Spindles of Wood

“Spindles of Wood” is not the name of the latest album from some obscure Icelandic emo band! Instead they are actually the front wheel spindles for our No-weld PPPRS vehicle. (You probably remember the frame from last time.)

While most teams in the Power Racing Series just buy pre-made spindles and weld them in place, our “No-weld” spindles were built using wood, glue some staples/screws, and use some 5/8″ bolts to attach to the car, and for the wheels to attach to.

We’ve still got to get the whole steering thing worked out, but we’re on our way! (Things are moving a bit slower than we had hoped, so we might debut this thing at Detroit in July instead of Kansas City in June, but we’ll see how it goes.)

Because 3D Printing…

3D Lock

Sometimes you see amusing things at the space. Take for instance, this lock on the bathroom stall. The black piece is actually 3D printed. Yes, someone took the time to measure, and model, and 3D print a rectangular bar to fix the bathroom stall door lock.

Never mind that a piece of wood, or plastic, or metal could have probably done the job in much less time, sometimes you just need to 3D print a replacement part for a bathroom stall door and you bust out the 3D printer and in a matter of hours you’ve got the part you need!

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.