Vintage Inspired Radio

Who doesn’t love the look of an old radio.  Something is lost on modern Bluetooth speakers.  For the last 5 weeks we have been designing Vintage Inspired Radio’s in Model Monday.  This is one of our longest projects and I had a lot of fun with it.  The basic premise of the design is a frame built from kerf cut plywood.  This was the first time I tried using a kerf cutting calculator online and I will never go back to winging it ever again.

The other focus of the design was powering the “radio” with a Milwaukee Tool battery.  It seamed natural to use a battery we have so much of at the makerspace.  Making the triangular peg fit into round hole was the main design challenge there.  A problem that was easily solved by using the attach canvas function.  You can watch that class and all the rest on YouTube.

Fun With Fractals

Over the past few months I have been playing with 3D fractals to create slip cast pottery.  I found a free program called Mandelbulber 3D and you know me, If it’s free I’ll take 3.  It’s shocking to me the availability of free software like this.  Right now I am just scraping the surface on what the software can do but I have a few examples of shapes made in the software posted on Thingiverse.

Creating the fractals with the Mandelbulber is fairly straight forward.  Just experiment with varying a few values and click render.  The hard part is getting the shape to be cast-able with out having to make a 27 part mold.  A few weeks ago I pulled the first cast from my first successful mold.  This is part fractal and part Fusion.  The foot of the cup is part of the fractal pattern and the body of the cup is a shape designed in Fusion 360.  Although the final product warped in the kiln I think it was a good proof of concept.

After the shape is created digitally you have to make it physical.  My go to method is usually my 3D printer.  The constraints that make a part easy to 3d print without supports are similar to the  constraints that make a part easy to remove from a mold.  To make the slip cast mold I don’t print the cup but a plastic mold of the cup, there are two reasons for this.  First if you are going to make lots of slip casts you are going to need more than one mold.  Because of the time it takes to cast each cup you will need to pour several mold each day.  Second with a hard plastic mold you can make a soft silicone part.  This saves me from making a large silicone Mother Mold of my 3D printed mold.  My Mother Mold is half of the 3D printed mold with the full silicone cast part inside.  It’s worth noting that there is 15-18 percent of shrinkage from pour to final firing so you will need to scale up your prints to an almost comical size. 

(photo coming soon)…

On a side note I did some experimenting is soaking silicone parts in IPA to expand them.  This is a fun exercise if you have never done it.  To expand a part just place it in a container of IPA for several hours.  I let one part sit over night and go about the amount of growth I was looking for to but the part shrinks down slowly when removed from the IPA and the growth amount is not very predictable.  Below you can see an example of how much larger the part grew and the final fired piece from this process.

I am in the process of printing my molds right now so tonight at the open meeting I might have printed molds to show.  I also have other shapes to pass around.


Cerveza and Ceramics

Every Wednesday at for the past few months Jeff has been hosting “Cervesia and Ceramics”.  It’s an evening playing with clay fueled by the power of beer.  Over the past few months I have seen Jeff do wheel throwing classes, hand building seminars, and general clay based standup comedy (mostly while sitting at a wheel). 

Every week members stop by just to hang out a chat or to join us for a beer.  Some of those on lookers even get talked into getting their hands full of clay.  If you have never picked up a lump of clay ask Tom Klein about his experience a couple weeks ago when Jeff peer pressured him into sitting down at a wheel for the first time.  

Stop in tomorrow or any Wednesday.  The Milwaukee Makerspace is by far the best ceramics studio in the Milaukee area also the most affordable.

Modeling a Throwing Gauge

If you have ever tried to make the same size and shape pot on a wheel you know it is not easy.  That is where a tool like this comes in handy.  This tool sits on the back of the wheel and is adjusted to point that the top of a pot.  Then you flip the point out of the way, remove your pot, and throw the next one to that point.  

Because I teach a weekly class in Fusion 360 I decided to make it a learning opportunity for everyone.  Also I’m the instructor and the rest of you have to do what I want.  In the series of classes we talked about how I use Fusion 360 to make my dxf files that I use on our laser cutters at the Makerspace.  You can watch the whole series on my YouTube channel for those tips and lots of Fusion 360 knowledge.

Useless Machine Project

My favorite maker projects are the ones with no practical applications.  The projects that are a means to learn something new or mash two unrelated disciplines together.   Where the purpose of the project is to make the project.  Making is the purpose.  This is one of those classic maker projects.

Many of you may have seen a box like this before.  Maybe you have seen the black acrylic version made by Pete at the Lenox building.  I have always found them interesting and had them on my list of things to make for a while.  Because I like to force other people to do what I think is fun we spend 3 weeks of Model Monday designing one.  It turned out to be a great beginner Fusion 360 project.  We started by making the box in the first class and talking a bit about creating a drawing that could be printed and taken into the wood shop.  By the 3rd class we were creating joints to test out the motion of the arm that pops up of of the box when the switch is flapped.  If you new to Fusion 360 this would be a great way to learn a few things.  Watch the 3 part series on my YouTube channel.