Signage at Workshop 88

Multi-material fabrication of signs at Workshop 88!

One of the challenging aspects for getting visitors to Workshop 88 is that our location is not obvious for first-time attendees. We have long joked that if you made it to our door, you must be the type of person who belongs at a makerspace, because sometimes it can seem like you really have to want to find us in order to get to Workshop 88.

Of course, we want everybody to be able to find Workshop 88! One of our members, Gail, has taken the initiative to make some signs for various uses at Workshop 88.

One sign was made with a 3d printed logo and also has solar lights attached to it for illuminating the sign after the sun sets. The other sign was made with one of our vinyl cutters and is used to direct people in for classes.

If you’re in the downtown Glen Ellyn area on Thursday evenings, you are likely to see at least one of these signs welcoming you in to our open house hours. Please stop by!

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

New (well, old) Workshop Phone

I picked up an OBi100 adapter for the space a few weeks ago, and have been hunting around for a phone that we can use with it.

I stopped by the local Goodwill on my way in to the workshop one morning, and picked up two phones for $1.99 each.  One was a Lucent speakerphone that was missing a power adapter (I managed to dig a compatible one out of our giant box of wall warts in the electronics room).  The other was a fantastic old GE Model 500 rotary dial phone.  One of our members with a bit of experience in the area pegged the year of manufacture as 1965, with the last service in 1984.  I cleaned it up with some rubbing alcohol, and we swapped the old phone number placard for a W88 circuit board mask:

It took about 10 minutes of googling to find the pinout on the 4-prong adapter so we could hook it up, and it was hooked up to our Google Voice phone number and ringing.

Model 500 Plugbox Render (top)

The alligator clips aren’t a great solution, so I started designing a box to plug it into.  I used OpenSCAD to do the design.  The source files are available in my GitHub repo, but here’s a couple quick screenshots of the render:

I measured for the holes on the top using a pair of digital calipers, and then did some quick trig to figure out the offsets from the center point of the box.

Model 500 Plugbox Render (bottom)

The pins on the plug are arranged in a trapezoidal fashion so you can’t insert the plug backwards.  The bottom of the box is set up so that I can drop in a Radio Shack perfboard with a standard phone line connected to a couple of spring contacts on the wider pair of the two holes.  The standoff holes in the perfboard line up with the blocks in the corner of the box, and I have a second 3D model for the bottom of the box that sits below the perfboard.

The most difficult part of designing the box was getting the Workshop 88 logo to come out right.  I found this great tutorial on how to use InkScape to build 3D shapes in OpenSCAD and I used the source image for the same circuit board mask that we stuck on the phone.  Once I had that in place, it wasn’t too difficult to use it in OpenSCAD.  Check out the GitHub repo for details.

Model 500 Adapter with perfboard

I did a couple of test prints on the MakerBot to make sure everything fit together, and it looks like it is working pretty well.  I haven’t done another print with the logo, but judging from the generated STL, it is going to be much more involved than the basic prints.

When I added the logos, the STL went from about 300K to over 2MB.  I’m hoping that the print itself will be stable enough that the logo won’t lose resolution and look bad.  We’ve got a new stepper motor extruder ordered for our MakerBot, so that may help a little bit with the resolution.

Model 500 Adapter 3D print (bottom)

The next project is to get this puppy to dial out.  We’ve had a few suggestions, from converting the pulse dial to DTMF using an Arduino Teensy to hooking up a Blue Box with an acoustic coupler.  Right now the easiest way to use it is to dial out on a different phone, and then pick up the handset.  That really isn’t all that much fun.  I’m leaning towards the acoustic coupler method, but early experiments with DTMF generators on our cell phones didn’t go too well, so we may have a bit more work cut out for us.  The Wikipedia article says that blue boxes no longer work due to changes in the switching infrastucture, which… ahem… anecdotal evidence would tend to confirm.