire-v-poster-small

This year’s poster for Minne-Faire is out and available. Look at that thing — ain’t it gorgeous? Chris Odegard really knocked it outta the park with this one. We need you to get it distributed. Drop by the Shop, grab some and put them up in places you frequent — the lunchroom at work, coffeshops, schools, restaurants, bars, and wherever else you think interested people will see it.

Please force us to print another batch. We depend on you to get the word out, and this is an awesome graphic that deserves to be widely distributed. Don’t count on somebody else doing it.

We are filling up fast, but there are still some places to fill if you want to display at this year’s Minne-Faire. Email [email protected] for more information. Remember, it’s free admission, and there’s no charge to display. (Although we’ll happily take donations!)

 

Space: The Ongoing Quest

April 10th, 2014 by danbackslide

As many of you know we recently obtained some additional space. This allowed us to move storage off the main floor and out of the wood shop.

floor.png

With the move everybody gets a bit more elbow room. The major portion of the move happened during quarterly cleanup, but we are not done yet.

The machine shop will be moving into the old member storage area, which will get the precision machines away from the grinding dust and general chaos of the metal area. Coordination with our machinists and area preparation is ongoing but it will be done soon and the move will follow closely thereafter. In the meantime, anything parked in the old member storage area is subject to being moved at any time. If you leave something there make sure it’s mobile, and expect it to move.

Remember to label your things in member storage with your name and contact info. We have to know how to get a hold of you. While neat, clearly marked storage is unlikely to be touched, there are occasions when even those areas need to be shifted to accommodate other members. As we settle into the expanded storage space expect a bit more shifting around then normal.

Minne-Faire V Approaches…

April 4th, 2014 by danbackslide

For those of you looking for Minne Faire this weekend, the dates have moved to May 31st and June 1st. It seems that some people just didn’t trust the weather after last year.

minnefaire_2014_teaser

Wow! Minne-Faire five. Has it been that long? Yes, it has. Plan on helping us celebrate.

This two day event will be returning to its roots. Admission will be free, though we’ll happily accept donations to keep it running next year. We’ll be showing off our expanded space and capabilities and celebrating all things Maker — that is after all what this is all about.

We expect the usual mix of old and new friends, along with our own members contributions. Music, food, fun, and the chance to learn new things will all be available for your enjoyment.

If you’re interested in participating, feel free to email us at [email protected]. Slots are filling up, but there’s still time to get one. The coolness factor is as always our major selection criteria, but coolness is a very broad category. We are looking for both people who have stuff to show off and anyone interested in giving talks and presentations. Expect that the foundry will be pouring, blacksmiths will be smithing, lasers lasing, 3d printing discussions and much more. We know that’s not all there is, though, so help us fill in the blanks!

Intro to CNC: Sunday, March 9

March 3rd, 2014 by danbackslide

3D relief carving of the TC Maker logo

Twin Cities Maker has three CNC machines at the Hack Factory. For those who don’t know, a CNC machine is a computer-controlled router which you can use to carve out all sorts of 2D and 3D items. They take a bit of training to be able to use, so Matt is running a class this Sunday!

The  course covers the fundamentals of using the large CNC Router:

  • Safety
  • Materials you can and can’t use.
  • Powering up and shutting down.
  • Basic use of the Vectric’s Cut2D software which makes cut paths.
  • Basic use of Mach3 software which controls the router.
  • Basic uses and advantages of router bits.

To sign up for the class, head over to the registration page at Eventbrite.

Give to the Max Day Update #3

November 14th, 2013 by danbackslide

Unfortunately, GiveMN’s website has been down for most of the afternoon. Please keep checking back, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience…

In other news:

  • The skeeball playfield parts are being cut even as I type. Some problems with the cut files slowed things down for a while.
  • The yurt should be up Real Soon Now.
  • Art cars!
  • Steve’s smelter will be firing up shortly on its inaugural run. Come by and watch us melt stuff!

There will be music later, as well as beer. Come on by, we’d love to show you around! The Hack Factory is open until midnight tonight.

gttm_smelter

gttm_yurt

Give to the Max Day Update #2

November 14th, 2013 by danbackslide

Is it noon already? Wow, time flies when you’re sleep-deprived…
Give to the Max Day 2013
Donations are coming in, slowly but surely. If you haven’t already, please click on the lovely green logo and give us a donation. Everything you give through Give.MN today is being matched, so even a small gift grows almost like magic. Or if you prefer, like sufficiently advanced technology.


Fox 9 News did a story about Give to the Max Day, and it features TCMaker. Go take a look! Riley was also interviewed on KSTP’s midday news; we’ll put a link up to that as soon as we can.

Our big project, the skeeball machine, is proceeding along. We’ve got the target area pieces cut, sanded and stained. Electronics are basically working, but will need to be installed so that the IR sensors can be calibrated. The playfield pieces still need to be cut on the CNC machine, and somehow I’ve got to make a gigantic gauge to show your score…
Skeeball backfield pieces after staining
No sleep ’til skeeball!

Give to the Max Day Update #1

November 14th, 2013 by danbackslide

So here’s what’s been happening so far:

  • A yurt collar has been built
  • Lots of skeeball parts have been sanded (and lots of sawdust has taken up residence in my shirt)
  • The back part of the skeeball cabinet is standing
  • Cocoa has been forgotten

Not bad for just under 5 hours’ work. The Give to the Max Micro Minne-Faire continues all day! Feel free to stop by any time. And we’d be thrilled if you were to give us a donation — every donation made today through GiveMN is being matched by a host of fine donors. Click the green logo over there to the right, or donate at our Give to the Max Day page. Remember, your donations are tax deductible, and immensely appreciated.

The wood shop at 5am

The wood shop at 5am

Basic Sewing 101 — new dates!

October 3rd, 2013 by danbackslide

sewing

Sign up for this class on our Eventbrite page!

Always wanted to learn to sew but don’t know where to start?  Have you been sewing on your own but feel you need some guidance?  In this class you’ll learn the basics for sewing of all kinds of objects; useful hand sewing stitches, how to operate a machine sewing, and construction techniques, etc.  In class you will make a simple tote bag.  It will act as a sampler, providing a set of basic construction techniques that should leave you ready to tackle your next project!

  • Owning a sewing machine will be helpful, but not necessary.  If you have one, leave it at home for the first class.  Do bring it for the second class.
  • Be ready to purchase some basic sewing supplies and fabric, if you don’t already own them.  See materials list.
  • This is not an industrial sewing machine class. 
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • When: This is a four class series that will be held on Sundays from 6pm to 8pm, November 3 – 24.
  • Instructor: Lindsey Strange

Clean-up day approaches…

September 18th, 2013 by danbackslide

 

Cleanup

It is that time again. Saturday September 28th is the next quarterly clean up.

The festivities begin at 10 AM.

With the arrival of the Industrial Sewing machines and Sergers, and of course the Laser we will have a lot of outside interest. Lets take the opportunity to really get the place in order so we can covert that interest into members.

With the wood shop and metal shop in fairly good shape we will be concentrating on member storage and up for grabs. Remember our storage is designed for active projects and personal tools. We just do not have the space for long term, someday storage and hoarding. As always we will work out something if we know about it and some longer term out of the way space has opened up. But what we don’t know about may just be gone the next time you come in. Parking Permits need to be updated if you haven’t been in recently. Outdated and undated Permits mean you are letting somebody else determine that it is junk.

Life happens and if you cannot make it to Clean Up please try and drop by in the days leading up to it and do your bit.

The Fall brings more potential membership interest, more use of the space, increased class schedules and more events. With that the staff and board can get a better handle on what we need to do with the facilities.

So let’s get the Hack Factory in shape.

Big. Frikkin’. Laser.

September 13th, 2013 by danbackslide

laserThis is Cathy, our brand new Full Spectrum laser cutter. She has a 90-watt laser tube and a 24″ by 36″ cutting bed.

Jude has spent the last week and a half or so getting Cathy’s new home ready — she will be living in the former shop office, next to the metal shop. Inevitably, what was supposed to be a quick room update turned into a major operation as various interesting architectural “features” were discovered…

I and a few others have spent the last week or so getting the laser set up and running it through its paces. I gotta say, this is a wonderful machine, and I’m really looking forward to getting classes going! We are targeting the first week of October for the start of basic training classes, which will just cover safety and basic operation. Riley will also be working up a more detailed class which will feature Deep Knowledge.

Some answers to questions I’m sure you have:

  • You need to be a member to use the laser cutter. (See, one more reason to be a member!)
  • You will need to take either the basic class, or Riley’s Deep Knowledge class, before using the laser. Yes, even if you’ve used laser cutters in the past.
  • We’ll be charging $5 per hour of runtime. The laser tube will burn out eventually, and a replacement is not exactly cheap, so we need to bank up the cash.

Watch this space for class info! Or keep an eye out for the TCMaker Newsletter in your email. What, you haven’t been getting the newsletter? Look over to the right, there’s a signup form there.

lazing

Raspberry Pi Roadshow is coming to town!

July 29th, 2013 by danbackslide

raspi-in-caseWe’re pleased to announce that Rob Bishop from the Raspberry Pi Foundation will be swinging through the Hack Factory on Monday, August 12th! 

Rob Bishop was the first technical employee at Raspberry Pi and is currently one of two full time software engineers. Alongside his engineering responsibilities, Rob also acts as an “evangelist” and works to promote the educational mission of the Foundation.

Rob has given talks about the Raspberry Pi at various events worldwide, in venues ranging from conference halls to community meetings in garages.

Talk summary:

Rob Bishop, an engineer and evangelist for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, will present a talk entitled “Raspberry Pi – One Year On” that will cover both the origin story of the Raspberry Pi as well as outlining recent developments. The talk will present technical information about the Raspberry Pi alongside a discussion of the Foundation’s educational aims.

Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for an in-depth Q&A on both educational and technical matters.

Tickets for this event are free! But space is limited, so be sure to get your tickets early…

Building a classic Star Trek control panel

July 10th, 2013 by danbackslide

It just so happens that I’m a member of a local Star Trek fan club, as well as a TCMaker board member. (I am a multi-purpose nerd.) For the past eight years the USS Nokomis has run a party room at CONvergence. Last year the hotel was remodeled, and an 8 foot long, marble-topped desk replaced a (somewhat) easily-removed armoire. Since we can’t get it out of the room, I came up with an idea to make it fit into our Original Series decor — turn it into a control panel.

Sketchup model of the proposed control panel

Sketchup model of the proposed control panel

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Arduino 101 is back

May 20th, 2013 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

 Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Arduino 101 is back for one one more round, just in time for summer vacation monkeying about. This will more than likely be the last Arduino 101 class until September, so if you’ve been looking for the intro course you’ll want to sign up!

This round runs on Friday nights, 5/31 and 6/7, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Ever wanted to make something blink or buzz, but don’t know where to start?  This is the class that will teach you the basics of what an Arduino can do, and how microcontrollers are awesome!

Cost is $50, which includes a parts kit we’ll be using in class (it’s yours to keep!). Students will need to supply their own Arduino board and laptop. 

  • The class focuses on the Arduino Uno model, but everything works with the Arduino Mega as well. The Arduino Leonardo is new and I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but I expect it’ll play nicely.
  • Arduino-compatible boards/Arduino clones might cause some issues — pin layouts may be different, and in some cases they’re not 100% code-compatible. If you already have one, feel free to bring it in, but if you’re just getting started I recommend buying an official Arduino board.
  • If you don’t have an Arduino, they’re available at most local Radio Shack stores, and also at Micro Center in St. Louis Park. Or you can check the Vend-A-Kit machine at the Hack Factory! (And of course you can mail-order one, but where’s the instant gratification in that?)
  • If you haven’t got a laptop, please get in touch. We can possibly work something out.

 

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