RN-42 Carrier V2

Some time back I posted about my RN-42 Carrier Board. The RN-42 is an inexpensive surface mount bluetooth modem. I made a board that converts it to through-hold and exposes a number of the features of the RN-42 that other carrier boards do not.

There was a small error in the original boards: the status LEDs were connected to ground when in was the intent of the RN-42 designers that I connect the LEDs to Vdd. In response to some inquiries about the board, I’ve made a revision of the board that addresses this problem. Here are the updated Gerbers, NC Drill and original Diptrace design files.

Curiosity EDL Party at Bucketworks this Sunday

Blow off your Monday and come watch the edge-of-your-seat landing of the Mars Curiosity rover! Help us celebrate its successful landing or weep inconsolably with us if it splatters all over the Martian surface! We’ll get together, talk a little about some of the ways we’ve seen both success and failure in Mars exploration in an effort to provide context, and then settle down to watch NASA TV report on the telemetry stream that will indicate success or failure.

If you don’t know, the EDL cycle for the Curiosity rover is insane. Landing this rover will be an amazing accomplishment. Check this video:
Mars Curiosity Video

Register for this free party here: http://mslparty2012bw-estw.eventbrite.com/  Ya, its pretty late, but you didn’t want to face Monday Aug 6th anyway did you?

I’m sure there will be a hangout as well. Check back here updates on that.



PCB with Lasered Paint Resist and Fast Sponge Etching

TomG shows how he etches PCB boards using paint, a 25W laser cutter, Muratic Acid, 30% H2O2 and a sponge. Much frothing ensues.

The technique is a neat one, given the presence of a laser cutter, because it can take you from copper clad to etched board in a pretty quick amount of time.

One note, the Muratic Acid is actually from a pool supply store, not Home Depot. It is, of course, dangerous. Wear safety goggles, use gloves, use in a well ventilated area. (The acid smells like a punch to the nose, don’t inhale it)

Maker Faire Detroit is coming up!

Maker Faire Detroit 2012
Maker Faire Detroit 2012 is rapidly approaching. If you haven’t been to one, you need to go. Maker Faires are amazing gatherings of some of the most interesting and creative makers around. To-scale fire breathing dragon sculptures, colossal sized Mouse Trap games, micro jet engines, super fast Power Wheels racers, ferro-fluids, and so, so much more. And then of course there is the Henry Ford Museum with it amazing collection of automotive technology.

On April 17th, 2012 at 7PM we’ll have Suzanne Fischer, Associate Curator of Technology at the Henry Ford Museum here at the space to talk to us about the Maker Faire Detroit. Come on by and learn more about it! As always, Tuesday evenings are free and open to the public!

EEVBlog’s Simple Soft Power

Dave Jones over at EEVBlog posted his design for a simple soft power circuit. This is something I looked at a couple of years ago in my own un-expert way. I really like Dave’s design. It’s just so simple and draws basically nothing when off.  It’s something I definitely want to file away in my library of circuits as I can see it coming in handy quite often.

If you are not familiar with EEVBlog you should check it out. Dave’s series of videos are fun to watch and you often learn something.

Aluminum Pour

Bill M, Bret D and I went by Dan Dricken’s studio this past Sunday to watch his aluminum pour.  It was great fun to watch. Dan has a custom built furnace with a 40lbs crucible. Audience members prepared sand scratch blocks. They were shallow square that participant carved designs into to form an aluminum tile.

I learned that there is really quite a close-knit community of metal pourers. Bret D is going to help us out making our own aluminum furnace and eventually even an iron furnace. I’m really looking forward getting more involved with that community.

Art Jamboree!



Here at Art Milwaukee’s big shindig at Flux Design. Man, I’ve done a lot of talking. Gave away the last of our complete tie pin kits. Met lots of great folk in Milwaukee’s art community. Mad props to Jason H to getting Milwaukee Makerspace more involved with this community. I really feel like there is a lot of potential for awesome interaction between makers and artists and events like this one can make that happen.

I’m looking forward to next month!

Food Not Bombs Bronze Pendant and Final Star Trek Assembly

Previously I had blogged about a Star Trek logo that I cast as gift for my sister-in-law. I’ll update that project later in the post, however, I held a second casting back from the blog as it was intended as a gift for my wife.

For a couple of years my wife co-ran Milwaukee’s Food Not Bombs movement. She has always had fond memories of that time and has on more than one occasion brought up their logo: a hand clutching a carrot. So, I decided to make her a pendant with a relieved carving of that logo. To begin with I pulled the jpg logo into Inkscape loaded with the Better Better DXF Output plugin. I used the Inkscape drawing primitives to trace over the major outlines of the logo and then export the tracing to DXF. Once in DXF I imported the file into CamBam where I cleaned of the drawing a little more and defined machining operations for our CNC Router to perform. I turned the outlines into a series of adjacent polygons. (e.g. a wrist polygon, a thumb polygon, etc.) I then setup pocket operations of varying depths on each polygon. Finally, I exported the file to G-Code for consumption by the Mach 3 router control program.

FNB Logo in Mach 3If you look you can kind of see the polygons even if the depth setting of each pocket is not apparent.

Above you can see the pendant in the process of being routed out and also the finished wax mold after routing. Below you can see the pendant after casting! She loved it and wears it frequently. I was a really good feeling to actually put some effort into making a gift this year. It made the act of giving the gift that much more special.

I also completed the Star Trek logo. I turned that into a broach.

Above you can see that I have mounted the Star Trek logo to a plastic backing. I’ve also cut one of Adafruit’s EL Panels way down in size and hooked it up to another one of her small inverters. The small inverter normally cannot run her panels, but after being cut down so much, it wasn’t a problem. Below you can see the two pieces put together.

And finally the finished gift!

As I said, I really enjoyed giving gifts that I made this year. I am going to try to do more of that!



Spin Casting!

Tonight we successfully spin cast a  few bronze models! This is the first time ever, at the Makerspace. I’m totally stoked to have a new and neat piece of equipment operating here.  Spin Casting now joins one of the many skills you can learn here.

Below you can see JasonH taking the torch to the bronze sitting in the crucible.


Neither JasonH nor myself have any real idea of what we are doing, but we gave it a try and it turned out! Below you can see the Star Trek logo that came from the wax mold I posted about earlier as well as bits of the sprue. It still has a good bit of investment stuck to it, but I’m out of time for tonight.


Below is a video of the spin caster in action. You can see the red glow of the molten metal being driven into the investment cavity.