Obscurity be gone!

The old sign post in front of the space isn’t feeling so lonely any more! Its new friend is an experiment – part temporary new sign, part real-world test jig for some of Jim’s untested sign-making techniques. There are some gory details on its construction here on Jim’s blog.

Thanks Jim, it looks great!


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.


Sunday at the Workshop

Geocaching was on the docket, but we got work done and crafted around The Workshop instead.

After some jiggering, Andrew and Kevin got a router worked into our workbench.  It looks great and works like a charm.

My brother Dan and I built paracord bracelets.  Each one has 8ft of paracord that can support >500 lbs. of tension.  Great for people who love to backpack and camp, like me.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve needed extra rope to secure a tent or a tarp.


Making a gee haw whimmy diddle

Several years ago at a conference I met a professor of acoustics from Japan who was demonstrating a folk toy called the “Giri-giri gari-gari”. He said it was so simple to make that anyone could do it without any measurements. I had to try it out!

After doing a little googling, I found out that the toy is also common in other cultures. In Appalachia it is known as the “Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle” (or the Gee Haw Whammy Diddle with various spellings of Whimmy or Whammy).

The toy is simply a stick that has notches cut along its length with a propeller attached to one end. The stick I chose was a square dowel. I used popsicle sticks for the propeller with a nail for the axle. I drilled a pilot hole to get the nail to seat without splitting the wood. The propeller spins when a small stick is slid along the notches. By adjusting how you slid the stick along the notches you can control the direction of the spin.

Here’s a video of me trying out one that I made in my office:

(Yes, I dropped the camera. Twice.)

Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle

I still need quite a bit of practice, but I can give you some tips if you want to make your own.

1. The notch spacing and the depth do not matter at all. Make them deep or shallow, as long as you are getting vibrations into the stick it will work.

2. The closer you can make the notches to the propeller the better it seems to work. There is a trade-off in making the notches so close to the propeller that you tend to hit them with the stick more easily.

3. The further back you hold the toy from the end with the propeller, the easier it seems to be to get the propeller to reverse. This is probably due to the increased transmission of the vibrations down the length of the toy.

4. The better balanced the propeller, the easier it will be to spin, obviously. It seems that the shorter the propeller is, the more easier it seems to be to get it to reverse. However, I think the shorter propellers are less dramatic.

This was a fun project to make, and I have fun playing with it!


Build Day, This Saturday.

Making our space usable is now the main priority of Workshop88, This Saturday, July 31st we’ll have the opportunity to ready the place to start moving our projects and tools. And we need your help and expertise. This Saturday’s agenda will be:

Front Room:
- Scraping walls
- Priming walls
- Tightening outlets
- Increasing lighting
- Organizing a storage solution
- Making the front room more friendly (via painting, wall hangings, an updated front door logo, etc)

- Baseboard prep and installation
- Drywall for the exposed bathroom wall
- Tightening outlets
- Painting/mounting our new storage cabinet (thanks Eric!)
- Framing and installing the wall dividing the workshop and electronics area.

A special thanks to Bill for our new dehumidifier! The smell from last Friday’s rain has already moved from ‘musty’ to ‘damp’! If you have tools useful for the aforementioned projects that are not already on site… bring em. If anybody has an extra shop-vac, that would be nice too, so Adam can stop carting his back and forth :)

Hope to see you all on Saturday!


Build-Out Saturday!

Workshop 88 needs your help this Saturday getting up and running in our new location in Glen Ellyn! We’ve prepped the floor of the workshop area for priming and painting, but we need help sanding, spackling, cleaning, and with any other gerund you can think of. We’ll be there at noon, we have some basic things over there for our work, but not to much as of yet.

So if you have tools you’d like to bring, especially things that would help in
the buildout (putty knives, paint rollers, all painting equipment for that matter, saws, drills, oh and I have no idea how nobody has brought over a hammer yet) please bring them with.

We will respond to any questions via this post. Or email info@workshop88.com

See you all there!


Here Inside: Hack-brush

Hi, my name is Kevin, but you can call me Roofus, and I’m a member of Workshop 88. Right now I work as a Service Technician in a tool rental business. I often find my self peeking at the insides of tools the average person wouldn’t venture into. My job has given me a firm belief that the only thing keeping everyone else from fixing what breaks is the fear that you’ll make it worse! So I’m doing this series Here Inside, to show people, that it’s okay to peek inside, and you never know if you can fix it, until you try.

I own an old Braun Oral B electric toothbrush.  It was a gift, and I consider it a luxury I wouldn’t own otherwise, but I have grown accustomed to it.  Recently it’s decided to show it’s age by slowly charging less and less.  So, like any good maker who doesn’t like buy new things, I found the seal at the bottom and cracked it open.

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Scanner Challenge, Part 1


As part of our first public meeting this Monday, we handed out a bunch of :CueCats to everyone who attended, along with a challenge: tinker with them, see if you can get them to do something fun, and share it with everybody at the next meeting.

I’m planning on using mine to build a handheld barcode scanner based on an Arduino and the touch screen from a Nintendo DS that stopped working a while back.  It may be a bit ambitious, so I’ll probably need help along the way.  I thought it might be helpful for others to see what I’m doing in case they get stuck in their own projects.  The Arduino is in the mail, but while I wait on that, here’s the progress so far.

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