A phone with a frickin’ laser!

My recent acquisition of a Meade ETX-90 telescope with computer go-to system for locating objects in the sky got me thinking that it would be nice to have a system to locate objects in the sky when you’re looking through binoculars or a telescope that doesn’t have a computer and motors to drive it.  To that end I came up with the idea of mounting a green laser pointer, commonly used by astronomy nutz to point out objects in the sky to noobs, on a cell phone or tablet running a program such as Google SkyMap or Skeye.

sky laser all parts

CAD rendering of the parts

After much thought and a few prototypes I came up with a system that allows a laser to mount on a phone and that assembly to mount on a tripod, a handle, or a telescope.  The tube that holds the laser has adjustment screws to allow the laser to be aligned with the SkyMap on the phone.  It also has to slots that fit over standard gun sight rails.  On one side I have a phone/tablet bracket that has a gunsight rail and slides into the laser tube, and the other side can be used for a rail that mounts on a tripod or a handle.  Extra rails can be mounted on telescope tubes.  I haven’t yet designed a binocular mount, but will soon.

 

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Parts printing on MegaMax

I printed the parts on MegaMax with Octave fluorescent red filament (that’s why the colors vary in the photos- the flash apparently excites the fluorescence in the picture with the handle).   All the parts fit VERY tightly together but I included screw holes for extra security.  The phone/tablet mounts on the bracket using velcro tape.  I think it may be better to print or buy a cheap case to fit the phone than screw it to the phone/tablet bracket.  I’ll be posting the design files to Thingiverse shortly.

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Phone and laser mounted on handle

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Phone and laser on a tripod

 

 

Laser Cut Cocktail Recipe Coasters!

Years back, I used to throw a lot of cocktail parties.  Between myself and two good friends, we owned five cocktail shakers and 35+ martini glasses.  During the parties, we’d typically be the only three people shaking martinis for all the guests.  Though that’s awesome, it also means we missed out on much of the socializing and mingling during each party.
blog21In preparation for a recent birthday party, the solution came to me: Use Lasers!  So, I laser cut ten coaster-sized pieces of basswood and then laser engraved my twelve favorite Martini and Champagne cocktail recipes on them.  I also cut stands for them that had a laser engraved “best practices” guide for shaking Martinis – you know, the things that bartenders are typically too busy to do for you: Chill your glass before pouring your drink into it, shaking your drink until it is sufficiently cold, etc.  The drinks have recipes that taste better than what most bartenders will make for you, because they include things like an amount of lemon or lime that they’re too busy to squeeze into your drink.
blog22The party was an even more awesome experience for me, because I wasn’t only shaking drinks all night.   It was also even more awesome for the guests, as they found that great cocktails are super easy to make!  And who doesn’t like to make things? blog26 Also, the carbonated Gin & No tonic is real crowd pleaser!  See my previous post about home carbonation for more info, and note that all types of inappropriate things can be carbonated:  Gin, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, grapes, etc!

Milwaukee Maker Faire Preparations

We’re planning on setting up a Nerdy Derby track at the upcoming Maker Faire Milwaukee so to that end we are preparing car parts.  We recently received a generous donation of filament from Inventables (thank you!) so MegaMax and others went right to work printing wheels for the Nerdy Derby cars.  The goal is to print 4000 (!) wheels before the Maker Faire.

A small batch-test run of twelve wheels

A small batch-test run of twelve wheels

 

Printing 40 whimsical wheels and once!

Starting a batch: printing 40 whimsical wheels and once!

6 hours later, almost done!

6 hours later, almost done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video:

MegaMax printing 40 wheels in one go.  Go big or go home!

CubePro Trio

CubePro Trio

We recently got in a CubePro Trio from the folks at 3D Systems and while we’ve still got a lot of testing to do, we’ve started to run it through its paces.

It’s definitely a nice looking machine. Professional quality build all around. Matt N. spent some time setting it up and hit “print” on a rather challenging model (with tiny spires and everything!) The first print turned out OK, but as with any 3D printer, there’s probably a bit of tweaking (or reading of the manual) to do.

Print from CubePro

We’re excited to see what our members can do with this machine, and how it compares to the MakerBot, LulzBot, and Solidoodle we currently have in the 3D Printing Lab.

Stay Tuned!

Shark Tank + MagneTag

MagneTag + Shark Tank

You’ve probably heard a little bit about MagneTag before if you’ve seen Adam or Jason H. around the space. Adam’s been working on it for a few years now, and Jason H. jumped on board when he saw how awesome it was. The latest in MagneTag news is a call back to the TV show Shark Tank.

Yes, that’s right. Shark Tank. It seems they were in Milwaukee recently scouting ideas for the show and our MagnTag boys impressed them enough to pique their interest, so they’re preparing to wow them again, and we’re pretty sure they’ll succeed!

MagneTag is a bit of a makerspace success story. Adam and Jason H. would agree that without Milwaukee Makerspace, it would not have come this far. Let’s all wish MagneTag luck as they wade into the shark-infested waters of potential investors!

Crafting for the Workplace

There seems to be a phenomenon in the workplace – in all workplaces – when you’ve just finished Doing the Thing you’re supposed to do.  The moment you lean back for one second, sure enough, the Boss walks by and says, “Why aren’t you Doing the Thing?!?”  In honor of this widespread misfortune, my fellow store managers and I developed:

The Barrister Free Mulligan Token

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You see, I work at a board game & toy store.  In the world of collectible card games, taking a mulligan essentially means putting back the hand you were dealt and drawing a new one.  We figured our staff could use a second chance if they were ever caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  With plenty of help from Shane, I was able to laser-cut a bunch of wooden tokens.

Standing up to your boss can be difficult.  But there are times when it’s appropriate, and now each employee is well-armed against fickle fortune.  Shane called our idea “very forward-thinking.”  My favorite part was at last week’s staff meeting, where everyone got do decorate their own personal token:

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To expend a token, we simply drop it through the slot in the top of the pencil case, which is bolted to the backplate.  Once you take your Mulligan, the boss owes you a second chance, an apology, and (for good measure) a sandwich.  Expended tokens may be reclaimed by attending a staff meeting.  Who knows how much use they’ll see?  Even as just a symbol, it gave us a way to talk about the elephant in the room.

And play with the glitter glue.

A Friendly PSA From Your Local Makerspace….

A picture of the bordetella pertussis bacteria which causes whooping cough

This Gram-stained photomicrograph depicts numbers of Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which is the etiologic pathogen for pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Makers, a call to (non-dominant) arms!

I’ve just recently gotten my TDaP booster shoot (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) and it occurred to me that many of you may have forgotten this over the course of the last decade.

That’s right, a tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years and, with the advent of the TDaP back in 2006, I would highly recommend getting your shots.  Pertussis (whooping cough) has been making the rounds plus, as a maker, you may well be using materials and equipment that could expose you to tetanus.

This post is not to fear-monger, but it is a gentle reminder that we come into contact with some pretty dirty stuff and it could be worth your while to get vaccinated.

I was able to get this shot for free, courtesy of my local health department, so check for something in your area and get safe!

Powered Up for Maker Faire!

Lotusaurus Wrecks

Whew! We had quite a weekend! Somehow we managed to cram both Lotusaurus Wrecks and Iron Rose into the back of a minivan and haul them to Maker Faire Detroit. Luckily a second car followed us with all the tools and batteries.

It was a wonderful weekend of racing tiny electric cars. What’s that? You don’t know about the Power Racing Series? We take those Power Wheels cars that you buy for your kids, get them for free or super-cheap from craigslist, and then rebuild them as electric race cars for adults… for less that $500. Yes, it’s a little ridiculous, but it’s also a lot of real engineering. Some of these cars will impress the crap out of you!

So how did we do? Well, the cars held up, even through a few crashes, so that’s good. Audrey drove Lotusaurus Wrecks to victory in one race, and Iron Rose proved a dedicated mid-fielder throughout the weekend. All in all, it was pretty awesome.

Iron Rose

Note: We know you want to see this crazy racing yourself… well, you’re in luck! We’ll be holding a race at Maker Faire Milwaukee happening September 27th & 28th, 2014. Join us for the madness!

littleBits Projects

littleBits

Back in June we announced some Instructables Build Nights featuring littleBits and the new Arduino at Heart modules. We had a lot of members play with the ‘Bits during the last six weeks, and we’re still waiting for Steve to publish the detailed instructions on his “littleBits-powered Vomit-Inducing Machine”, but for now we’ll have to make do with the littleBits Arduino Annoying Machine that Eric and his son built.

I also got in on the action, with two Instructables that (sort of) go together; littleBits Serial Data and littleBits Serial Controller. All of our projects make use of the Arduino module, which add some great programming functions to the littleBits world.

If you didn’t get a chance to play with the ‘Bits yet, we will have four littleBits Deluxe Kits and a bunch of Arduino modules at the space to experiment with. They should be treated like a LEGO set; build something, then take it apart. Hopefully having some fun and learning something new along the way.

(Big Thanks to Instructables and littleBits for providing the kits to us!)

Building Patio Furniture for Fun and Profit

If you’ve ever looked to purchase patio furniture its either cheap and crappy …or expensive and still crappy.

So I decided to make my own. Because I wanted to drink beers on my porch and tell kids to get off my lawn.

With no further ado:

Before During After

Figure 1: My Porch Before, During, After

Step 1: Find Plans.

I’ve never used any Ana-White plans before, but I found these that seemed reasonable. After some review though, I found the cutlist sucks so any of the pieces with angled cuts are listed at final dimensions rather than initial rough cut dimensions. Namely the angled stretchers need to be cut long (34″ish) and then angled. Same goes for the back legs (~22″) and the 2×2 arm supports (~28″). So do your own due dilligence before slicing all your lumber up.

Step 2: Cut All the Lumber

Pine sucks and I hate paint. So I went with Cedar.

Rough Cedar

Figure 2: Rough Cedar from Menards

Cut Lumber

Figure 3: Cut to Size and Length

Rough Sand Cuts

Figure 4: Apply Belt Sander

I recommend using a belt/drum sander on any of the rough cuts to give it a cleaner finished look.

Step 3: Follow Directions (Assembly)

Aside from the cutlist, the plans are straightforward and easy to follow. I built the sides and back as assemblies because I couldn’t transport a completely assembled chair in my car.

Follow Directions part 1

Figure 5: Side Assembly

Following directions somewhat p1

Figure 6: Chair Back Assembly

I deviated from the design a bit as I didn’t feel like using a jig saw, so I just set the miter saw for 45deg and lopped off each corner of the back (which you’ll see in the final assembly pictures)

Starting Assembly

Figure 7: Starting Assembly

I transported the large pieces back to my apartment so I could put it together on-site. I don’t have any pictures of the middle steps, so it kind of jumps from here to completely assembled. Read the directions, you’ll know what to do.

Testing p1

Figure 8: Assembly Done (Structural Testing)

Ta da. A chair.

The beer made up for the sunburn.

Step 4: Finishing

Like I mentioned above, I don’t like paint. So I winged this phase of the project.

I like oil based finished to bring out natural color, so I grabbed a can of Danish Oil. Cedar is naturally rot and insect resistant, but since I had some spray Spar Urethane lying around I figured a coat of that couldn’t hurt either. Lastly, because I like the texture of wax finishes I applied Paste Wax to any of the upright surfaces where you’d touch the chair in normal operation.

Finishing

Figure 9: Done!

I applied the Danish Oil  by hand, which was a pain, but worked out well enough in the end it seems.

Step 5: Build a Second Chair

This second one is a little better finished based on some in-process learnings from the first chair. I picked up a countersink bit to help clean up the exposed screw holes and tried a little harder to be symmetric and even with the holes as well.

I need to either build a table, or figure out a way to add a cupholder feature. (But so far the porch itself works fine)

Step 6: Fin

Before During After

Each chair was something like $41 for material not including screws, glue, and finishes and took approximately 4 hours to cut, assemble, and finish.