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:

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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.

Seward Winter Art Frolic

December 2nd, 2013 by SLSolarz

IMG_2506

CNC-cut chair by Pete.

ATTENTION EVERYONE: The Hack Factory will be a stop on the Seward Winter Frolic Art CrawlWe want YOU to come display your cool projects, teach people skills as you work on a project, etc.

The Winter Art Crawl is THIS WEEKEND, December 7 & 8 (Sat, 10am-5pm and Sun, 12-5pm).  We advertised our stop in City Pages so we can expect a good turnout.  This is an important opportunity for us to show off the space and to promote Twin Cities Maker.

To learn more about the Art Crawl, go to sewardarts.org.  To participate in or volunteer for the event email Susan at slsolarz@gmail.com.

 

 

Make Magazine and Ford Motor Company’s Ultimate Maker Vehicle Challenge

November 18th, 2013 by Nemesis

Ask not what TC Maker can do for you, but what you can do for TC Maker!

“What can I do for TC Maker?” you ask….

VOTE!

Here is the link:
http://makezine.com/maker-vehicle-challenge/#view/19038/1651376

I need for each and every one of you to go give this awesome design all 5′s, every single day, from now until December 12th. Yes, you can (and should) vote every day.

527802c0-274c-4ab7-b1bd-70ab0a652ac7

Here is the link, again:

http://makezine.com/maker-vehicle-challenge/#view/19038/1651376

People put in a lot of hours on this. I make a complete fool of myself. At the end of the day, none of us are making any money on this. What more do you want?

What you want is for us to win the grand prize of $10,000, with all money being donated to Twin Cities Maker. This is your maker space and you want some new toys in it! Think of all the stuff that 10 G-notes could buy! A few of us did this challenge as labor of love for a shot at giving back to a community that has given each of us so much. It is your turn to help us out. Go vote.

Love,
Madame President

Musical PVC Bench in the News!

September 25th, 2013 by SLSolarz

A worker in downtown St. Paul takes a break on my bench during the September, 2013 display.

A worker in downtown St. Paul takes a break on my bench during the September, 2013 display.

Hey thanks for checking out my blog!

MPR aired a nice story today on the bench but cut out all 3 of my mentions of Twin Cities Maker at the Hack Factory.  Kind of a bummer.

At least in this short TPT piece you can see the back of my Twin Cities Maker T-shirt!

 

The final push to installation: volunteers welcome!

September 14th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Hello and thanks for reading my blog!

This is me testing out my bench at the half-way point.

This is me testing out my bench at the half-way point.

At the time of my last posting I had only 2 sections of my Musical PVC Bench completed.  Again, many thanks to the TC Makers volunteers who helped me get to that point!

Here are all 6 sections lined up as they will be when bolted together.

Here are all 6 sections lined up as they will be when bolted together.

Every section is now welded together.  You can see in the attached photo that I still have some sanding to do (mostly of excess PVC cement) and that it will need to be painted in order to hide markings and solvent stains as well as to protect it from the sun.

My mentor, Jantje Visscher, tests out the full bench.

My mentor, Jantje Visscher, tests out the full bench.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with final steps will be welcomed. Remaining steps are sanding, spray painting, finishing paddles, attaching paddles, welding/cutting metal anchors & bolting sections together by Sept 22.

Willing to help?  Email me at slsolarz@gmail.com.

Building a musical bench: a Twin Cities Maker effort

July 22nd, 2013 by SLSolarz

A couple of weeks ago I posted an invitation to join my effort to build a musical bench of PVC.  Thank you to TC Makers Becca, Bill D, Bob G, Colleen, Jon, McSteve, Roxanne, Scott and Shawnuk for their generous help over the past 2 weekends.

Section 1 (of 6, foreground) is done!  Sections 2-4 can be seen in the background as well as one paddle prototype.

Section 1 (of 6, foreground) is done! Sections 2-4 can be seen in the background as well as one paddle prototype.

Because of them I now have a paddle prototype, 4 sections cut, 2 sections in welding progress and one section complete!

My original plan was to have the bench finished by last night—not even close!  Several complications arose as we started to build:

1.  Two circles = 0 surface area

Fellow TC Maker, Steve M, pointed out to me that before I began solvent welding, it would strengthen the bond if I increased the surface area where each pipe intersects.

There is almost no surface area at the intersection of 2 circles.

There is almost no surface area at the intersection of 2 circles.

I tried using the band saw to shave off some of the pipe exterior and flatten the places where each pipe meets another but that was really messy and slow.

Bill D generously made a jig for me to use with a router which tremendously speeded the process back up.

This is me using the jig that Bill D made for shaving a flat surface into the edge of the PVC pipe using a router.

This is me using the jig that Bill D made for shaving a flat surface into the edge of the PVC pipe using a router.

2.  Four inch diameter pipes are not musical

My friend Shawnuk stopped by the Hack Factory to help me work out details before I geared up to start building.  As soon as he saw my 4” diameter pipe samples, he pointed out that they would have to be much taller than bench height in order to make a musical note.

We tested this out and he was right.  Luckily, I had purchased only one pipe.   Recognizing that a 2” diameter pipe would probably work, I had to re-draw my design in Sketchup.  In order to keep the bench reasonably large, I now need to solvent weld 270 pieces!

My new bench design (foreground) compared to the old design shrunk along the horizontal axis to a 2" pipe diameter. The old design would have been too small if made with 2" diameter PVC pipe.

My new bench design (foreground) compared to the old design shrunk along the horizontal axis to a 2″ pipe diameter. The old design would have been too small if made with 2″ diameter PVC pipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Welding pipes takes TLC

TC Maker, Colleen, can solvent weld better than anyone else I know.  She showed me that although bungee cords and rubber bands can be helpful to hold pipes together as they dry, as the welded section grows there is no substitute for just holding the pipes in place until they are dry enough to stand on their own.  This really slows the overall process when I am working alone.

As the size of the section grows bungee cords no longer work to keep pipes in place as they dry.  Here, Colleen holds several pieces together until they can maintain their position on their own.

As the size of the section grows, bungee cords no longer work to keep pipes in place as they dry. Here, Colleen holds several pieces together until they can maintain their position on their own.

Please stay tuned for future volunteer opportunities!

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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Help build a musical PVC bench, improve a St. Paul community and learn how to solvent weld

July 6th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Hey, thanks very much for checking out my blog!

Last week I promised to discuss the influence of Chuck Taylor shoes on my chair design.  However, I need to take a short break from my rocker to create a bench for a block-improvement effort in the Dayton’s Bluff Community.

This is the bench that I designed for the block improvement effort at Dayton’s Bluff. To construct it, I must solvent weld 210 pieces of PVC pipe. I need a few volunteers to help cut PVC pipe and solvent weld so that I can finish the bench by July 20, 2013.

This is the bench that I designed for the block improvement effort at Dayton’s Bluff. To construct it, I must solvent weld 210 pieces of PVC pipe. I need a few volunteers to help cut PVC pipe and solvent weld so that I can finish the bench by July 20, 2013.

In this post, I will describe the bench design and invite you to help build it!  Interested?  Shoot me an email at slsolarz@gmail.com!

All participants will learn how to solvent weld PVC.  The skill is used to build many exciting maker projects from potato launchers  to musical instruments like the ones played by the Blue Man Group.  In fact, the bench that we build can be used both for rest and to play a few tunes while waiting for the bus!

Two sets of foam-rubber paddles with wood handles will be attached to the bench using a small gauge steel cable.  The paddles create a musical sound when the player strikes the top end of the pipe (the foam rubber must cover the entire opening) forcing the air out the bottom very quickly.  The length of the pipe determines the pitch of the note.  Shorter pipes produce higher notes and longer pipes produce lower notes.

Two sets of foam-rubber paddles with wood handles will be attached to the bench using a small gauge steel cable. The paddles create a musical sound when the player strikes the top end of the pipe (the foam rubber must cover the entire opening) forcing the air out the bottom very quickly. The length of the pipe determines the pitch of the note. Shorter pipes produce higher notes and longer pipes produce lower notes.

 

To make construction easier, I designed the bench in 6 sections.  Each section is 39 inches long and 19 inches wide.  Five of the sections are identical (just oriented differently) and one section is unique. Once I have all of the sections on site, I will bolt 3 pipes from each section to 3 pipes in an adjacent section.

Pink, orange and green colors identify 3 of the 6 sections that comprise the PVC bench.  The bench will be made in sections for ease of transport and installation.  The Dayton’s Bluff Community Council will remove the bench in the winter to avoid damage from snow plows.

 Pink, orange and green colors identify 3 of the 6 sections that comprise the PVC bench. The bench will be made in sections for ease of transport and installation. The Dayton’s Bluff Community Council will remove the bench in the winter to avoid damage from snow plows.

 

The design uses PVC pipes of 5 different lengths with the longest pipes serving as the legs of the bench.  Standard bench height is 18 inches and each section of the bench has four 18 inch-long pipes.  Placement of these bench legs will be important for balance and stability.

 

This is a view from underneath the bench illustrating how many 18 inch-long PVC pipes there are in each section.  Only the longest (18 inch) PVC pipes touch the ground and, thus, it is only the 18 inch pipes that are displayed in this view.

This is a view from underneath the bench illustrating how many 18 inch-long PVC pipes there are in each section. Only the longest (18 inch) PVC pipes touch the ground and, thus, it is only the 18 inch pipes that are displayed in this view.

Please contact me at slsolarz@gmail.com to help build a bench for a better block in the Dayton’s Bluff community!

Origami chair redesign: a fiberglass exterior

June 16th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Hey, thanks for checking out my blog!  Last week I promised to write about creating the exterior of my chair.  Below, I describe my thought process around editing the seat shape, choosing a color and an exterior finish.  I also discuss the mistakes I made and how I corrected them.

Between layers of fiberglass and resin I sanded from 80-150-220 grit—a mistake.  Because resin will drip, I was limited to applying it only to surfaces that were level.  I then had to reposition the chair and again apply resin only to the level surfaces.  All of the sanding and limits to resin application meant that it took several weeks just to apply one layer of resin to the entire chair.

Between layers of fiberglass and resin I sanded from 80-150-220 grit—a mistake. Because resin will drip, I was limited to applying it only to surfaces that were level. I then had to reposition the chair and again apply resin only to the level surfaces. All of the sanding and limits to resin application meant that it took several weeks just to apply one layer of resin to the entire chair.

First, I needed to ensure that the ergonomic seat I had just carved from spray foam and covered in body filler would be comfortable for any adult.  Minne-faire was approaching, so I decided to display my unfinished chair in order to collect some data about the comfort level of the seat and whether or not I needed to edit the shape.  My carving mistake was quickly revealed:  every woman who tried the seat loved it and every man found the back half of the center ridge too high!  Oops!  Luckily, that was an easy fix.

Second, I considered the color.  I could not decide between bright orange and white so when I invited visitors to try out the seat, I also asked them to vote for a color.  Their choice was clear:  classic bright red!

Throughout the dried, but not yet sanded, layers of resin (the shiny areas in this photo) appeared dozens of small mars and dents—with every single layer.  This was one clue that resin alone was going to be insufficient coverage.

Throughout the dried, but not yet sanded, layers of resin (the shiny areas in this photo) appeared dozens of small mars and dents—with every single layer. This was one clue that resin alone was going to be insufficient coverage.

Third, for a sleek, contemporary look I decided to give the chair a fiberglass finish.  Most of the chair received one layer of fiberglass and 4-5 layers of resin.  The seat and back were coated with 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and 5 layers of resin.  Between each layer I sanded the resin from 80-150-220 grit which turned out to be a mistake.  Each non-final layer of resin should only be sanded to 80 grit so that the next layer will easily adhere.

The extra sanding did help by yielding a perfectly smooth surface before applying the next layer of resin.  However, despite the smooth application surface, each new layer of resin consistently produced substantial mars & dents.  I seemed unable to pour a smooth layer of resin which made me wonder if I was ever going to be happy with the finish.

The white circles in this photo surround dark spots on the seat and back.  Those are not shadows but, rather, the dark green body filler that I used when I ran out of pink body filler.  It is showing through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin.  This was my second clue that fiberglass and resin were going to be insufficient coverage.

The white circles in this photo surround dark spots on the seat and back. Those are not shadows but, rather, the dark green body filler that I used when I ran out of pink body filler. It is showing through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin. This was my second clue that fiberglass and resin were going to be insufficient coverage.

I thought that using fiberglass resin would negate the need to paint the chair because the resin can be tinted with universal pigments (the kind that your local paint store uses).  The hardware store where I bought the resin threw in the pigment for free and I combined them in a plastic bucket.  The resin color looked perfect in the bucket!  But once on the chair I realized that resin is super translucent because it contains no opaque base.  Therefore, the 2 different colors of body filler I used on the seat were very visible, even through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin!

If I ever do this again, I will make sure that the color of my chair before laminating is consistent throughout. With an even-colored base, the tinted resin and fiberglass cloth would have been adequate coverage.  Still, to get a smooth surface I would have to spray the resin rather than pour or brush it on.

The difficulty in achieving a smooth surface combined with the translucency of the resin made me realize that I must paint the chair.  After pricing High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint spray guns ($180), primer spray guns ($50), paint ($100), and the rest of the equipment I would need to do the job myself, I decided to save some money and have my chair painted at an auto body shop ($250).  But this will be my final step and there is a lot more to do before I get there.

Next time, I will discuss the influence of Converse All Star sneakers on my design.

Origami chair redesign: fixing FLW’s problem?

May 28th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Thanks for checking out my blog post!  As I promised in last week’s entry, this week I will reveal whether or not I solved Frank Lloyd Wright’s design problem.  The Origami Chair famously has a tendency to tip forward; especially as the sitter scoots forward in preparation for standing up.  Wright’s solution was to add anti-tipping feet; he added metal caps to make the extra pieces look more intentional.

This photo provides a good view of FLW's anti-tipping feet.  They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

This photo provides a good view of FLW’s anti-tipping feet. They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

My thought was to make the front feet larger, providing a greater surface area and, therefore, a lesser proportion of the sitter’s weight on the front corner of the feet.  Good idea??  I originally made the feet about 4″ long (a 25% increase from the FLW model) and then sliced off a couple of inches from the bottom of each side of the chair, doubling the length of the feet.  Result??

I still had a tipping problem.  The seated person wasn’t in any danger but the experience of getting up from the chair could still be a bit startling–not a desirable quality for a chair!

I considered tossing the chair out and moving on to another project until a fellow member of Twin Cities Maker mentioned that a chair with a tipping problem might make a great rocker.  Thus began a new design!

So, next I carved a model rocker out of polystyrene foam.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached. The paint chip that I have taped to the side is a color I considered for the chair.

Determining the arc of the rockers turned out to be quite a research project.  Eventually, I found a simple formula for finding the length of the radius of the circle from which the arc should be drawn.  That is seat height x pi.  I brought my model and 2 tubes to a steel-bending expert.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

Next, I made several steel plates to screw to the feet and tail of the chair so that I could connect the chair to the rockers.

Positioning the chair, just right, onto the rockers was challenging.  If there is a next time, I will get help holding the chair as I weld it to the rockers.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet.  You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet. You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

 

Next week, I will discuss creating the exterior of the chair.

Origami chair redesign: a plywood foundation

May 22nd, 2013 by SLSolarz

Over the next several weeks I will post photos of my rocking-chair project as it progresses.  I welcome your feedback and hope that you will help me find a name for this chair.

My design is inspired by 2 sources: the Frank Lloyd Wright Origami Chair and the Converse All Star sneaker.  I’ve always wanted to re-design the Origami Chair as an updated, cool lounger.  The Converse reference came later, after hours of observation, when it struck me (and my friend Ann who stopped by the Hack Factory for a critique session), that my placement of masking tape around the rockers was reminiscent of a pair of red sneakers (more on this in a future post).

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

A few years ago I made a large, black lacquered version of FLW’s Origami Chair and I kept one for my own home.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

Using the chair at my home, I started my new chair by tracing a pattern onto poster board.  Then, I made another pattern about 2/3 the size of the large one, tweaked the proportions and used that pattern to cut the plywood.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this.  It is a slow process for me.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this. It is a slow process for me.

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded...

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded…

Once I assembled the plywood pieces I carved an ergonomic seat and back out of spray foam.  To create a smooth surface, I covered the carved foam in body filler and then did a lot of sanding.

Next week I will discuss the main design problem with FLW’s Origami Chair and whether or not I solved it.

 

CNC Projects? Show us yours!

May 16th, 2013 by otto_pjm

Following the most recent CNC Class, which I think was a great success on many levels, I was inspired to make a project that has been on the back burner for awhile. I want to use a CNC to make some furniture. I’ve been inspired by the work of Gregg Fleishman, and as a starting point I cutout a scale model of one of his designs.

IMG_2506

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Raspberry Pi Powered Cat Feeder

March 28th, 2013 by videoman

This project is owned and operated by David Bryan and is not part of TCMaker. This work is licensed by David Bryan under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The documentation and updates have been moved to here: http://drstrangelove.net/2013/12/raspberry-pi-power-cat-feeder-updates/

-David

CNC Lithophane, 1st try

October 5th, 2012 by otto_pjm

I’ve been wanting to try this for sometime, and finally had my setup mostly ready and the right materials. A Lithophane is an image etched into something translucent. In my case I used LinuxCNC, which runs my CNC router, and includes a script called Image-to-gcode, that creates a gcode height map based on the color or light to dark variations in an image. The material I used is 1/2″ Corian.
The original picture is this one of my son at the beach.

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Twin Cities Maker Clothes Line Racers in Make: Magazine

November 10th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

The latest issue of Make:Magazine #28 has a write up about Twin Cities Maker’s clothes line event.

Here is a the full article written by TC Maker’s own John Baitchtal Here are some more pictures of the event in the Flickr. You can see the ferret in real life at the Hack Factory, it’s up in the corner of the classroom.

 

Riley Tests the 1/4 scale floating arm trebuchet

August 6th, 2011 by KellyM

 

Check out Riley at Detroit Maker Faire shooting it. http://multimedia.detnews.com/pix/photogalleries/newsgallery/MarkersFaire/index4.html 

 

Group Project Brainstorm on Forum

August 5th, 2011 by swinkdaddy

Last Wen open house we announced that we would like to start a large prestige build. After going to Detroit Makers Faire and seeing some really awesome stuff. The idea of a large project to get TC Makers on the map was a worthy goal.

So lets start brain storming, nothing is set in stone, but here are a few basic requirements.
- pedal powered (mpls/stp is a biking community after all)
- light weight but large
- able to take down/apart for travel to events
- fire and/or smoke
- some form of illuminated fabric or e-fabric with arduino control.
- sound system with interactive inputs

Some of these seemingly random requirements are in place to make sure everyone in the hack fac can participate in some way.

Let the ideas flow….

Any and all ideas are welcome, just submit a post on the forum in the Group Build – Brainstorm Phase thread. In a couple of weeks, we can go through them together at the wen open house.

Makers faire dragon image 2011 Detroit

Amateur Radio at the Hack Factory

July 30th, 2011 by jrsphoto

We realize that many of our members are licensed amateur radio operators.  It has been the desire for some time to have a station at the Hack Factory where our licensed operators would be able to enjoy the hobby.  Recently, one of our members has loaned us a complete HF station for just this purpose, complete with computer for logging and digital mode fun.  The station is small for now but we are planning on expanding the station, getting a club license, and teaching some classes to get new people into this wonderful hobby.    In addition to the HF station, we also have a Icom VHF radio for local 2m repeater access.  These radios are available to all FCC Licensed – TCMaker members.

We would love you to come and be a part of the fun..  For more detailed information on the station, see our wiki page or contact jrsphoto for more information.

Make: Live @ the Hack Factory

June 10th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Twin cities maker was featured on episode 10 of the Make: Live series! Here is the section that we were in.

The rest of the show and a bit more information can been seen here.

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