Awesome Aluminum Anodizing!

Anodizing
On November 16th, 2013 we had an Aluminum Anodizing Workshop led by Frankie Flood. We had about 16 members in the workshop, which ran from 10am to 6pm. That seems like a long class, but the first few hours were really dedicated to learning all about the process, and about working with metal.
Annealing
We learned about annealing metal, about forming it and shaping it, and how to add texture, and ping it with a hammer, and buffing and polishing, and about the anodizing process, and the dying of metal, and how to add resist, and the sealing process.
METAL!!!
After Frankie dropped all the knowledge on us, we had the rest of the workshop to make things. Everyone got busy, first cutting pieces of metal, and then doing whatever they wanted with it. When a piece was ready it went into the first bath for 15 minutes, then a second bath for 5 minutes, and then it sat in a rinse until we had enough to anodize, which we did every 45 minutes or so. Almost everyone left the class with a few pieces (or one totally awesome piece.)
The Anodizing Bath
There was a lot of interest in the workshop, so we may run another one (if Frankie is willing!) and we’re also talking about permanently adding anodizing to the capabilities of the space.
Metal Shop
We also want to give a big thanks to Frankie for teaching us, and to Michael for organizing the class. Everyone had a good time, learned a lot, and walked away with some nice looking pieces of metal.
Orange Metal

Forming Metal

Buffing Metal

Dye Baths

Squishing Metal

Note: See Frankie’s post for a ton more photos!

Hackerspace Challenge Results…

Inspiration Labs

Never let it be said that we do not know how to lose gracefully…

Back in July Milwaukee Makerspace was selected to take part in the Hackerspace Challenge put on by Popular Mechanics and RadioShack. We assembled a team, got working, and created the Milwaukee Makerspace Morgifying Marble Manipulation Machine (aka: M6) in about 30 days.

We asked for your votes, and we got a lot of them, but in the end, the folks at Inspiration Labs got more. But hey, they built a TARDIS, so we love their project too!

Our team here in Milwaukee had a blast working on the M6, and it’ll probably be an ongoing project, so if you stop by the space, ask to see it in action!

M6

Drink Up!

DRINK

The sandblaster is a pretty awesome piece of equipment. Combine it with a vinyl cutter and you can easily etch drinking glasses and other things. Here’s our new Milwaukee Makerspace Beer Stein. There’s more details on the making of this on my blog.

(Obviously we never consume alcohol while operating any dangerous equipment. Note that this piece was created only to show the capabilities of the sandblaster. Not for drinking. Nope, no drinking.)

Etched

Blast all the sand!!!

Holiday Make-A-Thon 2013

Make-A-Thon 2013
Yes indeed, we’re doing it again. Some call it “Makesgiving” or “Make Friday” but we prefer the “Holiday Make-A-Thon” which is an event where we team up with Bucketworks and invite the public in to MAKE things instead of BUY things for the holidays.

In past years we’ve provided CNC’d ornaments that people have decorated (paint, glitter, googly eyes) and we also had dried gourds to decorate, we did 3D printed cookie cutters (designed by kids) and DIY wrapping paper and we’ve even taught people how to solder.

We’re still working on the list for this year’s activities, but it should be Maker-tastic!

It’s all happening from 12pm to 5pm on Friday, November 29th, 2013. This year we’ll be at Milwaukee Makerspace (2555 S. Lenox St. in Milwaukee) instead of Bucketworks.

(This is a family-friendly event, and it’s free to the public, though we do ask for a donation to help support the event so we can keep doing it every year.)

(Wanna see who’s coming? You can RSVP on the Facebooks.)

Woodblock Prints

Occasionally back in the day,  I would breakout the linoleum blocks and the speedball cutting tools, and carve out a design to make block prints.  My experience in making prints spans from potato carvings to cardboard stencils, linoleum and wood blocks.  As designs became larger, complex, and multi-color, the time it would take to carve the block plates, made finishing a project difficult at best.

Then, the laser cutter…..

Using the adobe suite of products I created two black and white drawings to be translated to wood blocks.

rooster_redPlate rooster_BlackPlate

Unlike traditional transfer/carving methods, I decided to utilize the 60W laser to etch the images into poplar wood vs. carving.  I chose poplar for its hardness and ability not to warp as easy as pine or other softer woods.  60W laser setting was 100 power, 60%speed, 500 PPI

The image below is a 5″x7″ laser cut of the black plate of the rooster image.

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Top-Left is the black plate for the left facing rooster.  Bottom-left is the red plate for the left facing, top-right – red plate, bottom right – black plate

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The following image shows the red left-facing plate printed, and the black plate inked up and ready to be printed

image (2)

The first red/black rooster print, along side the right facing black print.

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And of course, if you do one, you have to do many.

Multiprint

Milwaukee MakerFest!

Holy Moly what an event!  We had almost 600 people come through and enjoy all the excitement of interactive activities, demonstrations and workshops!  I gotta say we all had a great time and we have officially made this an annual event.  So you can start getting excited for next year.  Take a look at some pictures from the event:

mmfpics

mmf2

mmf3

 

Working on singing pumpkins

In a recent visit to the makerspace, I was able to assemble a couple of shields targeted at my Singing Pumkins project where an Arduino drives animatronic pumkins in time to music.

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The shield with the large heat sink is a 20W car amplifier that will take the output from the wave shield and send it to some speakers. The larger shield is a riff on Laday Ada’s 12 Channel PWM controller. The difference is that this one is in a shield format and includes a DC to DC converter that will bring the 12V of the car battery down to the 6V maximum of the PWM chip.

I only just had enough time to assemble the boards, not test. But, hopefully,  I’ll have everything thing working correctly.

Red Lotus

All the other PPPRS cars got an upgrade post, it’d be a shame if Red Lotus didn’t get one too.

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Before continuing, I should mention my involvement in this little beastie. I kind of got sucked into the Power wheels group at the space straight away: I joined the space in the middle of July, was riding around Baby Burrito for a parade the very next day, and went out to Detroit for my first PPPRS race a week or two later. Naturally, being a tiny little thing myself, I fell in love with this fast little car. (My goodness, I was so green at that Detroit race, there were orange treadmarks all over that course.) Red Lotus tends to eat through tires, but when we tried a new double-tire strategy, we had to cut the body to pieces in order to make more clearance for the wheels (and to use JakeNStein’s/Mr. Fusion’s batteries, but that’s a whole different story.) When we returned from Motor City, there was quite a lot of bodywork to do…

I started off by reconnecting the hood and the doors to the rear with a few screws and strips of aluminum siding. Then paint happened, because why not. After removing the old stencil work with Goof-Off (I had originally tried to paint over the old numbers, but they bled right through my paint), I sprayed on a thin coat of red with a heavy focus on clearing scuffs.

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Once that was dry, I had a field day with some old Testor’s enamel. The door numbers didn’t turn out quite as well as I was hoping for, but painting out the license plate and Makerspace logo made my day instead. Note: silver enamel bleeds through everything you throw at it. It’s best to not fuss about it and just let it do what it wants.

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Then I made a nice thing on the hood with acrylic. I was originally going to try using enamel, but that’s a level I have yet to obtain. The work kept scratching off, so I put a good 3-4 extra coats of sealant on it.

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Along with a fantastic new disc hub which was hand-machined by Tom, Tom, Tony, and a few other great guys (oh, and a mountain of 99 cent tires that hold up much better than anyone could have expected), the whole upgrade ended up quite fierce, I believe. 

The space went out to compete in the Fort Wayne Makerfaire soon after and we had a marvelous time. Got a bit scraped up, but I ain’t even mad. I think it gives the car more character that way. IMG_20130915_153648

After Indiana, we shipped out Red and JakeNStein out to New York for FINALS. However, there were a few fixes we needed to perform beforehand. We took home Red’s bent up left steering knuckle to straighten out and reinforce. Thanks to Dan, Joe, Tony, and Matt for helping me get that done in such a small time frame!

Once we were all fixed up and ready to race, Red Lotus did much better than anticipated. Along with Jake’s 3 silvers in the 25 lap heats and Endurance race, Red Lotus got a silver, a 4th, and a 6th in the 25 lap races, and  another 4th in the enduro. Red even won the Exhibition/for funzies race! All in all, I think we had a marvelous season, and I’m really happy and grateful for all the friends I’ve made and all the wonderful help I’ve received and all the cool stuff I learned. And of course, for the spectacular Milwaukee Makerspace for being the coolest pack of people ever.

Even though I’m sad the season is over, there’s still plenty to do in the off season. One thing is getting a more hefty pair of steering rods in place and putting in some stronger reinforcement for the steering knuckles. The amount of times I’ve had to pit this season from not being able to turn in a particular direction is just too darn high. Another top priority is getting a second motor onto the left rear wheel so the power is a bit more evenly distributed. However, that may make me too light to drive it without continuously drifting, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…