Archive for category projects

The Benefits of a HackerSpace

Some of the really great things about having a HackerSpace, and being a member of it,  are that you get access to some really cool tools, like lasers cutters, and thinks that people have brought into the space, like the kit from MakerBeam from their successful KickStarter campaign, as well as the ideas of the members.  And having access to great Open Source Hardware ideas like the Nautilus Gears by MishaT (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:27233) can lead to some interesting works in progress.

 

I took the initial .dxf file included in the Nautilus Gears and expanded it 375% to get something that was about as large as the laser cutter could handle. But that left me to figure out the best spacing for the gears.  For that I constructed a small frame using the Aluminium extrusions, along with assorted other parts, that we got as part of the MakerBeam KickStarter campaign, which allowed me to easily adjust the spacing to find the best distance between the hubs of the gears.  With this I was able to easily move the center points back and forth and to know that they would not move otherwise.   I had also needed to make a small part on the laser to attach the gears but that was easy using a few small scraps.

 

Some of the ideas that were discussed with various members also expanded the potential of the original design and gave me more ideas on where to look at making the original gears even more assume.  The original gears were really interesting to begin with but expanding them makes them even better.  It is really interesting to watch as they rotate.

This test rig has allowed me to try a few things and to ensure that further progress will indeed work.  And it is all possible by being a member of a HackerSpace and having access to the things within it.

 

Now to make it even better.

 

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Lazzor upgrade

Long time since an update, so I might as well talk about two recent laser upgrades. First I converted an unused exit sign box into a big hey-don’t-forget-laser-station-is-on indicator light. A couple of times we (/I) have forgotten to turn it off and have left the computer + pump + vent fan running. Not horrible, except that the pump runs quite warm and that ain’t good. Plus, I’d been thinking of ways of making turning on the laser more awesome, so this was a good opportunity. Read on after the break!

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2x success!

So I’ve been experimenting with a new feature I’m adding to the Inkscape plugin – basically it allows for assisted double-sided cutting with the laser. You can run the laser at less power (or higher speed) by cutting halfway through one side, flipping over the material, and cutting through the other half. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unusual Storage Contest

So here it is, an official announcement for our opening party hacking contest.

There is no pre-reg for this contest, it is more in the fashion of con badgehacking where your entry is presenting your creation at the time of contest closing.

The When:
The contest will cover a 2 day time span. It will commence on Dec 10. The contest building will continue until 11:30pm of Dec 11th. Demos and judging will start immediately after this deadline. Once all entries have been presented by the contestants the results and prize(s) (not yet figured out, but will be announced when they are) will be announced.

The Objective:
As the title states “Ùnusual storage“, meaning to find unorthoox ways to store data. Using traditional sd, eeprom, flash, ram, fram, rom, etc… is so very boring,so lets come up with something different. This can include repurposing an alternate storage medium to store data on ie. using an audio device to store encoded data for a microcontroller. Alternately the storage medium can be some completely asinine inefficient electromechanical device that the host controller can write and read data back off of.

The Rules:
1) The host controller (microcontroller, computer, plc, cyborg) can not store any data within its own devices. The host controller can be any type of device you choose. The host controller must only store data by means of communicating to whatever method of interfacing you choose to communicate with the storage device.
2) Since mechanical devices can get very large the minimum data capacity for the device must be at least 32 bits, less will still be allowed, but please no 1 or 2 bit machines. This rule applies as well if removable storage media is by design, the single removable media should meet this minimum.
Note: this is not a size matters contest so most storage capable will not necessarily score you more points.
3) Volatile data or non Volatile data? Doesn’t really matter.
4) Planning and component gathering (even prep) can be done in the time leading up to this contest but all implementation of the storage system must happen during the contest.
5) Contest entries can be individuals or teams. For sake of putting a number to teams the max is 5 people per team. There is no restriction on external help.
6) No materials or methods will be barred from this competition, I would hate to discourage outrageousness, silliness or otherwise potentially hazardous implementations.
7) Rules can be challenged during contest times and will be governed through feats of strength.

Judging:
- Judging will begin at 11:30pm on December 11th.
- The judging will be done by myself, and some other undetermined individual.
- If your entry is not ready by the time others contestants have finished presenting, your entry will be judged as is. Extra build time may be achieved by means of alcohol delivery to the judges and waiting contestants.

Good Luck!
Jason

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HOWTO turn a cheap Chinese laser engraver into a pretty good laser cutter

…using only a computer, LinuxCNC, and lots of scrap cardboard.

Every hackerspace needs a laser cutter. Unfortunately, they can be very expensive. Deals like the one Hacklab.to got don’t happen very often. However, there are factories in China turning out laser engravers and selling them on eBay for relatively cheap. We found a local distributor that appears to buy them directly from China, make sure they work, and resell them.

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Team Power Fist – Power Racing Series Update

At Maker Faire Detroit (July 31 – August 1 2010), the folks from Pumping Station: One have challenged hackerspaces around the world to participate in the Power Racing Series.

The idea is this: buy a Power Wheels car, mod it to make it MOAR AWSOME, and race it against teams from other hackerspaces. Very simple.

We got ourselves a used Extreme Dune Buggy, and let Jason go at it with the Sawzall.

There was much drilling, lathing, cutting, grinding, and welding.

The organising people announced the Early Bird Challenge a few weeks ago – post a video of your car driving 150 feet, powered by the motor you intend to race with. We didn’t quite get the points, but we did post a video:

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Making Games at think|haus

The past few weeks have seen several members working on games at think|haus. Peter designed and made a lasercut chess set, I made some pieces for my travel Settlers of Catan, and JamesQ posted about his 3D chess idea below.

Peter took some really nice pictures of his chess set and posted them on the facebook. His pieces are really nice – very clean and sleek. Each piece is made out of two pieces of acrylic fitted together at 90°. Here’s the thingiverse link.

A few years ago, I bought travel Settlers of Catan so that I could bring it with me on trips. Even the travel set is fairly big though, so I just used the cards and port pieces out of the box, and made my own tiles and cardboard pieces. The cardboard pieces are pretty awkward though, and I’ve never really been pleased with them. Today, I made up a little gcode file to cut out tiny roads, settlements, and cities.

handmade settlers tiles with lazzored pieces

If you want to build your own, check out the thingiverse project.

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Filling laser etched acrylic: wax vs polymer clay

I made some business card holders for think|haus a few weeks ago. They turned out pretty well, but there was one problem: the etching isn’t really legible from any reasonable distance. I clearly needed to paint/fill the etching with something. I tried two different methods: wax crayon and polymer clay. Photos below the cut. Read the rest of this entry »

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3-D Chess pieces for 3-D printers

In response to the Maker bot industries giveaway, I had the idea of making designs for pieces. Not just ordinary chess pieces, but 3 dimensional (Space Chess) pieces. Anyone who has watched ‘Star Trek’ the original series has seen this ‘Three-dimensional chess’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-dimensional_chess

Unfortunately the contest closes tomorrow at noon, and I just started the project today. I don’t have any skill with using 3-D computer drafting programs, and I don’t think I will be able to learn Google sketchup proficiently in a matter of hours. So, I drew my designs out by hand and posted them here. Read the rest of this entry »

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MIDI + Mini Piano

Recently I came across an Electron Echo Mini Piano that my brother and I played with many years ago:

I have no idea who made it or where it came from. The interweb mentions it a few times, but there doesn’t seem to be any information about it.

A moment of inspiration hit, and I decided it would be neat/fun/educational to build it into a sort of glorious MIDI-controlled monophonic electronic tinny-sounding synthesizer.

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