Makerspaces often mix technology with design. I opted for neither. I did not design it and it is not animatronic yet (although if I leave it in Zane’s company for too long it will be). Instead, I went with whimsy. I 3D printed a whimsical, mythical beast: a “teacup dragon” that I downloaded from http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:17906.
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.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. 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!
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).
The color wheel is a cropped screen shot right out of Microsoft’s Paint program.
“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.
We decided to stop talking about it and start doing it. Got some good work done, but there are still some final details and cleanup/setup activities to attend to.
To keep dust down, the wood shop has been moved into a separate room. The PVC “tent” supports have been removed, freeing up this space.
All of the fabrication stuff (3D printer, Laser Cutter, CNC router/mill) has been moved to a common location. The mill has been checked out and the electronics are sound, so a PC is being set up to get this operational.
The Animation center is now sporting dual 28″ monitors, and its new location is better suited to group presentations.
A presentation machine was moved to the table between the couches and meeting tables to make it easier to make presentations. The platform on the other end is being cleared so the projection screen can be set up more permanently as well.
Did I miss anything?
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.