Drive Time!

Hard Drive

A few of us have been working on a project each Tuesday night which involves dismantling old hard drives.

What do you get from an old hard drive? We’re saving the cases for an Aluminum pour at Maker Faire Milwaukee, the motors are super-fast and super-quiet, there are some tiny bearings we might use, and there are powerful magnets, some of which we’ve used to hold tools to the wall in the past, and finally, those shiny, shiny platters!

Hard Drive

Hard Drive

Hard Drive Platters

We’ve got a stack of about 80 platters, with more coming. If you’re wondering what we’re going to do with all the platters, well… yeah, some sort of project for Maker Faire. That’s all I can reveal right now. :)

Goodbye, Matsuura…

Matsuura RA1F

Milwaukee Makerspace has a lot of equipment, and sometimes we get things that don’t quite work, and we try hard to get them working. We often succeed, but sometimes we decide it’s better to move on…

With that said, we’re looking to sell our Matsuura RA1F Vertical Machining Center, which is known as the “Red Dragon”.

It’s not currently running, but it was working months ago. Ultimately we decided that it would take too much work to get it into good shape for a makerspace, so selling it off as a whole, or in parts, will help fund a new CNC milling machine which is smaller and more suited to our needs.

Matsuura RA1F

If you’ve never used a VMC this probably isn’t for you, but if you really want a challenge, or want it for parts (and there are some very expensive parts in it) you might get a nice deal. Maybe you’ve already got one and need spare components? Perfect!

You can check out the notes we’ve made about the Red Dragon over on our Matsuura wiki page. If you’ve got questions, post a comment or get in touch with us.

Matsuura RA1F

Screen Printing? We do that too…

Screen Printing

After having many people ask about the screen printing machine, I figured I should do a demo, which turned into a class, and a few members got to learn a lot about screen printing, and how they can use the vinyl cutter to prep screens for printing.

I’ve got a post on my own blog about the demo, but I figured I’d add a photo of some of the results. Above is a shirt printed by one of our members, and below is a poster I printed for our “Wall of Stuff” in the lobby.

If you’re interested in screen printing, just get in touch with me, and I’ll share what I know.

Screen Printing

Time Delay Relay

Time Delay Relay

I’m working on a project that requires two power strips to be turned on in a sequence. The first power strip powers 6 HDMI displays, and the second one powers 6 computers. The displays have to be on before the computers so they sync properly and get the correct resolution. Since I can’t rely on a person to do this properly, automation is the answer.

My first thought was to use something like a PowerSwitch Tail with a microcontroller to trigger it. (There’s also a cheaper kit version available.) The issue with this solution is that I’d need a microcontroller, and a power supply for the microcontroller, which are more parts, and more points of failure, and take up more space. I also considered using a cheap relay module, but ultimately I was overly complicating the whole thing. Also, I want this to be reliable, and sticking a 5v power supply, a microcontroller, and a relay in a box for three years seemed a little risky.

What I really needed was a “Time Delay Relay” which is a device that can get power, wait X number of seconds, and then power on another thing. There’s a whole bunch of them you can just buy! Time Delay Relays are not cheap though… This one is under $40, but you’ll probably also want the socket, which puts you closer to $50.

Luckily, Milwaukee Makerspace is filled with all sorts of old industrial “junk” and we have a bunch of these sitting on a shelf! Brant (you know, the guy who made a Auto-Off Timed Outlets from an old microwave control panel) helped me find one and get it wired up last week. It works great!

I used a $3 extension cord to provide an easy way to plug it into the first power strip and plug the second power strip into it. There’s a dial that lets you set the delay up to 10 seconds, which is more than enough for my needs.

Time Delay Relay

If I’ve learned anything from this project it’s that even though you think you might have a good solution to a problem, it’s still worth asking others (at the space or on the mailing list) because you may get a better solution, and may even get the parts you need.