Update on the Shapeoko CNC router

 

From Workshop 88

At last week’s meeting, our expert in all things CNC, Branden, was around for the last meeting before his move to Boston. (We will miss you, Branden!!)  He was, however, kind enough to show us how to work the LinuxCNC distro software in order to get our Shapeoko running when we get the parts. (See the above video.) We are expecting the parts to arrive in the next two weeks.  Very soon we will be milling parts!  What will you make with the CNC router?

Encourage science exploration in schools!

Our Hackerspaces in Space project has been posted to Hack-a-Day!

Thanks to the increased traffic from the Hack-a-Day readers, our kickstarter is starting to grow closer to being funded. It’s great to see that the post on HaD really emphasized the educational component of the HSIS challenge. Every time we get a $100 pledge, a kit that will go to a school somewhere in the country is 1/3 funded.

 
What can you do to help us engage kids in science exploration?

Hackerspaces in Space: Year 2

A few days ago we launched (no pun intended) Hackerspaces in Space: Year 2.  HSIS (as we like to refer to it) is a challenge that we extend to other hackerspaces (and like-minded groups of people) to design, build and launch a weather balloon equipped with cameras to take photos at near-space altitudes. The HSIS website has all the rules regarding the contest which you can check out if you’re interested.

Last time we ran the challenge, we had a great response from the makerspace and hackerspace community.  We’re hoping to make HSIS better this year.  We want to use HSIS to promote science exploration and discovery in schools.  We want to take whatever best designs come out of this year’s challenge and send kits based on the winning designs to schools, so that student can launch their own balloons to near-space.

To make that happen, we’ve set up a kickstarter project. (You may have seen the banner at the top of the page.) Take a look at some of the prizes we’re offering and consider becoming a backer to this project so that we can get kits into schools!

Also, we need your help spreading the word about HSIS.  Please link to the page, tweet it, facebook it, retweet, upvote it on reddit, or just post it wherever you share your information online. We can’t make this happen without your help!

We’re getting a Makerbot!

Image credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

At our meeting on June 20th, we learned that Makerbot Industries was having a special sale on their last run of the Cupcake CNC machines. We decided to take the plunge and have one on order!

As excited as we are to be getting our Makerbot, we are still looking for donations from the membership to support this purchase.  If you’ve been looking for a chance to get to use one of these 3D printers, would you consider making a small donation to the space?  Send your paypal donations to admin@workshop88.com or leave a donation with us at the space.

Educube Progress

We got another couple shipments of parts for our Educube project:

The main component of our project is a Arduino clone called the Diavolino, sold by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories .  The Diavolino uses the same ATMega328P microcontroller that comes in the Arduino Uno, but is quite a bit cheaper.  The nice folks at Evil Mad Scientist were nice enough to sell us a few without microcontrollers, and we ordered the 328Ps from Element14.

Each individual cube communicates with adjacent cubes over IR.  We ordered 10 Vishay IR transceivers, but they came sealed up in this package  covered in dire warnings, so I chose not to break them open until we have boards ready for them.

I spent a couple hours tonight putting the Diavolino kits together.  They were pretty quick, and should be a good platform for the rest of the build.

T-Shirt wall art


Like a lot of guys my age, I’m a T-shirt guy. Funny ones, clever ones, geeky ones, and just plain cool ones. And I’m not the type to buy them at a normal brick an mortar shop. I prefer to find quirky and orignial designs on the web at places like Woot and Owl Movement.

Most of the shirts I get end up being limited runs, so when they reach the end of their life a little early, via stains or tears, there just isn’t any way to replace them. I’m also the kind of guy who hates to throw things out, and I just can’t bring myself to throw out art, which is what these shirts really are. So, it hit me, as long as the print on the shirt was in good condition, I can turn my shirts into wall art. Continue reading

Ride of the Valkyries

So, sometimes, I just have to stop and admit that I have a pretty awesome job. I work for a big box hardware store, as a technician in our Tool Rental department. I get all the general handy man projects around the store, and I was asked to build a tank for a competition between stores that is held every year. This thing is my baby, I’ve spent the last week and a half building this in between my normal work.

The cannon, which actually fires, is two inch PVC and has three and four inch PVC around it stepped down to the end of the barrel. The gun itself is a modified PVC t-shirt cannon, many of you have probably seen one on Make’s website. The valve is triggered with two 6v lantern batteries in series. The tank had to be parallel with the rest of the cannon so there’s room in the cockpit for a driver. I just added a 90 degree fitting after the solenoid valve.

The cockpit actually swivels, it sits on top of four casters and is guided by two galvanized pipes that sit in a circle cut on the top of the main body. The barrel tilts up and down hinged on two more pieces of pipe. The cockpit is made from two octagons, the one on the bottom is slightly elongated in the front in order to add a curvature. The curvature is achieved using 1/8″ Masonite, I attached it to the bottom and bent it onto the top. All the seams were filled with caulk give the illusion of welds.

The powerhouse behind it is a 3000 watt Honda generator fitted into the back. I added a long tail pipe to the end of the muffler to vent the exhaust out the back for the driver. Hooked up to the generator are the two front lamps, which are 250w halogen work lights painted black with high temp paint. It also powers the small air compressor in the front which is used to fill the PVC tank before the gun is fired. The filling system includes a modified tire filler with built in gauge so the driver can see and adjust the pressure as needed.

The main body was built around a lumber cart intended for flat goods like plywood and drywall. The frame is secured to it using metal strapping. The wheels are buckets spray painted black and the track is made from cedar edging painted black and silver. While I built almost the entire thing myself, I did have helping hands and helping minds for some of the creative pieces, but the awesome paint job was done by a fellow rental associate who’s an ex marine. He used camo paint and a faux brown stone paint to add the illusion of mud spray on the tracks and underside.

It’s really a testament to how great things can turn out when people put their heads and skills together. It’s was an extraordinary opportunity, and I’m extremely proud of how it turned out. I hope you guys enjoy the gallery below half as much as I enjoyed making this.