Rachel and Jim made up some very skinny surface mount LED/resistor strips that fit between Lego posts for a STEM camp Rachel is running.
A simple pattern was etched on flexible copperclad Kapton film, using vinyl from the vinyl cutter as resist. Solder paste blobs and the tiny 0805 components were hand placed, then reflow soldered on the hot plate. Here are some ready to be sliced apart. The resulting glowing Gummi bears were a big hit with the kids!
Campers beta-tested Rachel’s Conducty Inventing Kit during a week-long Spring Break camp at Moore Toys and Gadgets in Wheaton. They built circuits directly on LEGO baseplates using conductive tape and components designed to fit between the LEGO studs. Kids lit up everything from Minecraft torches to outdoor campfires made of LEGO. Here, Cooper and Ella show off their creations. The Conducty LED Inventing Kit will be launching on Kickstarter later this Spring.
New member and newly certified laser user Scott burned his bacon on the laser cutter tonight. Nice rasher graphic, Scott!
In showing this picture around, I discovered that the whole “Just because we can!” ethos doesn’t resonate equally with all members of my household.
Who says gears have to be round? Here’s a clip of some gears we just made.
And tesselating lizards!
Spring is in the air, flowers are emerging, and Glen Ellyn is slowly climbing out of what has been an incredibly trying winter.
The new season has inspired us to take a new look at Workshop 88 and revamp our main room. While it’s a homey basement that holds many fond memories, members have been encouraging me to come up with some new ways to change the space around to be welcoming to new members. I wanted to post some photos of the current layout so that we can work on rearranging some things.
Workshop 88 members spend so much time working on their projects and discussing new ideas that they don’t pay much attention to the space around them; but space is important. Space communicates what we value, inspires our creativity, and develops our sense of belonging. Therefore, it is really important that we spend time recreating Workshop some in order to make our space more inviting.
What do you think we should do to revamp Workshop 88? Maybe some color? Reorganizing the layout? Please comment with your ideas!
This past Thursday night gathering at the Workshop, Rick Stuart showed up all smiles- though I’m not sure if this was due to his enthusiasm to show off his new gadget or in anticipation of Rachel’s shortbread which had been announced earlier via email.
Rick with his entertainment center
Rick has built a personal entertainment center which has the capacity to display high-defintion videos and music through an upcycled touch-screen LCD. Rick had recovered some of these screens from his previous workplace and had decided to put them to use in a new project. He has created a running loop for the system to operate: he utilized a Raspberry Pi running OpenELEC in order to run XBMC (a media center) and connected an HMDI cord to a LVDS adapter board. The adapter runs to the LCD, which is connected by USB to the Raspberry Pi. For sound, the system will be attached to speakers. Files are stored on an SD card inserted into the Raspberry Pi, and streamed files are accessible through connecting an ethernet cord.
By using HDMI instead of the normal video output connection, Rick was able to make his display high-definition. Rick said that a great advantage about his system is that he was able to essentially create his own media center out of materials he already had on hand plus the low cost of a Raspberry Pi.
Meanwhile, Zach showed me how to create very intricate origami elephants using printer paper. While there’s no hope of me recreating one on my own, I thought it was important to highlight how awesome they turned out.
Mark Edmonson recently donated a big box of pretty high quality used battery powered laser levels to us. They’re in various states, from apparently completely functional to rather dead.
Each one contains 5 diode lasers, as well as some other parts. There are fairly complete teardown notes and pictures here.
Here are the parts I salvaged from one.
Pursuing her passion for making technology accessible to girls, Rachel Hellenga inspired a whirlwind project to automate a dollhouse. After the smoke cleared, the one-room dollhouse she and Jim W and Bill P built was a miniature version of – and is now displayed within – the “Circuit Castle” she’s showing at the New York Maker Faire. Read her Make Magazine blog post about it.
The Dollhouse Automation System powering it is a collection of small, cheap microcontrollers in a simple network allowing sensors (push buttons, motion detectors, light sensors, etc) in one part of the house to control actions (lights, motors, sounds etc) in another part of the house.
Here are some gory details of putting that system together.