Pipe Lamps

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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.

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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.

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Oh, and you need light bulbs of course. ┬áCheck 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).

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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. ┬áSo, we ended up with a couple of cord and sockets for another project.

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Ethan took advantage of this phase to do some “graffiti” in the 7hills kitchen. :-)

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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.