QWERTY (and nothing else)

QWERTY Keyboard

I built a QWERTY keyboard that types the letters Q, W, E, R, T and Y, and nothing else. No space, no return, no escape.

It’s a fully-functional USB device, you know, as long as you just want to type words that can be composed with Q, W, E, R, T and Y. (WET, WRY, YET, TRY, there’s a bunch of them!)

I wrote plenty more about this project on my blog, and if you want to read about the history of the QWERTY layout, and its connection to Milwaukee, and why the way we interact with technology is interesting and sometime ridiculous, well… I got that too.

Happy Shiny Bolts

Bolts

When you buy a bolt, it doesn’t typically have a nice flat head on it. It’s got a bunch of markings, and usually some sort of part number, or something. Here’s a bolt I found on eBay. Look at all those numbers and letters!

Bolt Close-up

Here’s a close-up I shot of a bolt head. What does it all mean? Well, Brant told me that the manufacturers add these markings to help prevent counterfeit parts. He even mentioned that years ago a building was built with some knock-off fasteners and it collapsed causing terrible damage. Terrible!

Well, I brought a bolt to the makerspace because I wanted it to have a nice smooth and shiny top. Bill**2 was kind enough to show me the new metal buffing area, which has a nice belt sander (which we used to remove the lettering) and 6 (yes, six!) buffing wheels of various grit. I used all six to give my bolt a nice clean shine.

Shiny Bolt

Here’s my bolt after removing the letters and buffing it up. I probably could have done a bit more, but this was still a hundred times better than before I started. And yes, it is hooked up to an AT42QT1010 Capacitive Touch Breakout Board and a Teensy.

Square(ish) Pegs

Laser-Cut Pegs

Often laser cut parts gt attached at 90 degree angles, using finger joints, or screws and t-slots, but there may be times when you want to stack pieces of wood and have them aligned…

Pegs might be the answer!

Here’s a few photos of the pegs I’ve been experimenting with. For these pieces I don’t have a lot of room to have multiple pegs at opposing angles, but I can see where that might be useful. For these pieces the peg is really just for assembly alignment when gluing it all together.

Laser-Cut Pegs

Sense 3D Scanner

STL Tissue Box

Let’s say you want to 3D print a scale model of that box of tissues on your coffee table because you want to commemorate being sick last week. You can do that. We can do that. Yes, Milwaukee Makerspace can now scan 3D objects, thanks to our friends at 3D Systems who sent us this lovely Sense 3D Scanner.

Scan Selection

When you launch the software, it will ask if you want to scan a person, or an object. (I would have scanned a person for the first test, but everyone was sleeping at 6am.)

Scan Selection

If you choose object, it will then ask you what size the object is. I chose ‘Small Object’ for the tissue box.

Scanning

When the scanner sees the object it will highlight it. You can then click the start button to start scanning. I ended up holding the scanner and my laptop in my hands and walking around the table looking at the screen, trying to keep the object centered.

Scanning

Here’s our object being scanned. It takes a little bit of practice to walk around with the scanner and laptop. Whenever I’ve seen people get scanned (their heads anyway) they usually sit in a swivel chair and spin while the scanner stays stationary. We may want to try building a turn-table for small objects.

Lost Tracking

If the tracking gets lost, you need to try to realign things… or start over. It doesn’t take very long to do a scan, so starting over isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The Tissue Box Scanned!

Here’s our scan! We now have a 3D model of a tissue box. Exciting!

Cleaning it up

You may need to do a bit of editing. The most important thing is to ‘solidify’ the model. It needs to be ‘water-tight’ or manifold before you can 3D print it. Solidify fills in the holes.

Cleaning it up

You can also erase things. The erase tools lets you draw around things with a red line, which it will then delete.

Enhancing it

There are a few enhancements you can perform if needed… otherwise, it’s time to save it!

Saving it

The files are saved as ‘Polygon File Format’, with a ‘.ply’ extension. Typically I use STL files, so we’ll convert to that next.

MeshLab

MeshLab can easily import a PLY file and export it as an STL.

Resizing

I like to use Pleasant 3D to view and resize STL models. (It’s Mac OS X only, but there are options for other operating systems.)

Resizing

After making our model a bit more reasonably sized, it’s ready to print! Who wants a hard plastic tissue to blow their nose with!?

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!)