Dynamic Sculpture – Update 2

The first update can be found here.

The dynamic sculpture is affectionately called “Douglas” till we come up with a better name. Lance, Chris, and I have been working on different pieces of the project concurrently.

Chris has been designing the slave controller PCB. Each PCB will have a PIC micro controller, which will drive (2) stepper motor through a ULN2803 chip. The PIC controllers will communicate to a  chipKIT™ WiFire over SPI. The WiFire has built in SD Card and WiFi. Since Douglas will be hung in an atrium, this allows us to send new animations wirelessly to a SD Card.

Lance has been working on the PIC firmware and the communication protocol. The firmware interprets the “G-Code” like commands and drives each stepper at the specified acceleration and velocity.

I have been designing the motor mount and frame in Inventor. A few pics below.

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The bent acrylic mount will be mounted on aluminum extrusions. The limit switch has been integrated into the mount as well. I built the first prototype a couple of days ago.

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Next, I will create a bending jig to replicate the mount accurately. Additionally, we will be doing some measurements to figure out power consumption. Currently, it looks like we will need two dedicated 120V, 20 amps circuits. We would like to do some real world combined power consumption tests to see if we can lower that requirement.

MegaMax is Too Noisy

As part of my effort to reduce the noise and vibration in the Y axis, I am going to try using a screw drive instead of the 5mm pitch belt.  I rescued a screw drive assembly from a big XY table but it uses a 200W servomotor for which I have neither power supply nor drive electronics.  Never fear!  The motor was a NEMA-34 size, so I designed an adapter to mount the NEMA-23 stepper that MegaMax uses in the NEMA-34 motor mount.  Next I needed a shaft coupler- the screw has a 9mm diameter attachment and the NEMA-23 motor has a 1/4″ shaft.

Adapter plate on NEMA-23 motor

Adapter plate on NEMA-23 motor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used DesignSpark Mechanical to design the motor mount adapter and  flexible shaft coupler.  I uploaded the motor adapter to Thingiverse (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:526424) and it proved surprisingly popular so I designed another that adapts a NEMA-23 mount for a NEMA-17 motor (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:526443).  I had to make two attempts at the flexible shaft coupler- the first design proved a little too springy and flexible, so I tried again with a more beefy design.  It turns out it is pretty easy to design this sort of thing in DSM.  I probably spent 30 minutes on the first one and about 10 minutes on the second one.

I sliced in Cura because Slic3r was having some problems.  The prints look a little rough because of all the support material required to print the springs, but they work fine.

Flexible shaft couplers

Flexible shaft couplers- not-so-springy and super-springy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adapter and shaft coupler on motor

Adapter and shaft coupler on motor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motor mounted on screw assembly

Motor mounted on screw assembly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll post an update when I get the screw mounted on the machine.

 

 

Video Wall of Terror

This weekend, I helped decorate for a Halloween Party at my sister’s house. There’s an odd hallway that connects their main large public room to the rest of the house. It’s used for storage, and has shelves on both sides.

This year, I decided to decorate that area by creating a video wall effect. Something like a Television Control Room of Terror!

To start with, I simply filmed my brother-in-law with a video camera – only from WAY TOO CLOSE! I shot macro video of his eye and mouth. Then I edited the footage to create a custom looping DVD.

In the hallway, I set up multiple monitors. These are old monochrome standard definition monitors that were on their way to the recycling center. They were professional monitors, which means that they can pass a video signal through from one monitor to another, making it easy to daisy chain several monitors.

Next to the monitors, I set up three DVD players (including one car DVD player – hey I use what I got!) to play the three different custom DVDs – Right Eye, Left Eye, and Mouth. Each of the three videos is a different length, so they will continue to drift out of sync. That way, as they loop, the visuals are a continuingly changing experience through the whole evening.

Above the monitors, I set up a video camera on a tripod and fed it to some of the monitors. That way, when party-goers look at the monitor, they also see themselves. Having feedback on some of the monitors adds a sense of interactivity to the project.

After the monitors and DVD players were all set up, I covered the rest of the shelving with black paper. In a dark hallway, lit only be black lights, it’s a great effect of creepy images floating in the hall.

If you want more details on this project, I made a full step-by-step write-up on Instructables.

Be careful what you ask for!

Zamboni 6 photo

Several months ago, a humorous request went out for a Zamboni that could be used on the Nerdy Derby track.

Last year the Milwaukee Makerspace held a Maker Fest and a Nerdy Derby track was made for the occasion. The design allowed the track to be disassembled in 4 foot long sections.

When the track was reassembled, earlier this year, for the South Side Chicago Maker Faire, it was found that the joints did not match up as well as when it was first put together. Small ledges, that went up and down, would cause the cars to bounce off the track or hit the bottom of the car. Both of these scenarios prevented the cars from traveling freely down the track.

As many of you know, we just had a GREAT Maker Faire here in Milwaukee last month and the Nerdy Derby track was needed again!

We produced, and ran, over 1000 Nerdy Derby cars over the 2 day event. Wow!

Zamboni 10 photo

A month or so before the event I started working on an idea for a Zamboni type of device. My first thought was of a custom contoured planer that could be used at each joint to smooth them out. This idea seemed like too much work so I proceeded forward with my second design. This consisted of a simple sled hat used a drum sander, which smoothed out the high spots. Wood putty was then used to fill in any low spots.

 

Bay View Boo!

I’ve lived in Bay View for the past 9 years and I have always loved trick-or-treating night here in the neighborhood (despite the fact that it isn’t actually on halloween!).  After I got some good photos of great costumes last year, I wanted to run a photo booth in front of the house on trick-or-treating night.  Add some procrastination, python and a couple of arduinos to a good idea and voila: Bay View Boo! was born!

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I started by building a shelf to hold the photo booth (and double for an extra shelf in the garage for the other 364 days of the year).  On the shelf, I set up an HDMI monitor, driven by my laptop and a logitech webcam for the camera.  The electronics were simple: I had an orange sanwa arcade button attached to an arduino to trigger the photo to be taken and another Arduino connected to a thermal printer from Adafruit to print out a link to the photo.  On the computer, i had a Processing sketch to drive the display, perform the countdown when the button was pressed and send the filename to the printer.  I also ran a little python app that pushed the images to Google Cloud Storage.  An AppEngine app displayed the photos.  I was in a bit of a rush to finish Saturday as I spent half the afternoon at Fantasticon and in my haste I forgot to add page navigation links to the front page.  Oops!  Ah well.  I had the site updated after i tore everything down for the night.  I had one trick or treater ask me if I had “like a Raspberry Pi in there or something” and I said, “Nope, but i have a couple of Arduinos!”.  “Cool”.  Cool, indeed.

None of the individual pieces of the project were very difficult and it all came together pretty nicely.  The most gratifying part of the night was hearing from people that they had heard from other people to come over and get their photos taken.  Word spreads quickly in Bay View!  I’ll be posting all the code to a github repo shortly and I’ll update this post with the link when I’ve done that.

For next year, I plan on making a couple of changes.  First, I want to have a nicer enclosure for the photo booth and something more permanent to mount the button and printer in than the white cardboard box i cut holes in with an X-ACTO knife.  The second thing I want to do is make some interchangeable front pieces for the booth.  I could use this for lots of events and it would be great to be able to bolt on something that was more thematically appropriate than a painter’s drop cloth with holes cut in it and secured by shiny duct tape!  Ah well, it got the job done and after a while it was dark enough that no one could see my shoddy craftsmanship!  That brings me to my final change for next year: lighting. I had one 250W light ready for when it got dark and it basically sucked.  To everyone who showed up in awesome costumes once it was dark: I’m sorry.  I’ll have better lights next year so everyone can get a great looking photo, even if you don’t come out before the sun goes down!

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Here are a few of my favorite photos from the booth.  I hope everyone who stopped by had a good time and enjoyed your photo!  I’ll see you again next year!  In the mantime, head over to Bay View Boo! to browse all the photos from the evening!

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An etched copper presentation certificate

Five years ago, a dear friend designed the logo for my business, which I subsequently protected with a service mark. Although I paid her for her work I wanted to say thank you with more than just money.

Having an interest in decorative etching (among other steampunk pretensions), I decided to etch the service mark from the patent office into a 9 x 12 sheet of solid copper. After trying to transfer etch resist to the plate a number of ways (transparency and newsprint and a hot iron didn’t give sufficient quality), I finally hit on success after BrantH suggested I spray paint it, and remove the paint with the laser cutter. Here’s the process from start to end.

Continue reading

Dynamic Sculpture – Update 1

I am collaborating with the Betty Brinn Children’s museum to create something similar to this.

This sculpture has 844 balls hanging from strings wound around a pulley on a DC motor shaft. Ours will feature somewhere between 320 to 500 balls. I am currently working on a prototype to test and qualify different electronic and control platforms. It’s made out of 40mm x 40mm aluminum extrusion, laser cut wood motor mounts, 5V steppers, and ULN2003 based stepper drivers. I have been using an Arduino mega for now to test the motor and drivers.

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The next step is to write software to create “voxels” with instructions akin to G-code. Additional software will be necessary to simulate the animation. G-code like instructions will be used by microcontrollers to control steppers in order to create an animation.

Baby Burrito… Gone!

Baby Burrito Gone!

There’s no denying we had fun at Maker Faire Milwaukee, but we did have one sour note during the weekend… Our oldest still functional Power Racing Series car disappeared!

We hauled Baby Burrito to the fairgrounds to tool around on during the event, and race it if needed. Tom managed to get a flat tire (!?) and left it somewhere (!?) and the next day when he went back to get it, it was gone. (!?!?!)

Baby Burrito Gone!

Be on the lookout for this slow moving vehicle. Also, it has no brakes, though you can “fire the retro-rockets” to stop it, which involves hitting the reverse button quickly to stop the forward motion.

Baby Burrito Gone!

If you know the whereabouts of Baby Burrito, please let us know. We aren’t out to prosecute anyone, we just want our silly car back.

You may remember it from such events as the South Shore Frolics 2014 parade. (Though you won’t see it in the video, because I was driving it and had the camera on my helmet!)

Maker Faire Milwaukee Recap

If you haven’t heard, we co-hosted the Maker Faire Milwaukee last weekend. Over 26,000 people attended the inaugural event at the Expostition Hall at State Fair Park! Here’s a few highlights from the event.

Karen with her spinning wheel

Karen with her spinning wheel

test

Tesla Coils

UFO

UFO

B9 Robot

B9 Robot

Harem's Race Car

Hiram’s Race Car

Nerdy Derby

Nerdy Derby

Megamax 3D printer and it's proud Dad

MegaMax 3D printer and its proud Dad

Ben Nelson's Electric Motorcycle

Ben Nelson’s Electric Motorcycle

Nerdy Derby Construction Area

Nerdy Derby Construction Area

Milwaukee Makerspace Booth

Milwaukee Makerspace Booth

Brant's scale model of the Milwaukee Makerspace!

Brant’s scale model of the Milwaukee Makerspace!