A return to coherence! (i.e. the laser cutter is back!)

January 24th, 2015 by danbackslide

rejoicingMere moments ago, Jude and I replaced the laser cutter’s high voltage supply. I’m pleased to report that it is up and running again, ready for all your laser-based cutting and engraving needs!

Now that it’s back up and running, I’ve scheduled Laser Cutter Basics classes this coming Friday (1/30). There’s one class at 6PM, and another at 8PM. Both are free! Remember, you need to take a class (either Laser Cutter Basics or one of the more advanced classes) before you can use the laser cutter. Also, our classes are always open to the public — but you do need to be a member to actually use our tools beyond class time. So maybe you should come by on a Wednesday night, take a tour, and maybe join…


The laser loses more blue smoke [UPDATED x2]

January 9th, 2015 by danbackslide

dead-parrotSorry to report, but the laser is down for the count once again. This time, the high voltage power supply for the laser tube has rung down the curtain and gone to join the Choir Invisible. I’ll be shipping the remains of the HV supply back to Las Vegas tomorrow morning, and hopefully we’ll have a new one by the end of the week.

I had planned on running laser classes next Friday, but that’s likely too tight a deadline right now. So I’ll be bumping the classes out to Friday, January 23rd.

Keep checking back here for updates!

UPDATE 1/21/2015: A new power supply is on its way to us — Full Spectrum Laser is boxing it up as I type this. I’ll post an expected delivery date as soon as I have the shipping confirmation.

UPDATE 1/22/2015: Expected delivery date is Saturday!

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.

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.

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!
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.


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 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.

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.