About groutjohn

I'm a long time woodworker, wood turner and wood carver. I've built fiberglass and redwood strip canoes. I own Makerbot Cupcake CNC #806. I'm learning about electronic and Arduino with help from my friends at 7Hills Makerspace.

The missing blog post: hackaday comes for a visit

This Blog post should have occurred May 30, 2012 or shortly thereafter. I’m just now doubling back to catch up. On Memorial day, I was at the 7hills Makerspace. A knock came at the door. It was Caleb Kraft from Hackaday. He asked for a quick tour. You can see it in the Hackaday blog (link below).

http://hackaday.com/2012/05/30/hackerspace-introduction-7hills-makerspace-in-rome-georgia/

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Adventures in Vacuum Forming

I’ve been wanting to create some project enclosures that are not black boxes from Radio Shack (not that there’s anything wrong with Radio Shack), so I built a vacuum forming rig following an instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-good,-cheap,-upgradeable-sheet-plastic-vacu/

Here it is setup in the kitchen of 7hills Makerspace:

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I found some channeled flashing at the hardware store that I made into the frame. I use 2×4 cutoffs to elevate the plastic in the oven, so it had a little more room to sag. A little over a minute at 400 degrees did the trick. Press the frame against the weather stripping, flip the switch, one giant sucking sound later you have a part:

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I started out making a simple part. The mold was sawn, sanded, turned on the lathe, and then sanded some more. I was surprised to see the wood’s grain still showing through. I cut off the excess and added some self-adhesive vinyl. Here’s how it turned out:

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It’s not perfect, but it was a pleasing first attempt. I’m planning to make a bottom enclosure from bent acrylic. That’s one more thing I’m learning about as I go.

The next thing I wanted to try during my inaugural molding session was an experiment to see if you can create molds on the makerbot. Would the two plastics stick to each other making mold release difficult? The answer is … no. The makerbot-made molds did not stick to the sheet plastic. However, the surface imperfections typical with makerbots was visible through the sheet plastic. The results show that with numerous small parts, I should have paid more attention to airflow and bridging/webbing.
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So there you have it. I felt pretty successful for a first try, but I have lots more to learn about vacuum forming.

“Hello World of Making” Project

When learning a new programming language, you start by getting the computer to display “hello world” on the screen.  It is a preliminary confirmation that you can do the basics of the programming language.  With a new makerspace like ours, lots of visitors and future members will want to learn what can be done in the space and how to do the basics on our machinery.

In order to help them, I have tried to design a single project that costs just a few dollars, and that uses a diverse set of machines available at 7Hills Makerspace.  The project is not a fancy high-tech, Arduino based device; it’s a flashlight (and not even a good one at that). It uses 3D printing, circuit board etching, soldering, and laser cutting. It is essentially a “hello world” project for new or future makers.

Hello world flashlight picture

The Hello World of Making" Flashlight

The body is 3D printed (here in red ABS); as is the “on” button.  The top and bottom are laser cut 1/16 inch acrylic.  The top is etched to read “Hello World of Making,” the bottom has the 7Hills Makerspace written out in text and the logo is displayed. The electronic components include a CR2320 battery, battery holder, a resistor, an LED and a push button.

Exploded CAD drawing of flashlight

Exploded view

Flashlight off

Off

On

On

The project is still a work in progress.  As you can see, some of the holes don’t line up right yet and expediency lead me to use a yellow LED.  future versions will have bright white LEDs (because I will have gone to the store by then).  I also plan to think throught the processes that are use and schedule them so that waiting time for one project is utilized to get another process started.  For example, while the circuit board is being etched for 20 minutes, Laser cutting and etching could be introduced and started.  While the 3D printer is finishing, Drilling the PCB and soldering could begin.   The goal is to have the build to be of managable duration, not to rushed, but not boring or tedious either.

This is a first attempt.  I plan to change it and improve it.  I would love to hear your ideas about how to make it better.

Hello World of Making!

 

 

 


Experimenting with the Sublimation Printer

Paint color chart shows what colors look like on colored backgrounds.

Using a sublimation printer is new to me.  One of the concerns I had was learning how different colors on the computer would translate into colors on my colored t-shirt.  Instead of trying colors one at a time or as needed, I decided to just print a 1-inch color wheel on the bottom and side of a test shirt. If the test shirt turned out well, the color wheel would be no more obnoxious than the print registration markings that appear on all sorts of products we use all the time.  While I was at it I decided to see how much deterioration of appearance would occur if I used the print-out a second time.  The image on the right shows a much dimmer image, as would be expected.

The color experiment worked very nicely and effectively informed my design decisions.  You really cannot get yellow on a blue shirt.  Broad patches of yellow ink look green (as you might suspect).  Orange print results in a brown image.  The main thing you have to watch out for is that your brain tries to adjust, so at first glance the place on the wheel where yellow should occur looks yellow, but if you isolate that spot and look at what is really there, you will see that it is green.  You can then adjust the colors that are printed to get the colors you really want on the t-shirt (provided you are not fighting physics by trying for yellow on a blue shirt).

Color wheel close-up

Color wheel close-up

The color wheel is a cropped screen shot right out of Microsoft’s Paint program.