No welding? No PPPRoblemS!

If you’re not familiar with the Power Racing Series, it’s a challenge to build and race an electric vehicle. You start with a Power Wheels car and transform it into a powerful machine that can transport a human, and oh yeah, you have a budget of only $500. (Pictured above is a car made by some 15 year old kids a few years ago for Maker Faire Detroit!)

You can find super-cheap (and even free) used Power Wheels cars on craigslist, and usually the batteries are dead and there’s no charger, which doesn’t matter, because we replace all that with more powerful motors, batteries, motor controllers, brakes, etc.

One of the goals of the series has been to get high school age kids involved, but some of the skills needed to build a car may be out of reach of your local high school, such as working with metal. Welding equipment may not be available, and mentors may not have metalworking skills, so we wanted to develop a reference vehicle that uses no welding. We chose to mainly work with wood for our build, but check out the “no-weld car” wiki page for some other builds…

Here’s the start of our frame. It’s all wood, glue, and screws. We’ve utilized a torsion box design for strength. So far we’ve only used a saw, drill, and some clamps. No specialty tools that are out of the reach of your common workshop. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re going to try to make this car super-cheap, and easy to build, so that many teams (of kids and/or adults) could easily build it. As members of a makerspace, we may tend to forget that not everyone has access to the tools and skills we do.

We’re also working on front wheel spindles build using wood and bolts. Yes, you can buy metal spindles for cheap, but a lot of what we are doing is experimenting with materials and geometry, which should provide some valuable lessons along the way, and it should be cheap/easy to modify things, try-test-try again, and see what the outcome is.

You can check out more about this project on the Milwaukee Makerspace wiki. We’ll do our best to add updates as we go. Hopefully this thing will be ready to race in June at Maker Faire Kansas City!

Beginner Arduino Class

Arduino UNO

For the last two semesters I taught college students how to use Arduinos to make art, which was a lot of fun. The class was 2.5 hours long, twice a week for 15 weeks. I wanted to compress much of the basics into a Beginner Arduino Class for the space, and we (mostly) did it.

The class ran for 4 hours, and covered about a dozen examples using various components to get through the concepts of digital input, digital output, analog input, analog output, and covered the Arduino software a bit and the Arduino world, including some example projects for inspiration.

Arduino UNO

I did limit the class to six students, and I supplied all needed parts. All the student had to bring was a computer with the software installed and a free USB port. I wanted everyone to have all the same parts so we could avoid things not working due to different components, which I’ve faced in the past. Overall, I was pleased with the outcome, though we did run out of time. I may have to alter things next time, or just put time limits on certain parts of the class.

I’ll aim for the next class to happen in February, and once enough people get through the Beginner Class I’ll work on an Intermediate Class. If you’re interested in taking the class, add your name to the “Interested Members” list at the bottom of the wiki page.

Nation of Makers

It’s really happening!  For years Makerspaces, Hackerspaces, and crazy shop collectives have been springing up all across the globe.  Headless community organizations of people that like to create.  Now thanks to the initiatives began by the Obama administration we have an organization decided to bringing us all together as one power maker force.  

This year saw the first Maker Faire at the White House and Governors Maker Challenge.  Our humble makerspace also participated in the Nation of Makers Meeting this summer.  170 maker spaces were invited to the White House for a meeting put on by the Office’s of Science and Technology Policy.  This was the beginning of what would become the Nation of Makers.

On their website you can read all about the mission and how you can be an advocate and help spread the maker spirit.

 

Nation of Makers

CNC Water Drop

A few weeks ago while teaching Model Monday’s Fusion 360 class I stumbled on how to make a water drop form.  I have been working on a couch in my countless spare time and thought it would be a great time to try cutting it on the 4×8.  700,000 lines of G-Code and 10 hours of machine time later here it is.  Im not sure you could call it a cup holder, more of a cup suggestion.  The rest of the couch will fallow.