Moxie Board

Hello Racing Fans! I thought it might be appropriate to show you the cars that raced at Maker Faire Kansas City for the 2015 Power Racing Series

Mutt Cutts

Mutt Cutts was one of the cute cars. You may know it from the “Dumb And Dumber” films. Well, here’s a tiny replica. It wasn’t the fastest, but it was the furriest. This was one of those cars that we worried would tip over in every turn. It didn’t.

Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth, built by Collin Royster, a prop-maker in Kentucky, was a damn impressive build. The clown head and forks were for decoration only, and got removed for the races.

Phantom 48

Phantom 48 returned once again! These guys just keep refining their already fast and reliable car. The rat rod impressed us with its looks in 2013 and hasn’t changed much cosmetically, but from what I understand they’re constantly tweaking the code running on their controller.

Cartastrophe Jeep

The Cartastrophe Jeep also returned in 2015, and just like Phantom 48, their car looks about the same, and performs about the same. Fast and reliable, most of the time, except when it breaks.

KITT

KITT from OMG is the car from Knightrider, and it did good, not too fast, and not too much breaking down. A good mid-fielder.

Huminator

The Humninator, the only in the series with a full suspension system! The Humninator is a take on The Terminator theme, and a Hummer. A pretty fast car, though it suffered a bad failure in KC, Scott is fixing it up for Detroit!

Herbie

Herbie (The Love Bug) is just adorable, and is the work of Chris Lee (from Nashville’s Kessel Runners Racing) super-star Wars Nerd and prop-builder.

Minecart (Steve)

The Minecart (also known as “Steve” was a big wooden box that surprised us all with its speed and agility. There’s some great reasons to build your car as a big wooden box. An unexpected surprise with this one!

Dangermouse Mark III

The second car from the Cartastrophe was the Mark III from Danger Mouse. I am unfamiliar with the series, but the car is a wedge of cheese. It did well for the first showing.

Jurassic Rover

Jurassic Rover is another really nice build from our friends from the south. I can’t remember which state they were from, but the car was beautifully done.

Duct Tape & Zip Ties

Duct Tape & Zip Ties car is an old classic, build mostly from old bikes. It’s not fast, but it is (somewhat) reliable and goes for the “slow and steady wins the race” idea.

FUBAR Truck

FUBAR brought their old green truck all the way from New Jersey! Bill and his team keep fixing it and breaking it and racing it and having a good time. That’s what it’s all about!

LEGO Car

LEGO Car (as we called it) was built by a team of high school kids. The body was foam and kept breaking, there was a Razor scooter underneath for steering, they used 6 motors, of which between 1 and 3 worked, they blew their controller and used a relay, and they were known as a “rolling chicane” but they had fun and were a crowd favorite. Awesome.

Bigger photos? See them on Flickr. More will be added over time…

Sparkplug

Typically when I model 3D object with OpenSCAD I tend to create things that are simple and functional, but I had to create a piece that had some extra decoration to it, and wow did it slow OpenSCAD to a crawl!

I know about the special variable $fn, but I didn’t know about $fa and $fs, so I’ll have to start using those as well to see if they can speed things up. (I usually use $fn to go between “low res” and “high res” when it comes to rendering.)

OpenSCAD probably isn’t the easiest modeling software to use (unless you like writing code) but I like the fact that it’s open source, gets updated fairly often, is parametric, has lots of great info on using it, and there are a ton of free libraries for doing interesting things.

I was using Rhino quite a bit earlier this year, and while the Mac OS X version is now ready, it’s $300 for a limited time, and $500 after that, and is somewhat crippled compared to the Windows version. It can do some amazing things, so I’m still contemplating a license for it… Or I may find something else (open source, perhaps?) that fits the bill.

(I’ll probably be post more about 3D software in the near future.. Stay Tuned!)

Teensy++ 2.0 LED Pin

Yes, this post is actually titled “Teensy++ 2.0 LED Pin” because it’s really specific. This is the solution to a problem that took me a while to fix. Actually, it didn’t take a long time to fix, it just took a long time for me to figure it out and implement it. (Maybe it did take a long time for me to fix…)

Anyway, when using most pins on a Teensy++ 2.0 (and probably every other Teensy) with Arduino code, you may have an issue using the LED pin as an input, because it functions differently than all the other pins. You might say “Hey, just use another pin!” but the project I did required every single pin on the Teensy++ 2.0. (Yes, all 46 pins!)

The code is below. The LED pin is sort of treated opposite of how other pins are treated. You short it with +5v instead of ground, and swap the risingEdge and fallingEdge typically used with the bounce library.

// LEDPinButton

#include <Bounce.h>
 
Bounce buttonD6 = Bounce(6, 80); // LED Pin - tie to +5v instead of GND
Bounce buttonD7 = Bounce(7, 80); // Normal Pin - tie to GND
 
void setup() {
  pinMode(PIN_D6, INPUT);        // LED Pin - use INPUT not INPUT_PULLUP
  pinMode(PIN_D7, INPUT_PULLUP);
}
 
void loop() {
  
  buttonD6.update();
  buttonD7.update();
 
  // D6 - LED Pin - tie to +5v instead of GND
  // use risingEdge instead of fallingEdge
  // a
  if (buttonD6.risingEdge()) {
    Keyboard.set_key1(KEY_A);
    Keyboard.send_now();
  }
  if (buttonD6.fallingEdge()) {
    Keyboard.set_key1(0);
    Keyboard.send_now();
  }
  
  // D7 - Normal Pin - tie to GND
  // b
  if (buttonD7.fallingEdge()) {
    Keyboard.set_key1(KEY_B);
    Keyboard.send_now();
  }
  if (buttonD7.risingEdge()) {
    Keyboard.set_key1(0);
    Keyboard.send_now();
  }
  
}

You can also grab this code from github.

MakeShift

Over at the museum we do these monthly maker nights called MakeShift where we do demos and hands-on, DIY activities in BAMspace, which is our in-museum makerspace. These are adult-only events… that we happen to hold in a children’s museum, at night, with alcohol.

Back in March we did a Nerf Night, and we did things like make our own darts, modified Nerf guns (to make them more powerful) and then had a Nerf War. People seemed to like it, so we decided not to skip doing a MakeShift in July, and instead punted and went with another Nerf War, and this time we just focused on running around like maniacs and shooting each other. It was a blast! (And yes, we will definitely do it again!)

I wasn’t sure everyone would want to play with Nerf guns the entire time, so I 3D printed a few piece so we could play air hockey on one of our exhibits. Word Headquarters features these long skinny tables with jets of air that move tiles, and it seemed like all that was missing were a few paddles and pucks.

Puck

I grabbed a puck from Thingiverse and printed it scaled down just a bit. It moved great on the side that was printed on the glass, but the other side was not smooth enough, so I did a bit of sanding to help things out.

Paddles

I then printed some paddles from Thingiverse to knock the puck around with. Again, they were scaled down to match the size of the table.

Air Hockey

Here’s the pieces. I made a set for each of the two air tables in the exhibit. Below you can see a few visitors taking a break from shooting each other to play a game of air hockey. I’ve left the parts in BAMspace in case you’re ever at the museum and feel like a quick game of air hockey.

Air Hockey

Oh, and if you want to see a ton more photos of the Nerf War action, check out John McGeen’s blog post MakeShift: Nerf Night II.

HDPE Brownies

I’m calling these “HDPE Brownies” because I find it slightly amusing. Here’s what’s going on: I’m taking HDPE scrap and putting it in an 8″x8″ glass baking pan (a brownie pan) and popping it in the toaster over at about 270° F for a bit, them smashing it down and repeating the process.

So why am I doing this? Well, at the museum we sometimes mill sheets of HDPE for exhibits, and it creates a lot of chips/sawdust, and I gathered it up remembering that I’ve seem some people heat up HDPE and press it into a mold. Oh, and check out this video for lots more info on melting HDPE.

HDPE Slab

Once I got a full pan I took it out and cut off the sloped sides on the band saw to create a (mostly) squared-off slab. There are some air bubbles and what not, but for a first attempt, it’s pretty good. And what am I going to do with this stuff? I’d like to mill it using a CNC machine, probably a Shapeoko2 to start with. The HDPE cuts well, and shapes well, similar to working with wood. You can sand it, and whittle it too.

HDPE Slab

The white you see is from milk jugs and cat litter jugs, and the yellow and blue are from laundry soap jugs. All the black and pinkish-red are the sawdust bits from the milling of HDPE slabs we purchased. I think the sawdust bits caused more air bubbles than the cut up jugs, but more experimentation is needed.

Besides milling this piece, my plan is to keep collecting HDPE by gathering old jugs and cutting them up and making more blocks. Just making more of these should help me refine the process and work out the bugs, or the bubbles, as it were.

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