Outbreak of bad weather today in Rome. Took the following video outside the makerspace at 4th and Broad.
I backed the FlipBooKit project on Kickstarter.
My kit showed up last week and I had a chance this evening to assemble it. I thought everyone would enjoy seeing it in action.
What’s a FlipBooKit? Here’s an excerpt from the Kickstarter campaign that explains what they are and where the inspiration came from. The video of mine is below.
“Flipbookit.net is from kinetic artists, Mark Rosen and Wendy Marvel. They create moving art that tells stories and tickles our sense of nostalgia. In late 2011, their series of motorized flipbooks based on the motion studies of Edweard Muybridge began touring with galleries, art shows and at special events internationally. MAKE magazine is featuring the artists in their January issue and a few of the boxes were on display at Maker Fair 2012 (you can see the original flipbooks at http://www.mechanicalflipbook.com).”
to know people is wisdom,
but to know yourself is enlightenment.
to master people takes force,
but to master yourself takes strength.
to know contentment is wealth,
and to live with strength resolve.
to never leave whatever you are is to abide,
and to die without getting lost-
that is to live on and on.
Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)
OK, who says marketing has to be all about Myfacing and Tweetering on the Interweb these days?
Well, Steve showed up at our make-night last night. He made this AWESOME plinko board for friend-of-the-space SAI Digital to show off a cool inbound marketing technique at the recent Business Expo event here in Rome. Um, they won best of show. No wonder.
I will try to get him to do a write-up on it, but for now, here’s a pic. It’s Arduino-controlled, has these cool clicky-sounding relays for the lights that give it a great carnival feel, and the woodworking looks like it was done at Yankee Workshop.
Dude, what’s up with the lamp fetish? Two weeks in a row? I know, right!
Here’s the deal. I will be moving into a new apartment after the first of the year. I want to fix it up and make it stylish and comfortable, but the industrial, architectural stuff I like is just too expensive. No self-respecting maker would pay $2,200 for one of these. So, I decided to try and make my own this weekend.
I started at Hobby Lobby. They have these awesome wooden easels for $50. I happened to have a coupon for 40% off on a single item, so I got one for $30. Schweet.
Next, I found an old ugly lamp in the basement and salvaged the hardware.
I picked up a 15-foot lamp cord at Home Depot for $3.50. The longer cord is important because of the height of the lamp. And I grabbed a can of wood stain (the easels come unfinished) for $8. So, total cost for the lamp: $40.
The easels have a nice flat surface at the top. This was perfect for drilling a 1/2″ hole for the socket post.
Wire up the socket.
Install the halo.
I wanted a more distressed look, so before I stained it, I drug a planer across the legs of the easel at random places. This creates nice gouges.
Then I wrapped some bolts, nuts and screws in a rag and beat the crap out of it. This creates dents and dimples that look like genuine wear, and they cause the stain to be absorbed in an uneven way. I also took an awl and scratched the wood in random places, and I created some deeper holes and dents.
Finally, I disassembled the easel parts and made a big mess with my stain.
Here’s the finished product. I’m darn happy with it, especially for $40!
Ethan and I decided to make some steampunk’ish desk lamps out of black pipe this weekend. There are lots of various designs and tutorials out on the web, but we just got ourselves a bunch of parts and assembled things until we found a structure we liked.
The main parts you need to create one of these are pipe lengths (we used 10″ and 3″ sections), elbows (we used 45 and 90 degree ones), flanges (the round, flat base things), lamp sockets, 1/2″ to 3/4″ reducers (for the little feet as an alternative to the flanges), Tee shapes, and some old electrical cord/plugs. Ours was made of 1/2″ parts, but you could move up to 3/4″ for a larger lamp. Depending on your design, you might also find a use for the end caps.
We added the brass water water spout to break thing up, but ended up not liking it. I think we’re going to replace the water spout with something less modern-looking.
Oh, and you need light bulbs of course. Check out these two versions. They are vintage, filament-type bulbs that GE sells and that you can find at most home supply stores. They really help to give your lamps that vintage, industrial and/or steampunk look. Beware, these bulbs put off a lot of heat and get very hot, so you’ll want to be careful about the type of fixture you put them in (see below).
For the bulb covers, we used a couple of those hanging portable lights that are common in auto shops, garages, etc. The ones we used came in bright yellow, but a little black spray paint did the trick. You could re-use the whole thing by re-purposing the bulb socket and cord for your lamp, but we didn’t think about that till it was too late. So, we ended up with a couple of cord and sockets for another project.
Ethan took advantage of this phase to do some “graffiti” in the 7hills kitchen.
“I just wondered how things were put together.”
We often find ourselves needing to make a custom box or enclosure of some type. For example, if we create an electronics gadget, we might need to put it in a housing. A laser cutter is a great tool to produce these boxes, but you still have to deal with laying out a vector drawing with the right dimensions, figuring out how it’s going to be joined together and all that jazz.
So, I found this awesome online tool that allows you to quickly and automatically produce a vector drawing of a box. The box designs it produces have notched edge,making them really easy to assemble after they’re cut.
You put in your dimensions, configure a few settings, click create, and within seconds it hands you back a PDF with all six sides of your box laid out. You can then import the PDF into your favorite vector drawing program (we like Inkscape), and customize it further. For example, you might want to have a cut-out on one side to allow for the USB port to stick through. Or you might want to have holes drilled (cut) in the bottom to line up with the mounting holes of a PCB board. Check out the picture above to see one I made for an Arduino-based music project I was working on.
You can access the tool here. I’ve also put a permanent link to it in the sidebar of this site. Just put in the height, width and depth of your box and the material thickness (e.g. 1/8 inch acrylic would be 0.125). For most projects, you can just hit “Design It” at this point and you’ll be fine. As you get more advanced, you might want to play around with the other options. The setting for notch width comes in handy when you start producing much smaller boxes. For example, I did some dice that were only 1 inch cubed and I had to make the notch-width smaller. Also, if you find that your box fits together too tightly or too loosely after cutting it, you might have to adjust the setting for cut width. For our laser cutter, .007 seems to work well for 1/8 inch acrylic.
To close up your box permanently, what I’ve found that works well is to use a syringe with acetone in it. You lay down a very tiny bead with the needle of the syringe along the inside seams of the box, and it basically “welds” it together by dissolving a little of the acrylic.
That’s about it. Happy box-making.
Over the past few months, I’ve been playing around with using panographic and spherical photography to create interactive, virtual tours. I thought I’d post an overview of the experience here, and provide some details of the tools and process I used.
First, I’ll provide links to three of the test shots I did so you can see what this looks like when it’s put together.
Creating these tours is a three step process:
First, you need to create a series of photographic images using a wide-angle lens. For this part, I followed this great tutorial. You don’t need a fancy camera for this. In fact you can use a simple point-and-click, although a nice digital SLR and a really wide angle lens will really make things pop. And if you don’t use a wide angle lens, you’ll just have to create more images and stitch them together to get a full 360. For the above, I used a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens.
Next, you have to do some post-processing of the images captured in step 1. Basically, you need to “stitch” the images together to create a single panographic image, or depending on your needs, multiple, tiled images that fit together to create a spherical panorama. For this, I used software from PTGui. You can find some great resources and tutorials on that site. There’s also an open source alternative for this called Hugin, but I haven’t worked with it.
Finally, you have to prepare and publish your creation on the web. There are many ways to do this, but I chose to embed them in a Flash Player using krpano Viewer. the same company also provides krpano Tools, which is basically a framework for creating all the controls, screen elements and effects you see in the examples above.
That’s the nickel tour. I hope you’re all motivated to go create your own tours! I’ll be doing some new shoots for one of our customers over the next few weeks and will post follow-up notes. I’m also hoping to do a spherical video soon.
OK, I’ve decided to put together a new project. I’m calling it Parking Nag. A wireless monitoring and notification thingy for parking around our makerspace.
Here’s the deal. Our makerspace is located in the downtown area of a small town. While there are a few small parking decks around, they charge for use. The City doesn’t charge to park on the street, but during normal business hours, there’s a two-hour limit. Typical scenario.
Since most of our members park on the street, we could benefit from having some kind of notification that we need to go move our car. We get all involved in whatever we’re doing at the space, and have a tough time remembering to shuffle the vehicle to another spot.
Here’s what I’m thinking. Parking Nag will consist of two parts. A monitor/display that resides inside our makerspace. We have a big table in the center of our space, and it’ll look nice right in the middle. The display will show the names of any member currently “registered” as being parked around the space and the amount of time they have left, or something like that.
The other part will be a small wireless transmitter that our members toss on their dash. When they arrive, they’ll “do something” to start their timer before they get out of their car and head upstairs. That’ll transmit some sort of “start timer” message to the console. In the space, the console will have an LED readout with their name and the amount of time each registered vehicle has left. I’m thinking it will also have an audible or other type of alert to let people know when time is running out. If they don’t respond, a robotic arm will then come out, spray the member with water, and taze them.. no, no, wait…
I’ve got the acrylic box thing figured out already. A cool Box Maker App I found will produce any size box design I want, with notched edges. It spits out a PDF that I can vector-cut on our laser cutter. Works great, and produces awesome enclosures.
I’ve worked out much of the wireless part from a music project I was working on. Thinking of using Xbee, but will have to do some testing to see if the range of my 2.4 GHz radios will be adequate.
Have to think through the monitor/display part a bit. One of our other members is working on a heads-up display for his motorcycle, and I’ll probably bug him for input on the best approach.
Buzz Kill: Well, why not just have someone punch a button when they get into the space? Why the need for anything wireless? Why not just use a mobile phone app? Other than “that wouldn’t be as much fun to build, or to use” I don’t really have answers for those questions.
I’ll post more as the project comes together. Gotta go move my car!