Lighting Control Upgrade!

IMAG3517In an effort to make the lighting control system more user-friendly, the original board-mounted switches have been replaced with a laser-cut zone map! Instead of looking up which zone number corresponds to a particular bank of lights, each location is now identified by a green LED pushbutton.  You can read more about the lighting control system and how it’s been evolving on our wiki: http://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/projects/mmlc

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.)

Featured on Hackaday

Hackaday

The fine folks at Hackaday stopped by for a tour recently, and they made this fine video so you to can see the awesome power that is Milwaukee Makerspace all the way across the Internet-Tubes in your own home or workplace.

And if you’re in town for a visit and want to see the place, Tuesday or Thursday night at 7pm is a great time to stop by. (Those are the “open” nights.) Otherwise, hit up the mailing list and find a member who might be available some other time, like the weekend, or Wednesday at 2:45am. Or something like that.

(And yes, we do have a giant robot arm capable of crushing innocent metal chairs.)

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

image (1)

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.

image (3) image (5)

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

 

Robbie is safely enclosed!

Finished room!

Whew.  This project was a D-O-O-O-ZY!  We needed to enclose our giant industrial arm so he can’t run away and join the robot circus…

Well…maybe not for THAT reason, but when we start cutting stuff with this robot, we need to keep spectators out of his reach and make sure that if a cutting bit does break, it doesn’t go flying out into the shop and maim someone.

This entire project was the work of several people and really shows why the Milwaukee Makerspace is a great place to build stuff/hang out with friends/play with power tools, etc…

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Step 1: Design it!  I used Solidworks and modeled each and every piece of wood that went into this project.

SW screen capture

Step 2: get the wood!  We made multiple trips to Home Depot, which thankfully is only 5 minutes away and we had great weather during the whole building process.  I love having a truck!  Fortune also shined upon me, as we had a new member join up right before I started this project, Jake R., and his help in building the wall was immeasurable.

Get the wood!

Step 3: Bolt the wood to the floor so we know where to put the wall, and then build some framing!

  4 - put in windows

Step 4: Put in the windows, drywall paneling and metal wainscoting.  We were very lucky to get seven pieces of slightly-smoked Lexan from one of our members, Jason H.  We also cut small holes in the ceiling tiles and ran 4 braces up to the metal ceiling trusses above.  This enclosure is ROCK-solid stable!  Thanks to Tony W. and Jim R. for helping with that!

When I went to Home Depot, I thought my truck could handle a 48″x 120″ sheet of drywall.  Not so much… one of their employees helped me split 10 sheets of drywall in half, in the parking lot…so I would later find out that I did not have drywall tall enough for the wall corner.  Hence the need for more “framing” so I could use smaller pieces.

10 - outer framing

The large cabinet that powers the robot arm is right next to the enclosure; I placed it outside to keep it away from foam & wood shavings.  However, we will need to have the programming pendant next to the machine every now and then….hence the need for 2 small pass-thru doors next to the cabinet.

6 - hole for mini-door

11 - outer door installed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used doweling to help hold the door frame components together…..probably not needed, but it ensures a STRONG door!

16 - drilling door frames  15 - door framing 1

Again, hooooray for the Makerspace and all its tools! We have several LONG pipe clamps that came in VERY handy for gluing the door frame pieces together.

17 - frame glued up - 1

Here’s the outside of the enclosure.  The big metal control cabinet will go right here, hence the framed “mouse hole” in the lower right corner so we can pass the cables through from the cabinet to the robot arm.

13 - outer door and mouse hole

The same area viewed from inside the enclosure.

14 - inner door and mouse hole

Here’s the ginormous sliding door.  It’s mounted on a barn-door track-rail and supported on the bottom by two custom-made wheel brackets.

23 - finished door on track

Here’s how I made the wheel brackets.  I got two lawnmower-style wheels and bearings from Tom G., then Tom K. enlarged the center holes on the wheels on his Bridgeport mill so I could use bearings for smoother action.

18 - wheels in slot - 1

I figured on four carriage bolts for a super-strong connection to the door frame.

19 - wheel assembly done

This is the track and wheel bogies that hold the sliding door to the wall.

22 - wheels and track

Bolting the brackets onto the door was “fun”…I forgot that the very bottom of the door framing is two horizontal pieces, so the very bottom bolt had to go.  ’DOH!

21 - inside door frame 1

Here’s the final, assembled view.  You can see the robot’s control cabinet in the lower right corner.

Now that the fabrication is complete, we’re working on decorative ideas for all that blank-looking drywall.

24 - finished room!

Whenever I look at this finished project it feels like to took several months to get it up, even though construction only lasted about 2-1/2 weeks.

Thanks to Jake R., Tom G., Tom K., Tony W., Jim R., and Bill W. for their assistance with this project!

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.