Member projects: Thingiverse remix

One of our new members, Josh, has been making great use of the 3D printers at Workshop 88. He had a headlight for his bike that he wanted centered on the handlebars. So he took the Blackburn Flea Bike Light Handlebar Mount file on Thingiverse and remixed it to fit on his bike. Here is his remix – the photo at the top shows the finished print.


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Member project: Crowd-sourced science

Animation of some preliminary results from the Steelpan Vibrations project on Zooniverse.

One of our members, Andrew Morrison, has a citizen science project running on the Zooniverse website.

The project is called Steelpan Vibrations and is a project looking at understanding how Caribbean steelpans (sometimes referred to as steel drums) work to produce their characteristic sound. What he has done is made high speed videos of the waves that go across the steel pan when it is struck by a player. The problem is that there is no easy way to analyze the video frames to get quantitative data. The project asks for people to go to the website and mark individual frames so that they can be aggregated together for analysis later.

There is a blog where details about the research are discussed regularly, and you can also follow Andrew on twitter where project updates are regularly posted.


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Member projects: Building a night sky observatory!!

One of our members, Steven Sagerian, has a passion for astronomy and astronomy education and outreach. He has been working on building an observing site outside of the Chicago suburbs in a dark location – and now he has a GoFundMe set up to make this a reality!

Steve also has designed a solar panel system for charging batteries to run the observatory. You can see the solar cells in the photo on the GoFundMe site, and he also has a page dedicated to the design and construction of it.

Solar panels for charging power supply at observatory.


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How to create and install custom ringtones on an iPhone without iTunes or a USB cable

In this step by step tutorial you will learn to:

  • Download individual and playlists of movies and audio from movie websites including YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, etc. and convert the files into numerous audio and video formats using youtube-dl.
  • Edit audio file clips, adjust volume, and save in different formats, including .m4a needed for iPhone ringtones and songs using Audacity.
  • Send audio files to your iPhone using email, save them, import them into GarageBand, and process them into usable ringtones for your iPhone
    (and even delete them when you are done with them).

All off this is done with free software and without iTunes, or connecting your iPhone to the computer!

These PC instructions are for Windows, but all the tools, youtube-dl, Audacity, and FFmpeg are also available for Linux and OS X.

Capturing sound file from YouTube

You will need:

  • youtube-dl An awesome tool to download and convert videos and playlists from YouTube and other sites.

Instructions:

  1. Find a video you like on YouTube
  2. Copy the URL
  3. Navigate in Explorer (file browser, not internet browser) to the folder you would like to download the sound file to.
  4. Type cmd into the address bar to launch a command prompt
  5. Enter youtube-dl –extract-audio –audio-format mp3 -o “%%(title)s-%%(id)s.%%(ext)s” your_url_here
    i.e.
    youtube-dl –extract-audio –audio-format mp3 -o “%%(title)s-%%(id)s.%%(ext)s” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7MIJP90biM
    * See footnotes for additional options

Footnotes:

  • You may omit -o “%%(title)s-%%(id)s.%%(ext)s” or replace it with your own filename format string
  • If the video is under 30 seconds long and you want to use it without editing, you can save it directly as an .m4a like this:
    youtube-dl –extract-audio –audio-format m4a -o “%%(title)s-%%(id)s.%%(ext)s” your_url_here
  • You can download entire playlists as audio with numbered tracks as .mp3 files like this:
    youtube-dl –extract-audio –audio-format mp3 -o “%%(playlist_index)s – %%(title)s-%%(id)s.%%(ext)s” https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3KyodHSvyYL2qAyXGli1CCd5IS0ENfBh
  • You can download and convert video files from many sites for watching like this:
    youtube-dl -o “D. Scott Williamson, Expert.%%(ext)s” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7MIJP90biM

Editing your sound file

You will need:

  • Audacity sound editor
  • FFmpeg extension for Audacity needed to save .m4a files (Use their download even if you already have FFmpeg)

Instructions:

The sound file must be 30 seconds long or less.
Remember, it will loop; some files benefit from some silence at the end or a long decay.
Audacity is too large a tool to describe in depth here, here are some basic commands that will allow you to select the section of the audio file interesting to you, adjust the volume, and export as an .m4a file.

  1. Open the file by either dragging it onto Audacity, Selecting Open… ffrom the File menu, or pressing Ctrl-o.
    When the file opens you will see a waveform display in the center of the Audacity window.
  2. Mute | Solo On the left side of your waveform display you will see Mute and Solo buttons.  If you open multiple files, they will behave as multiple tracks in the same project.
    • Mute will silence the track.
    • Solo will mute all other tracks and unmute the current track.
  3. Selection Click and drag on the audio waveform display to select a subset of the sound file.  You can carefully click and adjust the start and end of the selection which is useful to refine your selection.
  4. Zoom allows you to magnify or shrink the sound file to enable you to work carefully on the section that is important to you
    • Zoom in, Zoom out Magnify or shrink the view of your sound
    • Zoom Selection will zoom so the selection fills the display.  I typically will select a slightly larger section than I want, Zoom Selection to make my selection fill the display, and refine the start and endpoint.
    • Fit Project to width will zoom all the way out so that your (longest) sound file will be fit to the window width.
  5. Scroll When zoomed in, you can use the scroll bar at the bottom of your sound window to pan left and right.
  6. Play There are a couple ways to play your sound:
    • Click the play button to play your selection, or the entire file if none is selected.
    • Click anywhere in the timeline above the waveform to play from that position to the right edge of the window, useful for quickly locating key points in your sound file.
  7. Copy Use this to copy your selection either by clicking the copy button or pressing Ctrl-c.   I find it easiest to copy the portion of the sound I like and paste it into a new Audacity project.  Not only is it less likely to damage the original file, but I think it is fewer steps too.
  8. New Create a new sound file by selecting New from the File or pressing Ctrl-n
  9. Paste Click the paste button or press Ctrl-v to paste your previously copied selection into the new file.
  10. Volume There are a lot of effects you can apply to an audio clip in Audacity, perhaps the most common is adjusting the volume.  Click on Amplitude in the Effects menu, you will see a dialog with the suggested amplification already filled in.  The suggested value will make your sound fill the volume range.  If you would like more amplitude than suggested, be sure to check Allow clipping.  The volume can be reduced too.
  11. Undo you can undo any mistake with a click or by pressing Ctrl-z
  12. Export as .m4a by selecting Export from the File menu and selecting Export audio file… or by pressing Ctrl-Shift-e.  Navigate to where you’d like to save the file, select save as type “M4A (ACC) Files (FFFmpeg)“, and save your file.
    (The first time you do this, Audacity will ask you to locate avformat-55.dll, it will be where you unzipped ffmpeg-win-2.2.2.zip)

Creating a ringtone

You will need:

  • GarageBand app on your phone (made by Apple)
  • Access to email from your PC and iPhone
  • One or more sound files that must be .m4a (or .m4r) format and 30 seconds long or less.

Instructions:

  1. Install GarageBand on your iPhone from the App Store
  2. Send your .m4a files to yourself as attachments to an email (be aware of email attachment size limits, you may need to send multiple emails).
  3. Open email on your phone and open your email
  4. Long press on each attachment to bring up the action menu
  5. Select Save To Files
  6. Save the file to GarageBand / GarageBand File Transfer
    • Click GarageBand to expand it
    • Click GarageBand File Transfer
    • Click Add in the upper right corner
  7. Launch GarageBand
  8. Click Create Document
  9. Click Tracks at the top of the screen
  10. Swipe left or right until you get to the Audio Recorder and click the screen
  11. Click the Tracks icon (Third from the left at the top off the screen, looks like a brick wall)
  12. Click Loops icon (second from right at the top, looks like a loop, next to the wrench)
  13. Click Audio Files at the top center of the window
  14. You should now see your file(s) you saved from your email.  Click them to hear them, drag one onto the workspace next to the microphone on the left.
  15. Click Save (Down arrow at upper left of the screen)
  16. Click My Songs
  17. Long click on your saved file to bring up menu
  18. Click Share
  19. Click Ringtone
  20. Type name
  21. Click Export in the upper right corner
  22. Done!

Now look for your new ringtone in Settings Notifications or Sounds.
This process can also be used to create songs, just select Song instead of Ringtone.

To Delete a ringtone

  1. Launch GarageBand
  2. Long press in shared folder on any track
  3. Click Share
  4. Click Ringtone
  5. Click Your Ringtones
  6. Click Edit
  7. Select and delete files as needed
  8. Back out of menus or close the app

This was fun!  I hope you were able to follow these directions to get interesting new free ringtones into your iPhone while discovering powerful open source tools along the way.

D. Scott Williamson
Compulsively Creative

Mustard etching?

knife3

Knife with mustard packet before the etching.

We’ve been playing with the etching of metals with our laser cutter at Workshop 88. One of our members discovered a mustard-etching method and tested it out last night during the weekly open house.

knife2

Reapplying mustard between passes.

knife1

Finished etched knife after cleaning.

The results are pretty great for a first attempt! Expect more detail to come in future posts – but if you want to know more, please come to our open house meetings every Thursday night!

Glue gun mystery unstuck

Knowing how critical hot melt glue is in a hackerspace, I’m sure you’ll be relieved that the mystery of why the trigger on the yellow glue gun stopped working has been unravelled, and that it even works again!

There was no hope of getting the gun open until I let it get good and hot to liquify the glue. I was amazed to find the entire front half of the gun full of liquid glue. The great glob of solidified glue in front of the trigger answered the mystery question.

As I scooped and pried the glue out, a clue appeared: I suspect this split in the silicone sleeve that guides the glue sticks to the melt chamber was part of the story.

I wonder whether another part was some imagined incident when someone tried to use the gun with the tip badly clogged. With the gun thoroughly heated, he squeezed the trigger again and again, only to have no glue come out. “Where the heck is all the glue going?” he might have wondered.

The gun works again, but no guess as to for how long. The fantastic isopropyl-alcohol-as-hot-melt-release-agent trick cleaned the bench so well that there’s no trace of the huge mess I made.

W88 at River Forest Maker-Fest

Workshop 88 joined many other makers at the River Forest Public Library’s first Maker-Fest on 10/7/17. The Drawbot got lots of attention, and decorated the shelves with its drawings.

While maker events and makerspaces are a growing phenomenon at libraries, and River Forest has considered what it can do, its beautiful old building just doesn’t have room for a space.  But Ethan Baehrend, as part of his Eagle Scout mission, encouraged the library to host this Fest, both to provide a maker event for area residents and to help the library gauge interest so it can best serve its users.  The event was a success on all fronts.

Ethan posed here for a picture with the Drawbot’s rendition of the Eagle Scout logo.  Thanks to his mom, Diana, for the picture!

The Drawbot was in good form with its new aluminum-and-teflon pen holder, and generated lots of artwork, as well as interest among visitors. Here are some pics of its output.

 

Some more details on the drawbot are here.

Why Workshop 88 Rocks

I just had another experience Thursday evening reminding me why makerspaces are so great. I needed a very custom spring, but didn’t know how to make it. (It was to remove backlash in the gearbox of a stepper motor driving a robot to play a Theremin, but that doesn’t matter.)

I had the stepper in my hand – since it’s always easier to discuss something concrete – and asked member Bill if he knew anything about making springs. He did, but not the kind I needed. We talked about mandrels and springback, and threw out ideas about how to design a form to wind what I needed.

And then he pulled some music wire from a cabinet and started bending it by hand into very roughly what we thought we needed. That physical strawman let us pull and twist and point and talk about which direction the forces were acting and how to anchor it and how a spring like that really works. After a delightful session of technical banter, I had a LOT more insight into the spring I needed plus the eye-opener that I could just make it by hand! I grabbed some wire and a pair of pliers, and in 15 minutes had a spring that did exactly what I needed.

A fun technical discussion and exploration with a friend, and going from a show-stopper problem to a perfect solution for a few pennies’ worth of materials – it doesn’t get much better than that. And that’s why we hang out at makerspaces.

The project I needed the spring for is another great, if darker example of what happens at the space. An old lonely, dusty Theremin has lived in the back room for years, and I brought it out to see if I could make it work. It had just started to play its first eerie notes, and I was showing it to whoever wandered by, when somebody – a visitor, whose name I don’t recall – said “It would be neat to have a robot play it.” Whoa. That would be so frickin’ cool that even though I needed a new project like I needed a hole in the head, the Theremin playing robot was off and running. Here’s a clip of it playing a scale a couple of weeks later.

I bet lots of makerspaces have stories of whole projects that started by somebody musing “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”.  I guess we’re all suckers for that. 🙂

Winfield Library Build-A-Flute Workshop

Workshop 88 led a workshop on 7/11/17 for the Winfield Public Library Young Adult Services called Science of Sound. The students built flutes (more like recorders) out of PVC tubing and pieces of wooden dowel. The flutes worked quite well, and the students had a good time.

There’s a LOT of information on the web about PVC flutes, up to and including some “flutomat” pages with interactive spreadsheets for finger hole placement. Who knew?

In preparing for the workshop by making a couple of flutes at home, it quickly became clear that it was often easier to get a flute to sound the first overtone than the fundamental we’d be shooting for. To set the stage for discussing that as the student flutes made their first noises, the presentation started out talking about natural vibration modes, with demos of guitar string harmonics, vibrating strips of metal, and a 15-foot “jumprope” with standing wave loops up to the 4th harmonic.

In discussions at W88 before the class, Rachel pointed out that decorating the flutes would be important to some students. Colorful duct tape, provided by both W88 and the library, proved that suggestion to be quite true, despite the stodgy old teacher never even considering it. Thankfully, we have a community to help rip off blinders!

Those discussions also resulted in scope creeping from the initial plan of just showing that drilling a hole or 2 could change the pitch of the flute. The final class version used a traditional six hole fingering scheme that played fairly well in tune into the second register – a few notes above an octave. Thanks to this flutomat for the hole spacings!

Prusa i3 MK2S 3D printer kit assembly time lapse videos

Prusa i3 MK2S 3D printer kit assembly time lapse videos

If you’ve ever wanted to see someone assemble a 3D printer from the ground up, I’ve captured every detail, sped it up, and set it to music just for you:

Link to 300x time lapse video (longer, more detail, different background music):
20170323 GoPro Prusa i3 MK2 assembly and print (300x time lapse)

The videos were captured using a GoPro Hero 3 Black in time lapse mode taking a wide angle high definition image every 5 seconds to a 64GB micro SD card.  The camera was mounted to a tripod using parts printed on the Replicator 2 and powered using a USB hub.  The resulting 30fps HD videos were created at 400% and 200% speed respectively.

History…

In 2012 I bought a MakerBot Replicator 2 for my father, which he graciously offered to keep at my house (he’s absolutely the BEST sharer).  He has since moved to a larger house and in December 2016 we happily moved the 3D printer to it’s new and rightful home in his shop where it has been getting good use making parts for an interesting capacitive network antenna power coupling project, and lots of little toys for the grand kids.  It was a great turn-key printer, able to easily slice and print models with its simple intuitive software.  Unfortunately without a heated bed and with limited head temperature it could only print using PLA. This left me without convenient access to a 3D printer, but gave me the opportunity to expand my 3D printing horizons.  I’d been considering buying one for a while, but finally I needed to make a decision.

The search…

For me, selecting a new 3D printer was as difficult as buying a new car.  There are a lot of decisions to make: Cartesian or delta? Retail, kit, or clone? Open or closed source? Which hotend? Cooling fans? Heated bed? Which materials (PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon…)? What software can be used? and the biggie… How much do I want to spend?

I started my search with the usual “top 10” lists and “3D printer” roundup articles.

# 1 in All3DP top 10 in 2017
(All3DP is totally worth subscribing to by the way)
#1 in Make Magazine 2017 3D printer comparison
Make Magazine review:
Toms 3D review:
If you are interested in 3D printing and are not familiar with Tom, you should be, check out TOM’s 3D  website for some of the best, balanced, scientific reviews and comparisons of 3D printing components, printers, and filaments:
Tom‘s YouTube Channel:
Tom is also a moderator on Google+‘s fantastic 3D Printing group:

I didn’t have to look for very long before one machine started to tick all my boxes:

  • Open Source
  • Kit (and assembled versions available)
  • Cartesian
  • Auto mesh bed leveling
  • Part cooling fan (for PLA)
  • Heated bed (for ABS and other materials)
  • Multi-material
  • Multi-slicer,
  • Affordable
  • … and as an added bonus it has a 4 color upgrade coming later this year.

The Prusa i3 MK2

The machine…

The Prusa i3 MK2 is the latest printer designed by RepRap legend Josef Prusa, and the one at the top of the 2017 best 3D printers lists all over.  If you are not familiar with RepRap (http://reprap.org/) , it is a community of hardware and software makers who have been advancing open source 3D printing for the last couple of decades.  The basic concept behind RepRap is to create a machine capable of creating copies, or improved copies, of itself.  We all have that community to thank for democratizing and popularizing 3D printing to the point where fused filament 3D printing became commercially viable for the public (that, and a couple patents expiring).

Josef has been at the heart of two of the most popular recent open source 3D printer designs: the Mendel, and the Prusa (his namesake), each model undergoing several successful iterations and improvements.  In 2009 Josef Prusa opened shop and began selling printers and kits.  Today, true to his RepRap roots the latest machine, the Prusa i3 MK2 is used to print parts for customers printers in Prusa Research’s “build farm”.

Josef Prusa in Prusa Research’s build farm where Prusa printers are printing Prusa printers.

If you’d like to know more about the printer check out the Prusa website.

The wait…

I was going to order it over Christmas break 2016 but was waffling. I wasn’t sure if the printer was getting too much hype, or if I should get a dedicated dual head printer, or if I should just grab a turn-key printer like a Taz from a local store.  That delay would cost me a lot of time.  I eventually committed to ordering the Prusa i3 Mk2 kit in late January for a whopping $773 (USD) including shipping, an extraordinarily modest price.  Due to high demand and limited supply capacity for parts like the custom heated bed, I would have to wait 3 months.  This was not a surprise, Prusa was very clear about the lead time for their printers.  I received the printer late March.

The assembly…

By now I hope you have watched the assembly video(s).  I could have ordered the printer fully assembled and calibrated for an extra $200 (and extra lead time) but part of the reason I wanted an open source printer is to easily modify and improve it, and for that reason I wanted to know each nut and bolt personally.  It took roughly 8 hours, 5 good beers, 3 cats, and a dog (all featured in the videos) to assemble, test, and calibrate the machine.  The tree frog took 3 1/2 hours to print.  I had already read all the assembly instructions while waiting for the printer, and learned a LOT from watching Tom’s 6 part series about building the cheapest possible clone of the Prusa i3 MK2. (16 1/2 hours of interactive YouTube live streams!!! The clone was eventually named “Dolly” by someone in chat for the first cloned sheep of the same name)

  1. Prusa i3 MK2 live assembly: p1, Y-axis
  2. Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer clone live assembly: p2, X & Z Motion
  3. Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer clone live assembly: p3, X & Y Motion
  4. Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer clone live assembly: p4, Wiring and Printbed (mechanics finished!)
  5. Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer clone live assembly: p5, Electronics and Firmware!
  6. Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer clone live assembly: p6, final setup and first print!

If you decide to get the Prusa i3 MK2 kit or assemble a clone, here are some tips…

  • When there is a captured nut, POUND that nut into place before assembling the parts!!! Both Tom and I had the upper nut from the part cooling fan come loose and bounce around inside assembled parts for tens of minutes before carefully getting it seated.
  • Read ahead.  There are a few steps that provide instruction regarding previous steps like “but don’t over tighten”, or other things that may be should have been said in advance.
  • Look at all the pictures and stay organized.  The instructions are done VERY well in the “Ikea” style.  There are many details that you can only get from the pictures.
  • Be careful to use the correct length/size fasteners, rods, etc.
  • Review each step when done to make sure you didn’t skip or overlook anything.

The quality…

The print quality is amazing.

I haven’t had a lot of time to print many models yet but the resolution and quality of the first PLA print of the tree frog are far and away better than anything I’ve seen before.  It’s only 50mm wide but the surface is so smooth from the .5mm layer height, and the underside is flawless due to the part cooling fan.  The details in the eyes, nostrils, and hips are impressive too.  I’ve also printed a Raspberry Pi case, camera mount, (for OctoPi) and computer stand mounts in ABS.  I’ll be printing some drone parts soon in PETG and ABS, and bought some Nylon to play with.  I’ve tried Slic3r and Cura model slicing software used to convert models to g-code files for 3D printing.  I  preferring Slic3r which was provided by Prusa pre-optimized for this printer, but they are both very good tools.  Stay tuned to blog.workshop88.com for more of 3D printed projects in the future.

Finally, on the topic of Dolly, and a home made clone…

Even though I just bought, assembled, and am still coming up to speed on my fantastic new printer, the idea of building a clone for 1/4-1/3 the price (somewhere in the $250 range) has me and several friends on the verge of starting a group clone build.

Thanks!

Thanks to Kevin Meinert of subatomicglue for letting me use his awesome music in the videos.  If you would like to hear more, visit www.subatomicglue.com.

If you’re interested in building a Prusa or another 3D printer, or a clone, or discussing 3D printing, check out Workshop 88 on Google groups, Slack, or come by our weekly open house any Thursday night after 6:30pm.  Details can be found here.

D. Scott Williamson
Compulsively creative