At the Boulder Hackerspace we explore art and technology and support each other in developing creative ideas/plans/toys/inventions/madness! Come join us any Tuesday evening at our space where we meet from 7:30 pm - 10 to talk about projects, show & tell, collaborate and get to know more makers in our community!
This past weekend, about a dozen or so of our members spent part of Sunday afternoon spiffing up the space and enjoying a tasty BBQ.
We had a crew working magic in the electronics room (behold the new ‘wall of resistance’), and another group that built a sturdy (and mobile!) base for one of our main room center tables.
A few more of us spent some time clearing the dust in the wood shop and doing some general straightening up in other parts of the space. And we couldn’t have asked for a nicer fall afternoon to open the doors and enjoy each other’s company while munching on burgers, brats, veggies, potato salad, fruit and cookies!
We had a similar event at the end of June, which resulted in a new wall-mounted table being built for the main room (seen in the background of the middle photo above). The dedication of our members is immeasurable and paramount to creating and recreating our useful and fun space. A warm and hearty thank you to all who participated in these events!
June 14th, 2016 johnmaushammer Comments Off on Denver Mini Maker Faire 2016 recap in pictures
SSD members turned out in force the the mini maker fair held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the crowd was fantastic.
Jim’s Drawbot was a huge draw — one girl adored it and was thrilled when he gave her the drawing it had just made!
Terry’s soccer scoring system got the most interest and kids loved rolling tennis balls through the goalposts and watching it mark their point. Pictured behind is the mini version of John English’s Soundpuddle, set up by Tijlon.
Jennifer’s automatic dog play system also entertains kids pretty well!
Dan’s remote car had lots of kids mugging for its camera.
I had lots of fun walking around with my video T-shirt and explaining how it worked. Mostly though, kids just stared at it, mesmerized.
Turnout was excellent for other booths, with the return of many popular exhibits and new ones, too.
One of my all-time favorites is a group that deconstructs old pinball machine mechanisms and explain how they work. Very hands-on, it’s much easier to see how a mechanical score counter works than an electronic one.
Denhac had a lockpicking workshop, where kids could try to escape from handcuffs. They also had some great lights in the darker area of the Faire
Zoe Doubleday’s Haptika series of therapy gloves were a hit —
I didn’t get the guy who made these beautiful electronic quilts — he was one of many participants who also did amazing things:
March 11th, 2016 bitreaper Comments Off on New lights for the high bay
The original fluorescent lights.
Our new snazzy LED lights
Fluorescent lights suck. Aside from the minor mercury toxicity hazard if they’re broken and the mediocre light quality, the bigger problem for us is getting up to the ceiling to replace them. At 8′ long, they’re a bit ungainly when at the top of a ladder that is barely stabilized. Needless to say, between the standard laziness, and the instinct of self-preservation, we haven’t changed many of the burnt out tubes since we moved into this space. In fact, we are finally down to 6 lit tubes, so we were getting to the limit of barely usable light.
LED lights are cool. That’s the basic premise of switching our lighting out in our high bay lately. Of course, you’re going to get that response from a bunch of self-proclaimed LED freaks 😉 We were getting to the end of the life on the remaining fluorescent tubes, and had to do something. One of our long time members, Dan Julio, offered up some of the control boards from one of his lighting projects. These boards, combined with LED strips make up our new lights. Some of the main features include:
dimmable – this allows us to set the light level for meetups or for work
Zone control – with this feature, we can keep the work lights on while dimming or turning off the lights over the wall that the projector shines against.
Color wash on the ceiling – Otherwise known as “party mode”. This gives us the ability to change the mood of the space.
Control via mobile or web portals.
Control via panel mounted on the wall.
Several members joined with Dan on a Saturday to finish up the marathon of work he had already put in.
Way to go Dan for designing and building out the system, and thanks to the SSD members who helped install it!
May 13th, 2015 bitreaper Comments Off on Member Project of the month: the Auto Release Fun Feeder (A.R.F.F.)
Anyone with a bored puppy will tell you, they can be a handful of trouble. Meet Olive, SSD member Jen F’s puppy.
Olive was getting bored in the middle of the day while Jen and her family were out of the home. Olive took to finding ways to entertain herself that was becoming a problem. Miscellaneous household items ended up in the back yard. To keep Olive busy during the day, Jen started hiding treat toys around the house. One of Olive’s favorite is an interactive toy that dispenses food as long as it gets flipped and rolled around.
Check it out here: http://store.petsafe.net/busy-buddy-kibble-nibble This Busy Buddy engages dogs to work for their food, which appeals to their natural hunting instincts. Jen soon discovered that there were a limited number of hiding spots in her house. Olive would find the toys almost immediately after she hid them, defeating the purpose of working up a good boredom.
Being a mechanical engineer, Jen started thinking up ways to delay the release of the ball so that it would provide satisfaction for Olive in the middle of the work day. The solution needed to be simple. Gravity based; so that the release mechanism would only require a single solenoid. Outlet powered; so that batteries wouldn’t be a continual cost. Random timer; so that Olive wouldn’t get used to what time it was released. Quick and easy loading instructions; so that anyone could load and start without a 50 page manual.
The prototype was put together with scrap lumber and eyeballing the gravity ramp. After an evening of mock-ups, Jen had a solid mechanical housing. Jen didn’t have much experience with electronics, however, she knew the hackerspace was a good resource for gurus. She met with John W., who had started working in a T.V. repair shop at the age of 10 in the 1960’s. He drew up a wiring diagram and pointed her in the direction of what she needed to get.
After a week, the only thing she couldn’t find was the timer. At a Solid State Depot Open House, she introduced her project to the group and asked for help. Another SSD member, Mike S., had just received an LCD/Button combo Arduino shield and wanting to put it to work, this seemed like a good project. After a few hours of programming, he had a random countdown timer mounted on a Spark Fun Red Board.
One of the issues that the gurus at Solid State Depot helped her solve was the amount of power that was getting to the solenoid. Because the ball was pushing on the latch, there was a lot of friction. The solenoid needed a larger pulse. This meant more capacitors had to be added.
After a short time of collaborating, Jen had a timer that worked for releasing the ball at random times.
The Auto Release Feeding Frenzy, ARFF, for short has been in use for the last few weeks. Jen has noticed a significant decrease in the number of items ending up in the yard. Jen has had many requests to build more to test on other dogs, but feels she needs more time to evaluate if this solution is going to work long term.
February 1st, 2015 bitreaper Comments Off on Come see us at Boulder Mini-Maker-Faire!
We’re setup in the Boulder County Fair Grounds exhibit building. Come see us and say hello!
As always, the Cyclophone is a popular crowd pleaser. Here member Rob B. demonstrates it to some faire participants.
Our cymatics displays were popular. However, further investigation needs to be done on driving the surface transducer that powers the plate: we burnt it out today. 🙁 Below is a picture of our cymatics replacement, oobleck. However, we burnt out the speaker in this experiment too. 🙁 :(. Twice in one day. Ouch!
Here I’m pouring the cornstarch and water mix into the bowl that’s glued to the face of the speaker. Unfortunately, it just didn’t get up and dance like other examples. More experimenting to come!
January 27th, 2015 bitreaper Comments Off on Friction welding with ABS filament
Hack-a-day had an article a short while ago about welding ABS parts together with a short length of ABS filament in the chuck of a dremel tool. The idea is to use the friction from the fast spinning filament to melt the plastic at the junction of the spinning filament and parts. You can find the article here. This reminded me of a toy plastic welding kit that a friend had given my kids. This set uses a battery operated drill-like unit that takes special formed sticks as the sacrificial weld material. You would use it to weld together the plastic parts in the kit to form models.
Styrene welding kit.
I decided to try it out with some scrap flat ABS plastic and a length of ABS filament. I did as the article suggested, snipped off a small length and put it in the chuck of the dremel. As in the article, I used a short length of filament. The curvature of it keeps it from being straight in any length, so shorter is easier to keep from flapping about as it spins. Having experience with the styrene welding kit, I knew that you would need to finesse it and figure out the melting point of both the filament and the plastic being welded. I tried several techniques, but for a flat plate butt joint, the best was having the filament perpendicular to the plates being welded.
Friction welding with a dremel and ABS filament
I was able to produce straight on tack welds with ease. It was working down the seam that was challenging.
Friction welds between two plates
Flexing the two plates after being welded together.
As you can see, the joined pieces can flex a fair bit without breaking the joint. This picture was after quite a bit of welding was done down the seam. Early in the process, I was surprised that I didn’t need that many tack welds on both sides to get the two plates acting as one and not cracking apart with slight flexing.
Stressing the plates until they broke apart revealed the weld depth.
Typically when you’re testing any method of joining materials, you will want to do a tear down test. It took a bit of effort to crack it in half and tear it apart. In the picture above, it can be seen that the weld nuggets tore out, leaving a divot in the plastic where the nugget was. This is a good sign when you’re welding, whether it’s plastic or metal: you always want to see the material tear away from the nugget, rather than the nugget splitting at the seam where it was to join the materials.
My conclusion: if you have a dremel, you can friction weld with filament fairly easily. The welds are strong and can be used to fix broken parts or join prints that couldn’t be printed in one piece. Considering it’s not a huge investment of time to get comfortable with the technique, it’s worth trying out and practising on some failed prints. You’ll get a feel for it, and it will cement it in your head that it’s a viable option other than glue. However, if you’re looking for beautiful welds, this technique won’t produce them!