Stuff for making stuff: a power supply

Tektronix PS280 DC Power Supply

There is something that every maker who dabbles in electronics eventually needs – a bench top power supply.

Sure, you can get power from all sorts of source – a battery, an arduino, or a raspberry pi will all work sufficiently for many quick or small projects. But there are good reasons for having a power supply as one of your tools used for developing electronics.

  1. They are reliable. A battery is only going to provide you with a known voltage for so long before it starts to drain.
  2. They are adjustable. Maybe you think you are only going to be constructing circuits powered by 5V, and therefore you figure you can always either use an arduino or a 5V regulator and be perfectly happy. But eventually you will need to use different voltages, and the power supply is the way to go.
  3. They are configurable. A decent bench-top power supply has the ability to work in either Constant Voltage (CV) mode or in Constant Current (CC) mode. The way it usually works is that you set a maximum current that you would like the power supply to give to your circuit. If your circuit draws less than the maximum current that you have set the power supply will work in CV mode and will provide whatever voltage you have set. If, however, the circuit draws the maximum current that you have set, then it switches to CC mode and will reduce the voltage to maintain that maximum current. This helps you to test circuits without risking damage to components.
  4. They are affordable. Like practically any tool, the sky is the limit in terms of what you could spend. But, switching power supplies are relatively low-cost and a great option for most electronics hobbyist. Below is a link (affiliate link – thank you for supporting Workshop 88) to a power supply that at least one of Workshop 88’s members uses for projects at home.

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Local history in Workshop 88’s…parking lot?

Photo of new sign at the parking lot outside of Workshop 88. Photo credit: Gail Jo Kelly

Earlier this week, one of our members noticed that the name of the parking lot outside of Workshop 88 had been changed – it used to be called Schock’s Square, and now it is called Pennsylvania East. Some of us thought that was a rather dull name compared to Schock’s Square (the street name is Pennsylvania Avenue) and got us to wonder about who was the Schock of Schock’s Square, anyway?

Another member took the initiative to call the Glen Ellyn Public Library to see if they had any information about the history of Schock’s Square, and a few days later we received the following email from Amy Franco, one of the librarians:

Thanks for your super interesting question about the origins of the name of Schock’s Square in downtown Glen Ellyn! No one at the library knew anything about it, and we couldn’t find anything about it in any of our traditional resources. So I called Harold Prichard, one of our longtime Glen Ellyn residents and he told me a fascinating story:
 
George Schock owned a gas station where the square now is in the 40s and possibly the 30s, during a time when there was a gas station on nearly every corner of Glen Ellyn. At George’s station, when you pulled in, they’d check the tires and all the gauges, clean the car, and everyone who worked for him was really nice. George’s station was a few cents more than his competitors’, but his regulars were willing to go there because of the great service and nice people he had working for him.
 
George would invite some of his regular clientele to join him in the back of the shop for a glass of whiskey while the car was being checked and filled. On Christmas, he would have a huge buffet at the gas station and many locals would stop by. Overall, he was extremely successful and in Mr. Prichard’s opinion George Schock was held in the same esteem in town as the McChesney, Miller, and Young families.
 
George had two young boys working for him, Ken and Will Major. George taught them about entrepreneurship and how to maintain a clientele, and eventually encouraged the Majors boys to open their own gas station around the corner from him at Crescent and Park where there is now a condo building. Willard Major’s obituary (attached) makes note of running Ken and Will’s Union 76 Service Station from 1955-1985.


I’ve also included a (somewhat grainy) copy of George Schock’s obituary from 1966 in the Glen Ellyn News. The text reads:

George J. Schock, Veteran Business Operator, Dies

George J. Schock, a Glen Ellyn business operator for nearly 40 years and owner of Schock’s Service Station, died early yesterday morning at Central DuPage Hospital after a short illness. 

Born in Chicago March 27, 1903, he had lived in or near GLen Ellyn all his life. At the time of his passing he resided on Naperville rd. south of Wheaton. 

His marriage to the former Kathryn Pegg took place in Glen Ellyn. 

The deceased was the oldest service station operator in the area in point of continuous service. He and his brother, Paul, now of Morris, founded the station at its present location. Paul left the business many years ago. George was one of few service station operators owning his own premises. 

Survivors in addition to his wife and brother include a son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Mary Ellen Schock of Glen Ellyn, and a daughter and son-in-law, Joan and Donald McLeese, also of Glen Ellyn. Also surviving are eight grandchildren, George, Kathy and Brian Schock, and Don, Dick, Doug, David, and Katie McLeese. 

Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time. Arrangements are being handled by the Leonard Memorial Home of Glen Ellyn. 

From private correspondence with Amy Franco, librarian at Glen Ellyn Public Library. Reprinted with permission.


This is a fantastic example of what you can learn from your local library! Workshop 88 has always had a great relationship with the Glen Ellyn Library and other nearby libraries. Our members tend to be curious people, and when we get stuck on a question and are unable to find the information we want it is really great to be able to ask for help from the staff at the library.

George Schock obituary (Image credit: Glen Ellyn Public Library)

Customized Trailer Hitch Cover

Custom Hitch Cover
Custom Hitch Cover

I created a 3D printed customized hitch cover that lights up by incorporating a store-bought brake light hitch cover.

My project started out as 3D printing a trailer hitch cover like the ones on Thingiverse.com. https://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=trailer+hitch+cover&dwh=175cdf1d3a762cb

Brake Light Hitch Cover

But then I spotted a brake light cover in a parking lot in place of the trailer hitch.  I really liked that idea better and considered it as an additional safety feature.  The brake light version of the cover wasn’t difficult to find and was about $12.

The brake light was easy to install and connect to the electrical wires, but I still wanted to add my personal spin (customization). 

So I 3D printed a cover for the light.  You may have noticed my personal logo (mashup of G and J) in place of my picture on my social media accounts.

So of course that is the logo I used for the cover. The logo is the negative (empty) part so the light shines through.

Even though I measured multiple times, I still produced multiple iterations of the printed item. I consider it prototyping, until the item fits and I run out of ideas on how to improve it.  I went through 3 iterations for this 3D printed project.  I tried rounding the corners of the cover, but that was even more difficult to size to fit over the red light.

Measurement of Hitch Brake Light

The light measured 3″ but the cover ended up being 3.32″ in order to fit over the light.

Since the brake light cover itself runs through the hitch with the lock, I just used zip ties to attach my cover over the brake light.  The zip ties will have to but cut and replaced of course, when I actually use the hitch.

Have you tried the measure app? (iPhone) It’s cool how it saves the measurement number in the picture.

For pre-existing 3D printable items (.stl files) that I don’t download from thingiverse.com, I design myself using tinkercad.com. A free web-based, easy to use CAD type software with starter shaped objects to drag and drop. Like the square I used to create the hitch cover. The printed iterations were done on my PowerSpec Pro3D printer. No rafts or supports were needed. I prefer to 3D print items that don’t require rafts and supports since they leave rough edges after they are removed. The print time was 1 hours and 52 minutes for the final version with the 2 inch sides. (deeper cover)

Dimension Details:

Final 3D Printed Project Dimensions

Third iteration and hopefully final of the 3D printed hitch cover.
  • 3.32″ square, outer dimension
  • .03″ wall thickness
  • .21″ side hole opening for larger zip ties (so tie can reach around)
  • .14″ smaller holes at bottom for drainage
  • 2″ side walls
2″ Trailer Hitch with Cover Over Tail Light

Do you have your own 3D printing project or want to learn more about 3D printing? Stop by Workshop88 on a Thursday night between 7pm and 9pm to share it with us. Select the date you can stop by and RSVP on Meetup.com

Stuff for making stuff: PETG filament


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Have you tried 3D printing with PETG filament instead of PLA or ABS? A few of Workshop 88’s experts in 3D printing swear by PETG for most of their prints – here’s why:

  1. PETG is durable and heat-tolerant like ABS is. PLA has the reputation of being a bit more brittle than ABS. PLA also tends to warp under moderate heat – no leaving PLA components inside a car on a hot summer day, for example.
  2. PETG is easy to print like PLA. PLA does not have the thermal expansion issues that ABS has, which tends to cause ABS to curl up off of the print bed.
  3. PETG is affordable. Check out the (affiliate) links above and below which support Workshop 88.

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Workshop 88 Open House

May 16, 2019

Workshop 88 has an open house every Thursday from 7:00pm – 9:00pm where we welcome visitors and give shop tours. If you would like to see what’s available and what’s going on at your local makerspace or if you’d like to talk about a project you have in mind, come check us out!

As a result, Thursdays also are typically our most social night too. This week we had members working on many interesting projects including metal casting preparation, 3D printing, CNC milling, electronics, and more.

Here’s a look…

More projector fun! (see previous blog post for more details)

3D printing a space ship model to create a mold for a bronze casting

Bronze casting from the PLA model.

Meanwhile GailJo was 3D printing weatherproof sign components for illuminated Workshop 88 signs. The signs were so effective someone stopped by to check us out within 2 hours of them being placed!

I love when we have two or more 3D printers working at the same time. If you’re curious about 3D printing check out our step by step tutorial here.

Cutting up bronze casting scraps so they fit in the crucible for another casting. We used the band saw, bolt cutters, a ball peen hammer, and a vise. Copper is soft, tin is soft, mix them together you get bronze. Bronze is hard… really hard.

Jim is working on stepper motor driver electronics for a kinetic sculpture.

CNC’ing a cubic hole in a graphite block to be a mold for a future silver cube casting.

(Actually hybrid manual/CNC control in this case.)

All are welcome, we hope to see you one of these Thursday nights!

Custom Workshop 88 Projector

Tonight at CNC Build Club we discussed the enclosure for the MPCNC electronics and while Tom continued to work on the design and GailJo was busy 3D printing pieces for Workshop 88 signs, I (Scott) experimented with new projector inserts for GailJo’s holiday projector.


I found some transparencies and using the Workshop 88 logo I grabbed off this website I printed a few sizes.

I found the one closest in size to the images included with the projector, cut it out, and installed it.

Voilà! It worked perfectly!

We grabbed a long extension cord, took it outside, and projected it on everything. Fun!

Taste of Glen Ellyn this week!

This week is the annual Taste of Glen Ellyn street festival. If you are coming to this festival on Thursday evening, please consider swinging over to Workshop 88 for our open house hours from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

If you were planning to come to Workshop 88 this week, please be aware that the parking lot closest to our door will be unavailable for parking. You’ll have to find street or public lot parking before walking over.

See you at Workshop 88!