A Happening Weekend at the Space

As many of you might have known, this weekend we had our monthly space improvement day.  Thank you to everyone that came out and helped make the space even more awesome!  Here are a few of the neat improvements that happened this weekend.

  • Brant and Tiffany finished putting up the new general member storage shelves, now with cart parking!  If you would like a spot on the new shelving contact one of them to get a shelf.

 

 

 

 

 

spaceimprovement-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • While he was at it Brant got motivated enough to to put some new wheels on the the rolling stairs.  That’s right, the rolling stairs now… roll!

 

 

  • The space received a new wood lathe and belt sander courtesy of Joe R.

spaceimprovement-4

  • The wood shop got a new table… also on wheels!  It’s great for the planner and router, but also makes for a handy work surface.  Just make sure you clean up after yourself!

spaceimprovement-16

 

 

 

  • spaceimprovement-14Vishal made us some fantastic tool height adjustment devices (read: stools)!  Now our members  can use the drill press without the added thrill of wood spinning directly into their exposed jugular!

 

 

 

  • There’s one for the forge too, so vertically challenged members (read: not 6′something giants) can now benefit from a full range of motion on the anvil.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Meanwhile the forge master spaceimprovement-18himself, Dan, used some ‘forged curvy bits’ to create a stand for the hose on the aluminium furnace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ed built a table for the new router.  It now rolls nicely into its home, alongside it’s larger sibling in the Kuka room.

spaceimprovement-12

  • See that vacuumed floor?  Yeah that was Ed too.

spaceimprovement-15

  • Or perhaps you noticed the cable running across that floor.  Chris, Brant and Dan made some more progress towards getting us some wired internet at the space…some.

 

  • And naturally,  Charles did what Charles does best…organize! His contributions included a new drill bit organizer, a new air compressor tool rack, and a more organized tool box.

spaceimprovement-5spaceimprovement-6spaceimprovement-7

  • The craft lab storage room got the start of a makeover as well.  More progress to come, we promise.  But it was a long and exhausting weekend, so at least it’s a bit cleaner.
Before
Before

 

After
After

Weekend Project — Garden Box

My old garden box pretty much rotted away so I made a new one.  I spent $57 on six 2″ x 8″ x 8 foot boards at Home Depot and did the cutting and some assembling at the Makerspace yesternight.  Today, the kids and I connected the sides together and replaced the old box with the new one.  It looks pretty good.   (Thanks Mike for the help.)

Next, I need to attach the PVC frame I made to hold vegetable netting, and plant some veggies.

gardenbox

CNC Mogul Introduction

A few weeks ago Mike Stone of CNCMogul.com visited the Milwaukee Makerspace.

Mike donated one of his machines to the space for testing and feedback as well as to use for the membership. It should also be mentioned that Mike is local and has his shop and distribution in Wales, Wisconsin.

Joe Rodriguez built one machine and I also put one together at our shop at home. So here are some thoughts on the process as well as some pictures. It isn’t a review as these machines haven’t really been put to the test as of yet. Time will tell.

The CNC Mogul is a general purpose 3 axis CNC kit that is relatively easy to put together and can be used for anything that you like. I’ll be using ours for routing and Joe wants to make a CNC plasma cutter with the one in the space. The basic kit is affordable and it uses the Makerslide as it’s building blocks. The stepper motors are run with a rack and pinion setup on aluminum tracks and gearing as well.

The controller is a Chinese Tb6560 Stepper Motor Driver Controller that is controlled via parallel port.

The power supply is a 24V 14.6 AMP 350W Max Power Supply.

The whole kit can be ordered online from 2ft X 3ft up to 4ft X 8ft. Custom dimensions are also available.

So here is the kit before assembly. This is a 3ft x 3ft kit that I will be building and using with a router.

This is the kit right before opening.

This is the kit right before opening.

Inside the kit there are a bunch of baggies with tons of little parts. You can look at the manual here

I’m assembling the quad rail kit. Once I start pulling things out of the box there is an amazing array of parts that explodes out of it. Fortunately each bag and part are well marked.

Everything that you need to build your own CNC controlled machine.

Everything that you need to build your own CNC controlled machine.

cncmogul03

Everything is labeled really well.

Everything is labeled really well.

Everything is labeled really well.

Everything is labeled really well.

The kit took approximately 3+ hours to put together. The documentation in the manual is hit or miss. The pictures are extremely good and really help in putting this together. The accompanying text is also great for the first 1/3 of the manual and then you’re left to interpret pictures from there. There are a few questions that came up while building this but fortunately I was able to figure it out.

Little by little the parts are being built.

Little by little the parts are being built.

After the gantry gets built and all of the wires are connected it’s time to test. CNC Mogul recommends using Mach 3 for your machine control. And even has a few pointers on how to setup Mach 3 on their site.

I decided to go with LinuxCNC because it’s open source, I’m comfortable with Linux and it’s low cost (free). I loaded it up on a spare computer and after running through the instructions I was able to control the stepper motors on the Mogul.

What I had difficulty with is that the CNC Mogul uses an “A” axis and “Y” axis slaved together. LinuxCNC can do that but you can NOT test for that in the setting up process. You essentially tell the “A” axis to use the same step and direction pulses as the “Y” axis. I also inverted the “A” axis so they would turn the same direction when they are facing each other.

One of the other difficulties I had was figuring out the leadscrew pitch to enter into LinuxCNC. After some experimentation 1.27 inches per revolution seems about right but some more testing is needed.

Once you’re finished building the whole thing you need to mount it to something. I picked up a Craigslist find and the Mogul fit perfectly.

I generated some G-code from Vectric’s Vcarve Pro Zeroed each axis and started to cut.

I still need to put a waste board down and face it off flat and put some type of work hold-down system in place.

After the unit gets setup in the Makerspace the members will have access to the machine and we’ll see how durable it is.

The CNC Mogul with router mounted and ready to cut.

The CNC Mogul with router mounted and ready to cut.

Total time to build, test, and implement the whole system has been approximately 6 hours. There is still some testing and tweaking to be done as well as putting in a dust collection system.

If there are any questions feel free to ask me either on this post or in person. I’ll be putting this through it’s paces as well.

My 2nd test using the CNC Mogul with 2 types of router bits.

My 2nd test using the CNC Mogul with 2 types of router bits.

Filament Spool

CAM00246

Early this year I purchased a Printrbot simple to have a printer I could keep on my desk at home. I didn’t need anything big, just something for printing pretty things and parts to fix stuff around the apartment so it was a perfect option.

While it has been a fantastic printer there was one drawback to it. That is that there is no place for the filament on the base model. There is an upgrade kit for the 2013 model (I am not sure it it works with the 2014 model that I have but I think so) that adds one on top but it was not really what I was looking for since it is only slightly adjustable width wise with some mods. Also I know me and I would knock it over.

Using some parts and scrap from around the makerspace along with several printed parts (it is always fun printing parts for a printer on the printer you are printing them for) I designed something that will fit just about any filament spool, holds the spool in such a way that the printer barely has to work to un-spool more, and can be used to keep the printer from spinning off my desk when it decides it wants to start shaking and walking while printing.

The parts are now up on thingiverse with all the instructions to make one of your very own. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:299541

TAZ is up and running!

LulzBot TAZ 3

As previously mentioned, we’re the proud new owners of a LulzBot TAZ 3, which features an impressive build volume of 298mm x 275mm x 250mm. I finally got some time on Saturday right before the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup to do a bit more testing with it.

We’ve got it loaded up with some 3mm blue filament that was provided by Coex, who graciously donated filament from one of their early test runs last year. We’ve not tried other brands yet, but we’ll get to that soon enough. The Coex filament required bumping the temperature up just a bit, but was flowing smoothly at 235.

If you’ve used Slic3r and Printrun (which is what LulzBot recommends) you’ll be up and running pretty quickly. LulzBot provides a bunch of Slic3r profiles for you to get started with the TAZ.

TAZ Extruder

The design of the TAZ is really nice, with a mixture of extruded Aluminum, 3D printed parts, and laser cut parts, each being used where they make the most sense. The extruder is held into place with a French cleat style groove, and one bolt, which should make it easy to remove in the future if we need to do maintenance or repairs.

For Milwaukee Makerspace members, if you’re looking for more info or to get trained, check the wiki page. If you’re not a member, come to an open night Tuesday or Thursday at 7pm if you want to see the TAZ or ask any questions about it.

Sample print below. Not bad for a first attempt!

lulzprint

LulzBot… Soon!

LulzBot

LulzBot is know for producing and selling open source 3D printers, and in the spirit of open source, they do their best to give back to the community. In the past they’ve helped make Slic3r better, and more recently they’ve done a printer giveaway to hackerspaces… and yes, we’ve been chosen!

We are one of the LulzBot Hackerspace Giveaway 2014 Winners, and we’re pretty excited about it!

We (as a space) acquired a 1st gen MakerBot Replicator (the one with the wooden frame) and it’s served us well (ok, we never quite got the second extruder working, and it was down for repairs more than a few months last year.) Anyway, the MakerBot has been our best 3D printer to date, but with a LulzBot TAZ on the way, we’re really hoping to up our 3D game to include bigger and better prints, and hopefully explore new materials like Nylon, wood, and NinjaFlex. Being fans of open source ourselves (a makerspace is all about sharing!) it’ll be great to have a high-quality printer for our members as well as events like the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup.

Once we get the TAZ in and up and running, we’ll share the results. Thanks again, LulzBot!

Table Saw Guard

guard04

 

This started out as an experiment, but it’s working well enough that I might as well call it permanent.

Our table saw came with a blade guard that was attached to a splitter, and every time someone moved the guard, they’d bend the splitter out of position, so it didn’t line up with the blade. Instead of bending it back, people would just remove the guard and put it in some random place where we couldn’t find it, so a lot of the time we were using the saw without a guard.

Over-arm type guards are available, but some people have built their own, so I decided to give it a try. The Lexan sides and the spacers between them were cut out on the CNC router. Everything else was sized to fit the saw. (It’s made for a 10″ blade, but for some reason we have an 8″ blade on the saw right now.) A giant washer acts as a counterweight (it weighs about a pound).

I thought we’d have to fabricate a cantilevered arm from welded steel, or maybe some of the carbon fiber tubing that’s laying around. But first I built a prototype out of 2x4s, and it worked well enough that I decided to leave it that way (I replaced the two clamps with nuts and bolts after the picture was taken.)

splitter02

 

The new splitter was cut from 16 gauge sheet steel on the vertical bandsaw in the metal shop, then filed to fit, and bent with a pair of pliers to line up with the blade. It has slots in the bottom, so it can be removed by loosening the bolts with a 10mm wrench (for certain kinds of cuts that it would interfere with, such as dados). Since it’s not attached to the guard, it doesn’t get bent as easily as the original one.

For more info (including DXF files), see the wiki page:

http://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/projects/guard

Camera Accessory Mounting System

CAMS pieces

Those who know me know that besides being cheap (hey, it’s part of being a maker and being DIY) I tend to use cameras a lot. Well, on occasion camera related things break, or I’ll need a part that doesn’t exist yet, or exists, but it too expensive, or isn’t designed right, or whatever.

All of the issues mentioned above lead me to create “CAMS” the “Camera Accessory Mounting System”, which will be a modular system that allows me to mount things to cameras, and mount cameras to things.

The connecting pieces of CAMS are 3D printed, and design is happening in OpenSCAD. The other parts of CAMS consists of standard 1/4″ hardware, nuts, bolts, screws, etc. There are also knobs that fit onto the nuts to allow for easy finger tightening.

CAMS Arm

There’s a wiki page for CAMS, which doesn’t have a ton of info yet, but you can also check out blog post #1 and blog post #2 about the arm.

Electric Ice Scooter

DSC_0424

When I recently was at the thrift store and saw a pair of ice skates next to a kick-scooter, it got my mind going. “What would a scooter look like with skates in place of wheels!?”

The next time I was at the Makerspace, I saw my old electric scooter over on the Hack Rack. This was a scooter I originally rescued from a dumpster. Although it didn’t have batteries, just adding power and a little tinkering got it up and running again. A few of the EV Club and PowerWheels Racing guys played around with the scooter a bit, but eventually the controller got toasted, and who knows what happened to the front wheel.

Oh well, I’d be replacing that front wheel with an ice skate anyways.

Turns out that the heel of an ice skate is actually sturdy enough to drill right through and use as a mounting point. I simply  drilled through the skate, inserted a spacer, and then ran a 3/8″ bolt through the skate and the front fork of the scooter. I finished it off with a couple of washers and a nut.

Then next thing to fix was to get the  motor going again. Turns out that it’s a brushless motor. While I have a fair amount of experience now with BRUSHED motors, this was my first experience with brushless. I did a little research, and then ordered a 24V, 250 watt generic brushless controller from a mail-order scooter parts company. Unfortunately, it used a different style of throttle than what was already on the scooter, so I had to order a throttle to match.

Connecting the controller was pretty easy, three wires to the motor and the black and red one to power. I first bench-tested it with an old printer power supply, and once everything was working right, bit the bullet and bought a brand new pair of 12ah SLA batteries. The two batteries are wired in series, along with a 20 amp fuse, and then go to the controller.

I still needed a deck for the scooter. I dug through some scrap materials and found a pair of cabinet doors that were about the right size. I cut them down just a bit and bolted them to the scooter. I even re-mounted a cabinet door handle to have as an attachment point for towing a sled.

With that, I was ready to go for a test ride, so it was off to the lake. Once I was on the ice, I turned on the scooter and gave it a go! What fun! It really zipped along, but it was almost impossible to steer, as the back tire would slip right out from under me! Time for more traction!

I decided to make a spiked tire. I removed the rear wheel, then disassembled the two-part rim and removed the tire and inner tube. I stuck 1/2″ self-tapping, pan-head, sheet-metal screws through the tire from the inside, so that their points stuck out.DSC_0394 I evenly spaced out 24 screws and alternated them to be slightly off-center side to side. Next, I put some old scrap bicycle inner tube over them as a liner to protect the scooter tire inner-tube. After that, it was just a matter of reassembling everything.

Now for test #2 out  on the ice. Remembering how much it hurt to fall on the ice, I was prepared this time by wearing my motorcycle jacket (which has padding built-in) and my helmet. Good thing too, as I would learn while steering with one hand and holding a GoPro camera in the other…. (Note to self, keep both hands on handlebars at all times.)

Overall, the Ice Scooter works great! I still have a few little things to do on it. For example, the motor is running “sensor less”, and I’d like to learn about how brushless motors use the sensor system. I’d also like to get a small 24V dedicated charger. As it is right now, I have to remove the deck and manually charge with a little 12V charger.

From thrift store idea, to hack rack, to life on the ice, it’s always fun to see what you can do with just a little ingenuity. I hope you like this project. If you want to see more on it, please check out the write-up I did on Instructables. It’s even in a few contests there, and I’d love your vote!

Keep on Making,

-Ben