Casting Furnace Update

Despite summer vacation and other obligations, work continues to progress on the Casting Furnace.  In the past few weeks Bret has pinched the end of a metal brake line tube used to feed the furnace diesel fuel and installed a needle valve to better control the fuel flow rate.

Brant has been milling and machining parts for a mechanism that will both lift the lid and turn it out of the way when someone steps on a foot pedal.  The next steps will be to finish the foot pedal, weld it to the rig, and secure the lid to the top of of the lifting post.  Bret also plans to improve the casting tongs so they are more easy to use.

For more information, see the project wiki page: http://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/projects/casting_furnace

Thursday Night Time Lapse

A time lapse video complied from the Milwaukee Makerspace CCTV system. 7 hours of video compressed into 4 minutes. All events took place between 4:30 and 11:30 PM Thursday, September 29, 2011.

Activities include:
- Rich welding
- Chris and Rich working on their electric cars
- Chris driving his electric car in and out of the shop
- Tom, Adam, and Royce working in Diptrace
- Bret, Rich, Royce, and Adam blacksmithing items with the forge
- Various people working on misc. projects and chatting
- Royce, Brant, and Adam etching and tin-plating circuit boards
- Pete working on his Makerbot 3D printer

Ridiculously Large Jacks

On June 18th, Milwaukee Makerspace participated in The Great Milwaukee Race as a challenge sponsor.

Great Milwaukee Race 2011 - Ridiculously Large Jacks

The Great Milwaukee Race is a scavenger hunt/series of challenges across downtown Milwaukee that was started in 2010 by Fit Milwaukee and friends.  This year’s event was put on by Fit Milwaukee, AJ Bombers and Performance Running Outfitters.  In 2010, 50 teams of 2-4 racers competed in the inaugural race. This year 75 teams raced throughout downtown Milwaukee and along the lakefront to find all 10 of the challenge locations and get their passports stamped.

The post i made a couple weeks ago (I’m welding! I’m a welder now!) about my Ridiculously Large Jacks was a preview of the challenge that we would run at the race.  After the initial batch of jacks was finished, Sean, Kevin, Adam and David helped me fine tune the game a bit in our hangar before the event itself.

Shane helped me run the event on race day and it worked like this:

  • Team would decode the clue to our location and decide on when they should come to our station.
  • When they showed up, they had to nominate two players.
  • One player was the bouncer and was in charge of bouncing and catching a kickball.
  • The other player (the grabber) donned a pair of gardening gloves and had to pick up the jacks.
  • On the first bounce, the grabber would have to pick up and hold onto one jack before the bouncer caught the ball.
  • On the second bounce, the grabber would have to pick up 2 more jacks while holding onto the previous jacks.
  • Repeat for 3 and 4 jacks.

The game only took a couple of minutes when done correctly, but some teams were faster than others. We also saw a variety of techniques.  Some grabbers would try to stash the nearly 12″ diameter jacks under their arms.  Some folks spread the jacks out between their hands and used them like claws to scoop up the remaining jacks.  One women even stashed the jacks in her running shorts, but they were a bit heavier than she bargained for.

We were stationed at the underpass at water and pearson, across from Trocadero.  After watching what was happening for a while, the Trocadero bartenders popped out to see what was happening up close.  We invited them to play a game and they did pretty well!  Another couple came by to watch and started laughing at the silliness they saw so we invited them to play as well.  They had a few close calls with some wild bounces, but took care of the round with only a couple of do-overs.  They looked pretty happy by the end of the game.

Great Milwaukee Race 2011 - Ridiculously Large Jacks

We heard really good feedback from racers and the organizers of the event.  The game was odd enough to give people pause before they jumped in, but easy enough that it could be completed in a couple of minutes.  The fun we had with this has led us to discuss making some more oversized games to bring to parks in the area. Stay tuned for more info on this front.

Thanks again to Fit Milwaukee and the other Great Milwaukee Race organizers for letting us be a part of this event and thanks to the racers for being such good sports!

I’m welding! I’m a welder now!

Well, ok, i’m a pretty poor welder, but i’m only making oversized jacks, not bridges, so i’ll take it.

I am making an oversized game of Jacks.  Originally i thought i could use some steel rods, someone suggested tire irons and i picked up a 3/8″ threaded rod (Home Depot trip #1) to try out.  After i talked with Tom and Rich a bit they suggested that i use Carriage Bolts instead of a bare rod.  This looked great because the carriage bolts have a nice rounded end that help make the object really look like a jack.  Ok, materials were set, so i ran to Home Depot (trip #2) with Matt G.
 

After returning with a set of 6 bolts to try things out with, Tom came up with a nice jig for me to use with slots for the 4 bars and a vertical hole so i could stand the bolts up.  We dug through the scrap wood box and found a good piece and a few minutes after i plugged in the table saw, i had the channels cut out.  Next up was the center hole.  Rich gave me a quick tour of the drill press and we found a good hole saw to use and then my jig was complete.
 

Now onto the welding!  Rich set me up with our MIG welder, which is pretty much as simple as it gets.  Lay out and secure the pieces, put the clamp on one end, point and pull the trigger.  We quickly had our first jack.  At this point in my career as a welder, i am a firm proponent of the “More Weld” school of structural engineering. I know some of the academics in their ivory towers may frown on this, but I’m ok with that.
 

Jack and Jig
 
With the proof of concept ready, i headed back to Home Depot (trip #3) to get a couple boxes of bolts.  After returning to the space, i cranked out 8 more jacks, low-efficiency assembly line style.
 

We had some fun tossing them around the space.  They make a great sound when you roll out a pile of them and look great bouncing off the cement after being flung 15 feet in the air.  The other folks at the space had a good laugh at my ridiculous build.
 

We’re going to have a test game with the jacks at the space on Tuesday.  I’m not entirely sure how many of these things someone can pick up quickly, but we’ll find out soon.  Why am I building an oversized game of jacks?  Well, that’s a bit of a secret for now.  :)
 
Jacks and Feet for Scale